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Draconian, extremist, zealotry, where's moderation and balance anymore?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Tom Barr, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think a recent exchange with CRS's keepers got me thinking about what it is about such adjectives used to describe that are not descriptive so much, but rather conjure up negative imagery.

    I've seen plant zealots, folks who have no or virtually no fish in the aquarium.
    I've seen discus zealots, 3-4x a week water changes, over feed, play with pH/RO etc.
    I've seen shrimp zealots, no ferts, no nothing
    I've seen Angels fish zealots, RO only, similar to Discus folks
    I've seen Rift cichlid zealots, insisting on high pH

    So where is the balance in all of this muckery?
    I have little doubt that for each prospective goal, the methods tend to be precise and specific for each
    area of specialty. But what happens when we add these fish and plants together?

    What trade offs should we place?
    Should we entirely ignore plants?
    Should we ignore the fish and assume healthy plants = healthy fish? What is a healthy plant?

    What words should be used to descrive a primary focus on livetstock or plants only without much regard for the other facects of the aquarium?

    I've never been entirely comfortable with adding plants without regard for them and 90-100% focus on the livestock. Likewise, I've never been comfortable with going 90-100% to the plant demands.

    I've argued that there is a middle ground and we should assume there is a middle ground.
    One where we can keep healthy fish, plants, inverts etc all together with relative ease for a typical caring experienced aquarist can manage over years/time with low risk of failure. I'm not sure how to communicate this balance and moderation between these without offending some group and exposing the real risk or lack thereof.

    We have this same issue in the area of Weed Science.
    Invaders, exotic, noxious........many are military words.
    They conjure up images associated with those words that do not reflect the descriptions of the weeds or what they do/are capable of. They may or may not be "bad", depends on the management goal/s and whether they have tested whether or not the weed can establish, colonize and invade that area, even then, it might not cause a real risk or problem.

    Likewise, being focused on the real risk within the aquarium hobby is also a wiser approach.
    It can be hard to get to this point when we have different groups not looking at the goals or assuming there is risk, when it simply has not been shown.

    Risk can only be tested well, just like testing algae causes...when you are competent enough an aquarist to provide a good reference tank. If you cannot do this, you cannot isolate any factors.
    Too much potential interference/confounding factors, lack of independence in the test.

    So you need good ability with at least two of the groups you plan to test, say Discus and plants, not just one or the other.

    Some get lucky and have good results without much experience in the other area, some do not.
    Each specialist who lacks exeprience in the other argues their points, but has little experience with the other.

    Thus little moderation and balance between the two.
    How can this be solved/resolved?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    I think people have to think more "outside of the box". With all these restrictions a lot of people restric themselves. I really don't believe that it's impossible to combine, because of the natural environment of where the species came from. Nine of out ten times, they were bred in Singapore or something, under totally different circumstances compared to their natural habitat. Even wild caught fish are able to adapt to a broad range of aquatic conditions.

    I'm having a lot of discussion on Dutch forums about EI and the high ppm's of nutrition. Recently someone told me apisto's can not take more NO3 than 10 ppm. Then I show them my pics and ask them why mine is not dead. "You're lucky" is the answer. What can you answer to that? They jump to conclusions in the same way as when they get algae.

    I keep discusfish, angels and apisto's at full EI and 40 ppm of CO2. All of them breed in my tank. The discusfish eat literally out of my hand. the Apisto is always close when I'm doing something and I have to gently chase it away when I prune plants. If not I will push it into the substrate together with the plant :) So no stress here.

    I think a lot of these problems are related to fear, when a lot of $$$ is involved. A nice example was the recent shrimp discussion here.

    To conclude: Because of the climate change (yes, it's happening) we have a lot of paraquites flying around here. Not a few, but thousands. A tropical bird living in a moderate climate. Still we can have temperatures far below freezing point in winter. These temperatures are not part of their natural environment. The circumstances in which they live here are far different from their natural habitat. Yet they breed and thrive. The birds are able to adapt. So I think our fish can adapt too.

    Still I think fear is the biggest factor.

    (The above is just my opinion and doesn't necessarily has to be right ;) )

    regards,
    dutchy
     
    #2 dutchy, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2010
  3. SuperColey1

    SuperColey1 Guru Class Expert

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  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I have bred borellii, and agassizii so..........not even remotely close to being real.
    NO3 from KNO3 is much different than NH4 derived from fish waste and leftover food.
    You may also keep posting nice pictures of the fish from your tank.

    Ask why are so many lucky and why they are not?
    Ask them how they measure NO3 also, ask them if they calibrate their NO3 test kits or are they just "lucky" and know/assume it's correct??

    If you can bred these fish, shrimp etc under such conditions, this falsifies the claim.
    It does not say why they kill their fish, plenty do it without NO3, there's 101 other reasons, perhaps more for poor fish care.
    All we can hope to do is isolate one at a time and rule them out.

    Take pictures and post and pose the question; "If what you claim is true, where are my issues?"

    These are easy myths of dispell.
    The counter argument suggest luck, faith, attacks the person, but not the results.

    There was a moral ethics question that is involved also, I do not discount that.
    Still, stepwise test in progressively larger ranges can minimize the risk to livestock of high value, in otherwords, slow, patient incremental variation of the parameter in question.

    These are not algae and plants which people place little morality upon.

    Well, if we have evidence and pictures that are counter to the claims, fears etc........over time, those fears are refuted.
    A few will still happen upon them by chance, but with a large enough group....folks can quickly see it's just an old myth, not some unknown factor or real risk.

    But..........we also need to know what their goal might be before advising.
    It is only breeding say Discus, then bare bottom tanks and lots of water changes might be a better solution for them.

    If not........well..........then moderation becomes the goal.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. argnom

    argnom Guru Class Expert

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    Moderation and balance, of course there's still some around. Why do you think I come here all the time. ;)

    I think the main problem is human nature. Weather it's aquariums, cars, sports or religion, when people get passionate about something, moderation and balance are the first things that go out the window. People read this one book and think they know it all. The problem is that for any subject, especially planted aquariums, books always contain a lot of misinformation and misconceptions. Stuff that has been repeated over and over again since the times of the Victorians. Nobody really took the time to check it out since it's a hobby, not really a science. Well... except Tom and others in this forum that is.

    The only way I found that works when confronted with a zealot (or an elitist, there's no shortage of those types in the aquarium scene... big tanks with big egos) is to show better results and/or prove them wrong and to to do your "homework".

    The biggest discus zealot (and elitist) I ever met was really upset with me not because I was telling him that he was wrong (I never told him that), but actually because he's been testing his water parameters every other day (without calibrating his kits) and changing his water at the same frequency for over 10 years. When he saw my tank (smaller, but it looks a lot better that his) and I explained to him that I never test for anything and do my water changes every week (or two). All I do is toss in a few ml of NKP and a few ml of trace+Iron stock solution (all generic stuff that I payed very little for at a hydroponics store, dry, and then mixed to my liking), sit back, relax and enjoy my tanks. No testing, no charts no nothing. He flipped.

    I think that what made him angry was the fact that he has been wasting so much time, effort, energy and money buying his expensive brand name products AND my tanks looked better that his AND I've been keeping planted tanks for half the time he has. It couldn't be true. I couldn't be right. I just couldn't. It was just too simple...

    He also realized that for all of those years, he's been spreading lies and misconceptions everywhere.

    Nobody likes to be wrong and nobody likes to feel like a distributor of fallacies.

    Once you understand this, these types are pretty easy to deal with. :p Just walk away... :rolleyes:

    How can this be solved or resolved? Sorry Tom, but I think that it cannot be solved. It's human nature... But don't worry, you are getting through to some of us at least.
     
    #5 argnom, Aug 11, 2010
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  6. pat w

    pat w Member

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    I’ve been keeping aquariums off and on since my early teens in the late 60’s, but I was always intimidated by plants. I just wouldn’t consider it. It always seemed too something … too hard, too expensive, to messy, too time consuming … you know the drill. But when I made the move to the gulf coast I made up my mind to give it a try. So I searched the web for ways to get over the two hurdles that intimidated me the most … difficulty and expense. Expense was handled with bargain hunting and some DIY. So I was left with the difficulty. I started to look around and when I found and article on UKaps.com on EI it looked like it could be an answer. A little more research and I traced EI here to this forum, Tom Barr, this team, and this group.

    Tom, you ask about balance, but for a new guy like me it isn’t so much about balance as it is about firmer footing. An experienced wire walker can keep his balance on a thin wire with special shoes and a long pole and tell the world it’s easy. Hand that stuff to the inexperienced and very few will even climb the pole much less step off the platform. For me you took some thing I thought was out of my reach and made it not only approachable, but doable.

    I’m not there yet, but I’m confident that that I’m on a good solid path. You and the others here paved it for us and I, for one, thank all of you.

    Pat
     
    #6 pat w, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2010
  7. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    Thankfully I missed that exchange!

    Inflated egos often get in the way - posters with an unearned sense of self-importance often type things they would never have the courage (or foolishness to say in person). Sadly they often lack the integrity of recognizing that different people have different goals ...

    I try to ignore them ... and appreciate the safety of your forum right here ... where opinions may differ but integrity is high ...

    Personally ... fish are nothing more than accessories to adorn my plants!

    I need nothing more than the enjoyment of a beautiful aquarium ...

    Greg
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Interesting take.

    So since you feel the issue cannot be resolved, how might you manage and tolerate it the most effective manner?
    It is not going away. Greg ignores them, I chose not to take it personally, others engauge, other fry out and burn out over time..........reminds me of a certain FLIGHT Attendant.
    Some spend the time to word their responses carefully so not to step on anyone's toes.

    There are many approaches, but...........ultimately.........the issue falls upon the zealot. They are the ones that may want to learn there's no black and white, only shades of grey. They must come to this attitude of their own free will.
    It is awareness, complexity and understanding rather than good vs evil dicotomy. I know......good vs evil is a simple easy to understand thing. We like to think things are like that and so simple on a primal level I guess.
    I'm tenacious if you have not noticed(the primal side), but am still human(rational somewhat).

    I push and go after these issues and confront. I pose the questions many do not want to question.
    I learn through this process also, so I do get something out of it. So do the lurkers ........of which there are many.
    And luckily, many of the people that did not believe or see things clearly, now have a better more rounded view of plants and the critters we keep.
    And so do I.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Also, taking the position of the zealot is a good study, then work out from there as a reference. If you are both a plant zealot and a Discus zealot, you are in luck, now you can simply find that middle ground with both groups.

    I'm doing this with Fire and CRS right now as I did 15 years ago with Discus, Cardinals etc.......
    This way you know. This way you can explore what is myth and what is perhaps "tentatively true".

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. hbosman

    hbosman Guru Class Expert

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    Sometimes it's hard for people to drop old and or incorrect ideas, even when exposed to better information later, because, it became "ingrained". When I got back into aquariums in 2004, I started researching alot of stuff on the Internet. I stumbled upon the the krib and read all of the sears conlin stuff for quite awhile. That and all of the other information from books and LFS's professing that phosphates were bad, bad, bad and anything over a minimum amount of nitrate was bad, bad, bad. It couldn't be wrong because, I read it in aquarium books from the library. I grew up relying on information from the library. It couldn't be wrong.

    For the past 2 years or so, I have believed in and use EI which, throws alot of these ideas out of the window. I have an AP nitrate test that's not quite a year old. Every now and then I get it out and test the water. I still get queazy when the test shows orange, even though I know, I didn't calibrate it and know that 40 ppm of nitrate isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it's hard to unlearn old ideas.
     

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