The History of the Planted Tank?

Philosophos

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
1,346
0
36
You know it's strange, for all of the time I spend reading about planted aquaria, most of the material is post-internet. Perhaps as old as gopher sites at best. What are the roots of planted aquariums? When did the first theories arise? What were the names of the publications? So far, my resources are limited. I've got some old H. Axelrod books from the 70's that barely touch on the subject.

Anyone with answers is welcome to post. I think we should at least know where we came from, and what became of older ideas to bring us to where we are now. Maybe there's ideas we overlooked, or at very least reasons for where we are now.

This is not an answer I'm finding through google, and this is not something material exists for in my local public libraries. I have a feeling most of it may come through dusty old books and magazines. Journals if we're lucky.

-Philosophos
(compulsive post editor)
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
740
113
Like history, there where various specific regions that gained a notable level of expertise. Wim gave the best talk I've seen on this topic at the AGA conference some years ago in Dallas, TX.

He detailed tank after tank fully plants and well scaped by anyone's standards, of dutch style fully planted tanks............in the 1940-1950's range. Really nice tanks, no CO2 etc.

The first reference I've ever found for CO2 for planted aquariums dates to 1963 using yeast DIY.

Other tanks certainly existed prior, but less is known.
Much of what was learned was based more on simple gardener approaches, taking from Terrarium and other horticultural fields. Other groups came at the aquarium from more a fish perspective and dabbled with plants. A few hit on a few good things and got lucky.

They had less notion as to why, they speculated.
In 1933, Hoagland developed this solution for growing plants hydroponically in solution:

(Source: Epstein 1972)

KNO3: 1M 6.0mls N 224ppm
Ca(NO3)2*4H2O 1M 4.0mls K 235ppm
NH4H2PO4 1M 2.0mls Ca 160ppm
MgSO4*7H2O 1M 1.0mls P 62ppm
S 32ppm
Mg 24ppm

(Hoagland and Snyder, 1933)

KNO3 1M 5.0mls N 210 ppm
Ca(NO3)2*4H20 1M 5.0mls K 235 ppm
MgSO4*7H20 1M 2.0mls Ca 200 ppm
KH2PO4 1M 1.0mls P 31 ppm
S 64 ppm
Mg 48 ppm

In the 1960's, more quantitative use with aquatic plants from Gerloff suggested some different changes, (modified Hoagland's, some NH4 etc)
You can see that the concentrations are very rich indeed.

This has long been an issue for these Know Nothing's claiming that excess NO3, K+, Mg, PO4 stunt plants............yet this is the standard reference solution for non limiting nutrient media(for the macro's at least), this is also about the normal ppm's for hydroponic solutions used to grow commercial aquatic plants at Tropica and other nurseries such as FAN.

Now if EI which is 10-8x less concentrated causes that, why would growers use it, researchers use it and why is used for fertigation for terrestrial crops also? Most(90% of the contained pots used for ornamental plants) use fertigation for growing their smaller plants raised for sale(12 Billion $ per year in CA alone).

What do excess ppm's look like in these systems? Salt stress mostly.

http://www.new.aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_11/issue_4/0529.pdf

This details out most of the basic references. Dupla use to run around telling everyone that they discovered and made the first Fe chelated dosing for aquatic plants. Apparently well beaten by a decade it seems(they claimed in the mid late 1970's).

Paul and Gerloff suggested a 1/5 th full stength for aquatic submersed plants.

Let me see here:

N is in the mid 40's ppm
P is about 12 ppm
Ca is about 30ppm-'s
K+ is about the same as N, 40'sppm

Seems EI is pretty lite, about 10X less.
This % is used in many research vats growing plants, eg Hydrilla here :
Plants for toxicity assessment - Google Book Search


What we do not know , is the concentrations for soils etc. They are used often.
Paul and Kevin had long referenced and the young(at the time) Paul KROMBHOLZ offer a lot of input as well to PMDD.

So that had the greatest influence on the development of most methods involving water column dosing in the hobby(PMDD) and brought the method to the hobby in a cheaper, DIY simple approach that put everyone on the same playing field for use of fertilizers.

I had to dig for much of these references over time as I looked more and more into it.

The history is interesting and should always be directed to offering credit where it is due. It adds support.

So what did I do?
Not much really, more arguing for it than the work and cleverness etc.
I took PMDD, add more, mostly by consensus, was more liberal and dosed PO4, added more light and thus more CO2(eyeballed it pretty much till things look like they should). I wanted that same pearling I had right after the water change and keep it there all week long.

Not just for 1 day.
So I added more etc.

Some plants started doing much better, other folks had troubles at lower ppm's.........with those same plants.

So I got 95% or more from PMDD, I just added PO4 more, which was not even my discovery, rather Steve Dixon who at the time was really into testing for NO3 and PO4 using lamotte/Hach test kits(they seemed like a very expensive choice to me, but wise today). I simply had the tank with high PO4 and did not know it. Not that I would have cared either:cool:

I just grew the plants well and watched them.
I did the old water change routine I'd always done.
Then started adding KNO3/Traces/KH2PO4/K2SO4.
I needed more CO2 to do that I figured.

Steve had taken a plant Physiology class at some point and liked it, had a good understanding. I'd just started taking college classes then.

We both discussed the ranges of ppm's used for aquariums.
The list of levels and parameters came from that(1996-1997).

Noting few people bothers to test, I took a leap of faith and suggested no test kits and replace it with known % water changes and dosing regularly.

Water changes are easy.

Some folks did not like the idea of not using to test kits like they had done for decades, so they tested still and did the water changes as well. Some/most where more conservative initially. Then newbies started making mistakes and had no algae as well even when over dosed.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
740
113
I'll see if I can get a hold of Wim.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Philosophos

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
1,346
0
36
This is neat stuff. Thanks for the post both of you.

I had to chuckle reading the levels of nutrients you posted in that CuSO4 toxicity test, and the growth rates that came out of it. At 220ppm KNO3, that's enough potassium and nitrate to make most aquarists panic. I think we need some pictures of plants growing in these conditions to pass around, it'll get rid of some of the fear of high fert levels.

So where does the history of the European and Asian stuff come in? I've seen lots of keepers, and lots of developments from both. Is the Asian end of things today largely a result of Takashi Amano, or was there a planted tank following before that? I'm even more in the dark when it comes to the history of the Dutch style aquarium.

Also, is Epstein any relation to Anthony Epstein, as in herpes? And just because I'm nosy, do you have a relative going by the name Yvonne by chance, Tom?

-Philosophos
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
740
113
Philosophos;37510 said:
This is neat stuff. Thanks for the post both of you.

I had to chuckle reading the levels of nutrients you posted in that CuSO4 toxicity test, and the growth rates that came out of it. At 220ppm KNO3, that's enough potassium and nitrate to make most aquarists panic. I think we need some pictures of plants growing in these conditions to pass around, it'll get rid of some of the fear of high fert levels.

So where does the history of the European and Asian stuff come in? I've seen lots of keepers, and lots of developments from both. Is the Asian end of things today largely a result of Takashi Amano, or was there a planted tank following before that? I'm even more in the dark when it comes to the history of the Dutch style aquarium.

Also, is Epstein any relation to Anthony Epstein, as in herpes? And just because I'm nosy, do you have a relative going by the name Yvonne by chance, Tom?

-Philosophos

I think you might be a tad giddy there when I mention the hydroponic ppm's and Hoagland's solutions etc. Both myself and Paul are well aware that those are upper ranges, they are not what we suggest as a target range etc, it just ppoints out very very clearly that the notion of excess nutrients stunt plants, or cause algae etc is not founded in any of the research, perhaps it's well founded in their own minds.............????

But there's no evidence that shows that higher levels than say 20-30ppm are needed, but they are also not detrimental either.

Some seem willing to suggest and admit that 20-30ppm does not cause algae(hard to argue this point), but then want to suggest......."well maybe such high levels cause stunting". This too, is false. Having lost 2 battles, they go on...........
"Well, it is bad for fish..........." Then we see with Carmago et al 2005, the ppm's for fish are extremely high, again, several hundred ppm's..........Discus breed, Angels Breed, Altums are fine, all soft water and wild species are also fine.......
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/tmdl/records/region_2/2008/ref2426.pdf

Having lost 3 battles...............they go on...........this time it is an issue of "waste" with the water changes.

Again, a simple analysis comparing excess wasted light energy shows 10-20X folks difference vs water usage using 2 vs 4 W/gal or 2x the light.

Cost runs about 5$ at the high end, to nothing at the lower end for water cost for a standard 55 Gal for the year. Electric runs about 50$ per 2W/gal so 100 vs 50$ per year difference. Curiously, this same group does not mention light in their position for waste not higher moral ground:rolleyes:

4 battles lost.
5 if you include the first one with algae = high excess PO4.
6 if you include high K+ blocks Ca uptake
7 if you include heat cables.

Dupla brought in a lot of good things and bad things, Amano seems to come along about that same time period.

No, I'm not related to that gal, nor is Roseanne Barr a Real Barr, she's Russian Jewish and took the last name when they came to the USA. William Barr came to Charleston SC about 1640. Another fought in the Continental Army as well as the Bell's on my mother's side who where Irish. Barr's are Scots.

History of Electric Lighting Technology
The History of Fluorescent Lights and Fluorescent Lamps

You'd figure, that not long after these are widely available, that many started keeping these plants indoors in aquariums.

So the 1940's on.........

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Philosophos

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
1,346
0
36
Tom Barr;37516 said:
I think you might be a tad giddy there when I mention the hydroponic ppm's and Hoagland's solutions etc. /QUOTE]

I wasn't suggesting keeping tanks at ppm's that high long-term. The idea was more to show that it can be done at ridiculous levels, and the plants won't become stunted or overcome by algae. People seem to do well with object lessons. I know seeing pictures of your high NO3 discus tank helped change my mind on the issue. It's one thing to say it keeps, it's another to see a stunning tank with happy, unstressed discus.

Tom Barr;37516 said:
"Well, it is bad for fish..........." Then we see with Carmago et al 2005, the ppm's for fish are extremely high, again, several hundred ppm's..........Discus breed, Angels Breed, Altums are fine, all soft water and wild species are also fine.......
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/tmdl/records/region_2/2008/ref2426.pdf

So long as trout pop up on lists like the one you've posted, I doubt if the issue will go away. I've read at least three scare articles and numerous threads relying on O. mykiss and its various sensitivities.

Tom Barr;37516 said:
Dupla brought in a lot of good things and bad things, Amano seems to come along about that same time period.
Hmm I should go digging on some old usenet archives about dupla products. I didn't know they were still around until I googled them a minute ago, and honestly knew nothing about them besides dupla drops.

Tom Barr;37516 said:
No, I'm not related to that gal, nor is Roseanne Barr a Real Barr, she's Russian Jewish and took the last name when they came to the USA. William Barr came to Charleston SC about 1640. Another fought in the Continental Army as well as the Bell's on my mother's side who where Irish. Barr's are Scots.

So you get the, "are you related to..." question often I take it? I went to school with some descendants of the same clan. You'd almost swear red hair wasn't recessive after looking at their family.

The links on lighting are a good idea. I should probably start reading up on related history of the equipment, might give me some markers. I can't believe how early on DIY CO2 was first suggested.

On a completely unrelated note, I found a local listing of some one putting their pet alligator up for barter... they want home electronics and furniture. Am I the only one who finds this strange?

-Philosophos
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
740
113
Philosophos;37519 said:
I wasn't suggesting keeping tanks at ppm's that high long-term. The idea was more to show that it can be done at ridiculous levels, and the plants won't become stunted or overcome by algae. People seem to do well with object lessons. I know seeing pictures of your high NO3 discus tank helped change my mind on the issue. It's one thing to say it keeps, it's another to see a stunning tank with happy, unstressed discus.

Yes, however, many seem to automatically assume because they do fine at high levels, we are suggesting that high levels are in some way "better", they are not, they just do not pose the risk that the myth making fear mongers claim, we still focus on keeping a little higher range as buffer, this makes targeting a ppm much much easier and allows folks not to worry about risk if the ppm's do climb etc.

I aim for 20ppm or so of NO3.
PO4 does not matter if it's 2 or 5ppm.
Large target.
Same for Ca, K+, Mg........I have added these as GH booster to really high levels with issues and then run them down fairly low.

So long as trout pop up on lists like the one you've posted, I doubt if the issue will go away. I've read at least three scare articles and numerous threads relying on O. mykiss and its various sensitivities.

And they are about as sensitive as a fish can be, comes from super soft low KH colder than hell, high O2 level water.............then for the fry , they are even more prone. Warm water fish are far tougher.

You have to be fairly specific with species.
Breeding and long term health sort of disproves any of the fear mongering.

Hmm I should go digging on some old usenet archives about dupla products. I didn't know they were still around until I googled them a minute ago, and honestly knew nothing about them besides dupla drops.

Oh hell...........they where the 1980-1990's equivalent of ADA.
Zealots ran around selling this and that and even less understanding back then made it even worse.

The links on lighting are a good idea. I should probably start reading up on related history of the equipment, might give me some markers. I can't believe how early on DIY CO2 was first suggested.

The FL's are good link to the rest, made growing plants with fake light much more practical for many. DIY CO2 was around...........but they just did not promote it widely and folks did not realize the usefulness in the hobby.

Light and CO2 are the two main things to search for, nutrients are perhaps the last.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Philosophos

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
1,346
0
36
I had a weird per-chance run in with a bit of hobby related history. While I was visiting family in SF, I walked down the stairs to the room I was staying in and found this (bottom right):

1090_1_lg.jpg


I wish I had taken a picture, and thought I had. All the same, it was the last thing I had expected to see.

I never knew Eheim produced other things before turning to fish tanks. Turns out they did had a pile of products related to train sets and street cars.

And on a side note, just because the aplication seems strange, here's an unexpected modern use for their pumps:
Virtual-Hideout.Net | Reviews | SharkaCorp New Innovatek Water-Cooling Eqpt Review

Ya, that's right, tower cooling:

P1010004.jpg


Hmm... I could run a sump for my tank AND push my overclocking :D

-Philosophos
 

hydrophyte

Prolific Poster
Aug 21, 2009
43
0
6
I have an unhelpful and vague reference--I don't think he was mentioned yet. Who is the guy who is into livebearers who also sells hobby-related books? I can't remember his name but has collected old books and magazine articles going back to the 1800's that include some material on planted tanks. I remember reading an article by him in The Aquatic Gardener that was about early planted aquariums.

What is that guys name?
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
740
113
I know some folks who collect old aquarium books, they are always good references.
I think his name was Jim.

Lee Finley also


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

hydrophyte

Prolific Poster
Aug 21, 2009
43
0
6
I just went and looked and I think it's Mike Schadle that I'm thinking about. I did a search and it doesn't look like he has a Website.
 

jazzlvr123

Guru Class Expert
Jul 3, 2007
107
0
16
that vintage ehiem product is pretty interesting, I didn't know they made stuff other than aquarium products back in the day,

its still hobby related so it makes sense.....
 

SuperColey1

Guru Class Expert
Feb 17, 2007
503
0
16
46
Lincoln, UK
Would Kew garden or similar have done anything on aquatic tropical plants? They seem to have samples of virtually everything else from the topics right back a century or 2? Of course I don't mean full dosing and CO2 etc.

That comment on Eheim making other components made me chuckle. I thought to myself I just spotted an Eheim computer cooling system 10 minutes prior to reading your post whilst searching on ebay. then I scrolled down and saw your next comment. lol. This was what I spotted.

Aqua Computer Water Cooling EHEIM 120.3 Radiator AMD on eBay (end time 08-Sep-09 17:35:03 BST)

AC
 

Philosophos

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
1,346
0
36
I've got Finley's site bookmarked now. "The Toy Fish" is a title I didn't quite expect for a book to have.

I think I might hit some used book stores next time I'm in town just to see if there's anything older than my 70's copy of Axelrod's Mini Atlas of Freshwater Aquarium Fish.

-Philosophos
 

Tom Barr

Founder
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 23, 2005
18,696
740
113
I look for 1940-1950-1960's.
1970's is too old for me:)

Done read all that stuff.
I've got quite a few.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

Philosophos

Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Mar 12, 2009
1,346
0
36
I should've figured you'd have a collection. I'll bet there are some great book stores in your area. Most of the stuff around here include titles such as, "Hortimucultures n' Stuff" by Uncle Cletus.

Any titles I should keep an eye open for? Classics that influenced the hobby?

-Philosophos