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High Tech verse Low Tech Planted Aquariums

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., May 21, 2008.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Earlier this month we were discussing the possibility of Non-CO2, Low Light Aquascapes. In sum, several of members posted some great aquascapes that proved that it was possible to make a beautiful, lush planted aquarium under these conditions. Now begs the question, which type (low tech or high tech) is better for aquascaping?

    Now, the definition of a high tech tank and a low tech tank can be arguable.

    To begin the discussion, low tech tanks are not necessarily classified as without CO2 injection or having low light. I define low tech tanks by how much light is put over a tank, generally at 2.0 watts per gallon (wpg). They can consist of automated autodosers, C02 injection, etc. but in truth most low light tanks won't need them since plant requirements are not as demanding.

    High tech tanks are everything above 3.0 wpg. Light drives plant growth, subsequently increases the demand for regular fertilization and high levels of consistent CO2 injection. Here we see the need for near daily attention from the hobbyists to feed the plants, wipe away algae, and perform waterchanges.

    Discussion Questions
    • How do you define High Tech and Low Tech Planted Aquariums, and which one is ultimately better for aquascaping?
    • Should we be recommending one type over the other to new planted aquarium hobbyists?
    -John N.
     
  2. Pat7676

    Pat7676 New Member

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    I would recomend low tech to new scapers. Easier to get started into the hobby, little more room for error.
     
  3. George Farmer

    George Farmer Aspiring Aquascaper

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    This may interest you...

    Practical Fishkeeping magazine | Blog: Low tech, high tech or mid tech?

    For me -

    Hi-tech - Medium to high light, CO2 injection, regular NPK and trace dosing. Substrate can be rich or otherwise.
    Low-tech - Low to medium light, non-CO2, lean dosing, nutrient-rich substrate.

    There are, of course, many many combinations of the above.

    For instance, I have med-high light, non-CO2, ADA Aqua Soil, Easycarbo ('cheaper' Excel) and regular dosing. Is that high or low-tech? Or Mid-tech?

    Labelling is convenient, but tricky.

    Low-tech is more forgiving for beginners, but most beginners don't have the patience for the slow plant growth....

    Hi-tech is better for aquascapers that want to pump out aquascape after aquascape, as growth is faster and plant choice is unlimited. But for beginners, the high light is less forgiving and likely consequent algae issues will likely put them off.

    Cheers.
     
  4. Fikus

    Fikus New Member

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    Geogre,

    I completely agree with you about above mentioned. This is so good clarification of my thoughts. Different words but for sure same meaning that leads to the same point.

    But have to emphasize that it's all a matter of choice of young and green aquascapers. It is so natural (for young members) to see a lot of fast growing plants and day after to see a lot of algae all over around, due to several unfavorable conditions in the tank...

    Rgds,


    Filip Todorovic - Fikus
     
  5. trenac

    trenac New Member

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    I basically agree with what George posted on Low/High tech tanks. Although I don't think you need a nutrient rich substrate for either a low tech or high tech tank.

    For the beginner a good middle ground is a good place to start. I personally feel that between 2-3wpg is a good starting point. I always think that C02 injection of some sort is a good idea, even in low light setups.
     
  6. akmal

    akmal New Member

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    hi-tech and low-tech are pretty loose terms. While most of the time the defining factor is the lighting system, some tend to overlook the other equipments/supplements needed for aquascaping (filtration+media, CO2+diffuser/reactor/bell, substrate system, fert + dosing regime, temperature, etc)

    i agree with George on the definition of hi-tech and low-tech in general, however i feel that more detail is needed for accuracy (i'll leave that to the experts hehe)

    As for recommending to beginners, IMHO most newbies currently (including myself) have little to no patience for a low-tech setup to show progress and also have limited resources to invest in a hi-tech setup. I would recommend somewhere in the middle as a starting point for beginners because

    1. growth rate visually more pleasing than low-tech
    2. Algae outbreak wont be so severe, giving some time for learning how to control algae
    3. med-tech gives a little bit of space for errors than hi-tech, but shows much better progress than low-tech.

    just my 0.02
     
  7. Guillermo

    Guillermo New Member

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    I too basically agree with George and Trena.

    I consider presurized Co2 and its additional gadgets, rich substrates (Aquasoil, Eco Complete, Fluorite), HQI lighting above 3 wpg, Reverse Osmosis filters, and Seachem's and Tropica's ferts as Hi-Tech equipment.

    DIY Co2, regular gravel, fluorescent lighting, the use of tap water, and dry ferts are low-tech in my book.

    Obviously we tend to combine all the stuff, lol.

    My .02
     
  8. kakkoii

    kakkoii New Member

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    You had some good points there. I personally think that mid-tech is the way to go for the beginner.
     
  9. plantbrain

    plantbrain Aspiring Aquascaper

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  10. oregonaqua

    oregonaqua New Member

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    I always considered my first tank a low tech: 55Gal i had a shop light with 2 40 watt plant bulbs in it, 2 HOB filter with a piece of plexi cut so it sat on top of the water in filter (no surface movement) D.I.Y. co2. no ferts but trace once a week or to raise a low level like N or K.

    then i went to high tech. first i tossed the lights and got a 265 watt power compact, then a canister filter, then made acrylic lily pipes, then pressurized co2, then E.I. dosing then........THE BIGGEST ALGAE OUT BREAK EVER SEEN. I was totally unprepared for the time it would need from me.

    To shorten what i have come to consider High and low tech:
    my definition of high tech is the same as everyone else's mostly.

    ive always considered NPT to be low tech and everything else kinda low to mid tech. IMHO once you start moving from D.I.Y. co2 to pressurized your moving more away from low tech to mid or high.

    my goal is to have one of each tank in my house:%3 me stop type now
    Jeremy
     
  11. dougz

    dougz New Member

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    I wouldn't recommend low tech (sunlight, soil for substrate) to beginners, as they will be battling algae right out of the gate, and that can be daunting and discouraging..

    I define low tech as:

    Direct sunlight supplementation
    No C02
    NO ferts (unless you count fish food, which is added to supplement, which is added as a plant nutrient, as well as food for fish)
    Soil for a substrate, covered by a thin layer of pea gravel or the like
    heavily planted
     
  12. plantbrain

    plantbrain Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I'd say it depends on your goal there.
    Non CO2 low tech get very little attention and grow in slowly.
    10-20X slower than the same tanks with CO2 enrichment.

    For most scapers, this might be too long.
    They tend to like a middle ground, so the lower light CO2 enrichment seems to suit them well.

    Easy to target CO2/nutrients at less light.
    Slower growth rates allow for the plants to all grow in a nice rate but not too fast. Some species grow much faster when you add too much light and become weedy.

    That's about the best balance for most folks, 1.5-2 w/gal and CO2 with rich sediment and water column dosing light- since you have plenty in the sediment and low light, heavy dosing ain't needed, but will not hurt if done either.

    If you have to have the high light as well, an trade off is to use the high noon spike for 2-3 hours etc.

    That's pretty much what ADA does on a few tanks..........others are just low light.

    But they all are CO2 enriched.

    I think for many, non CO2 offers the low care and balanced approach many start out in plants are trying to achieve. Once it's set up and well established, the tank stays in nice shape and requires far less care than CO2 enriched system. Plant choice also can make large differences, as can fish loads in the goals.

    Hard to say which is really better.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. olivierleo

    olivierleo New Member

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    As a beginner, i'm sure going to go the low tech way.Easy plants, 9w for my 3gal (and maybe later a 7gal approx, light to be determined) , no Co2, good substrate (ada aquasoil), basic fertilization (like leaf zone from API) and let's hope for the best.
    Any advice on those settings are welcome.
     
  14. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I personally wouldn't associate Hi/Low tech with the level of lighting. I hink it is more the setup really.

    I use low WPG whether it be with flourescents or the current LEDs. Both closer to 1WPG than 3WPG however I inject CO2, dose EI and have high flow.

    I would class hi tec purely as running with CO2 and ferts.

    AC
     
  15. Carolina

    Carolina New Member

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    I found that the type of bulb makes a big difference. My favorite bulb is the Zoo Med superdaylight.

    My favorite fert is Seachem Flourish Comprehensive. I dose 2 ml a week.
     

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