Aquascaping by Ben Belton
Beginner Basics by Ben Belton

It has been as recently as the early nineties that aquatic gardening in the United States began to significantly gain popularity. We all learned in grade school that plants need light, carbon dioxide, and water, however using them in our aquariums never seemed to connect. While commonplace now and even though it had been done in Europe for years, there was actually a time when the idea of adding carbon dioxide and more light for plants was a hard sell and revolutionary in America.

Most people making their first try at growing aquatic plants begin as fish keepers that want to try and add a little beauty and a natural presence to their tanks. However, much like the Baby Boomer generation trying to program a VCR, there is a mysterious barrier blocking their success. With meticulous accuracy, they have overcome the most demanding and unreasonably specific water requirements to reproduce a fish that is so rare and delicate most of us have never heard of it. Yet keeping the simplest of plants is impossible. With each new plant purchase comes a new failure. The unfortunate victims (plants) usually die and are replaced again and again until the beginning hobbyist just gives up and resorts to plastic alternatives.

Since there are so many different methods of growing plants, sometimes successful aquatic gardeners aren't any help because they often don't seem to be able to agree amongst themselves. In fact they regularly disagree. A fish keeper getting over the shock that we actually add deadly carbon dioxide to our aquariums is further overwhelmed by five different opinions on how best to do it.

As the title says, the following information is very basic. It is oriented to that person just starting to try to cross over from fish keeper to aquatic gardener. If you have successfully grown a plant or two, you're probably ahead of what comes next. As a disclaimer, I'll say that there is no point here that could not be or has not been debated by experienced aquatic plant hobbyist. There are dozens of methods and opinions on how best to grow plants. Many of them are correct and very successful. It will be up to the reader to take the information here and move on to the broader discussion of each subject.

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