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Book Review:

Aquarium Plants, The Practical Guide

By Pablo Tepoot
New Life Publications
25855 S.W. 193 Ave.
Homestead, FL 33031
fax 248-7450
1998, 216pp., Suggested Retail $49.95

Bob Fenner


There are some (many) folks in the business of ornamental aquatics, indeed the world, who sit about grousing, "someone ought to do something about'¦" this or that perceived deficiency. As opposed to such "talkers" Pablo Tepoot stands out as an exemplary "doer". Here in his (New Life Publications) fourth print effort, Aquarium Plants, The Practical Guide, he picks up the gauntlet for real freshwater aquariums.


Amongst the themes treated here are the KISS approach (Keep It Simple Stupid) to setting up and maintaining planted systems. Though it's not the approach I would take, Pablo covers an "Introduction to Aquarium Plants" including Photosynthesis, Lighting, CO2, Aeration, Temperature, Nutrient and Substrate, Set-up, Water Quality and Chemistry, Algae & Snail Control all in a scant five pages! Though necessarily brief, these topics are well laid out and should be clear to the majority of aquarists.

There follows a few pages describing and contrasting the growth of true aquarium plants grown "outdoors" in Florida versus under optimized aquarium conditions, and a nice few-pages (and fold-out) on the basics of Aquascaping.

The bulk of the book (170 pages) is dedicated to a lavish User's Guide, detailing gorgeous high-quality photographs of the vast majority of available aquatic plantstocks. Along with a spiffy blown-up medium format pic are the Scientific Name, a note whether the organism is Copper Sensitive, Light Requirements, Aquascaping Placement Icon, Temperature Range, Environment Icon (whether the plant grows submerged or amphibious), pH Range, Distribution, Reproduction/Cultivation Method, and importantly, Information on Hardiness. This data was provided and reviewed by folks in the business of providing and retailing real live plants and is in my opinion, the best (most accurate, significant and meaningful) available.

The ending portion of the User's Guide is a rogue's gallery of terrarium and terrestrial plants that continue to shamefully find their way into the pet fish industry. No, these plants don't live underwater in aquarium conditions, and yes, should be avoided

Lastly there is a scientific and common name index replete with a symbol indicating whether the plant is submerged (s), emerged (e), floating (f) or terrarium (t). And a note of a Literature section rightfully plugging Kasselmanns first edition (1995) of Aquarienpflanzen. My understanding is this worthy tome is due out in English soon.

Intended Audience:

Is anyone who might seriously be considering whether to try a live plant tank. With the information offered in a simple and straightforward manner here, avoiding non-aquarium plants though they may be found in LFS (Livestock Fish Stores), everyone can be a successful aquarium water gardener. For the more serious, advanced aquatic green thumbers, here is a ready reference for inter-rater agreement in identifying species of plants in use, as well as a starting point for discussion of husbandry notes.


My only "gripe" with Aquarium Plants, The Practical Guide, has to do with a subjective difference I have with approaching the textual matter. Pablo has endeavored here to skim over just the very basics of the "what and how" of the science of planted aquariums. Right or wrong, there is little "meat" to the practical "hands on" of which products are available, any images of them in use, alternatives such as homemade CO2 infusers, or at-length discussions of alternative opinions on the many topics offered. But very likely his simplified approach to aquarium gardening can be explained by the sub-title. It was not his intention to produce a comprehensive Atlas or pretty "hobbyist" work, but a sturdy, beautiful tome of general text and practical husbandry notes. To this ends he has hit the target squarely in the middle.


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