This is a great book for anyone seeking to gain an in depth understanding of the planted aquarium and the processes behind what make this type of aquarium work. The book specifically focuses on the ‘dirted’ planted tank, which involves using soil as a substrate. The book goes into great detail about subjects ranging from bacteria to plant nutrition and contains a wealth of information, with detailed explanations and diagrams.
Many times while reading this book, I was forced to stop and do further research before continuing. This was not due to a lack of adequate explanation but rather, it was due to the use of scientific language which was beyond my understanding at the time. The book contains a lot of chemistry and seeks to understand the planted aquarium at a molecular level.
Although this book contains a lot of very useful information, it contains little in the way of practical application. Information regarding the actual set-up and maintenance of a ‘soil-based’ tank is minimal. Further research into the setup and maintenance of a ‘soil-based’ tank is definitely required. However, it is my personal opinion that the book aims to give readers all the essential information and allows the reader to make their own decisions.
I purchased this book while considering setting up a planted aquarium with a soil substrate. Planted tanks are by far the most stable type of aquarium one can keep and my research suggested that a ‘soil-based’ tank was the most stable type of planted tank. However, it was only after I finished reading this book that I decided NOT to set-up a ‘soil-based’ tank. There were many reasons for this and while the book was able to convince me that a ‘soil-based’ tank is very stable and is able to sustain a flourishing planted tank, it did not convince me that the benefits outweighed the risks involved (and there are a few). Since then, I have become convinced that the risks are minimal and pose no major obstacle to maintaining a healthy and flourishing ‘soil-based’ tank.
Before finishing off, I would like to mention one of my favourite parts of the book. A large section of this book is dedicated to the use of plants as water purifiers for removing wastes from the aquarium water. The section spoke of the removal of nitrogenous wastes and heavy metals by aquarium plants in particular. This section of the book was very informative and proved to be very useful. This section of the book really confirmed the importance of plants and their vital function in the aquarium.
While I do not agree with everything Diana Walstad says in the book, it is definitely worth a read and most of the information written within this book can be applied to any type of planted aquarium. This definitely one of the best aquarium books I have ever read.