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Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist, Second Edition
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Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist, Second Edition [Hardcover]

Diana L. Walstad
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 2003
Book presents scientific information that hobbyists can use to set up and maintain successful planted freshwater aquaria. Book contains practical tips using a question-and-answer format in boxes scattered throughout the text. Hobbyists learn how to keep a healthy and inexpensive aquarium. Although the author prefers low-tech methods, she lays out the science that underlies all methods. The author shows that hobbyists can create thriving planted freshwater tanks WITHOUT CO2 injection, fertilizers, expensive lighting, and other high-tech gadgets.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


I am delighted with the tack taken in which you provide scientific information for hobbyists to make sound aquarium management decisions. I applaud the approach to educate non-scientists about their subjects; too often the scientific laypersons are greatly underestimated. I was particularly pleased with the book's total avoidance of gadgets that are mostly quite useless. The book's ecosystem approach and balance of the system is the only reasonable direction long-term. --Robert G. Wetzel, Biology Professor, and Author of 'Limnology'

Your new book is outstanding in every respect. In my opinion, this is a definitive, practical guide for the aquarist who wants to set up a beautiful planted aquarium. Beyond the basics, it is an in-depth exploration of the aquatic ecosystem and how if affects plants. --Don Dewey, former editor of 'Freshwater and Marine Aquarium'

Based on science but engagingly written... The best part is that, in the practical setup section, the author tells exactly what to do, in simple terms, in lists of instructions that one can read and understand. Hooray! --'Aquaphyte' (University of Florida) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Diana Walstad is a long-time aquarium hobbyist. She trained as a microbiologist and spent many years doing medical research at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Her last position was as a cell biologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science. In 2012, she published 'Cooking and Experimenting with Pressure Cookers', which describes new pressure cooking techniques. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Echinodorus Publishing; 2 edition (June 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967377315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967377315
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 8.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ms. Walstad first published 'Ecology of the Planted Aquarium' in 1999. Book has been translated into German, Italian, and Polish.

In 2012, after several years of "kitchen experiments", she published 'Cooking and Experimenting with Pressure Cookers'.

Both books present scientific and/or experimental information that is useful and non-traditional -- whether in keeping natural aquariums or cooking healthier foods.

Her blog site ( has articles on pressure-cooking and biographies of her maternal grandparents. has current photos of aquariums, hiking, nature, cooking, etc.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
188 of 190 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As an experienced aquarist with a flair for biotop-aquariums I have a huge library of aquarium and ecology books at home. Most of them are printed with luxury paper and coverage including breathtaking pictures. But very few of them include key information that I exactly need. Can fish food alone cover all the nutrient needs of aquatic plants, if yes how? Do I really need additional CO2 and fertilizers? How can I maintain healthy low-tech natural aquariums free from algae with sun light? What are the most significant bio-chemical reactions that take place in the aquarium gravel & soil and how do they affect the general aquarium ecology, pH, KH, CO2, Iron-levels etc? Do plants really purify water, if yes how and which plants are better purifiers? Why are emergent plants better water purifiers? What does this heavy metal talk mean concretely? Do plants consume ammonia, nitrit and nitrate? Why do they generally prefer ammonia over nitrate? etc... etc...The author of this book apparently anticipated my unanswered questions of past and answered all of them in a step by step manner without a single logical gap. Don't let yourself negatively impressed by the modest look of the book. Its content is perfect!
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110 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Accessible, Technical, Wonderful! September 30, 2001
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First, the downside: If you want beautiful color pictures of plants, buy Nature Aquarium World (the other MUST HAVE plant book). There are no photos in this book. But if you want detailed, accessible information on how to create thriving planted aquariums, buy this.
Walstad maintains that thriving planted freshwater tanks can be created WITHOUT CO2 injectors, fertilizers, zillion-watt lighting fixtures, or many other high-tech gadgets. This book contains nothing but details on how she does so, from cover to cover.
If you've ever tried adding something (Iron, Light, whatever) and gotten an unanticipated result, you will probably find the answer here. She has lots of information about how plants impact every aspect or aquarium water chemistry.
This is a MUST HAVE book for plant enthusiasts.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for the aquatic gardener March 22, 2000
This book is an excellent complement to the photo-laden coffee table books on planted aquariums. It is a thoroughly-researched treatise on what biological and chemical processes happen in an aquarium. Unlike most technical books, it manages to combine both detailed discussions of the science involved (including many references to the scientific literature) with practical tips that would be useful to the beginner, using a question-and-answer format in boxes scattered throughout the text.
The author, formerly the Technical Advisor to the Aquatic Gardeners Association, proposes a "low-technology" approach to maintaining a planted aquarium, eschewing the exotic materials and gadgets favored by the German and Japanese schools of aquarium design.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aquarium stores must hate her! August 30, 2005
Because after you read through this book, you are going to throw out all those C02 injectors, fertilizers, filters, and oodles of dollars of wacky equipment, and start enjoying your fish. Unless you actually like spending countless hours tinkering with your tank and flushing fish, go no further. Indeed it is a textbook but if you follow the chapter on setting up - your done! It took me a year to trust what she says but I am a convert to the low maintenance tank. No water changes and I dont even test the water anymore! My fish are so active they practically jump out when I feed them. Of course! It makes perfect sense that a tank should work as an ecosystem and perform better that way.

I believe Jaques Cousteau had some warning for us 30, 40 years ago related to this concept, but that's another story.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now Standard Text for Anyone with Planted Aquaria April 27, 2000
By h,s
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title is *very* descriptive. This book uses science instead of relying on the conventional wisdom, which is so often wrong, or the many myths about planted aquaria. Yet it is a practical and accessible text for the home hobbyist.
Many books on tropical fish and planted aquaria are little more than a concatenations of captioned postcards -- attractive color photographs with sparse, slightly informative text. Generally they follow the current trends or parrot the conventional wisdom, which has often proven to be wrong or misguided. But _Ecology of the Planted Aquarium_ is a refreshing change from the glut of "postcard" books available on aquaria. If you want pictures, this is not your book -- but there is no shortage of those to choose from.
Rather than merely repeat the conventional wisdom or trumpet a new and contrary view, this author has diligently researched what happens in a planted aquarium AND explored hypotheses to explain the results. It set a new standard for books on the subject by replacing anecdotal arguments, didacticism, marketing promises, and myth with science. Many aquatic gardening experts consider this now a standard text to read (and have for reference) if you want to keep planted aquaria.
Extensive references are included so that sources, scientific studies, etc. can be traced back for further research. This book reveals in a well-organized manner the complex chemical relationships in a typical hobbyist planted aquarium. As such, it can serve as a primer and key reference work for hobbyists. Hopefully, it will also stimulate discussion and serve as stalking horse for further research into this complex subject. Although necessarily technical, it is not unduly so nor does it demand of the reader any specialized education.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
EASILY the best reference available for aquatic plants. If you have a planted aquarium, you must have this book.
Published 4 hours ago by J. Strickland
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read and information but I'd like to see more ...
Good read and information but I'd like to see more specific, applicable details such as steps to follow to set a dirted tank...
Published 7 hours ago by Fernando Rosete
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
Very educational and think I'll be using this method!
Published 13 days ago by Jamie
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want a planted tank, buy it. If you have a planted tan, buy it.
I cant rave enough about this book for someone who truly wants to understand whats going on in a planted tank. its not that hard of a read, its really her tour de force. Read more
Published 13 days ago by G. Fernandes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book on how to maintain a healthy, algae-free, low maintenance planted aquarium.
Published 14 days ago by SammyT
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book.
Published 22 days ago by C51R
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, now running the simplest freshwater system I've ...
Great book, now running the simplest freshwater system I've ever kept and everything is incredibly healthy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by michael cole
1.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but informative
This one went way over my head however, if you read it through twice or maybe even a third time like I did, it will spare you the heartache of a dead aquarium
Published 1 month ago by Ainokea
5.0 out of 5 stars Good resource and solid argument
Very informative and well written. A great scientific background mixed with practical suggestions. A solid case for more heavily planted aquariums and a valuable resource for... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Benjamin E Staver
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book.
Awesome book. It belongs in the library of aquarium hobbyist.
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer Langley
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