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and this is something we like to ask all of our interviewees because it's always interesting to us

and to our listeners to hear how everybody started in the hobby. So tell us a little bit about how
you first started out with aquarium. That's a great question. It was as a child, I must have been 8
or 10, my mom had a fish pond. I started keeping Livebearers, I think I started out maybe with
Mosquito fish which I used to catch in the canals, this was in California, and I had a little 2-
gallon bowl and kept Sword Tails, Mollies, and Guppies at one time or another, I remember
being absolutely fascinated when they gave birth, and all those little Swordtail babies bright red,
and then when the black Mollies had babies, the little black babies I just couldn't get enough.
That is a neat experience. I started out with Livebearers as well, and I remember the same
fascination with the little babies. I remember watching them pop out of the mother, I was just
absolutely entranced. So did you keep on with aquariums up to now more or less? At one time
these guppies that I had they had a horrible disease that I couldn't get rid of, and I remember
being out of the hobby for many years because of that. But I kept coming back to them, and
then I started back up in 1987, with the planted tanks but I've had tanks off and on all of my life.
And I guess this is a good lead into our next question. What led you to develop your method or
what is widely known as the Walstad method? Well, I'll go back to my childhood here. I live next
to a dairy farm and they had a big stock tank in the yard with the cows, and it was filled with
Vallisneria, the stock tank was out in full sun, the substrate was probably manure from the cows.
But the plants in there the Vallisneria, it was like a forest, they were bright emerald green, there
was no algae in there, they were growing like crazy, it was just a beautiful sight out in the middle
of this feedlot. So that kind of gave me something that I always return to when I was having
trouble growing plants later on as an aquarium hobbyist. I tried to grow plants in the aquarium,
and I did what everybody recommended put gravel in and get your plants, it just never worked.
So when I got back into the hobby in 1987, I decided that I would just do something really
different and I kept that idea of the stock tank with that beautiful growth of Vallisneria in my
mind, and I thought well none of the aquarium methods have worked why don't I just do what I
had seen before. So I set up a 20 gallon in front of the window with sunlight, and then I just put
soil in the bottom and I couldn't believe it the plants just grew like crazy, I'd never seen plants
grow like that in an aquarium, and that's kind of how it all started. It was like night and day from
what I had remembered in my earlier failures, once you see plants really growing, it was just
spectacular. I can imagine that's the fascinating story that the method was inspired by the stock
tank I've never heard of that. And my method, it leaves the nutrients in the tank and lets the
plants have them and that keeps the fish healthy and it's just a completely different method. You
could almost call it the organic aquarium. A very good term, that's it, it's the organic aquarium, I
mean the soil is a tremendous supply of carbon dioxide.