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With all this talk on "focus" in an aquascape, it should be remembered that
not every tank needs to be crammed with the maximum number of different
species of plants to be effective. I know that a lot of us are "collectors"
in that we like to be able to get our hands on the rare and exotic whenever
we can (big time guilt here...) but as Ivo pointed out with the link to the
Dutch site, simpler can be better at times. The aquatic plants we use come
from a wide range of areas and require an equally wide range of conditions
in order to do well. It can be nearly impossible to meet all of their
individual needs in one small tank. The hobbyist ends up spending more time
and effort fiddling with conditions than they do in actually enjoying the
When we were discussing the sort of categories to set up for the
Showcase/Contest, several of the committee members (myself included) wanted
to push for an emphasis on "themed" tanks - ones where the hobbyist set out
to create a definate "look" and selected plants, decorations and fish to
carry this out. Others, equally vocal, derided this approach, stating that
they merely put things where they thought they "looked good" as they went
along, and never worked to a plan. In the hands of a master, this approach
might work, but it can help the average hobbyist to take the time and think
about the final effect in advance.
If beggining and intermediate level hobbyists learned to practice a bit of
restraint in the selection of their plants (i.e. pick just a few compatible
species and work with those, rather than just buying anything that's on
sale) they might find that their tanks require much less fiddling and effort
to work well and look good. Learning to run is always easier for those who
know how to walk first.
A well laid out and easily maintained aquascape built from just a few masses
of carefully selected species is usually much more successful and satisfying
than a tank containing a jumble of every species sold by your favourite
aquatic nursery. That's what second (and third) tanks are for....