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Re: Dutch vs Nature aquariums

Hey gang,

I'd like to take a crack at this one.

 <<It's probably way easier to do a 10 gallon
tank as a nature aquarium then it is go dutch.  And
having said that, I'm not really sure where I'd draw
the line between the two. Anyone want to take a shot
at it?>>>

According to Amano, there isn't really a *line* per
se, but more of a distinction between different ways
of thinking about "gardening" or "layout". I'll refer
to Amano a great deal in this post, because I believe
when we speak of a "nature aquarium" it is Amano's
pioneering efforts, and the subsequent genre based on
his efforts which we speak of. 

I think the most important difference for us is the
ideaology used in coming up with a layout for the
tank, and the obvious visual differences in the
completed product. The Dutch setup favors order, and
tidiness in the layout. Also, dutch aquariums are
large as a rule. I've never seen a sucessful,
traditional, and exemplary dutch planted tank smaller
than 4' (that doesn't mean they don't exist, just not
the rule). The plants are *always* arranged from
shortest in front and middle, to highest in the back
and sides, with one or more "specimen" plants in the
mid-ground......without exception. The plants are to
be kept in strict positions never to grow into one and
other. The foreground is usually small. Amano's
opinion seems to be that, while it is a totally
acceptable format, it is based upon the orderliness of
the European flower bed. Fish are just for movement
and a little color, and are generally used very
sparingly. <<these are personal observations, and I
invite feedback>>     

Amano admits to using elements of "flower garden"
techniques in many of his layouts. ie: bk 1, pg72/bk
2, pg90-91, bk 3, pg 204, and I'm sure there are

On the other hand, there is the nature aquarium. While
dutch tanks tend to be large, nature aquariums tend to
be more modest, and lend themselves to smaller tanks. 

**The idea is to re-create nature in the space that
you have.** 

Granted some of Amano's efforts are larger than
life....absolutely huge tanks. The nature aquarium
"concept" seems to be a bit more ethereal in that
there is no formula to how a finished product should
look or make you feel. The plants and fish are equally
important and the fish should be chosen *very*
carefully to harmonize with the aquascape. Wood and 
rocks are to be arranged in certain ratios and
quantities that correspond with "natural" and
artistically appealing formation. The plants seem to
be "second chair" to the rocks/wood, many times, and
serve only to accentuate them (speaking in an artistic
sense, of course). The foreground is the focal point
by design, and the whole is more of a consideration
than its parts (contrary to the dutch design).  

I think it's safe to say that most layouts, especially
ours, use elements of both. The Japanese have
thousands of years of culture and art to draw upon,
and *seem* to value art, as a society, more than we
do. I found it difficult to put into words my thoughts
on the "nature" aqaurium style, but maybe thats my
western sensibilty cramping my style;)

John Wheeler


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