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Re: Amano, Art & Commercialization

Nicholas Kefalas wrote:
"This is exactly what I am saying here folks. Amano may have started off as
photographer (YES an Artist), and did create some very interesting and
beautiful Aquascapes (Yes artistic), but somewhere along the way the mighty
dollar started making its presence. I do not think for an instance that his
Zen poetry and "Earth, Wind and Fire" could sustain any tank using his
I stand by my opinion that Amano and ADA are totally overrated and highly
commercialized. I would like one of you close cronies to him to ask him who
his marketing agent is. I guarantee you that he has one !
If you truly wanted to promote his techniques there would be more theory and
technical information in is books and less Japanese poetry. Why is it people
that in all of his books be flaunts his ADA brand everywhere ? He never
talks about generic fertilizers or substrates or filters. Everything is ADA
A planted aquarium, IMHO, should be a closed ecological system"

As I pointed out in an earlier post, the same "criticism" could be leveled
at Dupla (just check out "The Optimum Aquarium"), Dennerle, Tropica, Tetra,
TFH Publications (especially when Dr. Axelrod was still alive and in control
of the company). The point of view that Nicholas seems to have is that
commercialization of something is always a bad thing. I don't happen to

In the case of Axelrod and TFH Publications, it was hard to find mention in
the books and magazines he produced of items not made or sold by companies
he had a commercial interest in. But he did a great deal to bring new fish
species to the attention of the hobby and the money for his many expeditions
had to come from somewhere. I think on the whole, it was a very fair
trade-off. The folks at Dupla worked for many years to perfect their
"System" and their book flaunted their own products. So what? Their system
WORKS, and so do their products - sure, in some cases there are better, more
cost effective products out there, but the theory behind it works and if
they want to flog their own products while bringing such valuable
information to hobbyists I can live with that.

ADA does the same thing - they have a line of products which they showcase
through their publications. Without the genius and artistic sensibility of
an Amano, the stuff would probably never fly, let alone sell. But his
abilities as a photographer and as an artistic aquascaper so far outweigh
anything else that he could be flogging dish detergent and I'd still think
highly of him. Why SHOULD Amano talk about generic fertilizers or
substrates? He has a company which produces a line of aquarium related
products designed to work together as a seamless whole (like Dupla and
Dennerle and a number of other European companies) - so he flogs those
products. Big deal. In the case of ADA, some of the pieces of hardware (i.e.
the hand blown glass items) are works of art in and of themselves - almost
on the same level as a Leica camera. Sure, a Kodak will take good snapshots,
but a Leica will do so with much more style ;-)

But if you're not "into" that sort of thing, you need not worry about it -
there are less expensive alternatives which are available which should get
you where you want to go in the same (but less stylish) manner. To each his

But its pointless to knock Amano or ADA because of the tie-in with a
commercial enterprise. We NEED hardware to set up and maintain our tanks -
having a "Cadillac" line available doesn't take away from anyone's enjoyment
of the hobby nor from the beauty or recognition of Amano's artistic

Your comment regarding planted aquariums being "closed ecological systems"
leads me to believe that you are either VERY behind the ball on the nature
of an aquarium, or you haven't been reading the posts here very closely over
the years. The "myth" of the "balanced aquarium" has been debunked here so
often that I was almost shocked to see it repeated. We strive for a dynamic
equilibrium in our aquariums and that equilibrium is sometimes a moving
target. You can't just seal it up and walk away, expecting things to remain
static over time. Aquariums are assemblages of living organisms and because
of their small scale require us to "play God" from time to time too maintain
that equilibrium.

James Purchase