re: What are your aquascaping techniques?

     >From: gtong at sirius_com (G.Tong)
     >Date: Wed, 28 Feb 1996 11:33:28 -0800
     >Subject: What are your aquascaping techniques?
     >The aquascapes in Takashi Amano's book, "Nature Aquarium World," lead 
     >me to ask for your techniques and tips for pruning and otherwise 
     >shaping your aquatic plants.
     Amano's book really got me to thinking, too.
     I found some used surgical scissors (from a friend), the ones that have 
     handles about 25 cm (10 in)long. Amano shows a picture of this kind of 
     scissors. These things cost about 100 bucks new (U.S.), and I paid 20 
     bucks.  Definitely worth 20 bucks. This is a great tool. It allows me 
     to go in and snipsnip in just the right places. Unfortunately I was 
     unable to find any source for cheaper long scissors. Sorry, no 
     suggestions.  But such a useful tool that I urge folks to get the 
     longest good quality scissors they can find I also got a couple pairs 
     of long forceps with serrated tips.  They are called "specimin 
     forceps", are available in 11 inch length and cost 8 or ten bucks from 
     a scientific or medical supply company.  These are extremely useful 
     By trying different things with my plants arrive at the only 
     conclusion: having results like Amano's means going in and trimming, 
     snipping, replanting almost every day.  Sword plants, for example keep 
     their slowly dying leaves for a long time.  You can be ruthless, and 
     remove these leaves as soon as they show even a bit of brown.  The 
     plants don't mind.  By doing this diligently, the whole tank looks very 
     green and lush.  This is the only way to get pretty looking Java Ferns, 
     I think.  In my tanks they take a long time to attach, and don't 
     produce leaves very quickly for several months.  Then they start to put 
     out leaves more quickly; at this point you can start geting ruthless 
     with them, and trim leaves as soon as they start to develop the black 
     spots indicating spore production.  They DO get nice and bushy and 
     lush.  Don't know what to do about the ugly brown roots, though. 
     (Except to trim every day...this is becoming a litany..)
     I don't have time like this to devote, and a doubt whether many of you 
     do either. Personally, I'm still trying to find the right balance 
     between doing a little bit every day, and doing a hell of a lot once 
     every 6 weeks.  But I think to achieve Amano's level of success 
     requires "sculpting" very reqularly.
     Amano's tanks really convey a feeling of tranquility, like (other) 
     Japanese-style gardens.  It seems to me that this is because the plants 
     don't look like they are competing with one another.  Of course, they 
     are, slowly but furiously.  I think he consciously trims and shapes his 
     plants to look like they are not in competition for light.  I also 
     think it takes a while to learn how to position plants in the first 
     place. Different tank conditions favor or disfavor different plants, so 
     all these things are inter-related.  I just think Amano has turned his 
     processes into a Way of Life. 
     Bob_Hoesch at fws_gov
     In Ashland, OR