Re: Amano's maintenance and his books

The computer seems to be working this morning, so I will try to add a little
information to this thread.

>From: krandall at world_std.com (Karen A Randall)
>Date: Sat, 2 Mar 1996 22:19:59 -0500
>Subject:  What are your aquascaping techniques?
>I suspect even Amano doesn't trim every day... he's got tanks set 
>up in shops and restaurants all over the place!<g>  I suspect that 
>he does a really good job about a week before he wants to take 
>photos of his tanks. ;-) 

He has dozens of display tanks in his aquarium store and his expert staff
trim the plants EVERY MORNING. Both times I saw them, I thoght they were
each picture perfect. There was not a single brown spot or damaged leaf in
the entire tank. It is more work than I would be prepared to do (maybe if I
had more time), but the results are fantastic and appeal to a broad spectrum
of hobbyists in Japan. I think it can eventually become the new standard in
Europe and also in the US.

The correct tools are probably important to make the job easier. In Japan,
there are many instruments (long tweezers, surgical scissors, etc) that are
sold in all the aquarium shops. But they are expensive (~$20-40 USD). But
everything is expensive there, so relatively speaking it is not much. :-)
Potted plants also cost $20-60 there and some small glass aquaria cost
thousands of dollars.

>>  But I think to achieve Amano's level of success
>>      requires "sculpting" very reqularly.

Yes, But it also requires a good artistic sense of balance, color, etc to
get it properly arranged. Something I cannot do, but I can appreciate the
final result. He designs and sets up all of the tanks himself. Even the
placement of the rocks is critical to achieve the appropriate 'feel.' He
told me that a small movement of one of the rocks of a few cm will ruin the
entire arrangement. I suppose that is the difference between the painting
that sells for  $20 and the one that sells for thousands. Certainly, his
arrangements are suitable for a top gallery or even a museum!! It also helps
to have all of the plants available to start with. Unfortunately, we are
more limited in the US because of our plant import laws.
>I really think we have to remember that he picks a "moment" to 
>take a photo of any given tank.  He certainly isn't going to waste 
>time and effort on photographing one in it's worst state.  I'm not 
>saying that the "worst" state might not be _very_ nice to the 
>casual observer (I know there are times when I'm disgusted with 
>how things are going in a tank, and someone walks in and tells me 
>how nice it looks) but I'll bet that the photos in the books are 
>the "best" moments for these tanks.

They are probably the best moments, but each moment is probably a best
moment. I drooled at each of the tanks he had in his store. The ones in his
office were even better. He also has some tanks specifically setup for
photgraphy - even with special glass for the aquarium that cost thousands of
dollars. But this has now become the norm for the tank setups that he sells.
A 20 gallon all glass tank (rounded edges, without seams) sells for $2500.
He recently appolgized to me that I came to see him the first time, when he
was in the process of moving into his new offices and his tanks did not look
their best. When you see something so overwhelming for the first time, it is
difficult to take notice of the small imperfections. I did not notice!

>I find that my tanks are cyclical, perhaps as much due to my 
>schedule as anything else, but also to some extent due to 
>environmental factors.

I beleive that this is also considered in the planning of his tanks. One
example I recall is a Barclaya in one tank which appears in full leaf
periodically, adding a sudden splash of color. Isn't this also done by
outdoor gardeners, using different annuals and perenials. It would be boring
to always look at a static picture. I guess that is also why we have the
fish :-)

>From: nitro at oeonline_com (Didi Soichin)
>Date: Sun, 3 Mar 96 00:13 EST
>Subject: Re: Plant Books and Amano's Tanks
> Sorry if this question was asked 1000 times before :). Which Amano book is
>everybody refering to as "volume 1"? I only know of the TFH edition, which 
>doesn't mention anything about volume 1 or 2. I also remember reading a
>post a while ago about some calendars and implying that there would be a
>different volume 1 than the TFH one. If so, where can I get it from and is
>it in any way different than the TFH edition ?

Amano has published 3 books in Japan. The first one was translated into
English and published by TFH in 1994. There were some problems with the
translation (many of the confusing phrases and missing translations were
described in my review, TAG V8 n1). Although it was one of the nicest books
that TFH has ever produced, it is still not up to par with the quality of
the original Japanese edition. But the english edition is less than 1/2 the
price. The second book came out in Japan in 1994 and is written in Japanese
and English. It retails for $80-90 in Japan, but I understand that TFH will
be printing it and hopefully will bring down the cost. Versions for the
European market are also in the works (German, Italian, etc) The third
Nature World Aquarium came out in November of 95, all in Japanese and I
understand that translations are also planned. 

Neil Frank                 Aquatic Gardeners Association,  Raleigh NC