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Aqua Journal Review

My fellow APDers,

I have been asked by several people to write a short review of the first
English issue of the Aqua Journal, the monthly magazine of Aqua Design
Amano.  I thought that some of you may also be interested to know my
thoughts and I have therefore decided to post my review.  I apologize
for its length.

The cover of Aqua Journal volume 33, the first English issue, states
"The Art & Science of Aquatic Gardening."  This one statement I think
catches the essence of the Aqua Journal.  Whether you're interested in
the hobby as an art form or whether your interests lie in the more
technical and scientific aspects, the Aqua Journal is for you.  It truly
is a journal that is 100% geared to the aquatic gardener or

Each issue of the Aqua Journal brings its readers special columns.  
Volume 33 begins with one called, Field Feature. It is entitled,
"Beneath the Amazon," and it takes the reader with  Amano and a local
named Jeff on a search for the a native fish of gigantic proportions. 
Through the magic of Amano's camera and his unique talent, the reader
truly gets an interesting glimpse of life in the Amazon.

Next, the reader is treated with a Special Feature column titled, "The
Beauty of Stem Plants (in various sized tanks)."  In this column the
reader truly gets into Amano's mind and learns his techniques for
creating his mesmerizing aquascapes.  In a marked departure from his
previous books, each aquarium is thoroughly analyzed.  Amano truly
becomes a teacher and the reader his student.  Amano gets into the
nitty-gritty that we've all been longing for, e.g. why he placed the
rocks this way and why he chose to use Micranthemum behind a tuft of
Rotala.  A summary is presented that details the history of the featured
aquarium.  There is a short section on the photographic equipment used
to take the fabulous photo.  And the last section gives the technical
details of the tank (lighting, CO2, substrate, etc.).  Three different
aquariums are analyzed in great detail.

The next article turns from a focus on a type of plant- stem plants- to
aquascaping technique in general.  In this article, that I found
fascinating, Amano explains the "Shakkei" principle.  Nine more
aquariums are analyzed from this point of view.  The reader learns to
recognize various compositions such as a concave composition and a
convex composition and their different characteristics.  Then Amano
discusses how to properly trim stem plants in order to achieve a desired
look.  And this article includes pictures depicting every step!

Then we get into a more technical section for all you more advanced
aquatic horticulturists.  The article entitled "Nature Aquarium Notes"
delves into the intricacies of how carbon dioxide affects your planted
aquaria.  Using schematics, charts and graphical representations, Amano
explains the use of CO2 in planted aquaria in an easy to read fashion. 

The "Nature Aquarium Questions & Answers" section is where Amano answers
the questions of hobbyists from around the world.  This volume contains
questions on algae eaters, hair grass cultivation, Yamato shrimps,
lighting, submersed cultivation of plants and air equilibrium, among

Following the question and answers is my favorite section, the "ADA
LAB."  It is a good technical column from the Aqua Design Amano Research
and Development Unit.  This monthly column reports on experiments and
research conducted by the ADA R&D department.  Their findings often lead
to new Nature Aquarium products for the hobbyists.  This month's column
focuses on the ADA product "Phyton-git."  It explains how, Phyton-git, a
phytoncide has many applications associated with the prevention of plant
diseases and bacterial control.

Next, a wonderful article by our fellow hobbyist, Neil Frank, editor of
The Aquatic Gardener and associate editor for Aqua Journal, speaks of
the past, present and future of the aquarium plant hobby in America. 
This column is called the "Global Aquarist Report."  Some noted
aquarists that have been showcased in this section are Claus Christensen
of Tropica and Kaspar Horst of Dupla.

Finally, in the "Nature Aquarium Forum," Takashi Amano discusses the
techniques and methods of cultivating high-light and low-light plants.

Overall, my impression of the Aqua Journal is that it is an excellent
magazine geared to the aquatic gardener or horticulturist.  For anyone
who finds themselves wondering, "How does Amano do it?," the Aqua
Journal is for you.  

I want to make a point of thanking all those people whose Herculean
efforts have made the Aqua Journal available in English.  It is a
fountain of information for every aquatic gardener.


Art Giacosa
Miami, Florida