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On Mon, 5 Jul 1999, James Purchase wrote:
> Mmmmmm,.......I doubt that there is anything remotely American about what is
> being done in the hobby right now, at least stylistically. Not only is the
> country probably too big physically (hard for hobbyists in New Mexico and
> Maine to compare results and share notes), but the planted end of the hobby
> is still pitifully small when compared with the market as a whole.
Certainly nothing uniquely so. But I remember more than 30 years ago
reading beginning texts (U.S. authorship) with advice on how to set up and
aquascape new aquariums. Their idea was to start with an eye-catching
center piece - if this was a plant then it was often a sword plant - with
tall plants scattered along the back and sides. With the notable
exception of the beautiful black-and-white photos in old editions of Innes
and Axelrod's "Encyclopedia of Tropical Fish" the plantings were
typically sparse. Even many of the examples in Rataj and Horeman (I
think that's U.S. in origin) show that style.
I now and then hear on this list of people looking for a good centerpiece
plant, so I think that style is still alive. While alive it probably
isn't alive and well. I think most of us have found it best to keep
plants in fairly dense plantings. Besides, if you're at all successful at
keeping plants then you have to work constantly to keep that sparcely
planted, centered style otherwise the plants' reproduction and growth
destroy the layout.
I think it was good back in the days when we were generally bad at keeping
plants. You layed out your tank with the centerpiece and six or seven
other individuals. When they died (which they did regularly) you threw
everything out and started over. If you planted too much then it cost too
much to start over.
I also hear on this list from a lot of people - mostly from the US, I
think - keeping large, showy plants like big swords and submerged dwarf
lillies. George Booth's photos, for example, show some nice uses of big,
tank-dominating plants. I'm pretty sure he's in the U.S. - unless Texas
seceded recently and took Colorado along so they'd have something to do in
the winter. It could happen. Honest!
Amano's photos show rather few big tank-dominating plants. Instead he
uses mostly grass-like and small-leaved plants. Where he uses potentially
large species like sword plants they are shown in an early stage of growth
before they get to anything like their natural size.
I've seen much less of the Dutch style but there too it appears that big,
showy plants are little used. Instead, small to medium size plants, and
small-leaved plants are more common.
Could this be our well-known "bigger is better" tendency showing up in