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Re: Aquascaping

Stéphane ANDRE wrote:

> Robert,
> I enjoyed very much to read you.
> > Date: Sat, 03 Jul 1999 09:15:16 -0700
> > From: Robert H <robertph at best_com>
> > Subject: Re:Aquascaping
> >
> > >>We've long had "dutch-style" aquariums which seem to feature prominantly
> > dense plantings teired very formally from low in front to high at the back
> > and sides.  Is there much more to the style than that?  Who best describes
> > the techniques?
> > More recently we have the Japanese style best illustrated by Amano's
> > tanks, but also shown in Yoshino and Kobayashi's "The Natural Aquarium".
> > The principle elements I see in the Japanese style are the assymetry,
> > "3-dimensionality" and vertical relief in the substrate -- all with the
> > overriding intent to present something that appears "natural".  Are there
> > important elements there that I've entirely missed out on?
> > Is there a uniquely American style - some body of work that represents
> > something unique in American (or any new world, for that matter)
> > aquascaping?  If so, what are its major elements and who provides the best
> > examples?<<
> >
> > Roger,
> > This is a subject that I have had great interest in, and have done some research and
> > experimenting in. I am certainly no artist, but I am striving to incorporate those
> > principals.
> > There are distinctive differences between german and japanese artists. Unfortunetly
> > there are only a few available examples of german work.
> > One that comes close  are pictures by Wim Heemskerk, as seen on the rainbowfish WEB
> > site,
> > http://www.ecn.net.au/~atappin/Planted.htm >From an artistic critique, even his
> > displays seem somewhat 2 dimensional to me. The best examples I have seen of german
> > aquascape was in a TFH publication this past year, Aquarium Quarterly by Arend van
> > den Nieuwenhuizen.
> Nieuwenhuizen is Dutch and no German. Originally, the planted aquarium we are speaking
> about is definitely Dutch.
> > It gives detailed instructions on how to build and aquascape
> > using terracing, focal points, and what he calls the golden intersection, (amano has
> > a simular concept)
> > The differences I see between the two are as you mentioned, amano incorporates more
> > open space, limited number of plant species, and usually one focal point.
> > German/dutch have a more densley planted display with several focal points from
> > different viewing angles. Terracing, or a sloped substrate is essential in both
> > approaches. German displays that I have seen slope the substrate so low in the front
> > that there is no gravel against the front glass.
> I never saw a so fine layer of substrate in Holland. It may look like that on the
> picture because the Dutch aquariums are very often embedded (in wall, furniture...).

 Nieuwenhuizen describes this method. Try it! Just stick your hand in the tank and push
out the gravel in front so that the gravel line is below the bottom trim of the tank. Walk
back and take a look! Huge difference! He actually reccomends a depth of not more than an
inch at the front! Now what I did was cheat a little, I couldnt get the substrate to stay
that shallow, so I used 3 inch wide decorative tape that matched the color of the wood
frame and put that across the front of the tank. My gravel in front comes just above the
tape, so it gives the illusion in perspective of accomplishing the same thing.

> > This one simple thing makes a huge
> > difference in the viewing perspective. Although many amano pictures clearly have 3"
> > of gravel against the front glass, if you look closely you can still see an incline
> > from front to back German/dutch  use a combination of high terracing, attaching
> > things to the aquarium walls, and using potted plants on terraces and raised areas.
> > Nieuwenhuizen describes his method of attaching cork sheets to the glass. The other
> > key I see is using color and contrast effectively. I suggest you write to TFH and
> > get a copy of this magazine/book publication, (15.95 US) The pictures alone are
> > worth the price. They come out with 4 a year.
> > I dont think there is an "american" style! Amano made a commercial success of his
> > work, and had everybody wanting to
> > know how he did it. Many people wanted to know what kind of substrate he used, what
> > kind of fertilizer, lighting, and so forth, but the truth is in my opinion, he
> > accomplished his picture perfect displays by his artistic understanding of depth and
> > perception, not by anything magic in his growing technique.
> At last a little bit of common sense! I think Amano makes 'Aquarium Kleenex' under
> perfusion (like in
> Hospital). After max. 1 month, he just empties his tank and built another one to make
> new pictures. Nothing is natural in his concept.
> I love a fully planted aquarium and I admire the Dutch for it. In my modest French
> opinion, I think they are the best in the world. Moreover, they do it in a very cheap
> way.

Well, I dont know if thats true or not, there has been conversation on this subject
before, and people in japan who follow amano have responded that his set ups have been
going for long periods of time. I know that  his carpets of riccia and glossostigma,
willow moss, are not something that can be easily set up and broken down at a moments
notice. They take time to grow, mature, and be groomed. What I do see however is a
definite difference in style between the japanese and dutch

> > My own attempt at this has been muttled. Years ago I used to be somewhat of an
> > artist, but I could never get it right the first time, and would constantly be
> > painting or drawing over my work. My display tank has been no different. I have
> > re-arranged the plants several times, and even added more gravel to raise the back
> > higher and added terraces. I suppose I could spend the rest of my life doing this,
> > never being satisfied, but I get enjoyment in doing so!
> Is "Aquarium Quarterly" entirely written by Arend van den Nieuwenhuizen?
> Is the subject always planted aquarium?
> Can you give me the TFH address?

Well this particular issue has him featured, with photos of his tanks, and how to text
written by him. Each issue is on a different subject. TFH publications, (Tropical Fish
Hobbyst) is the largest publication company in the world in the hobby, founded by Dr.
Herbert Axelrod. I think the company is based in New York. Oh ...I could take the address
from the magazine..duh! OK....yearbooks Inc. 1 TFH Plaza Neptune, NJ 07753 USA

The ways of dutch/german aquascapers gets very little press in the USA, and I think is
somewhat of an enigma in the USA.  Most people think of dutch aquariums as being very low
tech, or no tech, completely natural without any mechanical filtration. From what I have
been able to gather its just the opposite, at least in germany anyway. They use the same
type of equipment as any modern hobbyst, but it is how they design their display that sets
them apart. (I tend to lump german and dutch together because I think thery use the same
techniques, but pardon me if this is a wrong assumption)


> Stéphane
> The Netherlands