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What makes a fabulous tank?


I've been following progress in Mr. Purchases' aquascaping contest
discussion.  Recently they've faced a question that I find interesting
enough to rephrase a bit and ask on the APD.

What are the characteristics (say 5 or 6 characteristics) that make a
planted aquascape stand out - the characteristics that together would take
it beyond pretty and right into downright breathtaking?

I think it's a given that the plants need to be healthy and robust.
Novices can be impressed by plants that aren't perfectly healthy, but a
tank that will knock the socks off an experienced aquarist has to have
healthy plants.

I think there has to be visibility - you have to be able to see what's in
the tank.  If the tank is choked with growth then there's not that much to
see.  From there on things start getting a little fuzzy.

Light, shadows and movement in the tank would distinguish a living
aquascape from a mere still life.

Good composition and layout give the viewer a sense of security and
pleasing balance in the aquascape.

Combinations of different colors and leaf shapes lends variety and
increases the viewer's interest in an aquascape.

A use of recognizable elements or themes in a tank - a sort of scenic
metaphore - can give a viewer a sense of familiarity with an aquascape and
invoke senses and emotions that originate not from the aquascape itself
but from the viewer's impressions or memories.

I know that isn't enough and that we all look at things a little
differently, so what do you think?  What have you seen in aquascapes that
just pop your eyes open and take your breath away?

Roger Miller