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Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #1212

On Sat, 14 Aug 1999, Tom Barr wrote:

> Roger Miller wrote:
> "I don't mean to imply that the southwestern xeriscape can't provide great
> ideas for aquascaping.  You're right that they share some elements with
> Zen gardens, and just as those gardens contribute to Amano's style, the
> American xeriscape could contribute to American aquascaping style."
> Okay, I'll bite.  I think it is insane to use landscapes as inspiration for
> aquascapes.  Unless they are done to the level of the Amano style tanks
> (which are ridiculously labor intensive and contrived), they usually look
> pretttty hokey.  Little paths and bushes?  Give me a break. And I can't
> think of a single fish that would feel comfortable swimming (flapping?)
> around in a xeriscape environment.

The idea isn't to make aquascapes that look like gardens, but to use
elements of landscaping in your aquascape.  Keep in mind that the
landscapers and gardeners have been solving many of the same aesthetic
problems we have for hundreds of years.  If you ignore what they have done
then you're reinventing the wheel.

> Rather than draw on landscapes for a
> tank design, I would propose that the natural habitat(s) of the tank
> inhabitants provides a far more valid basis for design.  A riverbank, a
> running stream, a calm pool, etceteras.  From that perspective the Dutch
> style tanks are far more natural, even though they tend to be forced through
> frequent trimming. IMHO of course...

Have you seen very many natural aquatic settings that look like something
you want in your planted tank?  There are a few, but freshwater bodies are
typically murky from suspended sediments and colored by dissolved
organics.  At this time of year in particular plankton of various sorts
adds to the problem.  The bottom is usually mud liberally stirred by fish
and other animals hunting for the many worms and other things living
there.  The plants grow in large, dense stands consisting of a single
species of plant, or maybe two, sometimes with large open areas.  Of
course, the plants aren't arrayed to please the human eye.  Perhaps they
please the hordes of insects that usually live there.

What most of us want in our aquariums is a lot more similar to the garden
than it is to nature.  That is especially true of the tanks we think of as
Dutch aquariums, which aren't at all similar to any natural environment
I've ever seen.

Yes, there are analogies from natural settings that can inspire
aquascapes.  I use them myself.  But that natural inspiration is highly
idealized and then it serves only as a starting point for an aquascape
that is brought to reality using methods like the gardeners' landscaping

Roger Miller