[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: NFC: Re: amano

I have been trying to stay out of the Amano ruckus on both this list and the
Amano list, but since more people chimed in tonight I decided to jump in
with both feet.

Dwight Moody wrote:

> Now for my two cents worth:
> The Amano method achieves tanks with incorporate a variety of artistic
> design features using natural plants, perhaps in innovative ways.
> Essentially, they are artistic designs which use natural plants to
> achieve an artistic effect as compared with using artificial plants.
> Becoming familiar with the features of artistic design would allow one
> to create a more aesthetically pleasing tank without the expense of
> special muds, substrate heating, substrate amendments, CO2 injection,
> high tech lighting, etc.

A background with elements of style and design will help, but not if you are
using real plants.  For 99% of the people out there, the only way to achieve
the lush growth that Amano has is to provide some specialized conditions
that optimize plant growth.  Instead of the $300-$400 CO2 system that
someone is pushing you can go the DIY method and use a soda bottle, yeast
and sugar ($10).

> Also note that the preferred species are often
> quite difficult to come by: one of the designs specifies the use of
> False Neon Tetras (aka Green Neon Tetras), without regard to the simple
> fact that the fish are quite difficult to obtain and not readily
> available.  Not a problem, however, to the dedicated aquatic artist who
> will spare no expense to achieve the desired artistic effect.

Any reef keepers out there.  This could describe a wide variety of aquarium
hobbyists.  Some of them keep native fish and go to great measures to ensure
their tanks have the most accurate water parameters as possible.

> Also keep
> in mind that the devotees of the Amano school are designing art by using
> nature, with the plants and fish a means to an overall artistic design.
> Sort of like a living sculpture, in a way.

Exactly.  His tanks are not meant to be biotopes or other sort of natural
depiction of underwater scenery.  His tanks are designed for maximum viewing
pleasure.  And like many things "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".  I
agree completely that the best way to describe his tanks is a living

However, it would not be difficult to take some of his displays and turn
them into biotopes with a more prudent selection of plants/fish.  For those
of you with Nature Aquarium World #1,  page 104-105 has a 200+ gal tank with
cardinal tetras, Echinodorus tenellus, Cryptocoryne wendtii, and willow
moss.  I'm not sure where willow moss is from, but it shouldn't be too
difficult to substitute some Echinodorus for the Crypt. and you very well
could have a biotope.  If not, I would take the tank in my house in a flash
no matter what.  It is a great display.

> The high-tech aquatic gardeners construct a tank for the benefit of the
> _plants_, with the fish being a less important part of the overall
> design or an afterthought, just to add a bit of activity, swimming in
> amongst the magnificent plants, which are the real focus.  If you have a
> need to spend hundreds of dollars on showpiece plant tanks containing
> hard to raise aquatic plants, then high-tech aquatic gardening is for
> you.  Of course, you will need to remove bushels of excess plant growth
> on a regular basis, but it is a small price to pay for that plant show
> tank you sunk a month or two's paychecks into for special lighting,
> gravel additives, substrate heating, CO2 injection, etc.

Sounds very much like keeping a reef tank with the metal halides, actinic
lights, electronic ballast's, calcium reactors, wave makers, timers, pumps,
trace elements etc.  Everything is in place to maximize the care of the
invertebrates with the fish load being minimized.  Often the fish are not
there just for decoration; they have a functional purpose, to graze on
algae. To optimize the care for certain life forms whether they're corals or
plants certain physical parameters need to be met.  Unfortunately, these
items tend to cost an arm and a leg.  But for those people who enjoy
duplicating these conditions as closely as possible and then be able to reap
the rewards, money is no object.  I'm not one of those people.  I'm a cheap
SOB and I can't spend that much on this hobby.  It seems like anytime you
add reef to something to do with aquariums the price is automatically
tripled.  That's unfortunate because it keeps many of people from enjoying
some of these life forms in their own home.

> Besides, you
> will need to invite all your friends (and anyone else you can find) who
> will get lots of free cuttings, plants, bulbs (and anything else you can
> pawn off on them) and will be told that they can have a tank just like
> yours which will allow them to share bushels of plants with _their_
> friends, if they are only willing to invest $1,000 or so in the same
> high-tech setup.

Like many things in life there are other ways to achieve similar results.
You can add CO2 for $10, the liquid fertilizers cost $30 for a 6 mo - 12 mo
supply, "expensive mud" is not required but it helps (I didn't use it at
home and had tremendous growth and using it at work was the only way I was
able to get a particular plant to grow), and you can limit your watts/gal to
around 2 and still have great results with a wide variety of plants (the
more watts you add the greater your selection in plants).  For me to get 2
watts/gal cost me about $120 for a 55 gal tank.  About my limit.

> Aquarists focus on the fish, adding plants, bogwood, etc. to achieve a
> more or less natural, but otherwise eminently suitable environment for
> the fish.  The plants, substrate, bogwood, rocks, etc., are present due
> to the needs of the fish and secondarily for aesthetic effects or for
> growing plants.  Water parameters are adjusted to enhance the well being
> and preferences of the fish, i.e., using soft, acid water for some
> species (tetras, killies, etc.), alkaline water for livebearers and Rift
> Lake cichlids and brackish water for brackish species.  The needs of the
> fish control the selection of plants and use of decorations such as
> bogwood, rocks, etc.

It has often been said (by aquatic gardeners) that by adjusting the water
for the plants the fish have never been healthier (assuming they both go

> There are, however, those hobbyists that use pink Day-Glo gravel, action
> ornaments and Fluorescent Colors or Glow-In-The-Dark plastic plants,
> which are intended to create a design for entertainment purposes.  Fish
> in these situations are often selected on the basis of color ( i.e. they
> go with the drapes, or, "I would like some of those red swordtails, some
> neat Blueberry Tetras, Ballon Belly Mollies, and Fluorescent Glassfish,
> along with those nice blue and yelllow Malawi Cichlids and an Oscar or
> two and maybe a couple of Jewel Cichlids, a couple of Pacu and one or
> two Red-Tailed Catfish - they will all fit in that ten gallon tank I
> just set up this morning, won't they?") with little regard to the needs
> of the fish.  If they die, well, the store owner will sell them some
> more.  If the cost of replacing dead fish gets too expensive as nobody
> told them about the needs of the fish and the need to do water changes,
> clean the gravel and other icky stuff like that, the aquarium can be
> sold at next year's yard sale to buy the latest. trendy pet craze:
> Fluorescent Green, Glow-in- the-Dark Hamsters !!!.

Other than this hobbyists ignorance of the general principles of fish
keeping, are his reasons for keeping fish or decisions on gravel and fish
combination any less correct than our own decisions to keep darters or soft
acidic water fish.  Personally, the outrageous colors are not my style.  I
tend to gravitate to the  biotope type display, but that is me.  Actually,
it is very expensive to set up a tank with those prefab grottos, divers,
skulls, and treasure chests.  I have often wanted to do that and have the
rainbow gravel as a joke but those decorations cost some $ (see above
remarks about cheap SOB).

This is also where the store owner needs to step in and do some questioning
and education.  There are many owners that would ask the necessary questions
and stop this type of consumer from making this mistake.  Also, there are
many who will continue to sell fish after fish after fish just to make a
buck.  We all need to work together.

I am not a Amano fanatic; I think he has made an important contribution to
the hobby.  I just don't understand why he is getting slammed so much.

My two cents.  Next