Frank, little off topic, but I think relevant since this thread is in the nano section. There was a discussion in another thread about Nanos vs Large tanks. Unfortunately it was closed, when it got too personal, but it got me thinking. I agree that a nano can be more impressive than a larger tank if done right and I'm sure this tank will fit that description, but I starting thanking about the IAPLC contest. There are very few nanos that rank very high. Almost all of the highest ranking tanks year after year are 3-5 footers. You pretty much never see a Mini S/M rank way up there? What are you thoughts on this? Is there a difference between a tank being impressive and possible limitations to depth, scale, etc come with a small tank? Is probably shouldn't matter since the execution and artistic impression should be king. If you don't want to discuss it here, I can move the post.
Here's the thing: Regardless, at the end of the day size is a function of personal preference. If you like bigger tanks, make a bigger one. If you like a mix, get two, if you like nano's, do nano's.
Size is also a function of practical limitation: if you live in a small apartment like I do, a 6 foot tank just isn't practical. It's also a function of what you can afford: can you afford the $700-800 for a full ADA nano set, or the $14,000 for a full ADA 180-P setup?
The biggest misunderstanding
about size is this: bigger is better.
An aquarium is just a glass box.
If you have an 8 foot aquarium, it is not automatically
better than a 1 foot aquarium. Having 8 feet of glass does not by itself make your tank cooler.
Individual skill, layout ability, quality tools (the right tool for the right job) and follow-through is the only thing that makes one aquarium better than the other.
If you have a bare 6 foot tank with an asian arowana in it, I am never going to compliment you on how cool your tank is. Because it's not cool. Frankly the tank sucks. The Arowana? Now the Arowana might be awesomely great, and I would, in fact, compliment you on your Arowana.
Before I get into the IAPLC question, I'm going to explain something that might be a bit controversial.
If you take this as a negative, you're completely missing the point:
Let me state again, you need to read this very carefully. Every word. Beginning to end. If you are insulted I'm not going to respond to or support you, so don't bother, because you'll never learn and you'll never get out of your box without a mindset change.
Let's be honest with ourselves. Many of the layouts here are on a novice level. Even if you've been doing the hobby for 10 years, it doesn't mean that you aren't a novice.
When I was an avid video gamer, we had a saying "Noobishness is not a function of time. If you have to ask "so when will I not be a noob," or "why am I a noob," you are going to be a noob for quite a while yet."
We tend to take on a negative connotation of the word "novice." The word feels "icky," doesn't jive with our self perceptions in many cases, and we come up with a litany of excuses to defend ourselves of not being a novice, sometimes we even come up with the most random obscure defenses to attack being called a "novice." Sadly, that's the exact behavior of a novice, and only a novice. Someone who has truly gone on to expert levels and beyond to master, isn't afraid of admitting to not completely knowing everything - they aren't afraid to learn.
So, just because you're a novice, doesn't mean that your layout or plant growing abilities are just completely trash and suck completely. And even if they do horribly "suck," it just means that you're learning. You can, again, reference my first post in this thread to see what I'm talking about.
I would rather associate with someone who has a single sprig of HC, a plug of Lucky Bamboo and a plastic plant in their tank and has the enthusiasm to learn, admit to themselves fault and shows steady improvement
(in fact, such a person I would spend as much time as I could with and be happy doing it), over the person who has a half-grown carpet of something, some stems in the back that they farm, and thinks they are just awesome at planted tanks.
The only difference is mindset: one is closed minded, the other is not.
I will bend over backwards for the person who is open to learning. I will not waste a second with the person who bickers more than they learn.
I want to look at TPT and be utterly inspired by other people's works. I get immense enjoyment when someone else produces something awesome.
Unfortunately, being completely honest here, that is really rare. That makes me sad.
Do we encourage each other? Of course, positive reinforcement is great.
This doesn't mean that we attack someone who isn't a master on day one. Or even day 1000. I wasn't a master on day 1. I'm not a master today. I'm a student of the only Planted Aquarium master.
We get in the way of ourselves
Inevitably as we learn the planted tank, at some point we have to believe that it is inherently difficult, and just growing the plant out itself is mastering it.
We grow our first carpet of HC out, hair grass, whatever. And while these are certainly milestones to be proud of, the frank nature of it all is:
It's not nearly as hard we think it is. We're the only ones that complicate things.
Growing plants is easy. Growing plants is only about getting the right basic equipment and waiting. You don't even really need a good fertilizer regime or good habits to simply grow a plant.
To sculpt the plants with the hardscape, and get them to pop vividly and pretty much algae free? Now that's a different beast.
And that's only mastery of three things:
1. Water Change & basic water chemistry
2. Immediate and Ruthless response to anything that threatens the tank's balance (e.g. algae)
3. Techniques (trimming, dosing, planting, etc)
Guess what? The water change part is really, really easy to master. Drain the tank, fill it back up. If you can't do one water change a week, consider another hobby.
The chemistry bit is a little more complex: but just start with RODI and basically add seachem equilibrium or penac w to raise hardness to about 2-3 kH and you're golden. Don't rely on tap water and the water municipalities for your art.
2. Immediate and ruthless response is also easy. It means when you see an issue, you immediately address it. You don't wait til tomorrow, you don't wait til next week. You do it now.
The only learning part is the proper responses to the different type of algaes.
So issues #1 and #2 are 80% about laziness or the lack there of.
#3 - techniques. This is the part that just takes time, experience and duplication of what other successful people do.
So, in the end, to really start learning to master the tank you first:
admit to yourself that your layout is probably between "not so great" and "okay."
Admit to yourself that this is "okay," and has nothing to do with me as a person.
Embrace that to get better, you need to open yourself up to learning the proven techniques, and that it's not hard for you to step up and start mastering the planted tank and have a layout that you -really- love and isn't just "well, okay, the best I can do so it's fine!"
Reinforce: I'm learning. I can do this. There's no significant difference between me and the experts other than time, technique and habit.
Start mastering. Take it in baby-steps. One plant at a time if you have to.
You will get there. You will create an awesomely-insanely-badass-aquascape, and when you do you won't have to delude yourself into excuses.
So start crankin those scapes and flood the forums with awesome journals so I can be inspired.