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Old 05-01-2005, 07:07 PM   #1
scolley
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Aquascaping - Amano notes, AGA 2004 Convention


For anyone that missed purchasing the AGA 2004 Convention DVD, or missed the convention itself, T. Amano had a couple of interesting lectures that are well worth buying the DVD for. In viewing the DVD I made some notes on things that really hit home for me, as found below. I've tried to separate those comments that I saw as his aquascaping principles, vs. those things that appeared be techniques he uses. It's kind of random, but I think it still may have some useful advice.



PRINCIPLES
  1. Plant all groups in odd numbers.
  2. Fine leaved plants look best in the mid to back center of a tank, with heavier leaved plants toward the edges.
  3. Don't use red in the middle as they have a heavy, dark, feel.
  4. Dark leaves (red or dark green) look best toward back edges, with light colored leaves toward the center.
  5. Arrange plants and hardscape (rocks and wood) to provide good contrast of light and dark areas.
  6. Light colored sand provides good contrast to plants.
  7. When rocks are used, use multiple sizes, mixing large and small rocks, as in nature.
  8. Rock edges should generally be rounded.
  9. Hide your intentions with rocks. Allow plants to obscure them to some extent, maybe completely.
  10. Aquascapes with unplanted sand in front is a good alternative to the traditional “Nature Aquarium” style of all foreground covered with foreground plants.
  11. An attractive layout alternative is a slope up from near the middle up to the two back corners.

TECHNIQUE
  1. Use cotton thread to attach Java moss to wood, or lava (pumice?) rocks.
  2. Moss on rocks is great for edge work, blending an open sandy area into a planted area.
  3. Use driftwood with moss, or large moss rocks, as something for background to grow over and cast shadows for good dark/light contrast areas.
  4. Wrap Anubias onto moss covered rocks using a plastic ties, and trim off almost all roots, for “rocked Anubias”.
  5. A rocked Anubias can be set right on sand, or moved around as desired. But initially face it slightly forward to hide roots. Later it will grow upward toward the light.
  6. Plan on putting crypts only in places with deep substrate.
  7. Use stem plants in even lengths with graduated height sets, descending from high to low, as the sets move toward the front or middle of the tank.
  8. Plant stems 2 or 3 at a time, in the same hole.
  9. A new tank should not be trimmed for 3 months.
  10. On first trimming, let stem plants grow to the top, and then trim to halfway point.
  11. Anubias and moss make great foreground plants as they take no trimming.
  12. Putting tubing (and or wires) that come into, or out of, the tank on the side makes it less visible to straight on viewing due to a “mirror” effect from side reflection.
  13. Creating a substrate with separate sand vs. soil areas can be accommodated by placing cardboard in the tanks where you want the boundaries between the two, and slowly filling in both sides until full. After adjusting any slope you might want in the sand or soil, and making sure that both sides are at the same height where they touch either side of the cardboard, the cardboard can be gently removed.
  14. Sloping substrate from front to back works better if something like drift wood is placed in the middle of the slope to keep substrate moving forward. Moss rocks also make a nice barrier serving the same purpose.
  15. If a substrate of separated soil and sand is used, driftwood and/or rocks can placed on the line between the two to cover or hide the separation point.
  16. Light shining up from the back bottom looks great! And will light any ripples on the surface from an angle beneath, highlighting them.
  17. For a really simple landscapes, use mossed pebbles around big central rocks.
  18. A fully mossed group of interwoven driftwood branches looks wonderful when it fills in. It will look almost solid, and if done correctly can give a sloping look from lower front to upper back, possibly also sloping low and toward the middle, and up toward back corners.
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Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.

Last edited by scolley; 05-02-2005 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 05-01-2005, 07:16 PM   #2
John P.
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Thanks, Steve, for writing this review. Good ideas in there, many of which I've gleaned from studying his tanks. Helps to have it detailed as yoiu've done!
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Old 05-01-2005, 07:23 PM   #3
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Also, buy the newest edition of TFH magazine... it contains like 3 sections on Amano and his tips.
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Old 05-01-2005, 07:30 PM   #4
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Make this a sticky! Thanks Steve!!
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Old 05-01-2005, 07:35 PM   #5
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My pleasure folks! Hope it helps someone... I suspect it will help me anyway. Having a steel-trap colander for a brain, writing things down helps them stick for me!
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Old 05-01-2005, 10:25 PM   #6
Nolan W.
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Excellent tips there, Steve. Thanks a lot!
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scolley
[*]Light colored sand provides good contrast to plants.
I thought dark coloured substrate gave better contrast? Or is this just a personal preference?
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Old 05-04-2005, 09:01 AM   #8
bc_hawaii
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Many good tips for beginning or advanced aquascapers... Thanks!

Anyway you can buy the DVD online?
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Old 05-04-2005, 11:55 AM   #9
scolley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruise Control
I thought dark coloured substrate gave better contrast? Or is this just a personal preference?
RESPONSE AND GENERAL DISCLAIMER
  1. These are notes transcribed from lectures by Mr. Amano. Whether they are his opinion, facts, or something in between is open to discussion. It it what he said.
  2. What he said is open to question, since I heard the lecture in English, as spoken by Mr. Amano's translator. The lectures were given in Japanese (which I don't speak).
  3. I could have misunderstood, or transcribed a concept incorrectly.
  4. I only wrote down things that interested me, which colors the contents greatly. I'm sure I left out lots of great stuff that would be of interest to other people.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bc_hawaii
Anyway you can buy the DVD on line?
I believe it is only available to Aquatic Gardeners Association (AGA) members, for $30 USD. Membership in US is $15 USD, $20 everywhere else.

So I essentially paid, with membership, $45 for the DVD. But I get other membership benefits that you can read about on their website.

The DVD itself has multiple lectures of potential interest to aquatic gardeners. The two Amano lectures were:
  1. A two part lecture where Amano shows slides of many tanks, new and mature, side by side with nature scenes they are inspired by. Discussion is mostly about the artistic and aesthetic, not technical. Not to be missed. In the next part, he shows many progressive slides of building and maturation of his gargantuan home planted tank, which he expresses as the culmination of his career of in aquascaping, requiring all his skill to be successful and algae free. Some technical discussion.
  2. A second lecture by Mr. Amano is the actual aquascaping of an open-topped, AGA style, as performed by Mr. Amano. It's long, but well worth the ride, watching him build a tank, as he describes what to do, and often "why" he does things as he does.

I'd personally trade any two of my Nature Aquarium World books by Amano for this DVD. Not quite as many pictures in the DVD, but it has a lot more explanation of content.
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Last edited by scolley; 05-10-2005 at 01:40 PM..
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Old 06-13-2005, 03:31 AM   #10
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How big is Mr Amano's Home tank?
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Old 06-13-2005, 11:46 AM   #11
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I don't recall, too lazy to watch the DVD's a 4th time to find out, but I believe it was on the order of 2.5 to 3 thousand gallons.

It looked about 12 feet long by 6 feet wide by 5 feet high. Several people could scuba dive in it at the same time. It faced an open room, by was also visible on either of the short sides. He indicated that it was a real challenge getting enough light for things to grow on the bottom since in nature there is a practical limit below which plants can't get enough light to grow. And I believe that depth was 36", which he was exceeding by a pretty good bit.
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Last edited by scolley; 06-13-2005 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 06-13-2005, 02:13 PM   #12
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Whoa man 12ft is huge!
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Old 07-16-2005, 05:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash
Whoa man 12ft is huge!
Yes it is
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Old 08-30-2005, 04:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Light shining up from the back bottom looks great! And will light any ripples on the surface from an angle beneath, highlighting them.
anyone have ideas on how to accomplish this? has anyone tried this techinique? i'd love to acheive the rippled river look, with any technique.

thanks,

-mike
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Old 08-30-2005, 04:33 PM   #15
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Great tips, i'll keep them in mind the next time I scape my tank.
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