I have a vision. Growing up, I've always preferred to be a "city dweller," I love the concrete jungle with all my heart. Towering skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle of the city and the flow of electric energy all around has always been near and dear to me.
I've lived in New York City, Austin, Houston, Tokyo, Nagoya, Boston and Seattle. Each city has a warm place in my heart to which a certain part of me will call home.
But I've also had the opportunity to be exposed to great expanses of nature. Images in my memory which are made all the more powerful because of this contrast in living styles. Growing up, I lived in a town off the southern coast of Lake Michigan on the Michigan / Indiana border.
In this place, there were nearby swamps, teeming with vegetative life of all kinds in carefully balanced ecosystems where human development had not quite reached. The Lake in this area had crystal clear waters and towering sand dunes, which to a child's eye seemed to be mountains of sand riddled with reeds.
When the sun would set on the Lake, the rays of light would hit the water and refract into millions of light particles as if going through a prism to create some of the most beautiful arrays of light you would ever see. Living here, I had the opportunity to meet Muhammad Ali, who lived near the apple orchards, and would regularly jog into town from his estate.
One day, while visiting a McDonalds, by pure accident we ran into him and struck a conversation. I still have an old McDonalds child's menu signed by him after he gave me a high-five. But the thing that sticks out in my memory here wasn't what I had to say to Mr. Ali, but rather the conversation my mother had with him, which somehow ended up at sunsets on Lake Michigan, which ended with Ali saying in a quiet tone:
"I have travelled across the world, but never have I seen a sunset more beautiful than right here."
As I grew older, I continued this pattern of mixed experiences and environments. There were of course, other lakes and pristine forests: those in North Carolina were particularly domineering for the east coast.
But perhaps, the most beautiful showcasing of aquatic plants I have ever seen was in San Marcos, Texas, where I went to college. Here there is a small segment of river, which naturally has an entire reef of beautiful aquatic plants.
Year round the water is 72 degrees, crystal clear and has a soft-sand substrate which pertains itself well to the growth of plants. The plants grow so vibrantly and thickly that you can see Riccia, Ludwigia Repens, Hair grass, Fissidens, crypts, swords, mosses, you name it!
This gem is exceedingly rare on the planet, let alone Texas. It only stretches for a short segment of the river, where all of these perfect elements together create a nature aquarium in which the reds and greens in the plants are so incredibly vibrant under the direct and overbearing Texas sun that it's impossible to replicate in the aquarium.
You have never seen reds so red! You've never seen a natural environment so clear of algae and so intrinsically beautiful. The water reeds here stretch elegantly down the river in patches, much like how we use hair grass in the aquarium to sweep across the surface of the layout.
It was surrounded by this environment that I of course, officially came back into the aquarium world and started creating nature aquariums. Many of my original layouts were created with this as backdrop inspiration.
I then moved briefly to Tokyo and Nagoya, which in the surrounding lands had absolutely stunning vivid green landscapes. You would think that the movies showing the gardens and vegetation were some trick of the camera with enhanced coloration - but they're not! They are actually that vibrant!
Seattle was very similar. I remember roaming ancient forests here, which had lush overgrown ferns larger than your body growing out of fallen trees. Huge water falls and the like dominating the area.
What I learned through these experiences,
is that certainly I am still a city person. But, there is something inherently lamenting to the psyche when you see trash everywhere and graffiti. Marks of human establishment can be beautiful or destructive.
So the vision is to spread the duplication of planted aquariums to as many people as possible, so we can have our own elements of nature in our homes and apartments.
The planted aquarium is incredibly relaxing, a stress reliever and enjoyable beyond measure. Furthermore, learning the planted aquarium leads to a greater awareness of the environment around us, and how we can improve our situations by changing the environment we live in according to the principles with which we govern our planted aquarium.
Carrying over this philosophy into our daily lives is an absolute improvement in our mental attitude, situations and personal health.
With this, my personal goal is to one day have my own miniature gallery in my home,
a living element in every room so to speak in balance with the space around it (this means no huge fish rooms and the like, which can inspire the same response as any other obsession in the un-initiated).
So, without further ado, let me introduce another starting point:
The ADA 60-P Green Glow Setup, Circa 1990's
System Setup Specs:
Aquarium: ADA 60-P (german made normal iron content glass)
Lighting: Green Glow 604 - 4x Flourescent lighting, 8,000k
Co2: System 74/YA-Vers 2.
Planned Substrate: Power Sand, Bacter 100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC, Penac W, Penac P.
nutrient-rich substrate to be determined.
Pictures of the setup:
These lights can be manipulated so that all 4 are on, lights number 1 & 3 on, or lights number 2 & 4 on.
Built in fan, reportedly, Luis Navarro informs me that this actually does an excellent job of keeping the water chilled at around 72 degrees F.
Gun Metal Black Stand to match the Green Glow 604.
Old style pollen glass, and the System 74-YA/Ver. 2
To share as well, here are some of my older works which never came to fruition but serve as a good reference point towards mastery (if anyone who has succeeded in anything tells you they haven't "failed," more than they succeeded, they are lying to you!)
Mini-M, Circa 2011. I'll probably revisit this style I was working on in the future again. Mistakes with stem plants and premature trimming brought this one to an early grave.
This layout was my first serious attempt with Riccia. Mistakes made here was the timing of the trimming and using Riccia that had browned out on some of the stones (which did not regrow as I thought they might).
Wabi Kusa is inspirational in it's own right.
Seattle, Circa 2010.
San Marcos, Circa 2009: This layout, with some more care, straight substrate line and had I started it filled rather than with a dry-start (which 99% of cases tend to fail for un-even growth reasons) could have turned out quite spectacular in a Mini s.
Mini M: Current, Circa 2012. This one so far has been my best layout yet. Hopefully soon to be trumped by the 60-P. I cannot describe the amount of intense joy this layout brings me at home.