Symmetrical aquascape - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Symmetrical aquascape

The first rule of aquascape seems to be symmetry is bad, but the first rule of art is rules are meant to be broken, though you can argue to break this rule means you shouldn't break any rules.

I've been searching for symmetrical aquascape, it turns out to be incredibly rare, may be for good reason, or may be planted tank folks are just not very adventurous. If you know of any, or if it is your tank, feel free to share.
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-30-2016, 08:59 PM
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The first rule of aquascape seems to be symmetry is bad, but the first rule of art is rules are meant to be broken, though you can argue to break this rule means you shouldn't break any rules.

I've been searching for symmetrical aquascape, it turns out to be incredibly rare, may be for good reason, or may be planted tank folks are just not very adventurous. If you know of any, or if it is your tank, feel free to share.
Hi Navyblue,

It's interesting you mention 'art' since a lot of the popular aquascapes are based upon artistic principles such as 'The Rule of Thirds' and the 'Golden Ratio' are just two of the principles that the judges of the AGA Aquascaping contest look for in the winning 'scapes.

It is likely that we don't ofen see symmetric 'scapes because they can easily be visually boring; especially if the foliage lacks contrast and visual diversity.

But like you said, rules are meant to be broken. The most important rule that I follow in doing a 'scape is: "Do I like it?"
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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My other hobby is photography, so the same classic rules applies. Personally, honestly I am more of a traditional guy in terms of aesthetic. But one doesn't have to look hard at all for examples that break these rules in photography. I don't expect it to be as prevalent in aquascaping, but the rarity of it seems rather glaring to me.

For styles that emulate nature, I would understand symmetry is a hard thing to pull off. Same thing for landscape photograph, it would be similarly hard to pull off.

But for say Dutch style, I would still say it's not easy, but impossible imho. Many terrestrial manicured gardens, especially those surrounding architecture, are symmetrical. In photography, lines that form symmetry can be a subject unto itself. Symmetry can also be used as a tool of contrast, which imho is an aspect that warrant some exploration.

Just thinking out loud, not that I ever managed to create a symmetrical aquascape that I would like myself.


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While the plants are fake, I think I found one.


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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 06:57 PM
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symmetry isn't bad, it's hard to make interesting. You see symmetry in architecture and designs all the time.


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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 06:58 PM
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Do you mean two equal halves like a mirror image or just the same species of plants on either side? If the focal is dead center it would probably not be as interesting s if it was off-center. Like if you take a pic of bird on a tree branch and the bird's head was dead-center inside of off center.
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Perfect symmetry may be hard to achieve as we are dealing with living things, so symmetry may be a matter of degree.

On top of my head, say with a 2G tank, I have the tank divided equally into 4 sections left to right, each planted with a different type of stem plant, I think it can look rather striking if contrasted well. In this case, the lines are symmetrical, but the focal point and texture are not.

Say with the same tank, instead of having 4 sections, I have 3 instead. A light green plant, a red plant, and a dark green plant. The focal point can be even be dead centre. It may not win any award, but done well it can look pretty slick imo.



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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 07:47 PM
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The trick to symmetry is since the focal point is center, you better put something really interesting there.


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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 07:48 PM
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Here's a few from my pinterest board. I would not discribe them as perfectly symetrical, but to a more or less degree. I think the reason why we have rules for putting the focal point off center is because we try to "tell" people what they should be looking at. When you don't have a definite focal point, it's left up to the onlooker to decide where their eyes fall upon. Still beautiful works of aquatic art though.
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 08:37 PM
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While the plants are fake, I think I found one.

lovely tank (thought a bit over stocked imo since its not live plants) and omg I want those rocks!!!!!!

Due to photobuckets new bs cost for use of images on forums I have deleted all photobucket accounts. I apologize if you enjoyed or found my photos helpful.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-31-2016, 08:43 PM
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I've seen that goldfish tank before. I think that's an ADG promotional tank or one they did for a client.
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post #11 of 48 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 01:32 AM
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Symmetry is usually used in formal arrangements. Most aquascapes are casual. I'm sure symmetry could be used to create very interesting and beautiful scapes, but it's not the fashion right now.

I did find an almost-symmetrical scape for you, though.

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post #12 of 48 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:12 AM Thread Starter
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Here's a few from my pinterest board. I would not discribe them as perfectly symetrical, but to a more or less degree. I think the reason why we have rules for putting the focal point off center is because we try to "tell" people what they should be looking at. When you don't have a definite focal point, it's left up to the onlooker to decide where their eyes fall upon. Still beautiful works of aquatic art though.


Yes this is what I meant. With the things we deal with, wood, stones, plants, it would not be possible to find 2 identical ones. So only compositional symmetry is reasonable, perfect geometrical symmetry would be impossible with natural objects.

I agree, these are nice tanks.

Those valley in the middle type of lay out are quite common, but the position of the valley tend to be so slightly off centre to avoid symmetry. The example looks pretty much perfectly centred.
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post #13 of 48 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:14 AM
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I think the reason why we have rules for putting the focal point off center is because we try to "tell" people what they should be looking at. When you don't have a definite focal point, it's left up to the onlooker to decide where their eyes fall upon
I'm starting to wonder if this also applies to people's faces. Never seen one that isn't symetrical, but it's the things that shouldn't be there that draws your attention (mole!)

In all seriousness, I think symetrical can be beautiful (just like some faces), but in nature, things don't tend to work out that way on its own. This is why I think it just looks off to us because it doesn't look natural and looks " expected" for lack of better words.
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post #14 of 48 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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Like what I had mentioned earlier, symmetry can is difficult to do in nature style aquascape. That I perfectly understand.

But not all aquascape are meant to be natural looking. But even in Dutch style tank where it supposedly emulate terrestrial garden, it's almost non existent. I expect it to be uncommon, but not this rare. While symmetrical terrestrial gardens are not nearly this hard to find.

The only reason I can think of is the pool of Dutch style tank is very small. Like the above examples, they are nature style tanks that are not supposed to be symmetrical, yet we can find examples. Or may be it is the nature style aquascaping mentality that dominates even Dutch style tank owners. I wonder if symmetry are more prevalent in days prior to the popularity of nature style aquascaping?


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post #15 of 48 (permalink) Old 08-01-2016, 06:12 AM
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I'm starting to wonder if this also applies to people's faces. Never seen one that isn't symetrical, but it's the things that shouldn't be there that draws your attention (mole!)

In all seriousness, I think symetrical can be beautiful (just like some faces), but in nature, things don't tend to work out that way on its own. This is why I think it just looks off to us because it doesn't look natural and looks " expected" for lack of better words.
Faces are not symetrical, Don't think I have ever seen a symetrical face.

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