Nature Aquarium Vs. Overgrown Dutch - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Nature Aquarium Vs. Overgrown Dutch

I have found myself in a rut when it comes to aquascaping. I seem to have worked out the major problems with getting plants to grow well, dosing, algae control, etc. All my fish seem happy. My individual parts of the aquascape are all attractive as individual items (driftwood, substrate, plant species, even fish), but I cannot for the life of me create an aquascape that comes anything close to what I'd like my tank to look like. I am a huge fan of Amano's tanks, but I also love dutch style tanks as well. The problem is that it's very underwhelming to try to combine the two, intentionally or subconciously. I think my attempts fall into the latter category. Anyway, I guess the points of this post are:

1.) to see if anyone else has had this problem, and how you try to separate the orderly tightly grouped garden appearance of a dutch aquarium from the serene and inviting look of a nature aquarium

2.) to vent my frustrations

3.) to get this inner-struggle out in the open to lessen its power over me

(ok, number 3 is a crock, but psychobabble is always good for a chuckle)

anyone else attempting a nature aquarium and end up with a lackluster dutch instead?

Oqsy

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 01:41 AM
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What Ive found that worked for me was to limit down the species of plants and really put some time in to background midground and foreground......

Ive found that with more of my hardscape visible and a pretty much empty foreground that it seems to be a lot more "tidy" in appearance...

What also helped was finding a center focal point and going from there....actually I have a decent sized tank so I went with more a left to right flow with my hardscape and planted from there....
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 05:13 AM
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Oqsy - I commiserate with your struggle completely. So let me share some of my musings, being some one who has never had a successful example of either type of tank...

1) Dutch appears to be much more work. It depends heavily on color and shape. That means exactly the right light/fert/temp combos to get the right colors, and lots and lots of trimming/replanting.

2) Nature style depends on getting it right before it grows out. So while it may require less maintenance (some growing wild can be OK), if you don't plot it out with the right balance, it will always look like crap.

3) Dutch aquascapes are IMO the aquatic equivalent of a proper English garden. Very hard work, and something to be proud of.

4) Nature aquascapes are IMO the equivalent of a nice bonsai, or an quality Ikebana flower arrangement. Definately a whole lot less work, but requires more innate artistic skill to accomplish successfully.

I'm sure I'm gonna raise some hackles somewhere with that. But we all have our opinions...

Steve - 33g reef and a 180g planted in need of a re-scape.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 10:46 PM
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I gave up. Where does plain old JUNGLE fit in? 'Cause thats what I have. Give it a haircut every few weeks when it starts to "get dark".
Sometime when I have more time to devote to the tank (winter?) I will attempt to shape the world that is, but for now, happy, healthy out-of-control jungle.
A tip of the hat to all you that have the perfect manicured look!

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-09-2006, 11:22 PM
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Looking at some of the newer works coming from ADA and scapers highly influenced by Amano-sensei, I think it will become clear that the "Nature Style" also requires a huge amount of discipline and well-planned execution. Looking through aquajournals in Japan, its obvious that even in the "natural-looking" scapes, there should be a high attention to detail of both design and plant condition to get it correctly. Really, if you want an A-grade scape, there are no short-cuts.

Probably this is unfortunate, but since ADA is so strongly positioned at the top of the aquascaping world, the "dutch style" seems to have some-what crumbled IMO. I remember when Dutch scapes were focused completely on dense bush groups, and little importance was given to foreground density or visible hardscape-- heck, the foregrounds were just crypts or lobelia, and the hardscapes were just terraces used to make different levels for plants to grow on.

Nowdays, there are so many "dutch scapes" with hair grass, glosso, or open foregrounds, as well as visible rock or wood work that you wonder "what happened to them?" The stem plants in some of Amano's tanks are so well grouped and pruned (compared to the photos of the original Nature Aquarium World which get little attention these days) that you wonder where the line can be drawn before these new-type nature scapes (the ones with heavy stem use that is, Amano still does lots of iwagumi and wood+fern ones) and these nature-influenced dutch scapes.

In essence, I think this mixing is happening so often, all the time, that you should be able to find plenty of examples of people doing just this; that is among both pros and amatuers from both Europe or Asia or anywhere else. I think what really matters is the level of your execution.

Here, I got it!

Nature Aquarium: A well-done aquarium photographed with extremely high photo-quality, ripples on the serface, and an over-exposed white background.

Dutch Style: A well-done aquarium photographed with mediocre photography , and making sure to fill the tank to the top of the black frame using a black background.

Hahaha, just joking . . .
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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greenmiddle: you summed it all up. the line is getting blurred, and i find myself falling 3/4 of the way to dutch on the little continuum line that I imagine as

Nature<------>Dutch

steve: your current tank is a perfect example of what i'd like to do, the visual impact i'd like my tank to have, and the reason I want to veer more toward nature and away from dutch.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 02:21 AM
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Isn't Steve's part of the wood-epiphyte style that has little to do with dutch scapes?
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 05:12 AM Thread Starter
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yes... my point exactly... i think. i'm confused. what are you asking? i'm saying i want my tank to look more like steves and less like rows of plant a next to rows of plant b next to rows of plant c.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 05:38 AM
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Want to hear my ramblings?

I'm a fan of the "hybrid" style. What I mean is taking the best elements from each school of thought. From the Dutch 'scapes you can borrow the trick of placing species next to each other that contrast in color, leaf shape, and size. They're also masters of pruning technique. Their rule of 3 plant species per foot of tank is a good one too (46gal = 3 feet = 9 species). From the "Amano" style, borrow their sense of reproducing lines, shapes, and forms that might exist in nature. Remember some basic principles like "big plants go in back, small plants go in front", throw in a heavy dose of driftwood and rockwork, and you just might end up with something you like better than a "traditional" format. They're all evolving over time anyway.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 07:39 AM
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Good thread Ogsy...
Just two thoughts to throw into this discussion. I notice a greater use of open space in Amano type scapes (and others too now) and a lot of tall thin plants, which look more elegant, than a super dense dutch style aquarium. I also like the slightly unkempt wild lines, even though there appears to have been a lot of careful planning and execution in some of these contemporary, free wheeling aquascapes.





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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Oqsy View Post
yes... my point exactly... i think. i'm confused. what are you asking? i'm saying i want my tank to look more like steves and less like rows of plant a next to rows of plant b next to rows of plant c.

Oqsy
Oh, sorry. I thought you were trying to retain some of the dutch stuff. >.<


Like Betowess, I think stem plant choices are also interesting to think about. Nature scapes tend to favor the bushy, rather realistic type of stems. In Amano's work I see lots of H. Micranthemoides, M. Umbrossum, rotalas, thin-leaved ludwigias and mayaca. E. vivapora also has been used very effectively by Amano.

Thicker-leaved stems like Ammania, Alternanthera sp. and thicker leaved Ludwigias kinda get left on the wayside. The over-the top stems like big eriocaulons, toninas, and inclinata varieties don't get used much either. Aside from that one amazing scape by Oliver Knott, I haven't seen much use of the inclinata varieties in the highest-level scapes.

Actually, if you flip through the 2005 ADA contest catalogue (haven't scene the 2006 one yet), there are no toninas/erios in the top 75. I think there might be some inclinata varieties, but when used they end up just being highlights among other smaller red stems like ludwigia arcuata or R. indica.

I think Dutch scapes are more willing to use a greater variety of stems, since they don't worry as much about re-creating more terrestrial-looking landscapes.
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