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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'd like for this thread to be a dedication to Dutch Style aquascapes. Post your favorite Dutch style scapes. More importantly I'd love for this thread to be a place for folks to educate others and add their $0.02 on the "how to" of the Dutch Style. It's very hard if not impossible to find video or thread links for build from scratch & maintenance for this style. I'd like to see tips on pruning / trimming / training plants to get that look as well as tips / tricks on getting good light / nutrient distribution though such jungles / blockades w/o risk of algae or poor plant health. How do we "convert" our existing scapes (or overgrown jungles) into a Dutch inspired scape one would recognize as such.

You see ADA stuff and Iwagumi styles (noted as very beautiful in their own right) about 95% of the time. The dutchy's appear far superior to me personally from a "degree of difficulty". I like many love the Dutch style aquascapes but as some recent TPT forum posts have mentioned there's not much in the way "marketing" them like the Amano styles. In my opinion these scapes are the most gripping and awe inspiring and a testament of truly understanding the hobby / art of diverse plant keeping.


Here's basically the only thing I've seen thus far for pruning/trimming (very helpful but only a very small piece of the puzzle): http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/aquascaping/57960-pruning-timeline.html


I found the info below via this link, which provides some of the basics of the style: http://www.aquabotanic.com/?p=946

One definition of Dutch Style:
The traditional Dutch planted aquarium is defined as an underwater garden where plants are arranged in groups that compliment each other to make up an overall composition that shows contrast in color and shape, as well as depth of field.

Some of the "rules" / guidelines:
Overall layout and composition of the aquascape.
- No more than one plant species for every four inches of tank length. Use of color and contrast
· Appropriate number of fish to the size of the aquarium and schooling fish should be at least ten
· Overall health of the fish and plants
· Appropriate levels of nitrate, phosphate, and hardness
· Gravel or sand should be very low against the front glass
· All equipment should be out of view
- At least 80% of the aquarium floor should be planted
- The Dutch “street” is a pathway of low growing plants set at the viewing angle and ascends toward the rear creating depth of field
- Terracing is a component; substrate is raised in areas most often using only driftwood. Plants are also attached to wood solely for the purpose of creating the illusion of an ascending substrate


Willem van Wezel is one of the revered veterans of this tradition now is active on the Dutch online forum called Veni Vidi Vissie, ...to help educate young people who are interested in the hobby......he also writes Dutch magazine, The Aquarium. I was unaware that there's a forum for exactly what I'm looking for...the "How It's Made" & maintained of the Dutch Style Aquascape...now if only I'd learned German the language. Any of these in English ?


A few inspiration pics to get us started...let's create more of these or at least tanks with some of the aforementioned guidelines !
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice thread, love the history and understanding the "guidelines".....however, I hope Marco or someone else can respond to the last post on that thread, which is basically identical to what I'd like to know and that is, " any more info or good links on the technical side of keeping these fantastic tanks, co2 levels, flow rates and distribution, maintenance regimes etc?"

I would love to see a youtube (for example) build video or time lapse w/ maintenance and pruning techniques for Dutch styles like Amano does for his all the time....like that thread mentions I believe things like that would regenerate the interest in the "aquatic gardening" style...
 

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I am trying my first tank that I am trying to stay as close to true dutch as possible. I have done an all stem, very manicured tank but it didn't have the same dutch layout. The main "rule" I am breaking is using a small tank and grouping things together because I just don't care to have a large tank.

That said, I can't find most of the pictures I have had. Your second picture is what really excited me on this style. It sucks because there used to be a bunch more info on the net but I cannot find the sites. All were just small little web pages.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am trying my first tank that I am trying to stay as close to true dutch as possible. I have done an all stem, very manicured tank but it didn't have the same dutch layout. The main "rule" I am breaking is using a small tank and grouping things together because I just don't care to have a large tank.

That said, I can't find most of the pictures I have had. Your second picture is what really excited me on this style. It sucks because there used to be a bunch more info on the net but I cannot find the sites. All were just small little web pages.
Do you have a journal for this new tank ? Is it in your signature ? I'd like to subscribe.
 

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I don't see any wood in those pics, any one have any good examples of this style with some driftwood. Id like to try this style, I have a lot of wood in my tank Id like to keep but I'm in a creative slump, so I need some good pics :)
Dutch style is really not supposed to have wood in it, at least for any focal point. They are usually only used for attaching plants like moss, anubias or java fern. That's not to say anyone will arrest you for doing so, but in the subject of true dutch tanks, you won't see many with large amounts off wood, rock, or any other hardscape material. Many have no hardscape at all.
 

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I don't see any wood in those pics, any one have any good examples of this style with some driftwood. Id like to try this style, I have a lot of wood in my tank Id like to keep but I'm in a creative slump, so I need some good pics :)
As talontsiawd said, there really isn't supposed to be much wood/rock or hardscape in Dutch style tanks. There are many aspects of the style that I really like, but I find the long list of rules to be a bit stifling. I like the grouping of plants, the use of color, the heavy focus on pruning and plant health (gardening), keeping your equipment hidden, and using the growth rates and sizes of the plants to your advantage as you scape out your tank. After that it kind of falls off for me.

That doesn't mean you can't do your own thing. In fact, unless you have a specific reason to be hard core to the letter Dutch (entering a contest?), why not borrow what you like, find inspiration, and have fun with it. That's what I did.
 

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As talontsiawd said, there really isn't supposed to be much wood/rock or hardscape in Dutch style tanks. There are many aspects of the style that I really like, but I find the long list of rules to be a bit stifling. I like the grouping of plants, the use of color, the heavy focus on pruning and plant health (gardening), keeping your equipment hidden, and using the growth rates and sizes of the plants to your advantage as you scape out your tank. After that it kind of falls off for me.

That doesn't mean you can't do your own thing. In fact, unless you have a specific reason to be hard core to the letter Dutch (entering a contest?), why not borrow what you like, find inspiration, and have fun with it. That's what I did.
Exactly, the point of dutch really is to let the plants do the talking. In fact, even with no hardscape, I would not consider the first linked image to be dutch style, even though it follows much of the style, the left side is not dutch.

I would say your 60CM is a great example of combining a natural style with some concepts of dutch. It's much more natural than it is dutch and I think if you are going to combine the two, it works better that way.

I don't want to act like I am the expert on this, I am far from it. However, it is a pretty strict style and I have done quite a bit of research. Some would even argue that some species of plants absolutely have to be included to be dutch, some argue that others are not appropriate for dutch. So, even there, you have to read between the lines.

At the end of the day, doing a true dutch tank is really only worthwhile if you really love that style. For me, it's something I have always wanted to do and though I have done tanks that are 100% hardscape free, I didn't consider them stylistically dutch. To me, it's very ambitious compared to almost all other styles, even though many of the rules are dead simple. Still, there are many places I feel you can break the rules and still have a tank that embodies 100% of the style.

For example, exposed lighting really doesn't detract from the overall idea, IMO. However, the reason for that is not for exposed lighting as much as the tank should be a fixture of the home and styled appropriately. Not many of us have dutch style homes with dutch furniture so I took that rule off my goal ASAP. I don't want a 75-100 gallon tank minimum (not sure that's actually a rule or not but it is need to fulfill other rules) so I took that off the list. I wouldn't want a one side viewable tank, nixed that rule. I likely won't stock appropriately for this style either.

Not that I am far enough on my tank to call it anything but a plant farm, but even trying to stay as true to this style as possible, I find myself breaking many rules from the get go. So pick and choose how close you want to get. I use the term "garden style" for tanks that are all stem but not quite true to dutch and that may be where I end up.
 

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Lest we forget.

If we get back to the Dutch Style tanks, which take part in the A1 category, the scoring card looks as followes:

1. Combination of animals, factor 4
2. Health of animals, factor 4
3. Development of animals, factor 4
4. The amount of animals, factor 2
5. Choosen plants, factor 2
6. Health of plants, factor 3
7. Development of plants, factor 4
8. Water parameters, factor 2
9. General impression, factor 3
10. Chosen animals, factor 3
11. Decorative materials (including backwalls, gravel, etc), factor 5
12. Composition, factor 4
13. Technical equipment, factor 4
14. Safety, factor 4
15. Maintenace (cleaning), factor 2
http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/crash-course-dutch-style-aquascaping.8713/
 

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Lest we forget.

If we get back to the Dutch Style tanks, which take part in the A1 category, the scoring card looks as followes:

1. Combination of animals, factor 4
2. Health of animals, factor 4
3. Development of animals, factor 4
4. The amount of animals, factor 2
5. Choosen plants, factor 2
6. Health of plants, factor 3
7. Development of plants, factor 4
8. Water parameters, factor 2
9. General impression, factor 3
10. Chosen animals, factor 3
11. Decorative materials (including backwalls, gravel, etc), factor 5
12. Composition, factor 4
13. Technical equipment, factor 4
14. Safety, factor 4
15. Maintenace (cleaning), factor 2
http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/crash-course-dutch-style-aquascaping.8713/
One thing I don't necessarily get is how this applies to a non-competition tank. I know they actually visit your home to judge, not a simple photograph competition but do people who not compete hold themselves to all of this. I know that it's all in good fish keeping practice, just wondering if they are checking their water parameters to whatever specs are in competition and the likes.
 

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One thing I don't necessarily get is how this applies to a non-competition tank.
Excellent point. Is the style defined by how the score tanks in a competition? I would argue it is not, unless you are competing. But I'm not any sort of expert on it... far from it.
 

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Do you follow catweazle at all on APC? He is actually active in all of this.

I think all these club rules are developed to encourage learning and teaching. Kind of a cheat sheet for thinking about what you are doing. How you keep a non-competitive tank I would think is up to you. The standards however set a mark you can aim for.
Just my guess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
....still looking for tips & techniques on trimming / pruning / training the various plants to get that "Dutchy" look. I know TB mentioned he'd be doing a video / showing pics in the near future on this aspect. In the meantime the more info the merrier. I'll be trimming my L. Atlantis tonight and planting but I do not really know at all what I'm doing. What's the best way for this plant to get that tight bushy look ?

I've found (right or wrong) through trial & error for Ludwigia Atlantis to bush out at the various nodes (stem segments) that if I cut off the leaves they bush out really well in about 2-3 weeks but they still grow about 15-20" tall in a month or less.

A - Do I wack them down & trash the tops ?
B - Up-root & plant a small portion of the tops that have the side roots on them ?
C- Cut down to say 5-6" tall then cut off all of the leaves & let them bush out that way ?

I have about 10-15 stems that I'd like to now group together in a more Dutch fashion.

See below for the Atlantis (note the smaller bushier leaves vs the larger leaves where I didn't cut off):
 
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