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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Before I say anything else, I would like to extend a warm 'thank you' to SurWrathful (Paul) for communicating with Jerry and translating their discussion back into English. Make sure to give him a pat on the back.

After a little break in October, I'll be back to providing you every month with a new aquascaper in focus! To get the ball rolling, we'll start off with...

Name: Li Qi Rui
Location: Taiwan
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Carlos: How did you become interested in the planted aquarium hobby? How long have you been in the hobby?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): The first time I ever laid eyes on a planted tank was when I was in college. I became mesmerized by the entire photosynthetic process of the plants in the tank, coupled with the active pearlings from their leaves. This stemmed my interest in this hobby. At first, I didn't pay too much attention to the aquascaping; I was merely interested in the plants' photosynthesis. I started with a 45cm tank, with my first ever plant being the Monosolenium tenerum, which was my favorite. Accompanying it was Hygrophila stricta. Of course this didn't really constitute an aquascape. Also, filtration was done using a very simple powerhead while CO2 was made using disposable formulas. After several days, the Monosolenium tenerum finally pearled. This was such an exciting thing for me to first witness such an event. From this point on, I began the starting point of a four-year long hobby in aquascaping. As well, my choice of tanks became bigger and bigger, along with my knowledge of aquatic plants and aquascaping techniques. Most of what I've learned came from chattings with fellow aquarium hobbyists and internet forums. Most importantly, my experience came from my willingness to experiment new things.

Carlos: Could you please describe your the fertilization and maintenance routines you use on your various aquaria? What liquid and base fertilizer brands gives you the best results? How often are water changes performed, and how much? Your plants are incredibly vibrant and healthy by any standards.

Li Qi Rui (Jerry):An example of how I maintain my tanks as well as their husbandries:
Size:90X48X50(cm^3)
Lighting system: ADA 903X2(NA 32WX6)~10hr/day
Substrate: Brustman, RMC Aquarium Sand, ADA Iron Bottom, Brustman liquid fert.
CO2: 2.5kg(approx~5lbs)aluminum tank, ADA Pollen Glass Beetle 40D, 3bubbles/sec
Filtration: Hydro 30 Filter, Brustman white cotton(I think he meant sponge), Brustman
activated carbon
My daily routine involves lighting the tank for ten hours. CO2 injection will turn on and off according to the lighting period. Water change is done 2-3 times weekly, and each time I change about two-third of it. When setting up a new tank, I do not dose any fert for the first three days. I will begin dosing only in the fourth day, using liquid ferts and iron-rich ferts; approximately 8-10 drops daily. In my filter, I only use the activated carbon and sponge inserts; I do not use any other media. When I first started I did try to use ceramic ring and silica inserts, but I realized this didn't really fit in with my schedule. Then I learned to just use the sponge and carbon inserts, which were adequate to grow beneficial bacteria and achieve the filtration purpose. I clean the filter about once every two to three months; I change everything. At this time I need not worry about losing those bacteria because they would've established enough colonies in the tank. In terms of temperature I think 68-77F is the optimal range to grow beautiful plants. Even after pruning, the plants' growing speed is still very strong. Therefore, I feel this is really a very nice range of temperature. My philosophy is to constantly observe what goes on in the tank in order to make any necessary assessment and adjustment. This is such an important point to consider in aquascaping.


Carlos: How would you describe your aquascaping style? From where do you draw your inspiration? How has Takashi Amano, for example,
influenced your work and your style?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): In Taiwan, aquascaping styles fall into several categories; from the Dutch to Euro-American, to Japanese(aka Natural), to Chinese style. Essentially, these styles all originated from the famous tanks all over the world, from different countries. Personally, my own influence has been from Takashi Amano's Natural style. I was captivated by his works when I saw his book. Even if not everyone appreciates his style, Takashi Amano really influenced me tremendously. I learned a great deal from reading his books and from many of ADA's works on-line. I also agree strongly to search for inspirations in nature. I myself am a visual designer, so I also have a very keen sense of aesthetics. Gradually I realized that art and aesthetics originated from the nature. Therefore, nature has always been the source of artistic inspiration and creation. Consequently, aquascaping should also be natural. A good aquascape is one that which recreates nature. In actuality, this is but a form of imitation; nature is the foundation of motivation. An aquascapist's own expression of such motivation can then be coupled with personal emotions and ideas. As a result, the more you observe from the nature, the more you will discover its many aesthetic expressions.

Carlos:You seem to use many of the same plants in each of your aquascapes. Is there any reason why you have chosen to use these plants almost exclusively over all others?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): Ever since I learned how to aquascape, red and green varieties of Rotala rotundifolia have been my favorites. Couple those with Glossostigma, Nesaea triflora, and Halophila ovalis have become my most beloved plant combination to use. I especially like the Rotala rotundifolia's bushiness and appearance under the light. I think there are no plants that can replace its place and quality. My choice of other plants are solely based on their color combinations and bush-like qualities. Halophila and Anubias nana I use to make visual divisions in order to gauge in the entire aquascaping direction. Therefore, my choice of plants are more often based on how I want to create an aquascape.

Carlos: What are you usually trying to recreate in your aquascapes? A natural or idealized landscape like a mountain range? A biotopic underwater scene like from a lake? Do you incorporate any particular aquascaping techniques frequently in your layouts to achieve the emotion or idea you are trying to convey?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): I prefer recreating natural sceneries. I never try to imitate a particular scene underwater or artificial human ideas. I often use high lighting plants, and this has some reason to do with my interest with pearling during photosynthesis. For hardscaping I prefer using both woods and rocks; each of which presents a different sense of quality, but all are very natural. We can see this from many of Takashi Amano's tanks; there are many beautiful tanks that utilize rocks or woods. You can do many things with these two things. I often want to infuse all my ideas into one tank, but like I said I only have one. So I can only choose one idea. That's why I think if you are always in creative mode then you should not be afraid to learn to show it off.

Carlos: What are your main goals when setting up a new tank?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): Normally when I create something I would ask myself what kind of theme I would like to express. What kind of theme would evoke a sense of accomplishment and joy when you create an aquascape. Once you know what you want to do then you can go search for the proper ingredients. You should of course try to find these things as quickly as you can, or find something that can replace it. Rocks, woods, and plants are all like this. I would follow my own desires to start a project; from setting up a tank to finishing up an aquascape; step by step. I think the most difficult thing about it all is to gradually find that right condition to maintain the tank in for photography. A tank might only be in its most excellent condition for just one week. After this, you might not be able to capture that same condition again. As a result, the only thing you can do is to create the next best condition for photography; that, to me, is life's beauty.

Carlos: Are there any tactics or techniques you use to make arrangement decisions in your designs? Do you use any guidelines or rules for wood or rock placement? How about the use of colored plants? Do you place any special consideration on choosing the right fish for your layout?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): A scene utilizing rocks is totally different from a scene using woods. The only similarity between the two is that both are used as the hardscape. Rocks should not be too drab and flat. Rock hardscaping should express a sense of depth and power, while wood hardscaping should express forests winding and turning. Many books and internet teaching tools talk about these ideas. Basically, these are all part of artistic and design concepts. Aquascaping is like an artistic creation or designing art; one must consider visual depth, coloration, brightness, appearance, proportion, size, formation, etc…all of which might be a little strange to people who have never learned about art design. However, as long as you start with these factors it will benefit you in the long run. For me, the most important thing I start off with is to draw a picture. I then figure out where I want to position the rocks or woods, followed by the placing of plants from foreground to mid-ground to background. Green and red plants are equally important in their coloration and shape for consideration in positioning in the tank. That's why it is important to know how to utilize each plant's color and shape in aquascape. It is equally important to gauge in plants growing habits because this affects an entire aquascaping structure. The same goes for pruning. By understanding each plant one can better engage in pruning it in order to decorate the art work properly. As for the fish choice, I really don't care too much. Usually I choose the ones I like, but it is nevertheless important to choose the right type and number because it will affect the tank's sense of balance. Maybe the fish chosen might not be suitable to live in the kind of aquascape you have created, or maybe by overfeeding there will accumulate too much excretion in the tank. Also, one should carefully consider the fishes' respiration.

Carlos:What do you enjoy most about designing and creating aquariums in this hobby?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry):
1. Being able to create your own world.
2. Discovering the wonders of life and living systems.
3. Culturing one's own patience and love.
4. Increase one's own perception about space utilization.
5. Challenging the power of nature.
6. Being able to find another way out to relax the mind.
7. Sharing your own sense of aesthetics with others.


Carlos: What is in the horizon for you in terms of aquascaping? Are there any particular ideas you look forward to implementing in future arrangements? Do you feel that you have anything left to learn?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry): Currently, because of the many issues I have had to face in life and in work, I have decided to stop this hobby for a while. I will restart this hobby in three years. In the future I would like to try the 60-cm tanks because big tanks require more time to maintain as well as whether I can shell out enough time to care for them. Because I am a perfectionist, once I begin a project I must make it worthwhile. This gives me more meaning than if I did something sloppily. Therefore, I believe when I dedicate myself again in the future I will be able to bring to you all better works.

Carlos: Finally, is there any particular advice you would give to a hobbyist creating his first planted aquarium layout?

Li Qi Rui (Jerry):
1. Always experiment
2. Always go for perfection
3. Patience
4. Keenly observe surroundings and natures
5. Imitate as much as you can
6. Be determined; don't quit easily
7. Learn the correct ways
8. Be aware of the fine details
9. Be yourself
I share the above mentioned values with my fellow aquascape enthusiasts.

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Dimensions:90cm(L)x48cm(W)x50cm(H)
Lighting System:ADA 903 x2 (NA32wx6)
Substrate System:BRUSTMANN Substrate, RMC Aquarium sand,ADA Iron Bottom,BRUSTMANN Liquid Fertilizer
CO2 System:2.5kg aluminium CO2,ADA Pollen Glass Beetle 40D
Plants: Anubias barteri var. nana, Glossostigma elatinoides, Blyxa japonica, Ammannia gracilis, Nesaea pedicellata, Rotala rotundifolia, Didiplis diandra, Rotala rotundifolia "Green"
Fish: Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
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Dimensions:90cm(L)x48cm(W)x50cm(H)
Lighting System:ADA 903 x2 (NA32wx6)
Substrate System:BRUSTMANN Substrate, RMC Aquarium sand,ADA Iron Bottom,BRUSTMANN Liquid Fertilizer
CO2 System:2.5kg aluminium CO2,ADA Pollen Glass Beetle 40D
Plants: Glossostigma elatinoides, Blyxa japonica, Ammannia gracilis, Nesaea pedicellata, Rotala rotundifolia, Didiplis diandra, Rotala rotundifolia "Green," Didiplis diandra, Ludwigia glandulosa, Rotala sp. Nanjenshan
Fish: Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
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Dimensions::90cm(L)x48cm(W)x50cm(H)
Lighting System:ADA 903 x2 (NA32wx6)
Substrate System:BRUSTMANN Substrate, RMC Aquarium sand,ADA Iron Bottom,BRUSTMANN Liquid Fertilizer
CO2 System:2.5kg aluminium CO2,ADA Pollen Glass Beetle 40D
Plants: Anubias barteri var. nana, Glossostigma elatinoides, Blyxa japonica, Ammannia gracilis, Nesaea pedicellata, Rotala rotundifolia, Didiplis diandra, Rotala rotundifolia "Green"
Fish: Cardinal Tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi)
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Don't forrget to congratulate Jerry for reaching 149th place this year in the ADA.

Carlos
 

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Li Qi, (sorry if I did not shorten that correctly)

Thank you for that wonderful interview. Your work is very thought provoking, calming and beautifully executed. I look forward to seeing you future works after your break. I hope that you do take it back up, Iknow how life can sometimes get in our way. I look foreward to hearing from you again in a few years:)

Thanks for another great interview tsunami :)

Paul, thank you so very much! Many pats on the back for you:)
 

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Hi,

Just to say i loved the interview and look forward to check how is your work going.
Thanks to the ones who make this interview possible.

Best Regards
 

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Jerry, beautiful tanks, and insightful interview. Looking forward to seeing your work again when you start it. Carlos, and Paul, thank you for the time to bring these to us.
 
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