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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here:
http://translate.google.com/transla...ent&view=article&id=131&Itemid=134&edit-text=

I think after the first two pictures you will be as speechless as I got. Then when you get to the close ups of plants you will see that you can get even more speechless.

One interesting thing that I learned is that apparently the judging is neither by looking at a photograph nor a single impression of the tank. It is an actual, trained, person that comes to see the tank a few times during the year. Apparently the rules and requirements are so strict that the membership to the Dutch aquascaping society has dropped 10 times in the last decade or so.

It almost feels like what we have in the rest of the world is the opposite - contests based on single photographs, often photoshopped, with plants added in a timed manner just for the shot, no strict rules (other than "follow the Leader" if you are going to have any chance at placing high up in the ADA contest (and never among the first for very obvious reasons)), and disregard of what is the overall impression of the tank in the space it is placed.

Long story short - I hope that the Dutch style and way of looking at a planted tank do not get lost.

But wait, there is more! Here's more eye candy that short circuits the mind:
http://translate.googleusercontent....id=156&usg=ALkJrhgm8UoO0hM-46GXINSXz6SM1K5U1g

In the link above, in the section "Soil yes or no?", I really liked the line "...The biological balance is much more critical [than fertilization] and algae problems lie with disturbance of this balance is always lurking...". On some other pages you can find pictures of algae problems but not a clear cut information how to deal with them.

And here it is - a page showing a real Dutch tank in tip-top shape while waiting for the judges to come on a specific day. Length of the leaves has been timed etc. This is how the real thing looks like:
http://translate.googleusercontent....mid=27&usg=ALkJrhhxjN0i03SV4jRsJVy97opnf_RZog

More judging pictures:
http://translate.googleusercontent....id=148&usg=ALkJrhigFVh0NWKp8wQRvuDqei6QUmJ8gg

From all that beauty and good information I started to get the feeling that just like us, the real Duch aquascapers play these masterpieces a lot by ear. I have the feeling that that's why I cannot find concrete information how to setup a Dutch aquarium other than the aquascaping rules. What seems to surface is that they are much more stringent on the ranges of parameters. For example in one place the water hardness was suggested to be kept at 3.5-4 - not like the usual 3-6 range that we are all used to. Also CO2 is not a panacea and does no to be as high as possible. Same rule seems to apply to the light (although for us it is hard to understand how all these plants will look the way they look with medium-level light). And finally there is definitely more of a "big picture" mindset - it is not mainly about a few "special" things (substrate, light, CO2, ferts) but more about... everything, including the electric cords sticking out from the back of the tank.
 

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Eye candy is right. Thanks for sharing your find. Probably my favorite part was the caption under a photo.... "Here is the fish I've been looking for for years."

Thats when you know you have a nice full, lush, and healthy scape. When you can't find a fish for YEARS. Not a few days or weeks... but whole years. :D
 

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i agree with many points here. It seems this hobby has evolved a bit and deviated away from an art form. Guys who really appreciate the various species, the work to help them reach their prime have tanks that are quite different from the mainstream. I have to revisit those photos to id those plants. Loving finding stuff like this. thanks Niko!
 

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Dutch aquariums are code for "collectoritis." I approve! They have an extremely large tank there in that link.

I'm working on my own collecto-Dutch aquarium. It makes deficiency testing easy (27 species all showing one deficiency - Zapins' plant heaven).

 

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Eye candy indeed! And I learned an interesting new term that Google did not translate: pimplepaarse. From context, I think this is the Dutch word for clown puke!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Did you all visit the page where the guy shows this same astonishing tank covered with algae? Did you catch the drift when he was talking about some kind of approach that relied on nothing ever being missing and 50% water changes? I hope he never tries it because he will learn a whole lot about instability and monumental efforts to balance things on the edge.



To me these guys do a lot of observation. Seems that they are of a completely different mindset. I mean it looks like they too do not have all the answers but I really like their whole approach - it is truly about appreciation of the underwater world in the glass box. No hurry, no fads.



Imagine running the same size tank the way most folk here do it. That would be an endless race to beat issues with a small lead and a whole lot of equipment and effort.



I will write to some of the Dutch folk that I find on the net asking about the way a typical Dutch tank is setup and run. My hope is that they will be responsive to our interest in "their" hobby. I just have a feel that it will turn out to be like asking how to create art - few rules to be followed and lots of feel.


Sent from my RM-893_nam_att_206 using Tapatalk
 

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Eye candy indeed! And I learned an interesting new term that Google did not translate: pimplepaarse. From context, I think this is the Dutch word for clown puke!
Haha, in fact, it is a blueish bright purple color:p Paars=purple. Pimpelpaars is untranslatable:p

Did you all visit the page where the guy shows this same astonishing tank covered with algae? Did you catch the drift when he was talking about some kind of approach that relied on nothing ever being missing and 50% water changes? I hope he never tries it because he will learn a whole lot about instability and monumental efforts to balance things on the edge.
By accident I gave a nature style lecture at Paluzee, the aquarium club he joins. I spoke quite a while with Bart himself. Very nice guy, who loves to share info.

I don't know how google translate translates it but this is the original sentence:
Deze methodiek lijkt te werken en zonder dat ik kennis van deze methodiek had, ben ik eigenlijk ook tot een dergelijke werkwijze gekomen, met als verschil dat ik door meten eerst de behoefte van de bak heb geïnventariseerd, daar mijn voedingspatroon op heb afgestemd en daardoor de noodzaak van het verversen van 50% van het water heb geminimaliseerd.

It basically states that they found a new method where you add all nutrients in excess and do 50% waterchanges to prevent accumulation. (EI - Barr). He than tells, he found this out himself (dosing nutrients in high concentrations) but does measure so he doesn't need to do the large water changes. So I'm sorry, but he's not on your site Niko;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Sit down, preferably on a chair with side support.

Warning: Viewing the following could be disturbing to individuals with a labile personality:

http://translate.googleusercontent....?cat=2&usg=ALkJrhgk8HGXHGsaXRpadq2Oh21PbK_CGQ

Although on a second glance it looks like it is all the same few folk with the same tanks. Apparently the picture of the tank with a guy sitting next to it staring at the tank is part of the judging too :D. I think we need to borrow that practice, I find it funny and pretty cool because it gives an idea of the tank size, placement, etc.

And the only article I found about "Dutch" substrate. Unwashed sand + Peat + Clay. Top with inert gravel (1/8" grains). Aquaria straight from the Middle Ages indeed. Who needs that when by mixing lots of internet with lots of dry chemicals you can have a way better tank?
http://translate.googleusercontent....g.html&usg=ALkJrhjh88SMjglqGvB5Cp_GtUBd3fEfpA

And I an article about light. Wow, it looks like them folk are stuck in the middle ages indeed! We are so way out in the future compared to them! We are about 2-3 internet posts short of figuring out everything there is to figure out and we will add another 100 miles to our lead in this race! Look at that article - Kelvins, fluorescent tubes, watts per volume... And then there are their tanks which make zero sense to the highly educated planted tank semi-professional enthusiast. That just does not make any sense indeed.

Enough sarcasm. What I found interesting is the amount of light they recommend. If you want to get confused try to figure out what is a "cubic decimeter". Apparently you need 2 to 4 Watts per cubic decimeter. Funny thing a decimeter can defined as a kilogram of water (because it is a cube measuring 10cm. per side which produces exactly 1 kilogram of water). So the advice basically says "You need 2 to 4 Watts of light for every 2 lbs. of water", haha. That's funny, allright. What is not funny is the recommendation to use ultra low light. You be the judge:
A good starting light for a tank that is 60'x 2' x 1-3/4' is 58 Watts of fluorescent bulbs!

If you are laughing right now here's a very funny picture to keep you going. The image is clickable. When enlarged it is even funnier. I promise:
http://www.paluzee.nl/album/displayimage.php?album=14&pid=892#top_display_media

And the full article about light:
http://translate.googleusercontent....m.html&usg=ALkJrhhnBHIbIWSULGOWIJWaB12s1nnbvQ
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
...It basically states that they found a new method where you add all nutrients in excess and do 50% waterchanges to prevent accumulation. (EI - Barr). He than tells, he found this out himself (dosing nutrients in high concentrations) but does measure so he doesn't need to do the large water changes. So I'm sorry, but he's not on your site Niko;)
I think I spent enough hours trying to translate and read Dutch websites. These people have produced great looking tanks for many years. But it is obvious that they too rely on adjustments depending on whatever is going on in the tank except that everything is way slower than the American hyperactive way of running a planted tank. No clear rules. If I ask how to start and run a clean tank I will get the same blurry answers that I get from anywhere else.

After a trip to the past reading the Dutch websites I can see that the internet has really changed this hobby. Information and sharing experience is easily accessible. We have gotten a feeling that the planted tank hobby is progressing. But as many other things in life the internet has not allowed us to find much better answers to basic questions. Today a newbie gets the same answers that a newbie from 1980 got. With some modern phrases, but nevertheless the same answers.

What I am interested in is how to start and maintain a clean and healthy tank that makes use of natural interactions. A tank that is just fine with minimal care or even no care at all AND be scalable. A tank that is a true system of interacting parts. Not a box of water that is entirely dependent on constant interventions. That is the question that is not answered anywhere.

You see where my interest in El Natural and Dutch tanks come from.
So what can you tell us about the stability of a Dutch tank? What is the normal daily or weekly or monthly care? Can it be left by itself for some time without any care?
 

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So what can you tell us about the stability of a Dutch tank? What is the normal daily or weekly or monthly care? Can it be left by itself for some time without any care?
Well, let me state that Dutch style is a planting style. Not a fertilization method. You can use the entire ADA line (which is a method) and still do a Dutch style tank.

How are most Dutch tanks ran? The top of the Dutch competition uses mostly Redfield Ratio / EI style fertilization. Most people measure quite often, some judge by their plants. Most use PO4:NO3 from 1:10 tot 3:30, and almost all do use KNO3 and KH2PO4. Simply because most use only gravel, sometimes with clay/laterite (or something similar) below the gravel.

The only day they don't have these concentrations is when the judge comes by (doing a house visit to check your tank for the competition/contest). The day before, everybody does a 50-90% water change to get PO4 and NO3 as low as possible. This is because you will receive extra points when they're low, high NO3 and PO4 is still considered as fish waste. When the judge leaves, first thing they do is add NO3 and PO4 so the plants don't get covered in algae before the next round 3 months later.

As long as you make sure nothing gets low, these tanks are very stable. They need to be, because the competition involves 3 rounds. A club round, the best tanks enter the regionals, and the best regionals will go on to the nationals. Between each round is usually 3 months, so your tank needs to be in superb condition for at least 6 months and needs to peak at least 3 times when the judges make their house visits.

So these tanks are no low maintenance at all.

Here is the site from Willem van Wezel, multiple times national champion: http://www.willemvanwezel-aquariumadviseur.nl/

He uses lower concentrations than most people, but still no Amano values, and he makes sure they are never close to zero:
GH tussen de 8 en10
KH tussen de 5 en 6
pH zit rond de 6.8
NO3 tussen de 5 en 10 mg/l
PO4 rond de 0.25 mg/l

But his light rule (and commonly used in the Netherlands) is: 10W per 10cm (4 inch). So for 40cm high tanks, you need to use 40W bulbs, for 50cm high tanks, you need to use 50W bulbs (or as close as possible). And for every 10cm width you use one bulb. So for a 1.80x55x55 tank, he advises 5 x 58W bulbs. (About 2WPG for those who refuse to learn the metric system:p). I don't think this is low light, but not so insane as I usually see recommended at this site either (4WPG).
 

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Dutch is always pretty. but i can't imagine the maintenance involved!
The same as any other style, the only thing more labour intensive is that plants aren't trimmed with a scissor, but instead are pulled up, the bottom half is cut away and the tips are replanted!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ah, turns out these Dutch are as normal as we are - like to present themselves in the best possible light. Chest up, stomach in, shoes polished. Exhale when everybody leaves.

So when did they start to "follow EI"? Before 2006 or after? How did they keep these tanks lush before figuring out that constant additions of N and P are good for your presentation?

I had my hopes up that Dutch tanks are actually stable. My hope comes from my first experiences with lush planted tanks. I've said that before - a neighbour had a bunch of tanks which needed zero maintenance. No heaters, no pumps, no CO2, no air stone, no water movement, no filtration, no fertilizer, no rich layer of soil, one incadescent bulb on top of each tank, fish ate only dry food and spawned on a regular basis (tetras, rasboras, danio, barbs, gouramies). The only 2 things that must have made those tanks work were the very clean tap water and the fact that the tanks where not disturbed every week doing maintenance. A variety of plants - rooted and stems. Very robust growth - cuttings every week, guaranteed. Long story short - I thought that that is how Dutch tanks were too. Little did I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Something about the light. If a 6'x2'x2' Dutch tank uses five 58 watt fluorescent bulbs I can tell you with great certainty that the PAR on the bottom of that tank is no more than 30-40.

My experience is with T5HO bulbs with the best individual reflectors you can find. The beam of light is very narrow and still at 50 cm. the PAR is barely 35. It barely gets to 40 even if a direct the reflectors to shoot light overlapping each other's light footprint. So to me that is pretty much a mystery - how can the Dutch have such lush and healthy looking plants with so little light.
 

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Ah, turns out these Dutch are as normal as we are - like to present themselves in the best possible light. Chest up, stomach in, shoes polished. Exhale when everybody leaves.

So when did they start to "follow EI"? Before 2006 or after? How did they keep these tanks lush before figuring out that constant additions of N and P are good for your presentation?
I think EI doesn't mean unstable as long as you don't use tons of light. When using tons of light, anything running low means algae. With low light, this isn't an problem. I ran the 7 feet showtank at my work algae free for 1,5 year doing EI. Low PAR though.

About the Dutch using EI. Let me define my view of EI before answering this one. High NPK and everything, no testing, just 50% waterchanges to prevent accumulation.
I think Bart mentioning it was about as early as people heard of it. But a lot of Dutch used high NPK as well. Redfield Ratio was very populair in the Netherlands decades before (and is still used). Lots of people used 0.5:5 or 1:10 PO4:NO3. But when they forgot it for a week, one of them dropped to zero and algae start appearing. So people experimented with higher Redfield Ratios 2:20 or 3:30. This way their tank was more stable, because things never dropped to zero (as long as CO2 was stable). Basically all water parameters were the same as with EI. The big difference is most Dutch tested the water a lot. Tom doesn't but does 50% water changes to prevent things running too high.

Long things short, the water is the same, the method a little different. But not all Dutch do it this was. I know a few who do Diana Walstad tanks, but gravel and water column dosing is most common.

I had my hopes up that Dutch tanks are actually stable. My hope comes from my first experiences with lush planted tanks. I've said that before - a neighbour had a bunch of tanks which needed zero maintenance. No heaters, no pumps, no CO2, no air stone, no water movement, no filtration, no fertilizer, no rich layer of soil, one incadescent bulb on top of each tank, fish ate only dry food and spawned on a regular basis (tetras, rasboras, danio, barbs, gouramies). The only 2 things that must have made those tanks work were the very clean tap water and the fact that the tanks where not disturbed every week doing maintenance. A variety of plants - rooted and stems. Very robust growth - cuttings every week, guaranteed. Long story short - I thought that that is how Dutch tanks were too. Little did I know.
I think you need to leave the idea that EI tanks or any tank with high nutrients, aren't stable. Check my 100G joural, it has at least 5 ppm PO4 and 25 ppm NO3 and is algae free for over a year! (some BBA excluded, which is gone for over 6 months now).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I do not want to discuss this particular approach. It became popular for two reasons - 1. There wasn't anything else better and 2. Most people want "easy". Both of these come with a price - not everybody has a clean healthy tank following that approach. What gives?

Your clean tank is not clean because you use any particular approach. It is because you have the patience, the ability to notice trends, the knowledge, and you adjust things accordingly. Why can't most people do what you do? Because you can not write an article explaining how to run a clean tank every single time. You can not put your experience and observation abilities in any words. A planted tank is a system with many moving parts. That is "The Method" we should be talking about.

With lots of effort I can run a clean tank (and actually that is what I am doing in one tank right now). But I would not suggest to anyone to follow that approach. What I do is frequent water changes and all ferts available. As long as I am there to work the tank is going to look good. That sounds a lot like what you are describing about Dutch making their tanks pretty for the judge's visit which to me is a bad twist on any hobby. My tank can run without all this effort but I need to make a few major changes (get rid of big discus). What is my approach then? What made my tank successful? All I can say - the tank needs to be run as a system of interacting parts. Most people are not interested in anything like that.
 

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This article is giving me a sad face. The thought that Dutch tanks are filled with ferts and they do 90% water changes to appease a judge upsets me. They go through the trouble of checking organization and cleanliness under the stand, where the tank lies in the house, and other safety/aesthetics, but contestants need to basically lie about their water parameters?

If you're giving a false report on the tank, then perhaps taking a lame photo and calling it a day is just as good. Anyone can drain a tank and refill it just before a judge comes in with perfectly reconstituted RO water. It's stupid to penalize them for their levels, if those are the levels that are growing healthy plants and fish. This is the kind of backwards thinking I expect here in the states.

If they're regularly pulling bottoms and replanting tops, how does this affect their evaluation of the roots when 3 months pass and the plants have less root structure than they did on the previous visit? Nature doesn't replant, why are they?
 

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A couple of comments...

Dutch aquariums are code for "collectoritis." I approve!
Dutch is *NOT* collectoritis! Dutch is a planting style with very specific rules about plant groupings and plant contrast. A lot of emphasis is put on how plants are arranged and pruned. Collectoritis is simply about growing a lot of different plants.

If you want to get confused try to figure out what is a "cubic decimeter". Apparently you need 2 to 4 Watts per cubic decimeter. Funny thing a decimeter can defined as a kilogram of water (because it is a cube measuring 10cm. per side which produces exactly 1 kilogram of water). So the advice basically says "You need 2 to 4 Watts of light for every 2 lbs. of water", haha.
1 cubic demimeter = 1 liter. (It's not that complicated...) I do agree that it's a lot of light however. (The definition of high light, however, i still believe is up in the air.)

How are most Dutch tanks ran? The top of the Dutch competition uses mostly Redfield Ratio / EI style fertilization. Most people measure quite often, some judge by their plants. Most use PO4:NO3 from 1:10 tot 3:30, and almost all do use KNO3 and KH2PO4.
Yo-han - Question for you. What is the difference of 1:10 versus 3:30? Aren't they both the same ratio? Or are you saying that people typically add up to 3x the amount of fertilizers "recommended" in the 3:30 ratio?

Here. Read this very carefully without any rush. This is how high quality looks and feels like:

https://sites.google.com/site/skepticalverdure/home/what-s-all-this-then
I've read that article and i find it to be unrelated to the topic at hand of "dutch" style aquariums. From what i understand of the article, the author is advocating that the definition of an "aquarium" is a perfectly balanced ecosystem. Is that not the furthest thing from the topic of dutch style aquariums where plants and fish are maintained in order to highlight the contrasting colors and shapes of aquatic plants? It's an interesting point that the author brings up, but i just don't think it adds anything to the topic on hand of "dutch aquariums are cool".

Personally, i don't like dutch aquariums. It's not my aesthetic style. I don't like the high contrast that is emphasized in dutch style aquariums. That said, i do appreciate the fact that they represent planted aquariums with well grown plants and (hopefully) no algae (as that would obviously be a point deduction...).

If the intent of this thread was a thinly veiled attempt at saying 'i hate EI'... well, i think that's best left for another thread of 'how to grow aquatic plants - fertilization methods'... just saying...
 

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Yes, there is no difference only less change to have one of the nutrients drop to zero. My point was that water parameters are the same as with EI.

@Tugg: it makes me sad too. And all the contestants as well. In the first few years of CO2 this was the same. CO2 was dangerous and not allowed. People used it and had great tanks, so they removed them the night before the judge came. It took a couple of years before all got used to CO2 and didn't considered it as something bad. Now CO2 is allowed. The parameters allowed for N and P are getting higher and the judges know everybody does the same trick. The problem is that the judges are all over 60 years and quite conservative. In the old days if your NO3 was high, you fed your fish too much or didn't do your water changes. So NO3 was bad, who can blame them.

But they are getting around. I've been approached by one of the judges about nature style because they admit they disregarded it for too long and should be more progressive.
 
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