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Layout Critique #15 (Takashi Amano)

12539 Views 20 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  jsenske
I'll also be taking ADA/Amano/AGA layout suggestions to post here. Just PM me on which tank you would like to see here.


Questions an ADA judge would ask (taken from contest booklet...they judge on creativity, composition, fish choice, creation of natural atmosphere, aquarium condition, and viability):

1) Does the aquascape make an original creative impression to the viewers?

2) Is the aquascape composed well (is there compositional balance within the aquascape)?

3) Are the aquatic plants appropriately positioned within the aquascape? Does the balance exist in the colors and shapes of the plants used?

4) Do you feel harmony between the fish and the aquarium layout?

5) Is the aquascape laid out well making a natural looking atmosphere?

Some questions of my own:

1) What compositional rules does this layout follow? Which compositional rules does it break?

2) What are the main elements in this layout? How do they work together harmoniously (or unharmoniously)?

3) What type of atmosphere/impression does this layout seem to create for the viewer?

Just questions to help aid discussion. However, discussion can head in directions that have nothing to do with the above questions (but still relate to the above aquascape).

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THe foreground looks pretty ugly to me. One thing i notice is how centered the focal point seems to be. He obviously was trying something new... usually he is all over the golden section.
I like the foreground....the whole tank really. It looks like it might really be a slice of nature. Anyone know what that foreground plant is? And how about the fish?
The frouground looks like Echinodorus tennelus 'micro'.
The fish is Myxocyprinus asiaticus. They look good in there now, but won't for long. They are at best a temporary decoration. I saw one in a LFS that was over two feet in length. It wasn't so nice looking any more. And they get bigger than that.
Just knowing the serious disadvantages of this fish is a major distraction from the aquascape. This speaks directly to one of this forum's judging points regarding the compatibility of fish to aquascape.

This is not the first time Amano has used this fish in one of his designs. See pg #83 in the 1st volume of his "Nature Aquarium World".

What does everyone see as the focal point in this layout? I find my eye is being led up and mercifully away from the foreground which I think is unsightly.

The focal point seems to me to be the right leaning driftwood spike at the top. The effect, I think, is for my eye to wander up and into the empty water column. I can't imagine that this is what Amano had in mind. I end up missing the point of the fish and the foreground.

Does anyone else see it this way?

Bob Vivian said:
Does anyone else see it this way?
Almost but not quite. I see the focus in the blue circle here:

My eye isn't lead much of anywhere.

The tenellus foreground is awfully dark. In my tanks a tenellus foreground tends to be dark, but not that dark unless there is something grown into it -- like moss, riccia, algae, etc. I suppose that the color in the photo could be an adjustment, it could be a feature of the film or the foreground might be infested with something.

The foreground is ugly, but the choice of fish is worse. I don't like seeing fish kept in a tank where they can't be maintained. It makes me wonder what happens to them when they get a little bigger. It's bad enough when I see a 1.5 liter box with a baby angelfish. What do you suppose happens to these fish when they get a little bigger? Are they destined for a dinner plate?

I've been critical about a lot of other tanks, but in most cases I would happily have those tanks in my home. I wouldn't want this one.

Roger Miller
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I think perhaps a dark back ground and bright colorful fish would do better. At least a bright fish.

I'd like some more bright green to contrast.
Cuban chain sword would make it look quite different.

I like light/bright, then dark, then bright etc front to back.
Other contrast etc.

The tip of the wood is a little odd, either come out or stay in the water.

It's attempting a different design so some leeway should be given also.

Tom Barr

Tom Barr
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This tank is just a temporary display- a short exhibit- an artpiece and not a long-term oriented, perfectly balanced aquarium. Amano knows good and well the hi-fin banded sharks are not going to live out their lives in this tank. It's just for the photo, for effect. This is not a tank heavily featured in AquaJournals or in any ADA materials but rather (perhaps) a tank done for some special purpose or application. A tank like this is not one (IMO) to critique in the usual ways/language we use for most aquascapes. Certainly you have the right to view it however you like, but I think one risks missing the point/intention of the tank. Remember, Amano operates on levels and for purposes most of us have no clue about whatsoever. I find the tank quite interesting and think it is a unique use of a not-so-unique piece of wood. :-#
No doubt this tank is a short-lived exhibit,but that doesn't excuse the choice of fish. It may make the situation worse. Not only is it likely that the fish in the photo will be killed before their time or released to a local waterway, but by publishing the photo ADA has encouraged the legions of Amano-copiers to do the same and bolstered a market in fish that generally should not be kept in captivity. Maybe the needless death of a tank full of fish isn't a problem, but as a policy I think it is unacceptable that these fish should be kept in home aquariums. This same observation extends to other fish that with good health and time will inevitably exceed the ability of the aquarist to house the fish.

I realize I may be at risk for missing the point or intention of this tank. If you can find time, would you please describe the desirable point or intention that you see in the tank?

Roger Miller
Amano knows good and well the hi-fin banded sharks are not going to live out their lives in this tank. It's just for the photo, for effect.
To me, that's like putting plants that won't survive under water in a tank and taking a photo. How is putting fish that can't live in the tank long term any different? Just knowing they won't be there for the foreseeable future detracts from either being in the aquascape. I feel that tank lacks a sense of permanence.
Not trying to take any sides...but the discussion reminds me of the "Art" works where people put gold fish in blenders.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or not) I would very much doubt a respected aquarist such as Mr. Amano would ever intentionally cause harm to fauna. He has a reputation for respecting nature, nurtured over decades, one which I suspect he would not jeopardize in such a way.

Trying out an aquascape in various ways is part of the learning process: manipulations of photos to show use of colour and light; temporarily placing plants that will shortly grow too large in smaller aquaria etc....

Andrew Cribb
Thank you, Andrew. I could not have said it better. You are a wise aquarist.
I kept gar in my 75 gal tank, but they were collected wild and sent back to the same place after a brief peroid of "enslavement". People pissed and moaned about that even.

Hifins are nice, but yes, it was a rather odd choice.

Amano seems to enjoy making a tank, then ripping it down once the element and photo are achieved.

Why not?
Heck, how many folks cannot wait to prune the hell out of their tanks after a photo shoot or open house?

Why not rearrange and keep going?
So what if one scape does not work perfectly well?
You learn by making mistakes and trying new things even if they seem odd at first.

Tom Barr
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wow george you brought a 6 year old thread back to life lol.

but you know what i think.

if that were me.... id put whatever the hell i wanted my my tank for whatever reason(not cruel) so that i could do what i wanted woo hoo. and if you dont like it then you can go (bleep bleep) cause its my tank and if i wanna put a shark in it and snap a picture then i will.

i agree with jeff and the barr.
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