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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.

Aquarium:


Volume: 20g long (76L)
Dimensions: 30x12x12 inches
Plants: Bolbitis heudelotii, Cryptocoryne affinis, Marsilea drummondii, Microsorum pteropus (short form), Pomatogeton gayi, Echinodorus tenellus
Fish: Corydoras pygmaeus, Puntius oligolepis, Rasbora hengeli
For more information on this layout:

http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2002.cgi?&op=showcase&category=0&vol=1&id=83

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).

Carlos
 

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Reminds me of the fern cave in lava beds national monument. http://members.tripod.com/~fclark/creative_corner/fern_cave.html A truly natural display that feels touched by God. I feel very priviledged to have seen this natural wonder in person. That is the sort of place that I think Amano aspires to evoke.

My scrawlings on the walls of this cave don't even begin to approach the significance of the pictographs in fern cave.
___
Jeff
 

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that cave in the picture is gorgeous....I want to go see that

as for the aquarium:

The plants are very healthy looking. I don't personally like the rock on the right side of the aquarium because it adds disorder to the flowing river of plants. I think the rock looks out of place because there are no other visible rocks in the composition. If it were my aquarium I would expand the little patch of crypts? into that area instead of having the rock. Overall, I don't like the fact that the photo is hiding a lot of the aquarium and not giving us a true view of the aquarium. I feel like the black backgrounds in Amano tank pictures still allow you to see the aquarium's two back corners, something that this picture doesn't allow for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A higher quality photo has replaced the original one on this critique thread.

Enjoy,

Carlos
 

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You can't really fault the picture here. Presentation of the photograph can make a big impact on the overal look of the scape.
Although amano doesn't use underexposure, he doesn't potray a lot of his images in his books/magazines as they normally are. He uses all sorts of additional side/top/back lighting. ..just a different approach at total presentation.

As for the scape...

1st, I really do like it. Simple and pleasing to the eye (which is a sum of many small things). The fern mound is particularly striking.

THere are a few elements that I am not head over heals on.
the rock doesn't really do it for me as it seems like either a second focal point in too small of an area. Perhaps the other rocks that make it seem harmonious are hidden in the darness of the picture?
The only other part I do not like is that the anubias nana feels too hidden amongst the marsilea...so hidden that it isn't on the plant list? ;). I probably would have tried another anubias coffeefolia (not sure of size, but the leaf color varience/texture would be a nice subtle contrast).
 

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tsunami said:
1) Does the aquascape make an original creative impression to the viewers?
Yes. In fact I wouldn't say "impression", I would say "impact." Not only did this seem original and creative when I first saw it, but now it still seems orignal and creative.

2) Is the aquascape composed well (is there compositional balance within the aquascape)?
That is very difficult to say. I think under different lighting the scape when viewed directly from the long side of the tank may not be all that well balanced. Viewing it at an angle as in the photo helps the balance. While the aquascape may not be that well balanced the photograph -- centered by the bright light and with the ends of the tank fading into darkness -- does seem balanced to me.

3) Are the aquatic plants appropriately positioned within the aquascape? Does the balance exist in the colors and shapes of the plants used?
I think Erik's choice of plants and their positioning from the wide and prominent leaves at the top of the aquascape, to smaller and less prominent leaves toward the edges is beautifully done. Most of the effect is achieved with just a few species of plants (Tha java fern, anubias, marsilea and crypt) and the remaining plants may be mostly extraneous.

4) Do you feel harmony between the fish and the aquarium layout?
I do, but not because of this photo. This was an entry in the 2002 AGA contest and a few more photos are available there. The fish (the pygmy cory especially) seemed to have a natural relationship to and dependence on their surroundings.

5) Is the aquascape laid out well making a natural looking atmosphere?
I think it is relaxed and informal.

1) What compositional rules does this layout follow? Which compositional rules does it break?
I don't know that if follows any rules.

2) What are the main elements in this layout? How do they work together harmoniously (or unharmoniously)?
The mound and its surrounding field of marsilea. They work together very well.

3) What type of atmosphere/impression does this layout seem to create for the viewer?
This for me is the most important question to answer for this aquascape. I get a sense of mystery. It looks like a distant, inviting island of light in a sea of shadows. But a lot of that effect is due to the photograph, not the aquascape. It is hard for me to determine which is most responsible.

Roger Miller
 

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Jeff,
Your comment about the gravel being some sort of hardscape (or something like that) had me thinking for a while. I can't help but apply that idea to this tank coupled with your comment about it looking like a cave. I think scapes that have very little or no vertical growth reply on the gradient of the substrate to keep the design dynamic. Usually this is accomplished in the form of a hill or mound, This design uses this "trick with the fern clump.

What if this design employed a deeply concave substrate, one that gave the impression of a bowl, ...a meniscus of Marsilea?... I think it would put the design into scale, relative to the size of the tank.
 

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One thing that I don't think Erik gets enough credit with is his originality. I like Tom Barr's post of the stages of the Aquatic Gardner. I am at the stage of trying to figure out how to grow the plants and not deal with algae. Then there is the aquascaping stage. I think Erik is one of the few people in the country that is at the stage after that. That is, I think Erik pushes the envelope in terms of his layout ideas. When I saw this tank the first time, I loved it. I was so surprised that it didn't place that I got a few people to vote so that it would win the popular choice. It just seems like Natural aquariums are considered the ideal, and anything that veers from that path is look down upon. Take for example his 2003 entry. I collect pics of aquascapes that I run across on the web. I've never seen a layout like this,

 

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i just think the layour is too much of dark green. a light green or a red would really help that i think.
 

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I have seen Erik work in person and his aquariums are extraordinary. If one look at the way Mr. Amano creates his layouts will always follow a few simple rules.
The RYUBOKU or driftwood aquascape uses 4 arrangements of driftwood and they can be accentuated by the use of rocks, Erik uses these arrangements very well. I have seen one of his latest design following a triangular arrangement like the one in 2002 the rocks are placed on the side supporting the dense planting on the corner. I think is hard to create the ultimate SUIKEI but trying is what make things fun using an X-shape, mound, triangular or a two section layout can help you not only to create but to develop your own style. Erik is work may look simple some times but there is a lot of heart and time in every of his layouts.
Just my two cents.
Luis Navarro
 

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IUnknown said:
Take for example his 2003 entry.
I think this tank moves in an innovative direction. It evokes recollections of some really amazing floral arrangements that I have seen. In the context of Erik's progression it avoids some of the labor intensive aspects of his 2001 AGA entry, mitigates some of the long term commitment in his 2002 AGA entry and bridges a relationship to a long standing history of decorative horticultural presentation. I think it is appropriate to call these clever mixtures bouquets, they appeal to the sensual joys of life. They are extremely pleasing to the eye, clearly decorative and very ornamental. They make no pretensions of rendering a "natural" illusion or stimulating enlightenment. They are simply and unabashedly pretty.
___
Jeff
 

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I too have had the privilege of seeing Eriks tanks and they all are awesome! Aesthetically pleasing to the eye to say the least, great plant conditions, and just inspiring to me.

Excellent work Erik!

Chrisl
 
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