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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:


Title: Illusion
Volume: 10g (38L)
Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 12 in (51 x 25 x 30 cm)
Plants: Glossostigma elatinoides, Eleocharis parvulus, Micranthemum micranthemoides, Heteranthera zosteraefolia, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Ludwigia repens x arcuata, Vesicularia sp., Anubias petite nana, Microsorium pteropus windelov, Rotala indica, Rotala magenta and Sagittaria subulata narrow
Fish: Hemigrammus erythrozonus, Otocinclus, Neocaridina deticulata and Caridina japonica

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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I suppose I can start off by saying that I can look this scape over countless times and not be bored with it.

The crypt in the bottom left is great, and gives a great focal point for the foreground while leading in height and coloration toward the midground.

I feel like the anubias are successful in the same way that they work well in Gomer's TotM. Don't ask me what way that is. Maybe Gomer can tell us. :)

The dark area under the windlov on the right puzzles and intrigues me. I can't decide if I wish there was something else there or if that extra dark space keeps the layout from feeling too symmetrical.

The fauna are hardly evident at all in the photo, which detracts slightly for me.

Overall I like this arrangement a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This is one of the prettiest ten gallons I've ever seen. The careful use of small and fine leaved plants greatly enhances the appearance of a vast space --this tank looks much larger than it really is. The Petit nanas really help with this effect --at the time, Petit nanas were really rare so the eye was accustomed to the much larger Anubias barteri var nana.

The stargrass on the left looks very ratty and unhealthy, on a side note. It does detract from the overall presentation --atleast for me.

According to all the questions I posted, this tank really does pass with flying colors.

Carlos
 

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This is a beautiful 10 gallon. I wish mine would look so good. Unfortunately, unqualitfied compliments don't lead to much conversation. I'll see if I can fix that...

The tank grades out pretty well in the ADA criteria, but I would probably give it somewhat lower grades for creativity. I think the aquascape is missing that stroke of creativity that could make it really stand out as unique. Of course, if you want the fish to be visible so you can judge their naturalness then this tank might fall a little short. Personally I think it's pretty natural for fish to hide as soon as a camera shows up in front of the tank. There are exceptions. Guppies and rasboras come to mind and I'm sure there are others.

The negative space is the focus of the tank; all else builds around it.

The tank has two features that I think are remarkable. First is its illusion of size and second is the number of plant species.

The illusion of size is created largely by the use of small-leaved plants. The dwarf a. nana is very important that way, as most of us are accustomed to looking at the larger variety. Subconsciously I scale my perception of the tank size off those anubias. The small leafed plants aren't all positive. Carlos already pointed out the stargrass. The C. wendtii is another case. C. wendtii should outgrow this tank. The small specimen is important to the foreground layout in this tank, but it is either unhealthy or destined to eventually destroy the aquascape. Along with a generally small leaf size, the color development on some of the red stem plants is not very good. On the other hand, there are so many red-colored stems in the tank that if they did have well-developed colors then they might overwhelm the aquascape.

The tank contains 12 different plant species. That's a pretty large number for such a small tank. I have 12 plants in my 150 and I'm trying to reduce that number. Kenny did a great job of keeping the aquascape focussed, but the effect is still a little busy. In my own tanks I've started looking at the role that plants play in an aquascape, and reducing the number of species by keeping only one species in each role. So far I'm pleased with the outcome. It makes the tanks visually simpler, easier to focus and easier to care fore. Using that approach I think most aquascapes can be completed with no more than 4-6 species, regardless of the size of the tank.


Roger MIller
 

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Discussion Starter #5
In contrast, I am starting to use more species to fill rolls in my layouts, because they seem more 'natural'. The hairgrass and Glossostigma in this layout is an excellent example of how mixing two or three species can make a layout more 'natural' and less regimented.

Carlos
 

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I have lileaopsis and marsilea mixed in the foreground of my 150 and will probably keep it that way. The texture created by their comibination is different from either alone. On the otherhand, I don't think the combination is essential to the tank. As I simplify the rest of the layout the mixture in the foreground may start to appear superfluous.


Roger Miller
 

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I agree with Roger, the greatest skill in creating this aquascape was the use of size and scale of the plants. It couldn't be more perfect. While the design itself is simple, the creative use of scale is impressive. Ken entered this pic in my contest as well, and it was always one of my favorites. In fact I use this picture to illustrate to people how they can creatively use Petite nana when they ask me about the plant. Compared to Kens other work, I think this is his best. I don't think he ever quite captured this in his other tanks.
 
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