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You have to sign up and register to see the photo. That is quite a wall of plants... I don't see the biotope intention, just a wall of healthy plants.

On the other hand, I do not understand why people get the notion that Amano's aquariums are supposed to be representations of a biotope. They are not, which he clearly states in the aquajournal magazine.

Wabi is basically what westerners refer to as 'personality' or 'character' to inanimate objects or trees-- the weather beaten tree, the rough edged rock, the fallen branch with several scars and cracks. It seems to me like objects that show evidence of past experiences/its history.

Sabi, the 'patina' aspect, shows signs of age. This can include moss, ferns, and other epiphytic plants on our hardscaping material, which give a sense of timelessness and softens the composition.

A round river rock has no character. Its too perfect. Thus, it has no wabi, even though it may be naturally moss covered (sabi). On the other hand, a roughened rock may have wabi but have no sabi if it is kept clean.

Carlos
 

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And this is just too anal for me:

"A round river rock has no character. Its too perfect. Thus, it has no wabi, even though it may be naturally moss covered (sabi). On the other hand, a roughened rock may have wabi but have no sabi if it is kept clean."

So, a naturally smoothed stone is too perfect, but a stone blasted out of a cliff and thrown in a tank is okay as long as it has moss on it? Bleah.
As with everything in Amano design, it is simply a guideline. Bare branches may be appropriate while mossy ones are not. It all depends on the layout.

And aquariums don't need driftwood to be good. Nor do they need rocks to be good, according to Mr. Amano. It all depends on the design -- and his NA style concept has to be the most flexible, free style aquascaping philosophy presently out there.

Rocks can be pretty smooth/round but they do not have to be /featureless/. It is more complicated than just choosing between round/smooth rocks and jagged/rough rocks:

Stone layouts:









Biotope-like:



Formal gardens:



Wall of plants:





Driftwood arrangements:





I think it is really hard to generalize and say Amano tanks are 'high maintenance' or 'restrictive.' His layouts show an enormous variety of atmospheres and styles which vary not only from year to year but between those produced in the same year.

As the NA concept has solidified, Mr. Takashi Amano does seem to be focusing on the use of an ever narrower selection of plants -- typical of a mature aquascaper, who tends to stick with his one or two dozen favorite species with the occassional sprinkling of something new.

Carlos
 
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