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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
For this month's aquascaper, one of my personal favorites!

Name: Enrico Monteiro
Location: Brazil
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Carlos: How did you become interested in the planted aquarium hobby? How long have you been in the hobby?

Enrico: I discovered the planted aquarium hobby about three years ago, when I began visiting the www.aquahobby.com forums. By the end of 2002, I had setup my first planted aquarium with a fertilized substrate, strong illumination, and CO2. It's been a lot of fun since then.

Carlos: In the aquariums you submitted last year into the AGA contest, you mention that you do not use any liquid fertilizer in your tanks. Despite that fact, many of your stem plants look remarkably healthy perhaps due in part to your enriched substrate. Could you tell us about your substrate method?

Enrico: Well, in last year's contest, I did not use liquid fertilization in my aquariums since they were setup recently. In mature and algae-free aquariums, I use some liquid fertilization but not much. For the substrate, I use earth worm castings, using Mr. Vladimir Simoes' method. I consider it an excellent substrate fertilizer because it provides a wide variety of macro and micro nutrients to the plants. I consider it to be very safe to use if you follow Vladimir Simoes' method. More information about this substrate method can be found here:
http://www.e-aquaria.com/des_monteiro.html


Carlos: From where do you draw the inspiration for your aquascapes? Do you follow any particular aquascaping style?

Enrico: I draw a lot of inspiration from Takashi Amano's works. I think it is fascinating and challenging to make an aquascape that does not look contrived. In the aquariums in which I try to follow more of a Dutch style, I try to add design elements from Amano's Nature Aquariums.

Carlos: Your layouts are very crisp and refreshing to my eye, with some very unique elements I have never seen before. In your 112L (30g) aquarium with the java moss in last year's AGA contest, did you leave the background empty of plants on purpose? What were you trying to recreate or evoke in this aquarium?

Enrico: My original intention was to let the background plants, originally Rotala sp Green, to fill in a little more. Unfortunately, the Rotala sp Green would not grow in as well as I would have liked so I replaced it with the easier to grow Hygrophila polysperma. I tried to take pictures later, but by the time the Hygrophila polysperma had grown in, the moss had gotten way out of control.

Carlos: What are your main goals when setting up a new tank?

Enrico: My main goal is to try new design elements and new ideas --hopefully to make something new as a result.

Carlos: Are there any tactics or techniques you use to make arrangement decisions in your designs? Do you use any guidelines or rules for wood or rock placement? How about the use of colored plants? Do you place any special consideration on choosing the right fish for your layout?

Enrico: I always try to use basic aquascaping techniques. Unfortunately, many techniques aren't exactly ones that you can read from a text or from the internet. You have to practice.

I also use a lot of intuition in my designs, trying to place plants or hardscaping material in the places I think they look best. Before I even fill up the aquarium with water, I tend to draw out the design and try several different arrangements on a flat surface (outside of the tank).

I think fish choice is very important for the presentation of a layout. Unfortunately, fish are not very easy to get rid of once you want to try out a new design which clashes with those fish.


Carlos: What do you enjoy most about designing and creating aquariums in this hobby?

Enrico: I enjoy how the aquascape sometimes takes you in directions you didn't plan to take.

Carlos: What is in the horizon for you in terms of aquascaping? Are there any particular ideas you look forward to implementing in future arrangements? Do you feel that you have anything left to learn?

Enrico: My goals right now are to create cleaner, more well executed aquascapes. I also plan to make greater use of ferns, which add a different quality to a layout that I really enjoy.

Carlos: Finally, is there any particular advice you would give to a hobbyist creating his first planted aquarium layout?

Enrico: Read a lot, look at a lot of pictures, and have patience!
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30g (112L)
28 x 16 x 16 in (70 x 40 x 40 cm)
Lighting: 6x18 watts Osram Daylight 6100K fluorescent bulbs (3.6 wpg)
Substrate: Fine gravel capped over 3-4 cm laterite+processed earthworm castings
Flora: Cryptocorine wendtii 'Brown', Eleocharis minima, Glossostigma elatinoides, Hygrophila polysperma, Ludwigia arcuata, Ludwigia sp. 'Pantanal',Microsorum pteropus, Microsorum 'Narrow', Vallisneria americana, Vesicularia dubyana
Fauna: Serpae tetras

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66g (250L)
39 x 20 x 20 in (100 x 50 x 50 cm)
Lighting: 8x30 watts of Osram 6100K daylight fluorescent bulbs (3.6 wpg)
Substrate: Fine gravel over 5 cm laterite+processed earth worm castings
Flora: Alternanthera reineckii 'Lilacina', Bacopa caroliniana, Eusteralis stellata, glossostigma elatinoides, Hemianthus micranthemoides, Heteranthera zosterifolia, Hygrophila polysperma 'Sunset', Lindernia sp., Rotala macrandra, Rotala rotundifolia, Rotala wallichii
Fauna: Cardinal Tetras (P. axelrodi), Harlequin Rasboras (T. heteromorpha), Rummy-nose tetras (H. rhodostomus)

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66g (250L)
39 x 20 x 20 in (100 x 50 x 50 cm)
Lighting: 8x30 watts of Osram 6100K daylight fluorescent bulbs (3.6 wpg)
Substrate: Fine gravel over 5 cm laterite+processed earth worm castings
Flora: Anubias barteri var. nana, Blyxa echinosperma, Blyxa japonica, Echinodorus Tenellus var. 'Amano', Glossostigma elatinoides, Ludwigia arcuata, Ludwigia glandulosa, Ludwigia sp. 'Pantanal', Micranthemum umbrosum, Rotala indica 'green', Rotala sp. 'nanjenshan', Rotala Wallichii
Fauna: Harlequin Rasboras (T. heteromorpha), Cardinal Tetras (P. axelrodi), Rummynose Tetras (H. rhodostomus), and Black Neons (H. herbertaxelrodi)



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66g (250L)
39 x 20 x 20 in (100 x 50 x 50 cm)
Lighting: 8x30 watts of Osram 6100K daylight fluorescent bulbs (3.6 wpg)
Substrate: Fine gravel over 5 cm laterite+processed earth worm castings
Flora: Glossostigma elatinoides, Echinodorus tenellus var. 'micro', Blyxa japonica, Cryptocoryne balansae, Vallisneria americana, Vesicularia dubyana, Microsorum pteropus, Anubias barteri var. 'nana', Rotala rotundifolia 'green', Rotala wallichii and Eusteralis sp.
Fauna: Symphysodon aequifasciata, Paracheirodon axelrodi, Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi, Hemigrammus rhodostomus, Crossocheilus siamensis and Rasbora heteromorpha


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Carlos
 

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Wonderful tanks Enrico. I have to say I admire people who can keep mounds of stem plants looking so beautiful! I always feel like a bull in a china shop when I try to recreate a thick, bushy planting of stems.
 

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Great looking tanks! Thank you guys! I really like these tanks because they use plants that I either have already or can get at my LFS. They give me some great ideas :)
 
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