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Weekly topic: An Interview with Oliver Knott

29913 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  plantella
On the very first week of every month, I have decided to do something a little different with the weekly topic. Besides just presenting discussion topics on technique, style, composition, etc, I will hold an email interview with a notable, accomplished aquascaper. post it on the forum, and present a sampling of his or her aquaria. Hopefully, we will all be able to learn and take something from these discussions (even beyond just aquascaping). For Aquatic Plant Central's very first aquascaper in focus, I have chosen German aquarium designer Oliver Knott. So without further adieu, here it is:

Name: Oliver Knott
Location: Germany

Thank you for volunteering for the interview. Your sharing of knowledge and technique on the APC forum will be very much appreciated. Here are the questions that I would like to ask you.

Carlos: How did you become interested in the planted aquarium hobby? How long have you been in the hobby?

Oliver: It is my job --since I was 16 years old. I always looked for new things in the aquarium hobby and tried to learn as much as possible besides the normal job routine. It was maybe about seven years later before I saw tanks from Amano-san --and they were so great! At that time, I made my first "nature" tank with Riccia stones.

Carlos: Oliver, I have noticed that many of your aquariums do not have nearly as much light as many in the United States. As a professional aquarium designer, what other strategies and techniques do you use such as plant choice, technology, and pruning technique to make sure the aquarium runs smoothly while you are not there?

Oliver: Automatic pH-regulators, daily fertilization with automatic fertilizer sets, and a light timer... and someone who makes the weekly water change.

Carlos: Looking at your aquariums, many of them seem very natural yet very unlike most Japanese tanks following the Nature Aquarium style. Do you follow any particular artistic style or philosophy when creating your planted aquarium layouts?

Oliver: No, I look at a tank and I know how it will look like. Sorry, I can't describe it in a better way.

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

Oliver: My main goals are that it will look harmonic and interesting --not run-of-the-mill.

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?

Oliver: No, it's just emotional reactions when designing and making decisions.

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

Oliver: When the tank grows successfully, seeing the development from little plants to beautiful ones. Also, a nice, splendid tank that the customers are astounded with.

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?

Oliver: There are so many things I want to try in the future. So many plants I haven't used yet. I will never be finished with learning! In March, I'll visit Amano-san for a two week practical training.

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

Oliver: Consistency is the most important, I think. Water changes, fertilizing, cleaning, pruning the plants --all these jobs should be done regularly.

147g (51x27x27 inches)
4x54w T5 + 1x39w T5, total of 255w, 1.73 w/g
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil
Plants: Hemianthus callitrichoides, Taxiphyllum sp., Ludwigia sp Cuba, Limnophila aromatica, Eusteralis stellata, Riccia fluitans
Fish: Puntius denisonii, Otocinclus paulinus (spec. "*****"), Caridina japonica

122g (51x24x24 inches)
4x38w Arcadia lamps, 1.25 w/g
Plants: Narrow Leaf Java Fern, Windelov Java Fern, Nymphaea sp, Cryptocoryne sp, Anubias barteri v nana
Fish: trio of Discus

122g (51x24x24 inches)
2x54w T5 tubes, 0.88 w/g
Plants: Cryptocoryne balansae, Java Fern, Windelov Java Fern, Nymphaea, Echinodorus tennellus, Cryptocoryne sp, Taxiphyllum sp.
Fish: Altum Angelfish, Rummynose Tetras, Bleeding Heart Tetras

Volume: 1,500L (396g)
Dimensions: 400cm (160") x 70cm (28")x 55cm (22")
Lighting: 6 x 70 Watt HQI (behind) 8 x 54 Watt T5 (in front)
Flora: Hemianthus callitrichoides, Cryptocoryne wendtii "Tropica," Cryptocoryne wendtii "Brown," Taxiphyllum sp. (java moss)
Fauna: Puntius denisonii, Cardina japonica, Otocinclus affinis, Poecilia sphenops

Volume: 500L (132g)
Dimensions: 130cm (52") x 60cm wide (24") x 60cm (24")
Lighting: 2 x 150 Watt (HQI 5.000 Kelvin) 2 x 30Watt (tube 7.500 Kelvin)
Flora: Heteranthera zosterifolia, Limnophila aromatica, Didiplis diandra, Sagittaria subulata, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Taxiphyllum sp.

Volume: 250L (66g)
Dimensions: 100cm (39") x 50cm (20") x 50cm (20")
Lighting: 4 x 30 Watt T8 (2 x 4.000 Kelvin / 2 x 9.000 Kelvin) JBL
Flora: Potamogeton octandrus, Potamogeton gayi, Juncus repens, Cyperus helferi, Taxiphyllum sp., Eleocharis acicularis
Fauna: Cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi), Otocinclus affinis, Crossocheilus siamensis, Caridina japonica

Volume: 580L (153)
Dimensions: 160cm (64") x 60cm (24") x 60cm (24")
Lighting: 2 x 70 Watt HQI (5000 Kelvin)
Flora: Alternanthera aquatica, Hydrocleis martii, Microsorum pteropus "Narrow," Anubias barteri var. nana, Vesicularia montagne (Christmas moss)
Fauna: Phenacogrammus interruptus (Congo tetra), Otocinclus affinis and Otocinclus paulinus Also: Caridina japonica

For the rest of his gallery:


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Simply tremendous! You are awesome.

I love the E. stellata.
Do take note that the Eusteralis is the smaller, green stem plant in that tank. The large, broader leaved, orange plants in the back and corner are actually Ludwigia sp Cuba --a beautiful new fine-leaved species that, IMHO, surpasses Eusteralis stellata in beauty.

I stand corrected, it is the Ludwigia!
What a great article! THANK YOU!
Oliver Knott

Thank you Carlos - And Mr. Knott :D

I enjoyed the interview, and it always does my heart good to see a beautiful low light planted tank!!!

Great job Carlos.

This is definitely a great way to attract more members.

Thanks to Oliver as well.
Thanks Carlos,

Oliver sounds a bit like me about the approach.
I ain't got clue how to describe it, it just happens.
It happens fast also.

It'd be fun to go spend 2 weeks scaping with folks in Japan though.
I'd come back with "prune looking hands" for sure:)

Looks like he makes those clients "pay"! Many People in the USA are generally too cheap for all that automation IME so I try and work with them to do it themselves, not to mention I don't care to come back and take of their tanks anyway! A few will pay and they tend to have the best long term tanks over time.

But his notions about what works and doesn't are right on track about water changes, pruning and basic mainteance routines.

That's just basic gardening.
I'm certainly with him on less lighting, especially with clients.

Thanks, nice to see the interview.

Tom Barr
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I'am very pleased that your are interested on the interview. :D

If you want, I try to make a special report from my 2 weeks visit by Mr.Amano. A short report for the web, because I must translate it in English language...this takes time, it's not my mother tongue.

When somebody are work for a pet magazine in the USA, perhaps I can write a longer version for it ?! Than please contact me via email.

My best greeting to all in this forum,

Oliver Knott
Aquarium Picture Gallery
I think we all would be interested in seeing that article as well.
absolutely! very interested :)

An Oliver...a Question that was left off of your interview :D

All of your tanks seem to be devoid of algae. From the time you plant it, till several weeks later, no sign of algae in your journal pictures.
What is the secret? ;)

My information is a bit dated, but... Aqua Design Amano does offer courses on aquascaping (nature aquarium style) at their headquarters in Nigita, Japan. It does cost money! But, you get to learn from the people that learned from Amano. Imagine practicing pruning, cleaning, fertilizing, etc. every day for two weeks. I understand Amano does lecture and help each individual.

Those of you that are interested, please contact Aqua Design Amano directly. Oh, and be sure to take a camera and report back to us here. We will live vicariously through you...
All of your tanks seem to be devoid of algae. From the time you plant it, till several weeks later, no sign of algae in your journal pictures.
What is the secret?
You must believe me...I know every algae who exist 8)

When you take care a lot of tanks, the algae escort you like a shadow. I try to get good balance in the water to reduce the algae naturaly. Up till now I never use a chemical algae "destroyer". Reduce the lightning time, play with the fertilizer dosing, use a lot of Otocinlus and Amano shrimps or others,...

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