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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For this week's topic, I will focus on aquascaping trends in the city-state of Singapore. For those who don't know where Singapore is, grab a map, find the continent called Asia, and move your finger southeast toward the southeastern section of the continent. Find skinny stretch of land called the Malay Peninsula. Singapore is at the tip of this peninsula.



Here, the planted aquarium hobby is very popular relative to the popularity level of planted aquaria in the U.S. And why not? Oriental Aquariums, perhaps the largest planted aquarium facility in the world, is based here. Also, the English version of ADA's AquaJournal was once based here as well. With such a large variety of relatively cheap plants at the stores...

Most aquatic plant hobbyists in Singapore, like perhaps most hobbyists in the world, come into the hobby just to have a beautiful piece of nature in their own homes. Things are kept simple and easy, as most adults often come from work to destress in front of the planted aquarium.

Perhaps due to the large variety of plants available locally, the owner simply goes to the market and obtains what is available. They generally arrange the plants in the aquarium according to what is most appealing. Plant choice can include Elatine triandra and Glossostigma elatinoides for the foreground, various mosses such as Java, Christmas, or Erect, various Crypts and Java Fern varieties, and stem plants such as Toninas, Ludwigia sp Pantanal, various Rotalas... and much much more. This mixing of aquarium plants liberally into an arrangement has been termed as a 'Rojak' style --a term which originated in Singaporean cooking which means 'mixed together.' These hobbyists sometimes know little of fertilization, lighting, or nutrients --just do what works for you.



Sometimes these tanks can look a little messy...



As he gains experience, the hobbyist often realizes that he needs to put in a lot of effort into research, planning, and preparation to create a tank that truly needs minimal interevention.

Sometimes, the hobbyist begins to follow an accepted style. Biotope and Dutch aquaria are rare in this country --the latter is too time consuming to maintain and the former, the concept isn't even widely known.

Most serious aquascapers tend to follow the Nature Aquarium concept, since it is perceived to be the easiest and lowest maintenance style to concoct. How do they get a natural look? For some, it's a matter of careful planning while it is second nature to others (doesn't this sound familiar?).



The same tank as the second tank picture in the post, a few months later. What a difference. :)

Feel free to comment, discuss, say this is all wrong, etc.

Carlos
 

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All I see is Red X's.

Soooo what is the deal with the Singapore style, what sets it apart from the Amano nature aquarium style?

What about those tanks that look like a city. Or are those the Taiwan style tanks? Who knows! I can't keep track anymore!

Aquascaping moquascaping. I say let them do thier thing. I have Crypts I have not pruned in 6 months! They need a good prune though. Who has time to prune daily, bah! Stem plants = headache!
 

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i'm from singapore. i don't see distinct styles here. When I look at local tanks, I see a mix of Japanese and European styles. Lots of plants but not arranged in a pure Dutch manner.

The ratio of Amano styled tanks to the European styled is about 1+:1-.

I myself is a strict follwer of the Japanese style. Been studying rock formations (Iwagumi), flower arrangement (Ikebana), and some research on Zen art forms. I believe this is where Amano san comes from.

I've only been in this hobby for 4 months, though I was into planted tanks 6 years ago then quited due to poverty :lol:

Here's my latest attempt at rock arrangement.

Still waiting for my glossosigma to cover the whole ground and my hairgrass to grow tall to complete the layout.

Rock arrangement is in my observation not very common practise in Singapore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't see a unique style in Singapore. I see a very active group of hobbyists/aquascapers in Singapore but not a distinct style. Basically, it was just an analysis of aquascaping in Singapore --and kind of shows how similar the different aquascaping stages in that country are to the U.S. I guess the Rojak style is a beginner's 'jungle' style.

I would like to hear more on Singapore's opinions/ideas on aquascaping in their country. They know much more about it than I ever will. ;)

Carlos
 

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There are some LFS and individual hobbyists (like Aquoi) who consciously pattern their tanks on the Japanese "Zen" approach, with results that can be spectacular - and here Less really is More (with deceptively simple layouts that belie the effort behind them).

But I would hazard to say that Singaporeans are a pragmatic lot not given to philosophising - if something works and looks good, that's good enough. Of course there are small groups of hobbyists who veer into more specialised areas, e.g. crypts, echinodorus, Eriocaulons, mosses, etc..... but I would say it's not possible to nail down any fixed "school" of aquascaping per se, particularly since new influences from Japan, Taiwan and the US flow in easily. And when a new plant (e.g. Eriocaulons, Ludwigia sp. 'red') comes along, many people turn to it for the novelty value, or just to see if they can succeed in growing it.

Some Taiwanese influence is also evident (with a few LFS specialising in Taiwan-style layouts). Personally though, I find these tanks too "fake" looking, with their scapers having a concept of "natural-looking" that stems from classical Chinese landscape paintings and bonsai setups.
 

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Carlos, Ha ha ha ha ha. I never thought you'll actually put anything up on the Singapore style after the non-conculsive responses you got from us at AQ.

Yep, we're a pretty un-philosophical/innovative/creative community. Pretty much a product of the past education system here. A system that has boosted education quickly since independence from the British in the 1960s, producing a population with high literacy and educational levels but comparatively lacking in creativity, and innovation. That's changing with recent policies by the govt... but that's a different matter.

Although English is the first language here, it isn't the strongest language for many. Some find the more in-depth articles and discussions in netspace intimidating.

Many of the trends in the planted tank hobby here are just a little behind what's happening on the APD, WetThumbs and APC. Main reason being that a bunch of us follow these lists/forums and introduce many of the ideas back to AQ.

Having said that, there are a number of ppl who have their own techniques and tricks, but are not active on the Internet or find little time to share. Some are simply non- or weak in English speaking/writing. All that in a way contribute to the lack of innovation.

Taiwan style is not prevalent here. The few I've seen are restricted to LFSes. I've yet to come across a local hobbyist with a Taiwan style tank.

After some thought, I think this is what the Rojak style is... There isn't a distinct, carefully cultivated style. Most beginners are first enticed by images of Amano's tanks, but the low cost and availability of many plants allow many hobbyist to populate their tanks with many varieties of plants much like the Dutch school. That results in a curious mix of both styles or the so called Rojak style.

There are those who conciously follow the Nature Aquarium style (like Aeon), and a smaller group that specifically go for the Dutch style. I think most are simply quite happy with the Rojak style.

A large percentage of the hobbyist here are men. And all male citizens here have to serve in the arm forces for 2 to 2.5 yrs, most of them in the army. I guess running around in the tropical "forests" have some influences in our perception of nature and aquascaping sense... thick undergrowths, wild growth, lots of wood.

One reason for the low use of rockwork in the Singapore style is the lack of nice rocks and their high costs. On the other hand, wood is easy to find in the stores and cheap. Mainly because it's much cheaper to import wood then rocks. Being a tiny speck on the world (or a "little red dot" as an interim leader of a neighbouring country once called us), we don't have much of natural resources, so even things like rock and wood are imported. We're lucky that the climate makes it easy and cheap to grow plants emersed on the farms and breed tropical fishes.
 

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guys,

so what is Hong Kong style? Japanese style? Singapore style? and Taiwanese style? for me, i think all Asians style are very closer to Japanese style. post a pix of each and let us to know what is different between those styles. i'm new to this hobby about 2 months or so. really couldn't figure out whats different between those aquascaping. :roll: i'm learning learning and learning everyday. :lol:

if you guys interested in and can read chinese, go this link. i'm not registered member there. hehe... used my friend's id and password. go check screen name under Webmaster and Tonina. those two guys' Tonina tanks really amazing to me. wish i can have one.

http://tonina-forest.net/

Tim
 

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Not to good with picking styles, but I guess "Rojak" style would be a beginners attempt at Amano...lol


I went to Hong Kong and saw a display tank there. Lots of amano influence...though slightly more formal closer to the front. It wasn't all stem plants.
 

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Thinking about it, I would say there are only 3 distinct styles? Amano's Nature Aquarium, Dutch Tanks and the Taiwanese (bonsai style, using coloured pebbles/gravel, figurines, miniaturised constructs to create a minature scenery).

Are there other distinct styles in Aquascaping?
 

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Vinz,

Yes, there is the "American" style.

:D

--Nikolay
 

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Really interesting read. It's fun to see how other people in the hobby approach things. My personal style is um..terrible right now. Once I get the hang of growing things better the various styles and examples of other people's tanks is inspiring and gets the creative juices flowing. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Being from Singapores close neighbour, Malaysia. I can see some similarities between the styles. I strongly agree that most ppl in the area do not enjoy complicated aquarium litrature. Most ppl around here will go WTF is a wabi-sabi look, what is the golden ratio??? But when they see beautifully aquascaped tanks, there they start their attempt. Taking that all plants do well, the tank is actually hardly aquascaped for most people ( i think im included :D ) , hence the rojak style is born. Some stuff are pretty limited here. A piece of driftwood that is "Amano" syle is hardly available, the same go for rocks. We go for plants, cuz they are relatively cheap here. Overall, i think that aquarium styles are quite undefined. Although it can be described with words, it is still based on the viewers perception. (eg. some amano tanks look like dutch or jungle style n some taiwan tanks look amano style to me) ...juz my 2 cents
 

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Singapore's Style

I agree with most of you but i think the style in Singapore are a mix of Dutch plus Japanese style. A good illustration will be a japanese concept foreground design with a dutch style background. hehe... Well, another reason i believe why Amano concept are closely follow is because of it's simplicity as most of the Singaporean hates troublessss... Therefore keeping close to the Japanese concept means lesses maintenance. Moreover, the Dutch style require much more planning and knowlegde of the desired plant type and this means more troublesome... So you guys see the point??

Anyway, i believe that as long as you enjoy your creation then why bother about comments from outsider or stranger? Like what amano says, if you cannot appreciate what you creat then you can't stand before the Nature. =P~
 

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I am from Singapore too.
IMO, from the aquascapes available on Singapore aquascaping websites, there is not yet a definable Singapore style. The word Rojak is well used. No doubt there are several individuals with quite nice tanks, but each has his own way of doing things.
If I am not wrong, most hobbists here (including me) are still in the beginner stage. There aren't many with more than 2 years experience.
It seems like a rather popular trend here is to create small tanks with mainly moss for shrimps rather then fishes.
One main problem facing many beginners here is the lack of preparation before going into the hobby. Many are not aware of the science and commitment required for a planted tank, and face many problems in the beginning. However, it seems like most did not give up but rather try to pick up the knowledge from forums after encountering problems which is a good sign.
 

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This topic is old [smilie=k:

I second goh's bit, the planted tank scene in Singapore is not really established. We do have a few really good aquascapers here, but for the rest of us, it's learn as we go, the tedious way. ( like me :p )

Amano has quite a bit of influence on me personally, since it was his scapes that brought me into this hobby. There's a lack of good stone/rock here; I find most of them just chunky, squarish shaped peices with no character. Driftwood is a bit easier, but the good looking peices ( like branchy ones and those with lots of grooves ) are just that little bit difficult to find.

Our plant and fish variety is great, since we have quite a number of aquatic farms here, as well as LFSes who willingly import wanted fish. I feel the aquascaping scene here can grow much, much more.
 

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Well at terrence, at least we've got the benefit of cheap plants, cheap equipment and resources! I'd rather be home in singapore making mistakes and tearing up a tank every other month than to try that here in Perth, Australia where its too darn costly to set my imaginations running wild.

Cheers,
Jerome
 
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