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.