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Discussion Starter #1
I'm trying to get back on track with the weekly topics now. Sorry for the the recent slow down. :oops:

Some background:

Some time in the 1990s, Rayon Vert, a Japanese company specializing in very rare fish, plants, and shrimp, imported the first Tonina sp into that country. From there, demand for these beautiful plants began to increase exponentially in the Far East. Some hobbyists began to devote their entire aquariums to these unusual aquatic plants --and not only Toninas, but also fine leaved Ludwigias, Eriocaulons, rare Bacopas, Polygonums, and Rotalas. These hobbyists are collectors, at least. But are they also creating a new aquascaping style in the process?

These aquariums, for the most part, have little in the way of hardscaping like Amano's --few rocks and little wood. Instead, the plants are carefully organized into groups. However, I can't really call them adaptations of the Dutch style since they are too open plus lack the rows of plants that lead the eye.

Here are some examples:











What plants are they using?:

The most popular plants in Tonina aquariums include:

Ludwigia sp Pantanal


Rotala macrandra


Polygonum sp Sao Paulo


Proserpinaca palustris


Tonina sp Belem


Tonina fluviatilis


Eriocaulon setaceum


Rotala macrandra 'green'


How to setup a Tonina tank:

Toninas, since they grow in dense carpets in blackwater tributaries in the Amazon River of South America, require really soft, acidic water to look their best in aquariums. The substrate should be acidic, with a thin layer of peat at the bottom covered by a thick layer of Florabase (similar to ADA Aquasoil) or Eco-complete. The water should be reasonably soft. In my experience, water with KH 4 and GH 5 is adequate for growing these plants well. I'm currently growing the Tonina fluviatilis in tap water with KH 8, GH 12. I'll report back on if it does well or not. The key to growing Toninas and Eriocaulons well is intense, unobstructed light (3-4 wpg PC is a good amount to aim for) and CO2 injection.

To propagate these plants, simply cut off a sideshoot and replant in a well lit location --just like any other stem plant. However, in my experience, Eriocaulon setaceum does not like to be pruned too frequently.

If you are interested in learning more about Toninas (and know Chinese), I urge you to visit:
http://www.tonina-forest.net/

Where can I find some of these plants?:

Rotala macrandra and Proserpinaca palustris are reasonably common in the trade. Feel free to post a request on the trade/sell forum of this site. Another option is to order Rotala macrandra from the many online vendors who sell it --although be forewarned that it does not travel well.

Tonina sp, Tonina fluviatilis, Eriocaulon setaceum, Eriocaulon cinereum, Rotala macrandra 'green', and Polygonum sp can be obtained from any local fish store or online vendor who can import plants from Oriental Aquarium in Singapore. Talk to them or email them. They should be able to help you out. Also, many of these plants regularly appear on Aquabid.

My questions to you:

1) Is anyone here currently maintaining an aquarium devoted to these plants?

2) Are these aquariums part of an aquascaping style all their own, or are they simply collector's tanks? What are their design strengths and weaknesses?

3) Which is your favorite of the five aquariums selected? Why do you like it best? Critique it! :D

Carlos
 

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1) Is anyone here currently maintaining an aquarium devoted to these plants?

Not me, but I'd love to.

"Are these aquariums part of an aquascaping style all their own, or are they simply collector's tanks? What are their design strengths and weaknesses?

I think they do have a style, not simply "Collectors Tanks"
"Collectors Tanks" tend to look like little farms.

To me they capture the spirit of the Asian Jungle.

The strengths to me are the placement of the swath of background plants enveloping the focal plants.

The weakness to me is the lack of hardscaping, I'd like to see more use of rock and gravel.

3) Which is your favorite of the five aquariums selected? Why do you like it best? Critique it!

I like the last tank, #5.
I love the balance of the plants, I absolutely love the focal plant in the front, very graceful and beautiful.

But again, I'd like to see some rocks and a maybe a clearing with some gravel and wood.

CD
 

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I love the first tank for some reason, don't even know why myself. It's a very clean and easy tank, and the red stand out so nicely. Also, the colors of the tank are so strong it just screaming how healty everything is. It look's great!

Since I live in norway, there's no chance of getting this anytime soon... But maybe I can I should try buying a good bunch from some of you guys soon an add some new species to the norwegian plant list :)
 

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1) Is anyone here currently maintaining an aquarium devoted to these plants?

here. :lol: just started about a month, and more species to come. :twisted: tonina-forest.net is my guide and make some friends there, so no any problem at all now. :lol:

2) Are these aquariums part of an aquascaping style all their own, or are they simply collector's tanks? What are their design strengths and weaknesses?

i think its their own style. they normally do not use rock and driftwood in this aquascaping. only plants as Tonina sp. and Eriocaulon sp. are most popular plants now. actually, its not popular from now. its popular at least two years in some Asia countries. for me. its both collector and aquascaping tank.

3) Which is your favorite of the five aquariums selected? Why do you like it best? Critique it!

i like #5. its well balanced. i just like the way it is. 2nd one is #1. it simply looks pretty. =D>


ps:i'm looking for all Eriocaulon sp. escecially Eriocaulon sp. from Australia. if you can get it and 100% sure thats what i want. please pm me. i'm working on possibility ship it directly from Japan now. hope everything is going well, and then i can have what i need soon. wish me luck! :wink:

enjoy your Tonina tank,

Tim
 

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Carlos,

You mention Toninas being 'soft water' plants, would you put the pantanal in that same grouping? Having hard north fl well water, pretty much eliminates my ability to use Toninas, but I was wondering about the pantanals.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The fine leaved Ludwigias (Cuba, Pantanal) grow just fine in harder water. Neither are too difficult to grow with good light, CO2, etc.

Carlos
 

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Nice topic Carlos.

I guess i will throw in my two cents regarding your questions. No, None of thos eplants:( Although I too would love to get some of the L. pantanal or Tonina sp.:)

Your second question, "Are these aquariums part of an aquascaping style all their own, or are they simply collector's tanks? What are their design strengths and weaknesses?", is difficult for me to answer. I have not been in the trade long but aside from using new or rare plants I don't see anything "different" about these aquascapes. They are beautiful but I would not call them original, at least in the sense of crearting an aquascaping style. It is possible some of these people are collectors however, I also believe that many of these plants are much more avaliable to them than to someone like me. I also do not use collector as a negative term. I could not even special order one of those plants at any of my LFS. One day though MY store will though :wink:

Third question, "Which is your favorite of the five aquariums selected? Why do you like it best? Critique it!"

Well, personally the 5th one down is my favorite. It seems very "jurassic" and prehistoric. I just think it is fun for starters but hten as I look more carefully and start to cretique it I find that it seems to be well designed too. The three Erio. sps. in the front make a nice, well balanced focal point and the overall effect of the colors and textures I find to be very pleasing. The only draw back I see to it is the lack of strong hardscape. I actually find the lack of hardscape in all but the 4th to be dissapointing. I would assume that tsunami would agree with me there :wink: This lack seems to make them all appear "uncomplete".

I must say though that I think they are all beautiful aquariums and they certainly all have their strengths. I can crituque all I want but they are all much nicer than anything of mine, so I'll stop there:)

On a side note, I feel collectoritis coming on:)
 

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Tonina isn't collector's disease. :)

My 46 gallon, with 58 species in it, is collector's disease. :D
 

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I would say that it is a sort of nascent aquascaping style. Most of the Tonina Tanks I've seen have been Chinese and they all look very much like Chinese Watercolor paintings I've seen. The fine leaf textures and droopy habit lend a soft, almost dreamy, feel to the aquascape which is prevalent in many Asian/Chinese water colors I've seen. Just like Amano tries to duplicate natural essences I think the Tonina Tank attempts to capture the essence of those water color paintings.

My .02,
Phil
 

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I really like the way the Focal point is much taller and kind of comes out of the tonina matt. I'm not sure if this is unique to tonina tanks but they seem to usually have this effect and most tanks i see dont have this type of effect. But the Rotala green tanks Amano has been making usually have the same effect. Also the colors are very rich in these tanks is that from the cameras they use?
BTW does anyone have a picture of a tank with a tonina in it that belongs to Amano? I've always wondered why he doesn't seem to make tanks with this plant in them.
 

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tsunami said:
I'm currently growing the Tonina fluviatilis in tap water with KH 8, GH 12. I'll report back on if it does well or not.
Hi, maybe it's a bit late but I would be very interested in this report since I'm having troubles with Tonina sp. belem and I'd like to know if it's because of water hardness...
 

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Mellonman said:
Hi, maybe it's a bit late but I would be very interested in this report since I'm having troubles with Tonina sp. belem and I'd like to know if it's because of water hardness...
I don't know if this will help you but I grow Tonina sp Belem in kH 5, GH 9 with no trouble. The only time I have issues is if I let the plants get shaded,but they always bounce back and send out new growth onc ethey are allowed to get the full light.
 

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My personal opinion is that tanks devoted to these are, as a whole, still very weak in terms of composition. I think I saw 1 tank of Amano's that used belem as a backdrop to a taiwan moss scape, but outside of that one (beautiful) tank, I have yet to see an example of a tank that really did great things with toninas, eriocaulons, or polygonums for that matter. These rare collector's plants still haven't proven their worth as aquascaping tools to me.

Then again, a year ago I thought the same about dow noi, and since I've seen a handful of tanks to use those plants as amazing midground/foreground, but only in very large hard to obtain numbers . . . :(

I'm sure toninas will eventually find use in well developed aquascapes though, as people will always be trying.
 

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I have to disagree, I think a tank full of fluffy toninas and eriocaulons can be very beautiful and striking. If toninas are used as the primary plant it creates a dynamic tank because it is so easy to change the composition everytime you trim the plants. The balance of textures, colors and shapes is all very interesting. It is very different than a tank setup with wood and rocks that can retain the same look over a long period of time. I do agree it can sometimes be hard to incorporate toninas into aquascapes with the traditional bread and butter plants.
 

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To me, tanks like that just look like plant collections.

In contrast to a saltwater tank which shows people the beauty of the marine world they are not a part of, freshwater planted aquariums have their strength from the opposite. Amano's work, and the best work of other aquascapers IMO, have been designs that connect with a human understanding of nature, and that is why it touches the viewer deeply.

The human experience of nature is one of looking up at the mountains, down into valleys, being surrounded by forest, looking out over an endless plain, or stopping to look at something nature's left on the curb side. These types of feelings and experiences are in us deeply, and we understand and appreciate them. Freshwater planted aquascapes are able to recreate these types of themes, and these types of feelings, which is what makes humans connect with them deeply.

IMO those deeply ingrained feelings don't involve seeing a mound of weird-shaped fluffy crown things. Toninas and eriocaulons are just a bit unnatural-looking, a bit "over-the-top." Instead of connecting the viewer with his own feelings from his terrestrial existance, it drags him down into the water to be looking at something "from another world." Ie. this type of aquascape is more like the salt-water tanks in what it does.

That in itself is not bad. After all, there is also beauty different from that "deep connection" and there's art that's not landscape painting. IMO though, mounds of individually beautiful and bizarre looking plants is not enough to create an art. There needs to be something more than "shock value," in art.

As a side note, these types of plants, mostly because of their shape, don't work well with hardscape materials. Or at least, it's not easy to get them to work together.
 
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