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i believe that iwagumi is mostly low growing plants with accented rocks. often times slate is used to make interesting rock shapes. some of the more common plants in these scapes are glosso, hc, riccia, and dwarf hairgrass. i love this style of tank because you don't really have to trim. i personally think that they would be very easy to keep. i may be proven wrong though. some examples are red barron's tank of the month photo, and also this one, which is one of my personal favorites:



and red barron's tank of the month:

 

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i personally think that they would be very easy to keep.
Not really
. In this type of layout you don't have a lot bio-mass like in other aquascapes with fast-grow plants like rotalas, hygrophila etc. With 2.5-3.6WPG over iwagumi tank you could have problem with stabilisation micro and macro. IMO iwagumi is very hard to keep if we speak about "water condition" but easy if we speak about layout (time progres). I have over month old iwagumi layout(java moss, eleocharis) with only 1.4WPG and sometimes i have small problems with algae (specially GSA and BBA on rocks)....
 

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do you mean the golden rule robert? i am not sure what they use, but i'm sure there is a math equation to make it look pleasing to the eye.


and norbert, i can definately see how there could be algae problems. i was just referring to the trimming aspect. didn't even think about all that lighting.
 

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"Iwagumi" refers to the craft of stones arrangement. The craft was originally developed in Japanese gardens and the techniques have been generalized to other crafts. "Iwagumi" is a general term. There are different kinds of Iwagumi -- each a specific kind of arrangement.

In general arrangements are made of 2,3 or more stones in odd-numbered groups. The layout of stones within an aquarium using the golden section is pretty well known. Within a group it is common to use triangles as the basis for an arrangment and to concentrate on balancing the triangle around it's center.

No matter what the else may be done, the main goals in Iwagumi are to keep a natural, weathered look and a balanced arrangement.


Roger Miller
 

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robert and roger are right. Iwagumi has nothing to do with plants, water or fish. The term comes from "iwa" meaning rock, and "gumi" (strictly speaking its "kumi") which means collection or group.
Therefore, by definition, "iwagumi" is a "collection of rocks".
now, of course this has been adopted as an artistic/landscaping term and thus many theories, ideas and practices surrounding placement and interaction exist, and not necessarily limited to groups of three.
Simply put, "iwagumi", as an artistic reference, is the practice of arranging rocks, be it in a garden, aquarium or any other situation.
 

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I believe iwagumi has two meanings. One is the name given of the three rock arrangement, while the other is the general name given to the technique of stone arrangement. The other word for stone arrangement is ishigumi.

Definition of Sanzon Iwagumi from Jaanus.

Lit. Buddhist triad stone arrangement. The grouping of one large stone with two smaller flanking stones that lean toward the central stone. The stones are likened to Buddhist triads (see *sanzonbutsu 三尊仏) such as Shaka sanzon 釈迦三尊, Amida sanzon 阿弥陀三尊, Yakushi sanzon 薬師三尊 and Fudou sanzon 不動三尊. The central stone is called the chuusonseki 中尊石, while the side stones are called attendant stones or kyoujiseki 脇侍石. In some gardens a worship stone (raihaiseki 礼拝石) is placed in front of the sanzon iwagumi, in this case the raihaiseki is called the dais stone (daizaseki 台座石) or lotus seat stone (rendaiseki 連台石). The term sanzon iwagumi was first found used in the 11c garden treatise *SAKUTEIKI 作庭記, and thereafter appears in most other garden treatises. Sanzon iwagumi may stand alone or may be included as part of a large stone arrangement. The stones may also be called sanzonseki 三尊石.

Definition of Ishigumi from Jaanus:

Lit. stone arrangement. The arrangement of stones for symbolical, functional or decorative purposes in a garden. Together with planting and fence design, ishigumi is one of the three major aspects of Japanese gardens. Three-part ishigumi typically feature a central stone (*shuseki 主石) and two subordinate stones (*soeishi 添石). Also called iwagumi 岩組, common types of stone arrangements include Hourai ishigumi 蓬莱石組, shumisenshiki ishigumi 須弥山石組, sanzonshiki ishigumi 三尊式石組, tsurukame ishigumi 鶴亀石組, gogan ishigumi 護岸石組, *takiishigumi 滝石組, hashi ishigumi 橋石組 shichigosan ishigumi 七五三石組, renzan ishigumi 連山石組.

There are hundreds of different stone arrangements.

On this same topic I have this in my HD, I don´t know where it comes from.

"Garden Components

Rock (Ishi)

Rocks are the bones of the Japanese garden. If you have properly placed your stones in the garden, the rest of the garden will lay itself out for you. The Sakuteiki laid out hundreds of specific stone groupings, each with a specific meaning. These hold little importance today. It is more important for our purposes to know the basic stones and some of the general rules for stone setting.

The basic stones are the tall vertical stone, the low vertical stone, the arched stone, the reclining stone, and the horizontal stone. These stones are usually set in triads but this not always the case. Two similar stones (e.g., two tall verticals or two reclining stones), one just slightly smaller than the other, can be set together as male and female, but we usually use threes, fives, and sevens.

When setting stepping stones they should be between one and three inches above the soil, yet solid underfoot, as if rooted into the ground. They can be set in straight lines, offset for left foot, right foot (known as chidori or plover, after the tracks the shore bird leaves), or set in groups of twos, threes, fours, or fives (and any combination thereof)."

Jaanus
 

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Starting an iwagumi tank

I am very interested in getting a tank of this sort going. I would like to use slate or pagoda and then try to get the entire floor covered in Hemianthus Callitrichoides. My thoughts are to start the tank with only enough water to cover the plants until the patches take hold. This will be my first attempt at a planted tank using C02 and possibly MH lighting. Please comment on what you feel would be the most aesthetically pleasing type of MH. This would be a 55 gallon, so intense light is needed to get down the the bottom to make the plants happy. Any input is greatly appreciated.
 

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Any input is greatly appreciated.
As far as I understood from AquaJournal, Amano's main inspiration source seems to be the rocky seashores. The typical rocks are nearly black, tough, and sharp edged. At least one distinctive rock, roughly conic, is placed vertically which gives a tension to the viewer.

I think the slates you are mentioning have smooth edges and may not fit into the usual style. A pagoda would be not natural, either. On the other hand HC is an excellent company of the rocks.
 

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Where is the best place to get the rocks for the Iwagumi Aquascapes?
ADA, or just goto a rocky beach... ADA is easier cause they were pre-selected already and all the kind of rocks they are using are all with very high in detail, lines and cuts with very good characterist naturely and easily for beginner to put there hands on. It is not like the stuff you can get from home depot or using lava rocks and even garden supplies store --- unless you are going to wrap plants over/on it.
 
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