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Let's talk aquascaping "the future"

Johnny Ciotti

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2011
Messages
26
Location
Los Angeles & San Diego, CA USA
Hello friends,

I'd like to start a discussion, if interest allows, on the topic of aquascaping in the future. More specifically the near to very near future and what trends you'd forecast.

Over the last few years we've seen an explosion in various aquascaping techniques being adopted by the masses. These trends are typically set when the winner of the IAPLC is announced or someone like Mr. Amano, Olver Knot, George Farmer, the CAU or Jeff Senske release an obviously ground breaking aquarium photo.

Just recently the reverse or perspective aquascaping technique has been implemented into more traditional iwagumi and nature aquarium styles.

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Before this we saw an increase in pillar like stone grouping and forested mountain or tree like moss scapes.

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With the examples of layouts shown above being a very small percentage of aquariums done in this fashion, what do you believe to be the next trend? What are your thoughts on where this is going for the next IAPLC? What do you believe is the determining factor for people to want to replicate these types of layouts in great succession?
 

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I personally would like to see more wild and natural looking scapes.

The above examples are beautiful but have an air of the formal garden about them. They are more cut flowers in a vase than wild plants.

If we want to do something different we would do well taking British woodland as inspiration rather than just copying the Japanese.

We need Capability Brown back.

S
 
I like this idea, do you have a good example of what you'd like to see? Essential you are saying we need to get back to the basics of design and force the layout less? More of a natural development with a stronger emphasis on plant placement and selection?
 
Well said Rufus. After all, let's remember what the Japanese were doing with Nature Aquarium. They were copying their own natural landscapes and trying to recreate them in a glass cube. We could do worse than than doing the same. After all, our own natural landscapes are as beautiful.
 
TBH I don't hink much is going to change. All of the above are only progressions of the style that has dominated the past decade or more.

This is the style that wins the big competition so everybody sticks with it.

If we are talking what style will become more popular rather than what style(s) will the IAPLC top 10 be then I think the minimalist styles of Island scaping, more open space with well chosen lighting etc.

A- Because it is more modern looking and in a scene where Optiwhite, LED, glassware and other 'clean' modern equipment are starting to be a given it is quite obvious to me that the scaping styles would follow these lines.

B - More and more people in these competitions are actually scaping the tanks in their living room rather than one in their studio. Goes without saying they will then try and make scapes to fit in with their living room's style. With the aquascaping community becoming younger this means living rooms are more modern and thus the scapes will become more modern.

I guess what I am trying to say (and I got into a heap of trouble on ASW for suggesting something along these lines) The 'fluffy' old pruned line of woodland with midground and carpet (3 stright lines sort of style) fits in well with Grandma's cosy cluttered living room but it doesn't fit in with a modern uncluttered minimalist room.

By that I don't mean the ultra modern minimalist open plan apartment style. I mean these days we keep the ornaments to a minimum, the photos off the wall, single pieces of artwork on the wall and laminate/wood flooring.

We aren't in any hurry to fill up the shelves to bursting. We don't want to be polishing, dusting brasswares, silver, glass etc and we don't like a barrow load of Doulton on our shelves. We most definately don't have a display cabinet full of porcelain etc.

Maybe you guys will understand what I mean by the above cos so far I don't think people have quite understood it.

Andy
 
Some of the layouts shown in the post above are just gross misunderstandings of the original idea. Amano was and still is a master of creating evocative aquarium layouts (Did he coin the term aquascaping? Not sure he did). He allows for plenty of space for personal imagination. His scenes were never as blatant or tacky as some of the ones shown in the images above. I mean, no offense but a TREE under water? You'd just expect Sponge Bob to come wandering round behind the 'trunk' any minute. I seem to remember this even fetched a first place in some competition. But there is no room for imagination because a tree is a tree. Period. I really wonder if some aquascapers are better off with a miniature train set than an aquarium.

Only my 2 cents here but I wish for a more natural and less obvious style again. This is evolving away from the original idea.

--Stephan
 
I think the other problem I have with the above scapes is that they look so clinical. They look like farmed plants rather that a natural environment.

In nature you rarely see such clumps of the same species, there is almost always a diversity of plants in any given area.

I think this tank is a better example of diversity of flora:

http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2010.cgi?&op=showcase&category=0&vol=3&id=13

The closeup photo labled AGA2 bears this out.

Shame it's ruined by the unbelievably unoriginal path of white sand.

The trouble is that if you knock up a scape, turn the CO2 on full, wait a couple of months then photograph it you are always going to be left with a shot of an intensive farm crop. Clean rocks is the biggest give away, rocks naturally acquire some dirt and algae, I see this as aesthetically pleasing.

S
 
Stephan said:
I really wonder if some aquascapers are better off with a miniature train set than an aquarium.

Lol. I've been slated heavily for describing some aquascapes as looking like model railway scenery. Not naming people but there a couple of aquascapers that everybody seems to think are modern gods where every aquascape looks like it should have 00 gauge running through it.

However another thing I am slated for is my complete bewilderment of Amano's popularity and fan worship. His photography is awesome, his plant growing and scaping abilities unquestioned, however I don't see any progression nor creativity nor invention in his scapes. Many seem to be pretty similar to me but then everyone has their own 'eye' and 'taste' so some see what I don't just as they may not see what I see in other scapes.

Andy
 
SuperColey1 said:
However another thing I am slated for is my complete bewilderment of Amano's popularity and fan worship. His photography is awesome, his plant growing and scaping abilities unquestioned, however I don't see any progression nor creativity nor invention in his scapes. Many seem to be pretty similar to me but then everyone has their own 'eye' and 'taste' so some see what I don't just as they may not see what I see in other scapes.

Andy, I see your point 100% but remember that before Amano nobody had thought of this type of aquarium layout. He sparked off a whole new movement. I'm an old school Dutch style aquarists but I admire anything that is imaginative and beautiful. I'm not a worshipper of Amano as a person, just his work.

--Stephan
 
Great topic, John! Some really good discussion points arising too.

On the whole I'd like to see more diversity in aquascaping styles from individuals. Stepping out of comfort zones can result in 'failure' but the lessons learnt can be implemented in future layouts. This is key to developing one's own style I think.

Amano's recent 'big foreground textures' concept was interesting, but it's the kind of design that works best from a photo. And this is where I think the aquascaping community has changed a lot in recent years. DSLR is commonplace and folk are designing layouts with photography and contests more in mind, I feel. I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing, by the way.

Aquascaping styles has evolved over the years, of course, with Amano and the IAPLC probably being the biggest influences for most pro-scapers, but I think they've reached a plateau in terms of ground-breaking concepts. Capturing land-based scenes underwater will always be popular, and I have enjoyed doing it myself to a degree with recent iwagumi layouts, albeit less contrived, I think.

Personally I'd like to see more biotope-themed aquascapes, but doubt they'll really take off, as they are not so high impact for most tastes. I'd also like to see more Dutch layouts - a real challenge!
 
Stephan said:
Andy, I see your point 100% but remember that before Amano nobody had thought of this type of aquarium layout. He sparked off a whole new movement. I'm an old school Dutch style aquarists but I admire anything that is imaginative and beautiful. I'm not a worshipper of Amano as a person, just his work.

--Stephan

Indeed. I am not knocking Amano at all. I think his work is great however let me use this 'anaolgy to explain what I mean:

I think Lada GaGa's music sounds like the same song over and over again, just with different words. She also makes sure that as soon as one song starts to fall from the top the next is already released. This keeps her in the spotlight and maintains the presence.

Others may disagree with this and say all the songs sound difference and the constant releases are because she is a prolific talented writer.

Same artist, same creations but 2 different opinions on it.

The only difference is I think Amanos' only song is good, and therfore any verison of it with different words is fine. But i'll only be listening to that same song once and not the whole album repeating the same song ;) Lada Gaga won't be on the playlist. lol

I pretty much agree with George in that I think people should start thinking outside of the box a little and thinking for themselves. Many of the scapes that people have called 'creative' over the past few years are not much more than a small progression on a current theme. What I would like to see are new themes. Not really gonna come from me though. I am firmly in the scape to the location. My scaping is more a case of decoration for the room and therefore it has to fit in, so I guess I limit myself there ;) Maybe why I redo my lounge every 2 years. lol

Andy
 
Clever analogy, but I don't really agree.

Amano has been leading the way for so many aquascapers for the last 30 years or so. Over this time I think Amano's style has evolved quite significantly. The rate of progress may have slowed, but it's still moving forward as far I can see by looking at recent Aqua Journals etc. and comparing them with older works.

I can't say the same for most pop acts!

SuperColey1 said:
My scaping is more a case of decoration for the room and therefore it has to fit in...
This is an interesting point.

For me it's important for the hardware itself to "fit-in" the room; a good article on this here -

http://www.scapefu.com/2011/07/11/dont- ... gly-stick/

But I do not really consider the aquascape and it's influence on the surroundings. In fact I think an aquascape that deliberately contrasts with its environment can be very effective and create higher impact, providing its encased in appropriate hardware. I remember keeping a reef and planted tank next to one another and the room looked quite nice.

However, I do agree that a minimalist iwagumi in a country manor surrounded by antique furniture may look a little too odd!
 
SuperColey1 said:
I pretty much agree with George in that I think people should start thinking outside of the box a little and thinking for themselves. Many of the scapes that people have called 'creative' over the past few years are not much more than a small progression on a current theme. What I would like to see are new themes.
Here, here. Except, that's the hardest thing and it obviously depends on how radical you want to be. Are you after a whole new style or is there enough room to think outside of the box within the NA style? Then again - aren't people doing that already with too many of us blundering about, misunderstanding the original idea?

I have learned from friends in Holland that there has been some controversy in the Netherlands of late over adapting (modernizing) the rules for the Dutch "Gezelschapsaquarium". Interestingly, this old school style gives a lot less room for experimentation and sometimes, that's a good thing. Thinking outside of a narrow box is a lot harder than thinking outside of a box that has no defined boundaries. I tend to think that's the problem with NA style aquascaping sometimes - there is far too much leeway for personal bad taste.

George Farmer said:
But I do not really consider the aquascape and it's influence on the surroundings. In fact I think an aquascape that deliberately contrasts with its environment can be very effective and create higher impact, providing its encased in appropriate hardware. I remember keeping a reef and planted tank next to one another and the room looked quite nice.

I have a NA style diskus tank and Dutch style tank 15 feet apart in my living room. No way I can adapt my interior design other than matching aquarium cabinets. Funnily enough most friends and visitors don't even notice there's a difference in both tanks. Unless I educate them, of course, but I'm getting tired of that. (IMHO, most non-aquarists wouldn't even recognize the difference in marine and freshwater at first glance).
The only unifying factor in our household is my wife who has just agreed to put up with tank#3 in my study - bless her. The aquarium will sit behind me so it can act as a backdrop while I'm skyping/ichatting with people. How's that for a 007-style use for an aquarium? :)

--Stephan
 
This is a good discussion with many good points being brought up. None of them are right or wrong, just different opinions. I ask myself this question a lot when I'm planning a new scape too, and me being me, there isn't anything innovative that I can think of.

Perhaps the next big thing will be driven by newly discovered species of plants or inventive ways of using them?

Actually the really innovative scapes these days involve floating islands and changeable background lighting :lol: When I say innovative I mean something new and not necessarily something pleasing :geek:
 
I'm not sure you can think outside the box if you don't spend your 90% of the time studying (photographing nature for example) and 10% for aquascaping not vice-verse. Most of the folks never leave home/city so their imagination is very limited to what they see in their surrounding gardens, over the internet or in magazines. There's why there are so few original scapes out there.

Mike
 
I'm not so sure about that. I think you can see things on the internet or in a book and implement something. It takes vision though and also courage.

Whilst people are all quite friendly on the net or face to face it is unlikely that all are so full of praise away from it and for an 'established' scaper to risk a very bold move out of line with what he/she has previously done is a brave move.

For them to push on and do something unfashionable or something very adventurous or something that hasn't been seen before is a huge huge risk. I think this may be why many scapers stay within the known confines. In a place they feel safe.

We don't want our peers saying 'X has lost the plot' or 'X's latest scape is not very good' because it's nice to hear good things from our peers. After all they are the ones that 'know' (or think they know) the subject we are working in. The worse thing is many peers will still compliment but criticise away from the public eye. I think we know that anyway but is nice to be safe :)

This is why I respect George so much because he does take risks and is brave. He risks his reputation each time he moves out of previous comfort zones and it seems to me he will only do a few scapes in a style before taking a breath, puffing the chest out and deciding to do something different not knowing how it will turn out.

It does take bravery though. Remember Oliver Knott and his skulls and football figures within tanks? A recognised scaper who everyone ridiculed (including me) for those tanks. lol. however he seems to be doing nice stuff again now, albeit back in his comfort zone.

Another example is Globali. His scape with the black quartz covered hardscaping and the coloured LED lighting backdrop is his vision. Not many of us get it I don't think. However it's a vision, out of the box, trying something that hasn't been done before and therefore whether the scape is like, or dismissed as worthless, credit must be given for the bravery to do something like that.

Who knows. People think it isn't good now but maybe in 20 years we'll all be covering hardscape with quartz and using multi-coloured lighting behind our scapes :) After all Van Gogh was dismissed as rubbish during his lifetime. Every one would love to copy him now though :)

Andy
 
I am alway's a bit dissapointed by the lack of fauna in such beautiful tanks as I have seen.
Perhaps fishes don't appeal to those who create such stunning layout's to the degree that plant's do but I would love to see more life in the aquariums. Otherwise,,to me,, they all look too contrived.(with the exception of obligatory dozen or two cardinals ,rasboras).
Cannot fishes be considered as part of the design, or am I missing the accepted defintition of aquascaping?
 
It does take bravery to do something new.

I was told recently by a very good aquascaper that if it would not make sense to enter a competition if it would not reach the top 100. It seems that not only bravery to try something new, but also to be seen to have failed.

Where will aquascaping be going to, in the next 5, 10 or 15 years.?

It just depends who is at the forefront of aquascaping, either in europe or asia. ADA will still be around, so expect NA to remain, and iwagumi's etc, but I would think that biotopes will be seen on aquascapes more often.

I do not like the trees underwater, or the white path into the distance, or unnatural scapes, but that is my style.

And that is what it matters, one finding it's own style, and developing it into something that adapts and changes as one learns more and more.

I do admire ADA and Amano's path. He innovated, developed and worked on his own ideas, and he has done it is such a way that those ideas and techniques are now part of aquascaping. You cannot talk of one without the other.

CO2 for example, can you think about an aquascape without CO2? Can you think about an aquascape without having those amazing glassware?

Aquascaping will always have the odd things going on, but as we should all now, nothing is odd in art. Globali's is a perfect example. I do not get the concept, cannot get my head around to it, but one cannot deny that there is art on it.

The question should be where does aquascaping ends and art begins. :)
 
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