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I want to see the "Forest Look" go out of style
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jakeW
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Joined: 30 Dec 2004
Location: North Carolina, USA

PostPosted: 2004.12.31(Fri)22:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoy aquatic gardens and make my own attempts to keep my own. I also enjoy the fish side of the hobby.

I very much enjoy the aquascapes where you can see all the work that went into it... tying down the glosso or other small plants.. using ingenious methods to do so. . . creating the illusion of landscape ( mountains, valleys, etc).

I learned fairly early on that if you have healthy plants, you have healthy fish. This has always been the case in my tanks. It's the union of both the plant side and the livestock side that make the hobby complete though. For those that want to focus mainly on one side or the other, more power to them. Mary Ann or Ginger, doesn't matter cause you're still stuck on the island.

As I can appreciate the hard work it took to create aquascapes, I can also appreciate the hard work it took to breed or care for certain fish. Years of breeding certain fish shows in the fish it produces, as does years of aquascaping shows in the designs. I personally enjoy both aspects and the results thereof.
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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

PostPosted: 2004.12.31(Fri)22:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

reading through this my point of view has changed. I think that an amazing tank simply makes the fish seem even more interesting. whether or not its planted or not dosen't matter as long as it is interesting to see the fish swim and live in that enviroment. this is obviously a heated debate. but I think the natural setting is better. it dosen't have to be amano style to be natural a lightly planted tank is as far as I am conserned natural. I personally don't like the fake tanks with fake plants and ornaments ect. another 2 cents(with the rate I am going your all going to be rich Very Happy )

andrew
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Laskey
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Joined: 27 Nov 2004
Location: Northern Germany

PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)2:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

LittleMousling wrote:
So should gardeners not put up bird feeders to attract pretty wildlife to their backyards?


Hmm. I'm not sure that that analogy matches what I'm trying to say.

LittleMousling wrote:
First of all, lots of people like tetras and other "small schooling fish." And the clean-up crews for planted tanks - true SAEs are the otters of the fish world, absolutely the most fun fish on the planet, and I say that as a cichlid keeper! A big school of Cardinal tetras is about as fascinating to watch as a single Salvini, IMO.


Tetras are cool in some ways; it's not important whether I'd prefer them or not. Sorry if I seemed touchy about it - it's probably because my husband wants a school of neons and my tank just isn't right for neons and I want my tank to have the kinds of fish I'd like! Wink

I'd just like to see more variety in the examples shown to the rest of us in the form of these contests. I happen to like fish that show clear signs of attachment and personality. I don't see many examples of designs set up for these kinds of fish. I've seen more relevant, beautiful (in my opinion) tanks here on the Aquahobby Tank of the Month section than I have in these contests elsewhere.

LittleMousling wrote:
Plus, plenty of people focus on both plants and fish. My most heavily planted tank (http://www.finsout.com/125]this one) certainly gets plant attention, but I'm keeping Tanganyikan cichlids in there - is anyone going to argue that I just threw fish in and care only about the plants? Hope not.


Nah. Actually, your tank looks nice. There is a lot of space in there for free swimming, and you'll be able to see your fish well in that tank.

LittleMousling wrote:
The plants provide a wonderful home for the fish: healthier water, tons of places to hide and spawn, easily-defined territories, shade, a natural feel and look, a constant food supply thanks to infusoria, leaf litter, and the like - plants are better for the fish than for the gardener!


I know! I did say that I like plants - I've spent a small fortune on them and trying to arrange them in a pleasing way. You can see from the picture that I do have quite a lot; it's just not a jungle, that's all. I trim, prune and remove when I think it's getting out of hand, for looks, and also because some of my fish do appreciate room to play. I don't think my fish are as happy when they're crowded in by a huge mass of tall plants. You'll find my fish swimming in the bubbles and in the free space. I never observe them playing in the plants. They'll sleep among them, so I position the plants accordingly. Tetras might like to hide and weave in and out of big grassy plants, but I happen to have fish that aren't like that. Where are the contest designs to represent people with tanks like mine?

LittleMousling wrote:
Basically: just because you don't love the style (and I agree, that tank you showed (not yours) is horribly ugly - but there are a million incredibly gorgeous ones that deserve to be framed, have you looked through the tanks in the [url="http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org"]AGA contest?[/url]), why does that mean everyone else has to give it up? Some people like Red Devils; some people like school or Serpaes. Why is the Red Devil keeper correct, and the aquatic gardener doesn't understand "how we real people raise our pets"?! Ouch!


Okay, my comment was a little extreme. I'm sorry.

I'm not saying "that means everyone else has to give it up" because I don't like a certain style of tanks. What I'm saying is nowhere near that harsh or demanding. I simply notice a fad happening, and personally it'd be nice if more people would break away from it and do something different. A good example I can use to back this up would be, again, the number of lovely tanks our members post here at aquahobby! So many of them look like contest winners to me! I just don't know if they'd even stand a chance in a contest, since the fad these days is so biased towards jungles. So while I think if you like a look, you should by all means go for it, I still would like to see the trend open back up to more different styles.

LittleMousling wrote:
Here's the thing: putting fish in the tank? Anyone can do that. A photo of the tank doesn't, after all, prove the fish are in great health, just that they're in the tank. Anyone can put fish in a tank. Creating a work of art with plants is a real skill, and deserves to be rewarded. What is there to learn from "fish-only" tanks?


Don't take what I said to the other extreme because I did say I do like plants and you can see that I have a lot of them. A fish-only tank? Yea, that would be pretty boring, too!

LittleMousling wrote:
Why do you think the fish are an afterthought just because aquatic gardeners aren't keeping the same fish as you? I doubt anyone says that people with tanks like yours aren't real hobbyists because the plants appear to be thrown in as an afterthought.


I did spend a lot of time arranging my plants and will do so again when I get better ideas. They're not an afterthought. They exist primarily for the benefit of my fish. It's just the trend--I'd like to see it open up more to other styles. I hope I made that clear enough. I mean no offense and I'm sorry about the comments that I made that were too strong.

Happy New Year, Laskey
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Marcos Avila
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)4:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I was ready to pounce on you pretty hard because of your message on the first post that just because *you* don't like a certain style then it should "go away". But you've restated it on this last post so I'll let you go easy Wink

Still, I could equally argue the exact opposite with you: We have known how to raise beautiful fish in aquariums for decades. In places where the hobby is well developed, there have been "fish" competitions for decades (best guppy of the show and so on). In these competitions, all you see is a bunch of beautiful fish floating in some bare bottom tanks. How BORING is that? The only reason it's OK to do that is because the competition in case is focused on the fish's aesthetics and accordance to the expectations for its breed. Or do you think that a fish should get more points in such a competition because it's placed in a more interesting tank?

We have only recently learned how to grow a wide variety of aquatic plants in aquariums to the point where aquascaping became another sub-category in the hobby, and naturally some people decided to start holding aquascaping competitions. I emphasize that these are AQUASCAPING competitions, so why should tank A get more points than tank B just because the fish in it are more "personable" according to your claims?

In an aquascaping competition nobody's interested in how fun or boring the fish are as pets, the only part that the fish play in the competition is integrating themselves into the composition as a whole.

And then we come to the whole issue of competition itself. Many people like to compete because its fun and because they use it as motivation to try something new, try something different, try to push their limits and pitch it against others who are doing the same, and so on. But that in no way implies that you need to compete in order to "validate" your tank or your fish. Despite being in the hobby for 22 years, I myself haven't entered any competitions of any kind so far.

Your home tank should be about YOUR enjoyment of the hobby the way YOU like it, not the way others like it. Luckily enough the hobby has a WIDE variety of styles that can please any and all type of hobbyist, there's definitely no need for any of these styles to "go away" so that another style can become more enjoyable to you...

In fact, that's exactly what the Tank of the Month "competition" here on the site is all about...outstanding aquarium setups of ALL styles for everyone to see what CAN be done in the hobby, then choose a style they like, and learn how to do it right!
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Laskey
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Joined: 27 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)11:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marcos Avila wrote:
OK, I was ready to pounce on you pretty hard because of your message on the first post that just because *you* don't like a certain style then it should "go away". But you've restated it on this last post so I'll let you go easy Wink


Haha, thanks, Marcos. Maybe my tone was that of a frustrated person but no! I'd just like to see a fad pass, that's all. People can keep creating their forest tanks but it's to the point where there is no variety anymore. In my own defense, there's nothing wrong with my own opinion, even if some, or most, don't agree with it. We don't have much variety in competitions these days. That, I think, must be my bottom line. These tanks are so well-manicured and planted, that I think I know now why they pick small schooling fish now - - because that's the only kind of fish suited for such tanks, in most cases! Don't you think it'd be fantastic for someone to take on a new and different theme? Why sacrafice creativity just to accommodate so many plants? I wouldn't expect the aquascaping world to confirm to my wishes. That'd be pretty absurd Wink Please, don't anyone go reading into things to that extent. But why not do, say, a powder blue dwarf gourami tank? Do something to show off mollies, even! Mollies can be beautiful, but you don't see anyone aquascaping a perfectly balanced scape in habitat and appearance for mollies. They're too focused on the plants. Maybe we need some kind of new category for people who desire a more balanced tank?

Marcos Avila wrote:
Still, I could equally argue the exact opposite with you: We have known how to raise beautiful fish in aquariums for decades. In places where the hobby is well developed, there have been "fish" competitions for decades (best guppy of the show and so on). In these competitions, all you see is a bunch of beautiful fish floating in some bare bottom tanks. How BORING is that? The only reason it's OK to do that is because the competition in case is focused on the fish's aesthetics and accordance to the expectations for its breed. Or do you think that a fish should get more points in such a competition because it's placed in a more interesting tank?


Yea, individual fish-only competitions wouldn't be my thing either. You're not arguing against me, actually. You're proving the point I'm trying to make, which is, "Why not more balance and variety?"

Marcos Avila wrote:
We have only recently learned how to grow a wide variety of aquatic plants in aquariums to the point where aquascaping became another sub-category in the hobby, and naturally some people decided to start holding aquascaping competitions. I emphasize that these are AQUASCAPING competitions, so why should tank A get more points than tank B just because the fish in it are more "personable" according to your claims?


Yea, I put my foot in my mouth with my tetra comment - sorry again. But just me, just my opinion, etc. but I've been eagerly viewing other people's tanks for a long time now and I'm just tired of seeing them! That doesn't mean people shouldn't keep them, again...

That must be understandable, when you consider I just don't do tetras, so please try to see where I'm coming from. I'm sure they're great little pets. Can you imagine dog shows, though, where only a certain kind of breed tends to win the prizes just because the judges are partial to them, while you're really into other types of dogs and maybe proud of what you've done with yours?

Marcos Avila wrote:
In an aquascaping competition nobody's interested in how fun or boring the fish are as pets, the only part that the fish play in the competition is integrating themselves into the composition as a whole.


Yea, and I'd like to see different types of "compositions". If they just want to aquascape with plants though, was I much off-the-mark then, with my observation? I personally wouldn't set up an aquarium just for ornamental reasons and expect my fish to blend in with how I scape my plants. It's a balance, but my fish come first, and I prefer fish with certain temperaments like anyone else does. If your *only* reason for picking a certain fish is that "they'd look great with this Alternanthera", then I don't think you're a pet-keeper in quite the same way *I* am.

Marcos Avila wrote:
And then we come to the whole issue of competition itself. Many people like to compete because its fun and because they use it as motivation to try something new, try something different, try to push their limits and pitch it against others who are doing the same, and so on. But that in no way implies that you need to compete in order to "validate" your tank or your fish. Despite being in the hobby for 22 years, I myself haven't entered any competitions of any kind so far.


I know. This is why I love your section on this site - beautiful tanks from people who demonstrate a lot more creativity, in my opinion, with a real assortment of fish, whether they be tetras or cichlids or what-not. Thanks for setting that section up.

Yours, Laskey Smile
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LittleMousling
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)15:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope this helps lay out where we're coming from! Smile

Quote:
I'd just like to see a fad pass, that's all. People can keep creating their forest tanks but it's to the point where there is no variety anymore.

Quote:
We don't have much variety in competitions these days. That, I think, must be my bottom line.


When a certain level of excellence is reached in a given field - in this case, planted tanks - it's true you're not going to see variation in the sense or less and more excellent tanks. Personally, I see a thousand variations and differences between the tanks. It's rather like cars - I know very little about cars. To me, a sedan is a sedan is a sedan. But to someone who follows cars? Huge, vast, mountainous differences. So it is with top-level planted tanks: for those who shoot for or acheive that, every tank is not only utterly different but also a world away from itself, a week before or later. A planted tank changes, constantly - the perfect line of Limnophila today will need more trimming in a week or two, the dwarf lily will go into hibernation, the crypt will spread out some babies. The plants are as engrossing as the fish in that way.
Have you looked through the AGA contest yet? (http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org) It's HUGELY different than that (ugly) tank you used as your example; every tank is different and amazing, and, I'd like to note, often with interesting fish choices - Ghanzifar Ghori had a tank entered last year with Electric Blue Dempseys; I entered this year with fancy goldfish.

Quote:
In my own defense, there's nothing wrong with my own opinion, even if some, or most, don't agree with it.


Yes - but by summarily dissing a huge, growing, dedicated subset of the hobby, you give us the right to disagree. Wink

Quote:
These tanks are so well-manicured and planted, that I think I know now why they pick small schooling fish now - - because that's the only kind of fish suited for such tanks, in most cases!


This, no offense, is where the fact that this isn't *your* subset of the hobby shows. I'm sorry, that's not the case. I keep Tanganyikan cichlids in my main planted tank! I've kept goldfish in it! A healthy plant tank can withstand the eating and digging of amazing numbers of fish. On this website two planted mbuna tanks have been featured! Lots of fish work very well. Do tetra schools often complement a planted tank? Heck, yes. They're beautiful. When else have you seen a hundred Cardinal tetras swimming together? Planted tank people are the only ones showing how amazing a huge school of some overlooked, unappreciated tetra can be - with a background that shows what incredible jewels they are.

Plus, why does it devalue planted tanks that they're not appropriate for some fish? After all, there are lots of restrictions on fishkeeping. Should 10 gallon tanks be left out of contests because they're not suitable for oscars? I can't keep Red Devils with my shelldwellers; should shelldwellers cease to be a focus of attention? So I can't keep a Red-Tail Catfish in a tank with a glosso carpet - I can't keep him with guppies, either. I choose appropriate fish for every setup; planted tanks are the norm, not the exception.

Good photos win contest consistently, too; the monotony of that, perhaps, suggests horrible photos should win more often. After all, one good photo is just like another - to someone who's not a photographer. Same accurate color, same lack of spots on the glass, same focus. Just like plant tanks: Same backround/middleground/foreground arrangement, same use of the perfect ratio, same selections of plant species.


Quote:
Don't you think it'd be fantastic for someone to take on a new and different theme? Why sacrafice creativity just to accommodate so many plants?


My first point comes back again here: there is astonishing creativity and variation in the best tanks - aquatic gardeners see that, or we'd all have stopped years ago. They seem alike to you; that doesn't mean they are alike, any more than all the planes I see pass over me are the same, even though to me they're identical.


Quote:
They're too focused on the plants. Maybe we need some kind of new category for people who desire a more balanced tank?


They're focused on plants because they love plants. That's their right, isn't it? I'm focused on Tangs - should I branch out?

New category in what? What contest are we talking about, now? It seems more specific suddenly.


Quote:
Yea, individual fish-only competitions wouldn't be my thing either. You're not arguing against me, actually. You're proving the point I'm trying to make, which is, "Why not more balance and variety?"


I think the point was actually: those shows are focused on fish. Plants add nothing, and shouldn't be added; that's not what it's about. Well, aquascaping contests are about plants, rocks, driftwood, and substrates. Fish are counted as much in them as glass spots and visible tape are in the other. That's not what it's about. What you're talking about is a different contest entirely, so it's not a fair criticism of existing contests.


Quote:
Can you imagine dog shows, though, where only a certain kind of breed tends to win the prizes just because the judges are partial to them, while you're really into other types of dogs and maybe proud of what you've done with yours?


But that's a faulty argument. It's an aquascaping contest: it's about aquascaping. It's more like expecting a cat to win the dog show because all the dogs are getting monotonous. What you want is a cat show. Great, but that's not this.


Quote:
Yea, and I'd like to see different types of "compositions". If they just want to aquascape with plants though, was I much off-the-mark then, with my observation? I personally wouldn't set up an aquarium just for ornamental reasons and expect my fish to blend in with how I scape my plants. It's a balance, but my fish come first, and I prefer fish with certain temperaments like anyone else does. If your *only* reason for picking a certain fish is that "they'd look great with this Alternanthera", then I don't think you're a pet-keeper in quite the same way *I* am.


I think choosing fish that suit your aquascape *is* the right way to go about it. I wouldn't force my shelldwellers to live in a planted tank with no shells! Instead I accomodate them or choose fish that prefer to live in that kind of heavily planted environment - like, say, small tetras[b]. And if I choose Cardinal Tetras over Embers because I think their colors complement my tank better, well, that's what we all do - I prefer JDs to Oscars because they're gorgeous, I prefer similis to multis because I think they're better looking, I prefer occies to brevis because they're out more. That's just fishkeeping. Once you're at a list of fish that will work in your tank, [b]you can choose the ones you like, whether based on color, size, or whatever other factors matter to you. Why do you keep Red Devils and not Midas or Jags? Because you like them, because they were available, whatever reason - you got to choose them. Why can't plantkeepers choose Cardinals because they're beautiful? Denisonii barbs because they're striking? Harlies because they school tightly?


The Tank of the Month section is indeed wonderful but it's different and varied because it's not defined as an aquascaping contest.



Also, last point: a lot of people with gorgeous planted tanks also have other tanks for fish better suited to lightly-planted or even unplanted environments. Just because they display one or two incredibly stunning tanks doesn't mean they don't have a rocky Malawi setup in the next room; loving plants doesn't mean keeping only planted tanks. "Balance" as you're defining it doesn't have to be within one tank; someone can be a "bananced" fishkeeper with a variety of tanks and not just within one tank.
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@-McP
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)19:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

noname I like the looks of that tank. Wink tanks like that remind me more of what a natural tank would look like being unpruned, with a couple species of plants. I think this argument was brought up in another topic on one of these threads in that a natural looking tank would not have multitude of carefully selected and maintained plants but massive groups of whatever plant can take over an area. this is why I like the look of my 29 gallon since my java ferns, and overgrown sunset hygro remind me more of going to the lake and looking in the water by shore. admittedly this tank doesn't look natural however since I've still got the original blue gravel Embarassed . eventually I want to change it to an equally unnatural black but thats better than blue. lol
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LittleMousling
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)20:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just so we're clear - the "Nature" in Nature Aquaria doesn't mean it looks like a stream or pond (let's face it - most streams and ponds, underwater, are mucky ugly places with a few half-dead plants - who wants a tank like that?), it means imitating a natural look, like a landscape or idealizing an underwater scene. If you're looking for completely true-to-nature, biotope tanks are more along those lines, although even they get tweaked for aestethics, nobody wants an ugly tank.
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nonamethefish
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)20:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah. One must wonder how a huge bed of monoculture eelgrass with hair algae running wild and perhaps a few mummichogs would do in a contest?
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LittleMousling
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PostPosted: 2005.01.01(Sat)21:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a biotope section, probably not so bad. But in an aquascaping contest, I can see why it would be ignored! Wink
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