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Discussions with Bart Laurens from the Netherlands

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by Tom Barr, May 8, 2017.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Many in the NBAT club are older and the club is dwindling. The skill level is very high, higher than ADA folks as far as as actual horticulture.


    Hard scaping? Not much in a dutch tank, plants do all that.


    One thing Bart said hit home, the only issues he ever has with algae? ALWAYS CO2.


    I'll say it again. Always CO2, the gas tank runs out etc.


    Ferts a bit leaner than mine. Not much.


    He spends a lot of time trimming and replanting very carefully. More than most any Nature scaper.


    The design evolves and changes.


    Nature scapes, they tend to design much more for the hardscape, then the plants grow in and are trimmed.


    Judging is brutal and in person so the judges can comment to the aquarist directly and instruct them how to improve.


    It is anything but a photo contest.


    They have many of the same artistic sensibilities that nature scapers do however.


    Balance, gentleness of the layout and peaceful essence etc.


    Color balance is key as well.


    What was most interesting is how many after a decade or more seem to gravitate towards similar aesthetics and realize that the issues are pretty universal.


    Amano did this as well with Nature scapes. The Dutch are no different but a more singular focus on the plants themselves rather than adding hardscaping to the layouts.


    One might compare Nature scapes to penjing, whereas Dutch scapes are more just the bonsai tree, a more singular focus.


    Sediments are all just plain gravel. Ferts? They add them.


    Filters mostly canister. CO2 reactors. Lights, mostly FL T8's and warmer yellows and pinks.


    Each tank install is very nice. Customized for the home.


    No equipment is visible.


    Wetzel redoes his tank and I think his son Fred does the same method, every couple of months and then grows it in from scratch.


    Works,


    Lots of work.


    Bart uses the tweezers and scissors for everything.


    I use a wide mix of methods for trim and replanting.


    Rock and wood did not impress him much, at least he did not suggest it did.


    Plants are quite another matter.


    He liked my tank's impression when people walked in, this is huge thing in the NBAT judging contest, perhaps a Feng Shui or essence issue for myself.


    The aesthetics converged on many things.


    I think he will try the ADA aqua soil.


    They do not use it there. I suggested just a few species of plants in a cup hidden in the rear to see.
     
    3 people like this.
  2. nicpapa

    nicpapa Guru Class Expert

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    Nice Tom


    So bart use just gravel?


    What is the routine of this tank?


    Water change , filtration, and dose of ferts ppms?
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Essentially an old version of EI and plain gravel


    Lots of trimming and replanting, tank is over 3 meters long. So lots of work
     
  4. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    The skill level of the master NBAT Dutch scapers is unbelievable. These type of tanks looked out-of-reach and completely unobtainable to me until recently.


    Had to overcome newbie-crushing algae hurdles and learn how to grow plants before it no longer seemed out-of-reach. Having the discipline and knowledge to overcome algae (it's not magic) allows you to focus on scaping. That's a big step.


    And then I realized I sucked at plant scaping. Try, and try, and try again. Learn from mistakes. And from staring at pictures of award-winning tanks for a long, long time. NBAT tanks are gorgeous, but WHY are they gorgeous. These tank pics reveal different insights to me with passing of time. I notice deliberate and calculated styling elements that I never noticed before.


    Yes, I am curious about Bart's ferts ppm, substrate, and maintenance routine. But only a little. He puts clay balls under some of his heavy feeders. That works too. The really exciting stuff for me is understanding the art and skill behind all this.


    This part of the hobby is about horticulture. People who like rose gardens and tomato patches. It's really about plant species. Rocks and twigs are great, but that's a completely different hobby. Luca and I were talking in Denver and he was blown away by how scientific and horticulture-focused the American hobby is compared to his in Brazil, where he says it's mostly about art. His field is aquatic art, with a hint of horticulture. The two hobbies are as different as hip hop and classic rock. And I like me some Zep and Floyd. Geezer and proud.


    The better I get at this, the more in awe I am of people like Bart and Willem. They are operating a levels I hope to be at one day.
     
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  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Most of the Nature scape hobbyist are not driven by horticulture and Science. Very few in fact.


    But, they have a lot of hours inside the aquarium as well. they spend a great deal of time pondering the front tank shot, as do Dutch scapers.


    I'd have to say the Dutch scapers know more about plants and trimming. If you follow their rules and pickiness, the judging is much harsher than Nature style.


    Bart spends about an entire day trimming and replanting his tank each week.


    That's 4-5x more than I do.


    I think he could reduce this labor, and I think as we all get older, we shall have to whether we like it or not.


    Slower growing species, different sediment mostly.
     
  6. Kyalgae

    Kyalgae Lifetime Members
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    Hey Tom would you ever recommend someone who is unskilled with co2 just do an animal free tank, just plants only? I feel like I struggled worrying about he fish all the time/killing them, and it made me hesitant with co2. I know you can have both animals and plants, but would a planted tank without life work out ok?


    Pikez do you suffer at all from algae in your Rotala kill tank?
     
  7. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    10-foot Dutch tanks are for retired dudes with kids out of the house.


    Slower growing species are nice. My Pantanal are the surface. Again. Time to trim.
     
  8. Pikez

    Pikez Rotala Killer!
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    Yes, there is some algae in the Kill Tank. Mostly due to fertilizer-whiplash-induced slowdown in plant growth. If I stick with something like EI or EI light, plants will have what they need to grow and there won't be much algae.


    When plants stop growing and/or you are not on top of maintenance, you will have algae.


    If you're killing fish with CO2, then, clearly, you went too far. Why not just throttle back on the CO2?
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Red cherries are good critters, hard to kill with gas, Amano shrimp are much less tolerant of CO2 or chemicals than RCS. They breed and you end up with many.


    Also, the Bristle nose plecos are quite tough.


    But simply getting a pH meter and watching the tank good is about all folks really need to do. You will get burned by CO2, but that mostly leads to algae, it should not lead to dead fish however.
     
  10. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Or on the light -- photoperiod and/or intensity.
     
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  11. skija

    skija Lifetime Members
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    Sorry to ask , but what do you mean ? i don't understand.


    Thanks
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    CO2 is the root of most evil, and typically leads to algae issues. But poor CO2 should never lead to dead fish. That's not error or bad luck/poor timing, that is just being careless.
     
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