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Nature aquariums and statuary

Discussion in 'Aquascaping' started by Tom Barr, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    It is well known that Japanese gardens of which many of the Nature aquriums are based upon(Even seen an Amano tank with them?, No!) do not include representative statuary, as this distracts from the nature based concept which is the point and beauty of such aquariums aquascapes.

    Adding them seems more to be a Western concept and the West's perhaps interptation of it's views as Japanese style nature aquariums.


    Question is, what do you think and why?

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I have two conflicting opinions: One is that I don't like to see trinkets, such as pirate chests, castles, frogs, etc. in an aquarium, because they look far to artificial to me. And, they are a real bear to keep clean.
    But, I also think people should "decorate" their aquarium so it looks good to them. If someone likes a mix of plastic plants and real plants plus ceramic castles, that is a good way to go. At least it keeps them enjoying their aquarium. And, I was there many years ago!
     
  3. skiboarder72

    skiboarder72 Junior Poster

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    I agree with VaughnH... I don't really like to see all the trinkets in the tank either, many are poorly made and look like a fake environment, I do on the other hand appreciate like sunken stones and wood in tanks as these are commonly found in nature
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    There was some debate when I said it looked bad in Oliver Knott's tank, I think mainly out of some loyalty to him, perhaps their own sense of Western aesthetic and lack of conceptual notions to what is a Natural aquarium. Some folks for merely to dare to suggest anything negative about it. There was nothing wrong with the scape or the execution, just the choice to add statuary.

    Some like it, to myself, I asked myself "would I add a cermanic plant, or plastic, no matter how nice?".

    What role does such ornaments play if any?
    I thought that was the role of the live fish to play that of the elements in the tank?

    Rather than a ceramic Dragon, use a Red Arowanna, or simliar red dragon symbol fish. Or a natural rock, wood, planting arrangement.

    While some may enter such bemusements in contest, I do not think we will see many add these. Nor will we see Amano add them.
    While taking from nature is a base concept for design in many tanks and individual's regional area often reflect this, statuary is not part of the scenery in any natural situation.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
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    I sometimes wonder if the number of western aquariums using ornamentations would decrease if your regular Joe Aquarium Guy had access to good stone and wood and if every local shop had copies of Nature Aquarium sitting out to be viewed.

    IMO, lack of exposure to nature styles and limited access to scaping materials are as much to blame as cultural bias. Some shops you can't walk out with anything to go in the tank that isn't a ship, chest, diver, or hot pink rock: the exposure and availability just aren't always there.

    That's where the internet forums and local clubs play a role.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I agree marketing plays a role, but cheesy stuff is is still cheese.
    Bad smelly cheese.

    I can see adding elements of one's culture into a design, adding a Western idea to a Japanese style, thus developing one's own fusion and move the design idea farther into new areas.

    So what about Topiary?

    This is seldom seen in nature aquariums but is a natural element.
    It's orgins are rooted in some Western gardens.
    It takes skill, especially with aquatic plants.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. skiboarder72

    skiboarder72 Junior Poster

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    I think it would be a great idea to create some type of topiary with aquatic plants, it would be really tough though like you said... espcially in smaller tanks with leaf plants, with finer plants such as microswords i think it could be done though
     
  8. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    ** WARNING ** Strong opinions ** May offend some readers **

    Though marketing does play a role, it is clearly not the cause of bad taste. (... Marketing is my profession :D )

    I put my vote in on the side of utter disdain for artificial aquarium ornaments (including colored gravel). I find them to be one of the most blatant expressions of poor taste. Other adjectives that come to mind: tacky, gaudy, obnoxious, childish...

    Of course I have the same opinion on how most people decorate there homes, yards, how they dress, etc.

    I was at a LFS this last weekend and was sickened to see a very excited bunch of people clamoring about which mollies they wanted in a tank of artificially colored white mollies!!! They had different neon colors in various combinations and shapes (spots, stripes, etc)... IMO, at this point it becomes more than a question of bad taste...

    This same store is like a visit to Sea World, more toys and JUNK to put in your tank than fish or real aquarium supplies. They have a whole isle of different skeletons for your tank, including a tennis playing skeleton (I can give you the address if you have been looking for one of those... lol). And some of these things are NOT cheap!

    Here is my guess at how the FW buyer demographics break out:

    40% - Buy for the ornaments as much as the tank... love their blue gravel and would not continue the hobby if the couldn't have that treasure chest in there with the air bubbles. These people love Walmart!
    30% - May have some ornaments, colored gravel, etc, but are certainly interested in natural setups, live plants, etc. The upper crust of this group may dabble in real FW setups.
    20% - Prefer natural setups, live plants, etc. Many of these people will also go SW Reef as local representation of FW is typically pretty poor.
    10% - Purists, like many on this board. Will spend the $$$ and time to learn how to do it right. Some SW Reef hobbyist may dabble at this level in FW.

    So, if I was running a fish store, and looking to increase my revenues, I would take a serious look at the 70% of people who will buy ornaments, etc. Way easier to stock and sell than fish or plants....

    To an earlier point though, I think that many of the folks that spend $$$ on high-end SW setups could be attracted to the FW hobby if it had better local representation, which could work out to be a nice niche, if you got the $$$ and guss to give it a go.
     
  9. JoeBanks

    JoeBanks Prolific Poster

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    I would have to disagree with the statement that japanese gardens do not include statuary. They commonly include stone lanterns, pagodas, bamboo deer chaser fountains and bridges. Why not include representations of these objects in a tank, if done tastefully?
     
  10. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry for the tangent there...

    On the topic of the original post about Japanese Statuary, we have a Japanese garden here in Phoenix (believe it or not) and they do use many different dragon and fish statues throughout their landscape... But then if drive through Sun City, you will see many people have gravel yards that are spray-painted some unnatural color, with plastic and ceramic ornaments...

    I think it is a stylistic issue in the end, and subjective. If you were trying to scape NW Phoenix (aka Sun City) colored gravel and garden gnomes would not be out of the question... So I would say that a dragon in a japanese scape could be appropriate depending on the purpose of the display. I would hate it, but I don't think that it is completely out of bounds...
     
  11. MarkP

    MarkP Junior Poster

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    I would have to say I would be willing to use statuary in an aquarium, at least in theory. I have not actually seen any I would use, but the concept itself might be valid.

    I don't see why the option shouldn't exist. I don't think I could support a plastic skeleton wearing a superman outfit, but I could understand a tastefully carved rock sculpture that fit with the rest of the tank. Even if I wouldn't do it, I can understand why someone might.
     
  12. nursie

    nursie Lifetime Members
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    IME, taste in aquascape is like taste in any other art form. You like what you like.
    The fact that I prefer Monet over Picasso doesn't make me unappreciative of the other's art. I can like a Picasso, appreciate it for what it is, yet like the Monet better.
    Who defines Amano's work as the acme of what is to be achieved? Certainly it's beautiful and I can appreciate it, but to me it's not the end all and be all of the aquascape world. I see other aquascapes people have done and think they are also beautiful.
    The other comparison I would make is to landscaping your yard. There are many styles...formal gardens, naturalized landscape...or pink flamingos and garden gnomes. I think that most of us can agree that the flamingo/gnome yard is tasteless, but that’s just our opinion, the owners of such delights may well be the Andy Warhols of landscaping. Formal garden with tasteful statuary vs naturalized landscape? Not my call to say which is better.
    To a 10 yr old....neon gravel and the latest Pirates of the Carribean shipwreck is the best. Tastes change and mature, and hopefully that 10 yr old's tastes will change too. People's tanks should be an expression of their own taste and for their own pleasure. I realize that’s not the view held by the competitive aquascaping community, but that is just one niche….IMO ;)
     
  13. JoeBanks

    JoeBanks Prolific Poster

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    Very true. It's a shame that Amano has become the benchmark for what makes a tank acceptable. Amano changes from black backgrounds to white, suddenly it's the standard. Amano adds white beaches to his scapes, suddenly everyone is doing it. Amano decides to shun stem plants because of their high maintenance, and we should all shun them.

    And to perpetuate the problem, most of the aquascaping contests out there follow his lead and judge all entries by his standards. There's no room for originality. Have you seen the winner of this years ADA contest? I thinks it's immensely uninspiring and dull. It's a nice layout, but nothing special.
     
  14. nursie

    nursie Lifetime Members
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    If it's an imitation...it's nothing special...again...IMO.
    I would think that originality should count for something, not how like someone else you can be.
     
  15. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    Joe - Which ADA Contest are you talking about?

    This one: ¢ŠE…‘ƒŒƒCƒAƒEƒgƒRƒ“ƒeƒXƒg2006

    Or this one: ADA All Rights reserved. Vendita Prodotti per Acquari d'acqua dolce - Takashi Amano NATURAQUARIUM

    I haven't seen any results for 2006 yet... Do you have a link?

    If you meant AGA 2005, then I think I agree with you, but some of those ADA winners are incredible.

    Is this the tank Tom is talking about: 2005 AGA Aquascaping Contest

    When dealing with the superficial / artificial, yesterday's beautiful is today's dull... True in fashion, true in architecture, etc... Some how nature has a way of alluding this problem of personal taste, and I think that is what many FW aquascapes are trying to capture... timeless beauty. Not do-able with that dragon, but probably isn't the goal of the artist in that case either...
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I want to make something clear here.

    I am not using Amano as the standard, rather, Japanese formal gardens.
    These are popular and have been for much longer than any aquarium aquascape. They also have been co-opted by the West and integrated into various designs and mixes.
    There is a long history and debate on this topic about this same issue in their gardener's minds.

    Yes, that is the tank and the ceramic dragon I saw and it really bothered me.
    It brings me back to adding plastic plants, why not add plastic fish as well?
    They make both.

    How about nice statue of a fish?
    Or a nice statue of a plant?
    Or Gnomes?

    Hummmm...........

    I was 7 when I got my first tank, I loved plants, not the plastic junk, I'd rather have more tanks/fish than cheesey stuff.

    Impulse buys for colorful, plastic junk. Many parents do it:rolleyes:
    Some parent's own more plastic than anything else after awhile:)

    But I have issues adding such materials, perhaps I'm a purest, but one of the main goals in natural based art is to make it look artless, something nature produces rather than humans.

    Any ceramic stuff seems to fall into disfavor with that base line of thinking.
    Fake back grounds etc are acceptable I think, they are trying to look natural, but ideally even they would be real and planted.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. JoeBanks

    JoeBanks Prolific Poster

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    Wow, that dragon is just ridiculous.

    Statues like that should not have a place in a well designed aquascape, but other non natural elements could be argued for, if done the right way. I always wanted to do a tank using small stone replicas of ancient Mayan buildings. I'd make it look like the jungle had swallowed up an ancient city, with moss growing on the buildings, just bits of the stonework showing through the greenery, only fine leafed plants to preserve the scale, etc.

    As for the contest, I was referring to ADA 2006. You can see the top 7 here: Akwarium.org - profesjonalne urz±dzanie akwariów

    The first place tank is nicely laid out, well balanced, harmonious, yadda yadda yadda - but it's just plain boring.
     
  18. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    Joe - Thanks for the link. I agree the Grand Prix doesn't seem like a 1st place tank... Still I see more gorgeous tanks in the ADA competition than I have seen elsewhere, IMO.

    Interesting idea with the Mayan ruins... I must say that it is not my cup of tea, but hey, if it gets you excited about building a scape, go for it... You might be able to stack some natural stones to the same effect.

    That dragon isn't that horrible, but would be better maybe outside of the tank.. You could even put one on each side, like some Chinese restaurants have those lions with the balls in their mouths.
     
  19. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Such Chinese elements and Buddas are frowned upon in Japanese gardens as well.

    I like the Mayan temple idea, perhaps due to the fact I've been to most of them and know the layout and jungles there. But again there as well, a similar natural rock groups might invoke a similar idea but not to the casual observer, rather at a more personal level to the owner.

    Such tanks and ideas are personal, each person should arrive at their own goal and set out to focus on that issue, but be careful, to really consider what it is that they truly like and makes them feel the best.

    You have to do, not just argue or debate.

    I agree with Amano on far more things than I disagree with him on.
    Water changes, aesthetics, equipment, even dosing in many respects, maintenance, watching plants, less issues on testing, measure O2 as well etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Another reason to focus on this issue is really one that will develop your own style.

    This is very important in development.
    You must do, not just think.
    Try and observe.

    Oliver is trying many things, more than ADA is, but he is more open to such exploration, whether it be good or bad to him, us or anyone.

    Through that, he will become better and stronger.
    The same can be said of us all.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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