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Interview with Andre Cardoso PDF Print E-mail

This month we interviewed up and coming aquascaper Andre Cardoso..  Despite being a young aquascaper, Cardoso has  an amazing ability to capture the beauty of nature in his glass boxes. His aquascape "Pasodoble" illustrates his attention to detail and fine trimming techniques.



Q: Tell us about yourself.  How did you get into planted aquariums?

A:  My name is André Cardoso, I’m 17 years old and I live in Lisbon, Portugal. I always loved Nature and the world that surrounds us, I love sports and photography. My favorite hobbies are football, surfing and of course, aquariums. Since I was young, I remember my father having an aquarium, I guess he was the one who taught me this passion.

I started about an year ago, with only one aquarium, with 20 liters it was simple but sweet.  Then I  got another one and another and things got a little bit more serious.

Q: Tell us more about your feature aquascape. Where did the inspiration come from?ADA Aquascape

A: The inspiration for my aquascape came from looking at an aquascape (right) from the ADA 2007 Aquascaping Contest. I loved the colors, the shape and the fact that it was like a piece of nature captured and placed in the aquarium.  Everything seem to fitted perfectly. I decided I had to try one of my own.

Five months ago, I started doing what we here, in Portugal, call “experiencias com o layout” which stands for layout experiments. I got some local rocks and rearranged them until I got something I was fond of. It took about 4 months to look just how it looks now. I have to say I  did not encounter a major algae problem like I was expecting because my tank was a “high tech” layout.  I think water change and C02 additions were my big helpers this time.

Q: What’s uniquely different about this layout from previous one’s you’ve done?  What does the title, Pasodoble, mean for this scape?

A:  With this aquarium I started to use HQI illumination. That was why this aquarium was so special to me. I had never used it before, but have to say I am extremely pleased with the results.

The title of the aquarium was inspired by Spanish music called “Pasodoble”.  It is famous in bullfights and since here, in Portugal, we  bullfights are a tradition.  I thought it would be nice to name my newest creation “Pasodoble”.

Q: With so  many stem plants, it must take a lot of regular maintenance to keep it looking in top shape.  How do you do it? Rockscape

A: I have to confess this aquarium requires a lot of time and patience. That is the primary reason why I am about to disassemble it and start a new layout. I have to fertilize every single day, not only with K and P but also with micro nutrients (specially iron).  C02 is injected 24/7, a 6 Kg bottle with a glass type diffuser. Water changes are always performed in Sunday but I also have to replace some water that evaporates during the week due to the warm temperatures in Portugal.

Trimmings are frequent too; Rotalas grow very quickly as well as riccia, so, I have to trim almost every week. It takes a great deal of time to maintain an aquascape. Something most people forget or don’t know about initially.


Q: You said earlier that you didn’t have many algae issues despite the high lighting used in the layout.  How did you manage that?

A: Fortunately I did not experienced any major algae problem. Some BBA appeared but were quickly gone (about 2 weeks). I think it all has to do with water changing and fertilization. As soon as you understand your aquarium, what it needs, and when it needs it, you are almost half way to a successfully algae-free aquarium.

The other “ingredient” is patience. Sometimes it is the best method to solving an algae problem.  You have to let the aquarium find its balance, and it will find it much more quicker if you do not do any drastic changes. We must remember an aquarium is never 100% free of algae.  In fact, some algae can tell that you have a healthy fish tank.

Q: One of the hardest things to chose for a layout are the plants and fish species. Why did you chose the selection that you did?

A:  The plants will depend on your taste. I prefer plants with small leaves, but I like plants like Anubias and microsorium as well. It is a matter of what suits the scape and what does not. It is important to planning the layout before you start. Look at different aquascapes and decide which plant combinations look good and go from there.

In a second phase (not less important) you will choose the fish; the fish will complete your aquarium. I prefer small fish that travel in group. For this aquarium I chose Rasbora and some ottos to help with the cleaning. The fish’s color is also important because it will complete the layout by adding a flash of color.

Q: Describe your aquascaping technique.

A: The hardscape arrangement will depend on what material you have available. Wood and rocks will have a different approach then an all-plant layout. Trimmings will also depend on what kind of layout you are trying to reach. What kind of image or picture do you want your aquarium to “have”. I often play with trimmings so I can reach a scape I like.

Q: After creating an aquascape, when do you decide to take it down? Pasodoble

A:  An aquascape reaches its climax when all plants and fish are as one.  Much like in a landscape where everything is where it is meant to. Sometimes too, I can get tired and think that the layout has nothing more to give, and do not want to spend as much time as I had previously  done.  That is when you know it is time to take it down.



Q: Many new comers have no idea where to begin when it comes to aquascaping. How easy is it to learn how to aquascape?

A:  Aquascaping isn’t as hard as it seems. I remember, when I first started, I looked into “expert” aquascapers’ aquariums and thought to myself “I will someday have something like that”. I have still much to learn but what I know now is all thanks to the help I got from people with more experience than me.

Aquascaping isn’t something you are born with. This artistic skill is something you achieve only with experience and time.  I would say that the biggest challenge for any aquarium lover would be time and money spent getting and maintaining a planted aquarium.

Q: Where do you see the aquascaping hobby going in the next 10 years?

A:  Aquascaping will certainly continue to rise, new methods and ideas of what an aquarium should look like will continue to come. I think, at least I hope so, new and better ways to maintain an aquarium will appear. The planted aquarium era has just begun.


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