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Aquascape of the Month January 2010: "Passage to the Red Forest"

Discussion in 'Aquascape of the Month (AOTM)' started by John N., Jan 22, 2010.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    January 2010 Aquascape of the Month
    ______________________________________________
    Passage to the Red Forest
    by Illarion Makarikhin
    [​IMG]


    INTRODUCTION
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    Greetings all! My name is Illarion Makarikhin (Arryl), I am 32 years old sales manager from Zaporozhye, Ukraine. What began my acquaintance with the aquarium?

    Well, aquariums have been an attraction since childhood. In those days, within the Soviet Union, there was very little information about the modern (at that time) aquaria. Once I saw pictures of Dutch style aquariums and since then I cannot imagine an aquarium in any other style. But in those days money was only enough for a small aquarium with a couple of neons fish.

    That was a long time ago in my childhood, and times have changed. Two years ago, I returned to my favorite hobby and started seriously thinking about planted aquariums. And of course, by this time everything has changed in the aquascaping and aquarium world. Thanks to the internet, I saw a tank designed in “Nature Aquarium” style made by Japanese aquascaper Takashi Amano. Since then and to this day I go on the road of Aquascaping. Yes it is road, which is not closed or a secret, but open to all wishing for it to pass. The road is long and tortuous, sometimes with prolonged recovery, requiring great efforts, with sharp turns and cliffs. And sometimes it is joyful ride downhill and gives a thrilling taste as it simple and easy.
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    Aquascaping is an adventure and a series of vivid moments, moments of despair and joy. For some, it will remain exactly as road, but for others it will become a way of knowledge and self-improvement. And if the road has a final destination , the way to it is limitless and endless. Moreover, this is a way of understanding nature.


    AQUASCAPING TECHNIQUES

    Initial Conception of the Red Forest

    The name of my work is “Passage to the Red Forest”. The main idea was to create for the viewer a feeling that we are on the open bright and sunny lawn in front of a small hill.
    [float_right] [​IMG][/float_right]It begins with a passage down into the depths of the mysterious and futuristic red forest. The whole idea was originally conceived in my imagination.

    Arranging the "Passage"

    The main difference between this work and many other aquascapes is that I originally decided not to use large and "visible" stones or driftwoods. I wanted to create an illusion of depth and volume. I decided to create visual contrast by pairing a mix of dark and light green shades with red ones. I used the plants with different leaves textures (e.g. larger leaves of M.tenerum and small leaves of Riccia). Also I use the effect of "overlapping” the plants.

    The hill at the focal point, which opens a passage down the "Red Forest" was created with the help of a few small stones at the base of the substrate on which was planted with H.cuba. The Red Forest was made with the help Rotala rotundifolia and Eusterallis stellata. These plants worked well in contrast with each other, Eusterallis large leaves and small leaves of Rotala. The foreground consisted of Glossostigma elantanoides.

    [float_right] [​IMG] [/float_right]

    Planting and Trimming Techniques

    Concave formation was taken as the basis. Each plant species trimmed differently: Glossostigma takes two stages of trimming. In order to achieve the small size of leaves and a small height, the whole carpet is trimmed "under the root" (see first video of major trim below). Then the plant should be recover in about 2-3 weeks time (see second video of final growth below).


    [float_right] [/float_right]
    Riccia trimmed in the form of “caps” and also I use wire mesh with small stone to hold it anchored.

    Rotala is the one who needs regular trimming. From the rooting time until photography it is trimmed three times, two major trimmings and one corrective trimming just a day before the final photo. Remember, trimming stemmed plants too often may train them to become bushy. If that is not the goal, then it is better to uproot and remove some of the stems instead of trimming. Keep this in mind when planning your layout.


    Blyxa japonica was one of the easier plants to deal with, as well as Microsorum and Monosolenium, due to their low growth rate.

    Of course, taking into consideration that tank was launched in February, and final photo made in May, uprooting of the stem plants was conducted at least three times.
    [float_right][​IMG][/float_right]
    This also caused difficulties, as I had to completely pull out of the ground all the Rotalas (which is 80%) and replant it. Certainly in case of bio-balance disturbing this caused some difficulties.


    GREATEST CHALLENGES

    The main difficulties I have encountered is with Eusterallis stellata. The main problem is E.stellata cannot be trimmed like the majority of other stem plants. It must be completely removed from the ground, cut off the bottom and the tops must be planted again. If you cut it – it will sit in the ground a long time before giving you a new runner. That was the main difficulty. I used a ruler to calculate desired length of stems, in order to synchronize the speed of its growth with the growth rate of the Rotala stems. Thankfully I did as it made it much easier to manage the aquascape. Therefore, when planning your aquascape you need to pay special attention to the growth rate of the plants used.


    FINAL THOUGHTS & ADVICE

    [float_right][​IMG][/float_right]

    I think that for anyone who wants to get as much knowledge as possible in Aquascaping and technology of keeping a planted aquarium it is insufficient only to search for information from published sources. There is nothing better than the experience that you get while working on your own aquascape and learning to resolving any difficulties.

    While working on this design (which was my first) I received a huge amount of invaluable information. Briefly it can be expressed in several points which I noted for myself as radically important: First, balance, balance, and once again the balance (CO2-Ferts-Light). Any imbalance will lead to undesirable consequences. Secondly, filtration and flow does not happen a lot. Surface agitation should be fairly noticeable. Do not forget to compensate for CO2 weathering as a result of the agitation. Thirdly, fertilizers - relative excess - much better than a lack of it. Deficiencies can cause your plants to not grow but extreme excess of fertilizers can also cause unwanted algaes. Remember, our first point, balance. Lastly, and most importantly, be original in design and do not be afraid to experiment.

    Also, it is important to systematically keep records of yours observations, to make audio notes, photos of the development process. I use this program Microsoft OneNote. This is very convenient program-organizer.

    Finally, what I want to say in the end to anyone wishing to develop in Aquascape - you need to participate in different contests. During preparation,
    [float_right] [​IMG] [/float_right]

    you will pass through certain stages of development, thinking, worrying, reading, and trying to curse everything. You will achieve a certain result which will allow you to read the evaluation of the judges, do conclusions, and prepare you for your next brilliant aquascape. I wish you all good luck and brilliant creative ideas.

    Thank to ASW forum community for the opportunity to share my work and my thoughts with other aspiring aquascapers.


     

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  2. CHUNTC

    CHUNTC New Member

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    Creative work beautiful art piece. Good diary. I love it^:)^
     
  3. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    good job

    молодец!!!!
     
  4. vanscheck

    vanscheck New Member

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    super nice
     
  5. gliga

    gliga Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Nice!!!
     
  6. bgangler

    bgangler New Member

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    Very impressive!
     
  7. -iv-

    -iv- New Member

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    good job!!!маладца, так держать!!!
     
  8. Enrico Serena

    Enrico Serena New Member

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    Congratulation for your work and your complete description.
     
  9. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    I really like the videos of the aquascape foreground. It's interesting to see the tank "in motion" verses the static photos. Very neat element to this article.

    -John N.
     
  10. Arryl

    Arryl New Member

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    Guys, thank you all for your feedback. I am very glad that you liked my work. :proud:
    Concerning last post by John. Video really light-up the process of acquaintance with the aquarium and allows, perhaps more deeper look at the aquascape. If possible, I always try to shoot small videos. Although in general this trend is very poorly developed. For example, on youtube only few videos of nature aquarium. I think if owners of ASW will make the video section, those who have such information, will be happy to share it with others (IMHO)

    Regards
    Larry
     
  11. George Farmer

    George Farmer Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Larry/Arryl,

    Beautiful work.

    The last image with your daughter is truly wonderful on many levels.
     
  12. hydrophyte

    hydrophyte Moderator Staff Member

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    Really nice work Illarion. You are an expert aquascaper. Nice work also with your photography.
     
  13. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    beautiful piece of work. The videos are a great touch to this article and something that adds to the educational aspect for those of us who are aspiring. Thank you
     
  14. raistling

    raistling New Member

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    it's a wonderful job. the colorful depth give a briliiant impression.
     
  15. fanscape

    fanscape New Member

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    wow it's so amazing....
    i like the colours..
    well done!..
     
  16. laradavidson

    laradavidson New Member

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    Illarion, you did a terrific piece of art!

    luurve it!!!
     
  17. Vadimshevchuk

    Vadimshevchuk New Member

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    Very nicely done of a dutch tank. My parents were both born in Ukraine and i can speak it but I was born in America :star:.
     
  18. Vitor Sousa

    Vitor Sousa New Member

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    Hello, that's a very beautifull tank you have there. good work.
    just one question, how can you balance the light with the CO2? and how do you see if you got lack or to much K on the aquarium??

    regards
    Vitor
     
  19. oscarjamayaa

    oscarjamayaa New Member

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    Nice, can you tell us a little bit more abour light and fertz??

    Thanks
     
  20. Heliospectra AB

    Heliospectra AB New Member

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    wonderful scape
     

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