March 2009 Aquascape of the Month______________________________________________Patchworkby Samuel Bouziat INTRODUCTION [float_left] [/float_left] My name is Samuel Bouziat, I am 23 years old and I live in France (near Orleans, as Dimitri who was the July 08 AOTM). I’m in my last year to finish my studies in law and human management. On the Internet my nickname is Hideki, in reference to the character of the manga "chobit". I started aquarium hobby when I was young with a 300L, but it became disaster years as an aquascaper (too many errors of beginner). So I have decided to take a break even though the hobby was a big passion for me. I have been in the aquarium hobby for five years, and three years were more about planted aquariums (but remember my first planted aquariums were not very good!). At the beginning I was more interested in fish, but as you can imagine, now I prefer plants, especially when I design an arrangement that pleases me. Like so many other hobbyists, I think, I was inspired by Takashi Amano, and also by Oliver Knott. I really like the Nature Style, but my preference goes to Dutch Style of aquascaping. I prefer a tank well arranged where each plant has a defined place, where colors are mixed, and trimmed properly. Being active on many French forums, where generally the same questions are continually asked of me and my aquascapes, I decided to create my own website with the help of a friend. This site aims to show my different tanks, but also to make aquascaping more accessible to those wishing to embark on the adventure. So I explained how I designed each of my aquascapes while achieving other articles related to planted tank. For those who are interested, the I do have a personal website seen here but to read the articles it might be helpful to know the French language. I have a desire to share this passion, and inspire people; therefore I hope to have succeeded a bit. AQUASCAPING TECHNIQUES [float_right] [/float_right] Keeping the Aquascape "Natural" To present this Aquascape, we can start by its title: "Patchwork". The name came when the tank was completed and seeing the final result. It is true that this tank represents a subtle blend of colors, shapes and sizes. At the beginning I had not envisioned what you see as the final result. I had started planting without really knowing what it would do. As I planted, I was just inspired by the moment (although I was not very artistically inspired, I just want to redo my old tank!). The first design idea was to establish a large visible range of the ground. I really like the look of Fluorite, so I wanted to continue to see it. The second idea was to get two "hills" more or less distinct to be joined at the center of the tank. At first I wanted to leave a big hole in the middle but finally it was too artificial so I added the Eleocharis in the center to fill the hole and join the two hills. The idea is to have color on each side so I used Rotala rotundifolia and Nesea sp on the left, and Didiplis diandra and Rotala indica on the right. Finally the tank has changed compared to the initial idea. More plants were added to establish a valley in a more natural way. [float_right] [/float_right] I wanted something more realistic and natural than what I had the opportunity to do while keeping my personal touch (many colors, and good trimming). Hardscape and Slope There's no real hardscape in this tank. At the beginning there were a few pieces of rocks, but they were too small and are no longer visible. Instead, the hardscaping element we might note is the slope of the ground; it was made to give a better depth. This has been accentuated with a hollow area in the middle and slightly raised sides. The soil is unusual at the base there is Aquacare. Then on top there is black quartz mixed with red fluorite . I like the rendering of the two mixed. The Art of Trimming In this version I tried to maintain a concave plantation. To achieve the desired result, I cut the plants while taking into account the fact that they do not grow at the same speed. I kept in mind their plants’ growth rate and trimmed them accordingly to fit the concave shape I wanted. The best way to see how I did this is through videos. To proceed I begin with a first cut, plant by plant. Then I do a second cut to adjust finishing details. [float_right] [/float_right] To give an impression of space in a small volume, we had to play with plants types and cut them accordingly. The use of thin plants can give an impression of volume too. To give the impression of depth, I rejoin the two hills at the center . You can see in the photos to the right of various visual guidelines of the tank. GREATEST CHALLENGES What pleased me most in this aquascape was the change in style made from what I've done previously. Moreover it is the first time I really got the result that I wanted and aquascape now pleases me 100%. The hardest part was to control algae at the beginning; I tried a new way of fertilizing which has not been easy. [float_right] [/float_right] Overtime, I learned the nutrient balance with the fertilizers in relation to plants and their needs. Lastly, it was difficult to synchronize the size of all plants. It was the hardest point to manage, but the result is there in the end I think, and that is what is most appreciable. Click here to view Tank SpecificationsClick here to view Plant and Fauna List FINAL THOUGHTS & ADVICE First, thank you to all the interest you have shown to me and my aquascape. I hope you enjoy my work at minimum and I hope I inspired you with my creation. For new aquascapers the only thing I can advise is to practice, practice, and practice again! Another thing is to learn about aquariums and how plants grow and how they operate inside the tank with all the other elements (nutrients, cutting, light, etc.). In my next projects I hope to try to do something more natural looking than what I could did before. I must remember to retain my personal touch in my 60L. My 450L remain oriented style Dutch, so I can prune the plants regularly (I think that is what I enjoy most, put their hands in water and control plants). Another novelty that has nothing to do with the planted tank world is my nano reef. It’s the otherside of aquarium keeping but I hope to get results as conclusive and fulfilling as I had with my planted tanks. See you soon to share my new creations!