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September 2010 Aquascape of the Month: "Sky Cliff"

Discussion in 'Aquascape of the Month (AOTM)' started by Jurijs mit JS, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    September 2010 Aquascape of the Month
    ______________________________________________
    Sky Cliff
    by Héctor Baca

    [​IMG]


    INTRODUCTION
    [float_left][​IMG][/float_left]Starting nearly three years ago (December 2007) I was captivated by aquascaping and planted aquariums. From that time, my taste and passion have increased for aquascaping. I deeply admire the details, the colors, and the beauty of the underwater landscapes.

    To get to where I am today, I spent three years of intense research, trial and error, and learning from my experiences. My name is Héctor Baca and I am an aquascaper from Mexico. My profession is as a journalist and completing research is a necessity. I got entangled into planted tanks without realizing it. Little by little, the influence of its beauty and mystery grabbed me.

    My first design was a complete failure, but it was essential for learning how to keep aquatic plants and to understand their nutrients, light, carbon dioxide and maintenance needs. In Mexico at that time, there are very few aquatic plant enthusiasts, and even fewer practicing aquascaping layouts. I had no other option than learn from the internet, where I found Takashi Amano’s Nature aquariums and slowly discovered other Japanese aquascapers such as Hinori Handa and Fumio Shiga. Later I found aquascapes from Cliff Hui and David Chow.

    In six months I maintained, at last, an aquarium in optimum condition: free of algae. [float_right][​IMG] [/float_right]So I gave myself the task of starting work on the Achilles' heel: the design. Since then to date I have designed more than 20 aquariums. I currently only keep three aquariums, one of 90x45x45 cm, 60x30x36 cm and 45x29x31 cm. However, in the latest productions I have focused on the use of stones and the exploration of multiple visual planes.

    During this time I've been surrounded by good friends to create a group of designers AD (AcuaDesigners), and we are about to launch a website www.acuadesigners.com, with the aim of disseminating and enhancing the aquascaping hobby in México and other Spanish speaking countries.

    This year my aquascape has received the Members Choice Award from Aquatic Plant Central (APC), placed fourth in the Singapore AQ-ADA Aquascaping Contest 2010, and ranked #80 of 2010 aquascapes competition the International Aquatic Plant Layout Contest 2010.


    From Dinosaurs to "Sky Cliff"

    It is a curious thing, but my wife inspired this aquascape’s layout. We were watching the movie “Dinosaurs” and in the beginning of the tape there are wonderful cliffs and she said to me “Why don’t you design it?” My intitial reaction was a rejection. However, I gave myself the task of searching the web images of cliffs. After much searching, I found an image of a very green cliff. This gave rise to the title of this aquascape “Sky Cliff”.

    For the development of any aquascaping design the first thing I perform is a sketch of what I intend to create. This gives me a good idea of what I need to do for the design and what materials (rocks and plants) I need for the design. More importantly, the sketch allows me to get more immerse into the idea and vision.


    Foundation of Volcanic Stones

    One of the biggest challenges was the selection of stones. Fortunately, fortunately part of Mexico City is located over a volcanic area. There are fields where I could find and select the perfect shaped stones. I had to find large rocks that could withstand all the visual weight and composition planned in the layout. [float_right][​IMG]
    [/float_right]
    The aim of the aquarium was to create several levels, which contribute to stimulate the perspective, in order to obtain the effect of a cliff. I took into account the width, height and length of the aquarium, so that the design was, to put it in some way, in 3D.




    Breaking the Mold: Designing a Fresh Aquascape

    This aquascape was designed to break the mold of the typical planted aquarium layout. In order to do this, I had to figure out how to use current design ideas and take them to the next level. I took the basic principles of painting (proportion, balance, harmony, rhythm, and contrast) and applied it to the aquascape’s design.

    The idea of Sky Cliff was to build great mountains, but problem was how to build them? Finally I decided that it was better to take two large stones and then start working visual layers, adding more stones, and creating areas of contrasts and depth.
    [float_right][​IMG]
    [/float_right]Before undertaking this project I made a small cube Zempoala Cliff's that served as a basis, it taught me that a good way to gain height is to take a big component and then develop the whole hardscape.

    To achieve height in this aquascape, I used gravel between the stones to keep the rocks in place for a solid foundation. The first layer of the aquarium consists of gravel topped off by planted aquarium substrate. The goal is to create a solid shape with a strong foundation from the beginning. Even before adding plants, the rock formation looked stunning and beautiful.


    Plant Selection

    Plant selection was one of the easier tasks. Hemianthus callitrichoides "Cuba" is a generous and invasive plant that grows on the rocks without any problems. I used various mosses and hairgrass (Eleocharis parva) on and between rocks to provide a sense of remoteness along the Cliff.


    [float_right][​IMG][/float_right]
    GREATEST CHALLENGES

    While selecting plants was the easiest task, the most complex part of this aquascape was the proper develop of the foreground of Hemianthus callitrichoides "Cuba" and the moss growth on the stones. The main problem was that a light was insufficient to penetrate the deep water and shadows. To solve this, I used two 70 watt HQI for the steepest part of the design.

    My other headache was cleaning the glass. The cliff layout takes a tremedous amount of space and limited my movement when I needed to wipe the glass. However, the final result was very satisfactory.


    FINAL THOUGHTS & ADVICE

    The most important thing in any life activity is to never losing our sense of wonder and enjoyment of nature. Before undertaking any project it is essential to look at as many aquariums to create an idea. All great things are learned, from the simplest to the most complex.

    In the future, I am preparing two aquascapes and one Ryoboku. I hope to showcase them to the Aquascaping World in a nearly future.


     

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  2. MrCodexx

    MrCodexx New Member

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    Beautiful
     
  3. Enrico Serena

    Enrico Serena New Member

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    Congratulations Hector :proud:
     
  4. ScapeFu

    ScapeFu New Member

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    Hector,

    Felicidades! Te cuedo fenomenal.

    Saludos,

    Arturo
     
  5. RAD

    RAD New Member

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    Hi Hector,congratulations.
    Saludos!!!
     
  6. CHUNTC

    CHUNTC New Member

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    I salute you for a beautiful scape!^:)^
     
  7. Figo

    Figo New Member

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    Hector Muchas Felicidades!!!!!

    In the near future Acuadesigners will show all the community our projects and the new vision that this Mexican team can do.

    Regards,

    Figo
     
  8. checo

    checo New Member

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    Excelente acuario!! :muscle:
     
  9. MOCEVA

    MOCEVA New Member

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    Oh my god!! Unbelievable! It is my first time to see such a great scape!!
     
  10. pele

    pele New Member

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    Felicidades Hector! Te lo mereces!
     
  11. Guillermo

    Guillermo New Member

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    Da gusto ver tu progreso Héctor y que poco a poco vas llegando a tu meta, espero que el próximo año obtengas un mejor sitio en los concursos.

    Las fotos son excelentes (se del trabajo que te costó plasmar lo mas fielmente posible el acantilado en foto) pero ver este gran acuapaisaje en vivo no tiene comparación.

    Enhorabuena.

    Glad to see your progression, little by little you are reaching your goal, I hope for better results in next year's contests.

    The pics are awesome (I know it was a hard task to capture the Cliff with fidelity in the photo) but watching this great aquascape in person is bar to none.

    Congrats
     
  12. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Guillermo speaking of capturing the Cliff, here's a photo that Hector used as his main source of inspiration after being challenged by his wife to create a "Cliffscape".

    [​IMG]

    -John N.
     
  13. Kimppa

    Kimppa Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Wonderful scape! And congrats for the nice IAPLC ranking!
     
  14. Pereiro

    Pereiro New Member

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    Felicidades Héctor, un acuario realmente maravilloso
     
  15. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    Hector, thanks a lot for participating :proud:
    This is really a great scape, fascinating hardscape and excellent plant choice. The depth is amazing and the fish shoal perfectly.
    I wish you all the best for your future projects, would love to see a journal or some previews then ;)

    Juri
     
  16. Guillermo

    Guillermo New Member

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    Hi John

    I know the pic ;), when Hector told me his goal to "transfer" it to an aquatic environment I told him it was going to be a big big challenge, and look at it know, he reached his goal with his amazing Sky Cliff, I don't want to sound reiterative, but in person is stunning, you can stay watching it for hours.

    Regards
     
  17. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    Para mí, uno de los mejores acuarios del año,
    saludos!!
     
  18. Ubaca

    Ubaca New Member

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    Thanks to all you guys for the comments and compliments!
    Regars

    Gracias a todos por sus palabras.
    Saludos
     
  19. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    My favourite scape of this year by a long way. Congrats on capturing the essence of the inspiration so well.

    And amazes me to see so many people here from Mexico. Another nation on the up in this hobby ;).

    Keep it up guys

    AC
     
  20. 1ALFREDO

    1ALFREDO New Member

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    Hay ocasiones cuando tomamos una idea de la naturaleza, que en nuestro deseo de emularla, cometemos muchos errores, pero en este caso es todo lo contrario. la reinterpretacion del acantilado es muy buena, la fuerza del aquascape y la integracion de los componentes es completa, y la eleccion de las plantas acertada

    FELICIDADES HECTOR

    There are times when we take a view of nature, in our desire to emulate, we make many mistakes, but in this case is just the opposite. Reinterpretation of the cliff is very good, the strength of the aquascape and component integration is complete, and correct choice of plants

    CONGRATULATIONS HECTOR
     

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