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What Country has the Best Aquascapers?

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by John N., Jul 8, 2011.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    In your opinion, what Country/region has the best aquascapers and aquascapes in the world, and why? :-?

    -John N.
     

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  2. doubleott05

    doubleott05 New Member

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    shouldnt be an opinion....

    for example

    look at the last 5 yrs ILAPC look at the top 100 and make the % and that is the country that has the best aquascapers. this is proven by hard statistics.

    and if i am correct it is usually japan/korea/tiawan. something like that

    Thanks
    Elliot
     
  3. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    doubleotto05, one thing I think you have to keep in mind is style preferences. Right now nature style is dominant and represented by many scapers in east/southeast asia. If the style preference of judges was different would we see a different region represented in those top scapes?

    I do think east asia may have it, regardless. They have access to a lot of exceptional natural materials. I am always amazed by the wood in their tanks. It is more popular there than other regions.

    Europe, however is right in it. Wasn't last years IAPLC winner from Europe?

    We also might be looking at pure volume of submissions represented by a larger number of people from one region in the top IAPLC rankings. Maybe more people participate in scaping in that region and submit tanks to IAPLC.

    So other regions may not have as many scapers, but the skill and quality of those scapers and their tanks may be better (Europe? South America?)

    Stats can say whatever you want them to say. If you have 100 scapes from Europe and 500 scapes from Asia, you cannot statistically compare those two groups well. There are sampling errors abound.:-B

    I can say with certainty that the US has a ways to go yet. We have many very talented people, but not enough to claim this title. It would be nice to learn firsthand from experienced aquarists. Not many in the states have that chance. I could drive 100 miles in any direction and not find a soul who has heard of aquascaping (other than the people i've told).

    This question is loaded, John ;)

    There are many good aquascapers from every where. Should we ask what forum has the best scapers? Boxing

    EDIT: But if I had to vote, I would vote for East Asia. Please don't ask me to tease that region apart...
     
  4. Steven Chong

    Steven Chong Aspiring Aquascaper

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    One thing that is certain-- in the long run, the more people you have participating in something, the stronger your country/area will be at it. In the long run, if you pool from millions of individuals, you will inevitably find more talent than pooling through thousands of individuals.

    This simple fact is more difficult to see in aquascaping though, because it only takes 1 or 2 great aquascapers to make a certain country/region look impressive, and any one individual can aquascape for years and years-- it's not like sports where you constantly have to replenish the ranks.

    If you want to truly look at a region's strength though, I think you have to look at the general level of ability and popularity of aquascaping. If you are only looking at the top few individuals, you are not seeing the big picture.

    Besides, if you were only going to look at the top few individuals, than there's one pretty obvious individual missing from the IAPLC data-- that would be Amano Takashi himself.

    At the IAPLC convention two years ago, there was an interview of Amano. I can't remember who's question he was responding to, but at one point Amano said:

    "To be frank, the vast majority of the so-called 'top' layouts are just re-hashes of what I've already done. There has yet to be any designer with talent that truly impresses me as unique." (I'm translating what I recall him saying in Japanese)

    And to be totally honest, I'd have to agree. It's true that I've seen more than a share of creativity, and individual tanks that were astounding-- but on a whole, I still wouldn't say that there is any aquascaper I'd actually rank alongside Amano.

    I'd definitely say East Asia still strongly holds the crown-- there are some fantastic non-asian aquascapers out there, but none of the individual countries have the same depth of talent as asian countries, nor such a high "average" level of ability. If you look at the top "amateur" individuals (however you want to define that...) it's very hard to call with Taiwan, China/Hong Kong having a lot of depth.

    If you include Amano in the big picture, I'd have to say Japan still holds the crown.

    edit: Keep in mind I say this as an American-- I may live in Japan, but if there were an aquascaping Olympics, I still count amongst the ranks for the red-white-and-blue.
     
  5. Jason Baliban

    Jason Baliban New Member

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    I had a personal conversation with Amano 2 years ago where he said this exact thing to me.

    I think its a silly thing to say, but really, most people who are that successful not only say things like that but truly believe it.

    Amano kills the game, but the "Natural Aquarium" style has been dying for a few years now and it makes Amano look a little arrogant to say such a thing when the evolution is quite obvious.

    Another piece of Amano "opinion" about his competition is that he said, "It is my competition and my style, so the layouts are judged against the natural aquarium style."

    Who has the best aquascapers? Iceland!! Oh, and whoever has access to the nicest hardscape materials. Oh, and whoever uses rimless tanks. Oh, and whoever has the most money to import Amano rock. Oh, and whoever uses glass lilly pipes.

    jB
     
  6. tenshu

    tenshu New Member

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    Haha, nice one.
    Which nation has the best painters/photographers/directors?
     
  7. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    What do you think is replacing the Nature style, Jason?

    I don't know, perhaps maybe I don't have the best opinion, since none my aquascapes are the toast of any conventions, but I think the hobby has to be much more accessible to the amateur. Too many times in forums what constitutes a "proper" planted tank is one similar to what is described above; leaving out many different styles that are, IMO, just as beautiful, and perhaps easier for the average hobbiest to attain with minimal materials.

    Haha, why not have a budget category or an amateur section for those of us who don't use glass lily pipes? Honestly, I think people who grow plants well and have pretty layouts despite minimal expence and access to the best materials should be rewarded too. Might encourage more people to take up the hobby. More people taking up the hobby gives you a larger talent pool.

    Question, and this is just a general question, not directed at anyone specific. When you see scapes in a competition how do you judge them when the styles are all lumped together as they typically are? Do you judge them ala dog shows, where each dog is judged against its breed standard rather than against other breeds? IMO, I think you perhaps should. Might make the playing field a bit more level.

    Going to hide under my LR now.

    Liz
     
  8. SuperWen

    SuperWen New Member

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    Don't forget to count SE Asia, there are many good aquascapers from thailand, vietnam, malaysia, singapore and Indonesia :D
     
  9. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the theme as I understand it from the above posts is that if you want to talk NA then Asia wins hands down. However do you have to do NA to be a good scaper - That is more the question in my eyes.

    Then what incorporates NA. Does it envelop the emerging minimal styles like island scapes? Does it envelop cliffs?

    Most of the non far east entries have a much different view on scaping when you look at the scapes however does NA decide to call these NA to maintain it's No1 status?

    For me the far east have a traditional style which can be seen reproduced by many scapers over many years.

    Europe seems to be taking things on several different routes from minimalist to in depth detail. Europe also seems to use lighting more especially the use of white light to get crisp 'fresh' appearances.

    America from what I have seen (I haven't seen that many US scapes) seems to try to stick to the tradition NA route.

    South America seems to be taking the NA landscape route but pushing it further and creating some incredible in depth detail.

    IMO South America is the one to watch because from a few good scapers they are suddenly many good scapers without anyone noticing them appear :)

    Like LLj says though hard to judge who is the best scaper. We can't say a NA scaper is better than a dutch scaper uless they both compete in both styles. I would bet that a dutch scaper would create a better NA style than the NA scaper would create a dutch style.

    Andy
     
  10. Jurijs mit JS

    Jurijs mit JS Admin Staff Member

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    you simply have to calculate the average ranking of each country.
     
  11. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    that won't be an accurate assessment, Juri. You will have more data points in one set than another. It will not give you a "correct" picture.

    You may need all submissions, then take the top 50 or 100 from each region and compare those. Then you have the same number of points for comparison, but that is only one contest and I would hate to see this based upon the outcome of one contest. This approach still wouldn't be the best because some regions would be over-represented by having a greater volume of entries.
     
  12. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    it would also be biased toward whichever style dominates a particular contest i.e. for the IAPLC it would suggest that the best aquascapers were from whichever country has the best NA scapers :) Also it would be a specific type, trend etc.

    Andy
     
  13. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    8)

    -John N.
     
  14. diego.s

    diego.s Aspiring Aquascaper

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    ^:)^Asia^:)^
     
  15. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

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    Why is the United States Aquascaping so bad? I mean, I should say not as good as aquascapers from Europe, Asia, and South America for example (iin my opinion of course).

    Despite the high number of United States members on the various planted aquarium forums, Americans haven't reach the upper tiers in aquascaping competitions to warrant a significant presence in the aquascaping world.

    Don't get me wrong, there have been some VERY good US aquascapers and layouts but it is only a handful of people compared to other countries' participation levels in competitions and layout quality.

    I don't understand it.

    -John N.
     
  16. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    I think its general acceptability and availability, John.

    How many businesses are great supporters of planted tanks in local areas? I would have to drive 5 hours to Minneapolis to hopefully find one. There isn't that first hand inspiration. Not to mention learning from someone first hand. I made many wrong assumptions in starting out based on photographs of scapes. I think there a little hotbeds in the states, areas of California, Arizona, and Florida that have more going on in terms of planted tanks.

    The US doesn't quite have the exposure for planted tanks as other regions. Not to mention most who start with freshwater and become serious hobbyists go to saltwater. Look at the saltwater side of things here in the states, its HUGE. Which is baffling for us planted tank people because we know a well planted and scaped tank can hold its own against a reef and cost much less. The saltwater coral display in my LFS is an entire wall. The planted tank is a shallow 30 gallon tank located at my knees below all the fish filled with half dead plants.

    I have dropped hints to my LFS about how they could improve their planted tank, but they don't really care to. Its not about nice displays or beautiful plants here (even though that would move merchandise). Its about tatooed fish that can be sold to a small child and their parents in a bowl. Also cichlids are a large portion of freshwater sales to people more serious about freshwater fish here, we know they aren't the most friendly to planted tanks.

    The big chains may never take a serious interest in the plants side of things. The locally owned stores have to take it on, but most owners I've spoken with don't have a clue about plants. One owner told me he prefers to buy one type of wisteria and points to the submerged growth; over this other kind; and points to the same plant that has emmersed growth. I gently explained they were the same plant and why the leaves were different. Its like this at every LFS I have ever been to. That will never get people in the states interested in planted tanks and aquascaping.

    I'm out there trying though.....


    I would also like to mention that the high numbers of US people on the planted tank forums are casual aquarists or even people who join up to try and solve a problem. They are new, and do not stick with the hobby or they don't care to take it beyond a few plants and fish.
     
  17. Ernie Mccracken

    Ernie Mccracken New Member

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    Root cause? Money, like anything else. Freshwater aquariums are marketed to children and financially destitute because it makes the most sense from those with a financial interest. There's relatively little profit margin to be made selling plants, so why make the effort? If I owned an LFS and relied on the income to feed my family, 90% of it would be dedicated to selling high end reef stock. We all love plants, but why make $5 profit selling a plant instead of $75 selling an acropora frag?

    What has emerged on the reef side is a culture of collecting. Buy all the expensive equipment you can afford it and take an ark approach to stocking. Buy 1-2 of everything and keep upscaling equipment as your collection grows. How many of the "best" reef tanks are large wall to wall SPS fruit stands that use enough gear to launch the space shuttle?

    Selling that as an end goal to Americans is money in the bank. Telling a potential freshwater hobbyist that their success will only be defined by how closely they mimmick the work of this Japanese guy is far less appealing.
     
  18. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    reefs are a smaller niche' and would move less product. Freshwater is more accessible and more merchandise could be moved with less overhead. I don't think the profit margin between a coral frag and a plant argument holds up.

    Maybe half dead plants still sell, while half dead corals do not. I really think my LFS thinks thats how the plants are supposed to look.

    but this is off topic, so I won't go on.

    :Dsoutheast and east Asia still has my vote for best region
     
  19. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think thats right really. Reef is more popular all over the world however what John is asking is why are the Americans that already scape not ranking higher.

    My opinion and this may be taken the wrong way as I am generalising.

    The majority of American scapes I see are pretty traditional in style. They like their pretty trimmed stem bushes and its an older style where it is more of group of plants set in the aquarium than where we seem to be moving towards today. It's less structural less about the hardscape and more to do with pruning and manicuring.

    There's nothing wrong with this but trends change just as tastes do and as time moves on these are not inline with current fashions.

    There are many exceptions from the US to this rule. Jason Baliban for one who's scapes take on a more modern style akin to what a lot of the Asians are doing.

    However it remains that a lot of the US scapes do look a little 'old style'.

    I guess its a little like tastes. A lot of American homes' decor (at least what we get to see on TV and in films;) ) are a fairly classic style. Cosy and homely, traditional stylings etc.

    In europe there is that style too however a lot of people have moved over to a more modern styling. Less clutter. Less rustic. Less classic.

    I didn't say on another thread which I can't find now but it was a thread about why different styles dominate different countries.

    I don't know about anyone else but my taste dictates my style. If I decide to have a classic decor in my lounge then I will design the scape to fit in. Not going to an ultra modern minimalist setup with bright white lighting in a classic cosy warm white lit room.

    By the same merit if I choose to have a modern minimalist bright lounge then I am not going to put a traditional styled scape (the sort I am suggesting the majority of Americans do) in it.

    So maybe that is why didfferent regions have different styles. At the end of the day the majority of us have these tanks in our homes and we want them to compliment the room not contradict it. So our taste in styling dictates the way we scape.

    By that essence someone who has tanks in their home and office may do scapes in different styles to suit the different locations.

    Those who have studios have a freedom to do many styles without worrying about it 'fitting in'.

    My 2 pennies on the subject ;)

    Andy
     
  20. lljdma06

    lljdma06 New Member

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    Now, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and let's see what you consider a traditional "American" scape. I'm actually curious. ;)

    Liz
     

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