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The brief and incomplete future of aquascaping

tiger15

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In order not to hijack the thread, I suggest the moderator to split this thread. I agree this is the most friendly forum with mature and educated members, and gracefully no flame.

I am in several local aquarium clubs and the male/female hobbyists split I observed is about 70/30. Male hobbyists interest is diverse, from plants, peaceful fish to aggressive tank busters only macho men love. Female hobbyists I know, on the other hand, are disproportionally into plants and peaceful fish.

For instance, a major aquatic garden club president in US capital is a woman. My two reference aquatic plant books are written by women: Diane Walstad (Ecology of the Planted Aquarium) and Karren Randall (Sunken Gardens). Many of you know Rachel O'Leary who is a big Youtuber in plants, shrimp and nano fish.

Women are big in planted tank hobby, just not big in aquascaping competition or entrepreneurship. The same can be said about women in cooking. They cook more at home than men, but not many become chef or get a name out of it.
 

Onoma1

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One of the interesting (and particularly positive) aspects of the forum (in contrast with Facebook or Youtube) is the anonymity. There isn’t any identity check on the forum and we all have the choice of being anonymous. I am not defined by others according to my role as a father/ mother, male/female/ non-binary, rich/ poor, black/ white, financially successful/ poor, etc but by my ideas and by the value and nature of my interaction with others.


We can (if we wish) let all of the societal baggage behind and this can be purely a place of discussion, debate and a source of information about aquascaping. We can leave unconscious and conscious bais held by others about gender, race, religion, nationality, political views, expertise or power created by our real world personas behind. It can be truly a virtual 'polis'. I can be anyone I want to on this forum.


I would contrast with Youtube of Facebook which are commercialised spaces where the aquascaping personalities are constantly seeking acceptance, approval and engagement. Please don’t misunderstand I enjoy many of these and often find them useful and interesting, however, this doesn’t detract from the fact that in these hyperreal spaces gender and power are used and amplified.

This could answer the question of where is the future of aquascaping …perhaps the where should be here (or in places like this) where we can all contribute without fear or favour.
 

zozo

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Women are big in planted tank hobby

lv6gagwry5vp2.jpg


She's a Botanicus and authority in aquatic plants. :) Since 1976 :thumbup:
About any description you can find about an aquarium plant has references to on of her books.
 

Tim Harrison

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the fact that there are already some who are happy to reveal ourselves without flack shows that the forum is already doing well.
Thank you, that's really good to know. I've said this before but I think UKAPS friendly and polite atmosphere is one of the reasons it's still going strong when many other forums have gone to the wall :)
 

tiger15

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I’m surprised I haven’t come across any flame in this forum. I think Euro forums have polite people.. American forums have rude and Trumpian people.
 

Tim Harrison

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LondonDragon

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Wow, nice read so far and some great input into the hobby and where we might lead to! Maybe one day we will go back to another very popular lady in the fish keeping scene Diana Walstad, no filter, no co2, low light and a nicely balanced ecosystems! To be honest I do have a preference for low techs, so much easier to maintain and long term get the same satisfaction.

We have seen more and more ladies taking up the hobby and the aquagirls movement in social media also assisting and some major brands also have women to support their products.

Think what sets UKAPS apart is how the forum is moderated, and we take our rules seriously, but we are not the police, we have to be totally unbiased which is not an easy thing to do, I have diffused a few situations on the forum over the years even though sometimes I have a personal relationship with one of the members I cannot take sides and have to evaluate the point of view of both and always try to come to an amicable resolution, and that has been the message to all moderators, once you are a moderator there are no groups and there are no friends, every one must be treated the same as a community, which I think it's fair.

But I have also been told sometimes that there is no freedom of expression, this is not true at all as it's been expressed here already, which I think is more narrow-minded people that just want to be rude and do what they want because this is social media and you can say what you want and insult whomever you want, well if you want that go on Twitter ;) Respect is a very nice thing, and since I am writing this be careful when you use the tongue out emoji, that could be considered offensive to some ;) (so I have been told).

Forum pretty much moderates itself, friendly bunch here and since 2007 we have actually only ever banned one person!

Thanks everyone for making this community one of the best if not the best in this hobby.

Cheers
Paulo
 

zozo

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I think Euro forums have polite people..

Oh no not really, UKAPS is absolutely an exception to the rule... I've been a member of quite some European forums and till now UKAPS is the only one that has proper and adequate moderators jumping on it as Tim says, they don't get a chance to escalate. Then posts are removed and instigators or pyromaniacs start behaving or move again to other forums.

And I've been at these forums, loads of vultures around waiting for the tiniest discrepancy in your posts whether it's technical or gramatical it doesn't matter and the bashing begins. 💪 Also seen moderators participating... :(
 
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castle

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Hi @Onoma1 & Everyone,

Excellent thought-provoking thread. May I toss into the melting pot a question over which I've pondered many times? I do believe my question is relevant to the thread title. Here it is:

Why is the world of aquascaping seemingly dominated by those of the male gender? Or, am I wrong in thinking this to be the case?

I'm male and I'm not much of an aquascaper so that's where I stand.

JPC


With fish keeping it's fairly obviously almost balanced in gender from my experience (40/60 F/M) - no famous aquascapers, but it's a fairly niche side of the hobby.

I've got a few female friends that are keeping tanks, all my age (20-30) - in fact, I don't have any male friends keeping fish =/ maybe it's a Norfolk/Suffolk thing, we're fishy.
 

tiger15

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With fish keeping it's fairly obviously almost balanced in gender from my experience (40/60 F/M) - no famous aquascapers, but it's a fairly niche side of the hobby.

I've got a few female friends that are keeping tanks, all my age (20-30) - in fact, I don't have any male friends keeping fish =/ maybe it's a Norfolk/Suffolk thing, we're fishy.
Only planted tank and peaceful community fish keeping portion is gender balance, not overall fish keeping which is male dominated. It is understandable as I used to visit gardening forums in which women post as much if not more than men.

Similarly, more women than men keep cats, more men keep dogs, and even the type of dog women keep are different from men.
 
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Wookii

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Wow, very interesting thread - I'm not sure how I missed it!

As the thread seems to have morphed into three aspects, I'll offer a comment on each one.

Excellent opening post @Onoma1 and I feel your somewhat conflicted thoughts, as I've had similar thoughts myself. I've grown up being inspired by Amano's tanks - I think because they've been held in such high esteem for so long, (my Nature Aquarium World books must be 20 years old) and because he was the one breaking new ground in terms of aquascaping techniques, I can understand why those scapes are considered by many as the gold standard. I do agree, it is something of a contradiction in terms calling them a Nature Aquarium, but then everything is relative, and when Amano's creations were first reaching public awareness, most peoples tanks looked nothing like his glorious plant filled creations.

The key takeaway for me really is that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", the power is with the owner to try and create an aquatic scene that they find beautiful - be that a lush algae free garden, a brooding leaf-littered mangrove biotope or a plastic skeleton sitting on a bubble treasure chest. Just as you get gardeners that like a manicured bowling green lawn and flowers in rows, you get gardeners that relish a random wild flower bed with a nature pond in the middle. Similarly with aquarists you get those that like their tanks as a manicured artistic 'interpretation' of a natural aquatic scene, those that want to create a realistic copy of a habitat, or even those that want to create something completely abstract. The aquariums I see images of seem to be as diverse as the people creating them, which is remarkable when you consider the limitations of the similar sized glass boxes they're created in. Ultimately there is no wrong answer, and to the question of where should the hobby be going, there is no right answer, there shouldn't be boundaries or limitations - there will always be trends and fashions that people grasp onto and follow but the scope of the aquarium, and more narrowly the planted tank should always be limitless.

As to the gender question, I think its good to see more women aquascaping and taking part in this forum - I can't for the life of me understand why there aren't more. I consider keeping a planted tank akin to keeping an indoor garden of sorts, and normal terrestrial gardening appears to be far more dominated by female participation than male from my own experience. I keep trying to encourage my own Mum into setting up a planted tank, and she's a superb and avid gardener and could surely utilise her green fingered skill on an indoor planted tank.

As to this forum, I have to say it is a fantastic place. I've participated in a quite a few forums over the last 10-15 years in other unrelated topics, and I don't think I've ever participated in one that is as friendly and helpful as the community here at UKAPS. Aggressive and unnecessary confrontational posting seems to be virtually non-existent here compared to many I've been on that seem to attract users venting their bad day by becoming a keyboard warrior at night. It's the reason that I pulled the plug on those others quite some time ago, and this is now the only forum I frequent.
 

Onoma1

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I just stumbled across the work of the Japanese artist Azums Makoto (which I thought was both enjoyable and provocative) see .https://www.japanhouselondon.uk/discover/stories/life-and-works-of-japanese-flower-artist-azuma-makoto/

I wondered, however, if his most recent work exemplified where the ADA driven vision / hyper real contest scape approach was leading us. The brushed stainless steel 'life supports system' seemed so strange but so familiar...

1610313885306.png

The picture above is one of his terrarium installations which seem to be placed in a large aquarium tank. He must be referencing ADA.

I wondered if anyone knew anything more about him work or had an opinion about his work in relation to aquascaping?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Aye, ok, but what do you really think?
I'm not sure I understand conceptual art.

I went to talk where the presenter explained why the paintings of Vermeer and Rembrandt were of their time, and that if either of those artists had worked in the 21st century they would have produced video installations etc. At least I think that is what they said (I mainly looked at the pictures) because there were whole sections using terminology ("gender normative") that I didn't fully understand.

I was totally bemused a the end, how can you equate <"Rembrandt's self portraits">, or <"The Little Street in Delft">, with a <"six minute vide of an installation of randomly flashing lights">?

bekend_als_%27Het_straatje%27_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

By Johannes Vermeer - YAGJRuPz8yVuRQ at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13409022

but

It would be fair to say that the talk was very well received and generally the (educated) audience agreed with the tenet of the argument, because "figurative painting had no real relevance to the modern world".

cheers Darrel
 

Wookii

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Hi all,

I'm not sure I understand conceptual art.

I went to talk where the presenter explained why the paintings of Vermeer and Rembrandt were of their time, and that if either of those artists had worked in the 21st century they would have produced video installations etc. At least I think that is what they said (I mainly looked at the pictures) because there were whole sections using terminology ("gender normative") that I didn't fully understand.

I was totally bemused a the end, how can you equate <"Rembrandt's self portraits">, or <"The Little Street in Delft">, with a <"six minute vide of an installation of randomly flashing lights">?

bekend_als_%27Het_straatje%27_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

By Johannes Vermeer - YAGJRuPz8yVuRQ at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13409022

but

It would be fair to say that the talk was very well received and generally the (educated) audience agreed with the tenet of the argument, because "figurative painting had no real relevance to the modern world".

cheers Darrel

I have to agree Darrel. I can fully accept that appreciation for 'art', like all things of beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But for me personally I have a much greater appreciation for figurative art than I do for conceptual stuff - I still struggle to understand how Tracy Emin's bed, or Damien Hurst's pickled animals qualify as art - but what do I know, the only paintings I have on my walls are some John Miller beaches, an amateur (but very good) water colour of Oxford's spires, and the rest are photo's of our own.

As to whether "figurative painting had no real relevance to the modern world" - I'd wager figurative art out sells all other types by huge multiples year after year, not sure if that qualifies it as being of relevance, but . . .
 

George Farmer

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A few years back I stumbled on a George Farmer Video, found the Green Machine Videos, went to their shop just before they closed, found the UKAPS Forum, started my first tank, travelled to Aquarium Gardens. There I marvelled at their wonderful tanks and was presented with a sticker from ADA courtesy of @Siege. The sticker is now stuck on this laptop …my sister thinks that I may have joined a cult, however, is too polite to ask and my colleagues are perplexed by the Japanese Characters on my laptop but too polite to ask. I then started my second tank (incipient MTS) and then was lucky enough to visit Florestas Submersas while in Lisbon and Ecoarium in Portugal (concentrate I will be asking questions later).

In Ecoarium I saw the manicured ADA tanks and the then one in the corner. It was a bit messy, lots of emergent plants, full (and I mean full) of plants and looked (to be honest) a bit out of place. After I left the shop I started thinking about the strange tank, and my thought was that of all the tanks that was the only one that in anyway accurately reflected a ‘normal’ aquatic environment (you know the one you played in as a kid catching tadpoles or minnows).

Ok – back to the sticker, I was assured by @serge that a translation is “To know Mother Nature, is to love her smallest creations”. I can’t read Japanese and trust that @Serge and @dave aren’t ‘having a bit of a laugh’. This simple sentence is , however, the heart of the ADA way.

But I am perplexed, the ADA way leads to beautiful pieces of artwork, however, they are a far removed from ‘nature’ as could be possible. While some refer to them as ‘delicately balanced’ nature aquariums after two years of scaping I would refer to them as like balancing a feather on a bloody razorblade while pedalling a unicycle backwards…only achieved after years of pointless pain, practice and failure.

An there is so much, angst and despair from new (and not so new) aquascapers on the forum when they fall of their ‘unicycle’ as natural processes interfere with their attempts to achieve the ADA aquascaped version of nature. Is it the really the end of the world if you have green dust algae on rocks? If algae is an essential part of the natural ecosystem why don’t we welcome a bit of it in our tanks? Wouldn’t it be better for the hobby if we saw less of the ADA type tanks and more of imperfect but attainable and real slices of nature? Would more people stay in the hobby?

Please don’t misunderstand me I watch the ‘Zen Masters’ of Aquascaping with awe, I love their creations (just as I love looking at a piece of beautiful art). To take the metaphor of painting or art a bit further, I am probably still at the level of the chunky crayons, however, I expect more of artists.

What do I mean by this? Well their art pieces don’t say anything, they may look for five levels of depth perception within their scapes, however, they only have one level of meaning: the surface level. I get the reflective meditational element of watching a planted aquarium and believe me that’s helped me in my darkest days, however, shouldn’t our high art say something shouldn’t it have a purpose a value beyond the aesthetic? Even our ‘bad boy’ of aquascaping Oliver Knott doesn’t produce work with challenges or excites. It’s not new. Just as we strive for stasis within our tanks it feels like our art form isn’t progressing as we all aspire to produce an airbrushed version of Amano’s tanks. @Geoffrey Rea recently posted to say there needs to be more about the art and less about the science (I paraphrase from memory). I think he is correct, however, my view is this needs to be about the future artistic vision not about reproducing one vision (not that @Geoffrey Rea suggested this).

They are also (as systems) inelegant and wasteful – lots of inputs and outputs with the aim of stasis. One of my non-aquascapting friends looked at all my kit to keep the tanks going and commented that it looked a bit like the equipment you would see in a hospital (this wasn’t meant in a positive way). And we use all this kit to keep things the same. Our aquascapes don’t change – evolve – develop, decompose. The aim is to get to that point of equilibrium and stay there until you get bored, take the tank down and rebuild. Oh and don’t get me started on Dioramas. No really…

Then we have the alternative of the Walstad method which are more robust environments, however, let’s face it not the most beautiful aquariums. And biotopes the design of which necesitates sourcing the correct plants from exactly the same area or your proud post about your biotope will be flamed by an irate mob of biotopians with pitchforks and a bonfire ready for you and your heretical photo of your ‘so called biotope’. And let’s face it although biotopes really are the authentic slice of nature their aesthetic is an ‘acquired taste’.

After listening to the soothing voice of Scott Fellman at Tannin Aquatics talk on his podcast ‘The Tint’, I thought he might have an answer – until he also started to talk about 50% water changes per week, every week (btw he really needs to change his by-line my smutty minded older kids thought it was a spoof when they heard it and resolutely refused to explain why it was so hilarious).

So what’s my answer? I am not sure. I am still watching and listening to the voices on this forum. My artistic vision is mine, it’s personal and I like it (even if rendered in chunky crayons). I am beginning to play with botanicals, tinted water, emergent growth, living walls combined with aquatic elements (not quite a paludarium), dirted tanks, floating plants, trying to build ecosystems and I am looking for a way off my own aquatic ‘unicycle’. Perhaps my tanks will end up looking like the one I saw in Ecoarium. The journey will be interesting.

So what’s the future of aquascaping? In my view it has to evolve to look to shift beyond an ADA vision of the art and craft of building a planted aquarium. We need to be more sustainable, less reliant on technology to maintain fundamentally unstable systems and instead build intrinsically stable systems. If fear if we don’t then the future of aquascaping will be brief and incomplete.
Great insights. I love a deep thinker that can articulate themselves too!
 
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Marcel Duchamp first pressed a urinal into service as Art in 1917, and debate as to "What Is Art?" has gone on ever since. It's largely pointless, because Art is whatever we say is Art.
I think some of the work by Japanese conceptual artist Makoto is both thought provoking and extraordinarily beautiful. The bonsai on life-support is surely a comment on our destruction of the natural world, and those frozen flowers are simply wonderfully beautiful.
 
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