Influence From Nature

China Circa 2007
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In my opinion, it’s a common occurrence for hobbyists to lose sight of very the foundation that created the concept of a planted aquarium. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s merely a result of this hobby’s evolution. With constant new developments, information and technology at our fingertips, it makes sense that what aquascaping is today, is far different from its roots. Now, bear with me, an example I like to use often is Kanye West taking a sample of a Ray Charles song and morphing it into a hip hop hit. He’s obviously influenced by the great Ray Charles, but instead of simply recreating his own rendition or cover, he interprets it his own way and adds his take to it. He essentially uses it as his inspiration to create something similar, yet completely different.

In the same sense, that’s what I personally feel has happened to the hobby. As newer generations of planted aquaria enthusiasts enter the hobby, the sheer amount of established planted tanks that are available online for inspiration dilutes the original meaning of what aquascaping was – recreating natural environments around the world in an aquarium.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), Anhui province in eastern China

At a young age, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel most of China and while it would take multiple posts to cover all my journeys abroad, I wanted to share several significant provinces of China that inspired multiple tanks we have had.

Pictured above is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range located in the Yunnan province in the southwestern China that I used as my main influence for my half of our office nano setup. The greenery that engulfed the foot of the mountain range was recreated with Mini Pellia in a 2-gallon tank.

Further up the mountain range, sits the highest peak named Shanzidou which stands at an elevation of 5,596 m (18,360 ft). Oxygen tanks were provided for the hike to see the glacier which was the main attraction. It was an amazing sight to see given that I grew up in Southern California where it rarely gets wet.

The darker grey jagged rocks gave influence to our latest version of a work in progress – our Iwagumi Ryuoh Stone scape we currently have set up and ready to plant.

Ryuoh Stone Hardscape

During this trip to China, I was also lucky enough to cruise on the Yangtze which is the longest river in the world to flow entirely within a country. I wish there was enough bandwidth to post the full archive of the photos I took, but to sum it up, it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was also the first time I got myself drunk off free champagne (we’ll save that for another post).

Qutang Gorge

Since it was a stop-and-go type of cruise, we were dropped off at many locations that ran along this beautiful river. One of our many stops was home to a village that was in full autumn mode even during the summer and the colors of the landscape really made an everlasting impression on me.

The multiple colored leaves on the trees and low cut healthy lawns of grass really reminded me how important color contrast is when it comes to aquascaping and strategic planting.

Planted Tank

Nature plays a huge part in the planted tank hobby and not because living plants are being cultivated but because aquascapers are recreating landscapes around the globe into micro worlds in their tanks. I strongly encourage anyone who is willing to, to step out, take a vacation, and explore nature. Who knows, you might come back and want to rescape or even start a new tank.