Monday, December 11, 2006

Aquascape Analysis #1: ADA Tank 21

This will be the first of many aquascape analysis posts, where beginners and even intermediate aquascapers can learn some of the basics of aquascaping. Each post, I'll take an aquascaped aquarium that I feel is an outstanding example of the art form and perform a detailed analysis of just what makes it so special. This week I'll be analyzing "ADA Tank 21" from the ADA Thailand website galleries. Click on the pictures for larger versions.

This is one of my favorite ADA (Aqua Design Amano) aquascapes because of the colors and the flow. The contrast between the red and the green plants is outstanding, and the light gravel further heightens the contrast. First, let's look at the profile of the scape:

As you can see, this aquascape has a "V" profile, where the plants seem to dip down to some point, creating a valley. This creates interest for the viewer, because their eyes are drawn to this dip. It also creates interest for the viewer. The human mind is curious, and we wonder what's through that dip and behind the tall plants. The variation in height also eliminates the "wall of plants" effect that can occur if all background plants are the same height.

Next, the focal point of this aquascape is clearly the red plant in the middle (I can't quite tell what type of plant it is exactly). It instantly draws the focus and attention of the viewer, acting as a "home base" for their gaze. Note well that this focal point is not in the center of the aquarium, but off to one side, following the Golden Rule of Aquascaping. However, there are also two other points of interest (yellow). From the focal point, the viewer's gaze is drawn to the left and to the right to the two groups of bright green plants on either end of the aquarium. This draws the viewer's eyes in a natural flow around the aquarium and back to the middle.

This flow is further enhanced by the placement of the driftwood. All of the pieces guide the eyes in the direction intended, that is either to the left and the right (or back to the focal point). They essentially act as a road map for the viewer's gaze. Eyes that wander uncontrollably or have no guidance in an aquascape create an uneasy, stressful feeling for the viewer. The driftwood pieces also help to separate the foreground from the background and create a defined midground, but at the same time, soften the boundaries between the areas by transecting them.

Here we can see the three seperate areas of the aquascape. The foreground (in green) is low and consists of moss covered rocks. The midground (blue) consists of driftwood and Java Ferns that add contrast to the fluffy moss foreground. The background (yellow) is the "meat" of this aquascape, with vibrant stem plants making up the entire background. Each area contrasts with the other areas, defining them for the viewer without sudden boundaries. This is done through colors and leaf shape/general plant appearance. This helps to create depth in the aquascape.

The name of the game in this excellent aquascape is contrast and the aquascaper uses colors, plant types and leaf shapes, and flow to help define areas, create depth, and guide the viewer's gaze.


  1. Great Aquascaping blog!!! mine if i intro you more readers?

  2. I think its great to have someone like you to do an analysis or explanation of those winners of ADA aquascaping contest. IMO, its the best way to learn and improve. Keep up the good work.

    I wonder if it would be able to make it as a weekly thing whereby you choose one picture and do the explanation of the layout, discussion of the type of plants and so on.

  3. This is great! Easy language, pictures and very descriptive. Keep it up! I've got your blog bookmarked!

  4. The aquascape analysis will be a weekly thing. I'm glad you all liked it. I think it helps all levels to see it broken down into components so we have a better idea of how to imitate and expand on it, expand being the key word.

    By all means, introduce more readers! :-)

  5. Great Aquascaping blog!!! keep it up.

    by the way check out.....

    you will like it they have got interesting stuff

  6. I really like the blog. I am trying to start a freshwater planted in a cube tank which is 9 gal. I have a 27 watt PC 6500k. I have a yeast gen for Co2. Right now for filter I have overflow into coarse mech, then 8" of ply floss. then drip tay into bio-balls finally returned with 66 GPH pump into loc-line to not disturb the water in the tank. I want to get some vallis, rotala, crypts and anumbias. Tank is 4 weeks old and flourite substrate. Ph 7.0 I have a bit high nitrate and nitrite which I have been dealing with through reg H20 changes. 1 have 1 oct, 2 dwarf platys and 3 small neons. Any suggestions would be more than helpful, since you really seem to know what you are doing.c

  7. Truly inspiring blog.


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