Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Aqua Design Amano Prices Increased

Bad news and good news for Aquarium Design Amano (ADA) fans. First, the bad: as of November 1st, 2010, the prices of Aqua Design Amano products in the US have increased due to increases in raw material prices and exchange rates. Yes, some of the best aquarium equipment available here in the US to aquascapers has become even more dear. No word yet on exactly how much of a price increase it was.

Now the good news: The Aquarium Design Group (ADG) store is delaying the price increases until January 2011. That means that even though the prices on ADA items has increased, you'll continue to pay the old prices at ADG until January, and ADG's next container shipment of ADA goodies is set to arrive December 7th. This means most out of stock items will be back in stock in time for the holidays.

Just in case you aren't exactly sure what ADA offers, they'll also be receiving copies of the new "book of ADA" catalog, which will be available for free to all ADA customers. All you need to do is pay postage! Here's a quick description from the ADA website:

Not only Nature Aquarium Goods but also Do!aqua products and Wabi-kusa are introduced. It presents the full lineups of ADA products. This informative book shows ADA products, beautiful aquascapes, layout making, technical know-how of maintaining living organism and equipments, distributors and supporters' list, and more. It is recommended for all aquatic plants hobbyists from advanced level to beginners!

This sounds like an amazing resource, even if you aren't sure you want any ADA products! I'll be sure to try to get my hands on one, and don't forget to place your orders at ADG before January 1st to get the lower prices.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 Aquatic Gardeners Association Aquascaping Contest Results

The 2010 Aquatic Gardners Association Aquascaping Contest results were released at the AGA Convention recently, with the entries divided up by aquarium size. The top 3 aquascapes were chosen in each size category (among others, including Biotope and Palaudarium) and one of these winners was chosen as overall Best in Show. I've included the Best in Show prize winner here, but head on over to the AGA to check out each of the other winners. This year's best in show is a spectacular tank, mainly because of carefully orchestrated forced perspective. It makes the aquascape look much larger and deeper than it really is, and is visually stunning.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ADA International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest 2010: Top 10 Tanks

Well, these are a little late, but it doesn't look like any higher quality images are going to surface any time soon, so these will have to make do. These are the top 10 aquascapes in this year's ADA International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest. The "miniature forest" theme has really taken off in popularity with two different iterations in the top 10 this year. I personally like them a lot with position 5 being my personal favorite. What's yours?


Monday, November 22, 2010

AGA Convention Video Recap

ADG has released a video recap of the AGA Convention held the 11-14th of November in Ft. Lauderdale featuring narration by Jeff Senske. The video is a great summary if you, like me, weren't able to attend. I particularly liked the Iron Aquascaper segment, but I'm sure it was even more exciting in person. Definitely check it out!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AGA Convention Starts Tomorrow

Hindsight is 20/20. As a stubborn Nor'easter sits off the coast and drenches the northeast with cold rain, I really wish I had a sunny getaway planned for sometime soon. For those of you heading to the Aquatic Gardener's Association convention tomorrow, you get a sunny getaway and some really interesting aquascaping activities and chances to win some sweet ADA equipment that make me wholly jealous.

First, there's an amazing panel of speakers including Jason Baliban. If you aren't sure Jason Baliban or any of the other speakers are, AGA has provided speaker bios, but really all you need to know is that Jason has created a number of amazing aquascapes such as this one:

Speaks for itself.

Second, there's a bunch of awesome activities, including a trip to Florida Aquatic Nurseries. Chances are if you've bought plants from a pet store, they came from FAN. The tour of the facilities is just $5 including a Cuban cuisine lunch. Then, later there's a tissue culture workshop, where you'll get to create your own plant cultures. Friday night is the Aquarium Design Group sponsored Iron Aquascaper competition, where two aquascapers go head to head and create the best aquascape possible in just an hour using all the best aquascaping materials from ADA. So. Jealous.

Just like the ADA International Aquatic Planted Layout Contest, AGA will announce the winners of this year's international aquascaping competition at a banquet on Saturday night. Sunday will host the country's largest aquatic plant auction.

As if all of that weren't enough, ADG is giving away an ADA Solar Mini S and the winner's choice of a Mini S Mist Type R or Mini S clear glass aquarium to one lucky person registered and attending the AGA convention, with an extra entry chance to win for "liking" ADG on Facebook.

I have to say, the AGA convention organizers and ADG have really put together a spectacular line up this year, and I'm so jealous of all of you who may be going. For the rest of you who are in the same (soggy) boat as I am, I'll be posting updates including the contest results and any news right here. I'm already ready to book my tickets for next year!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Racomitrium canescens: Now Available from Aqua Forest Aquariums

Aqua Forest Aquarium, an aquarium store in San Francisco and North American distributor of Aqua Design Amano equipment, has a new type of moss available for order online. It's listed as Rhacomtitrium canescens, but a quick Google search only finds results for Racomitrium canescens, so I'm assuming this is just an alternative spelling or a typo, since the two are so similar. The Google images though do appear quite different to the one above from the AFA website, so I'm still not quite sure what this moss really looks like or how it behaves in the aquarium. The moss is apparently (according to AFA) a very eager photosynthesizer and produces lots of oxygen bubbles under the right conditions. For aquatic moss aficionados and collectors, any new aquatic mosses available are exciting and I'm seriously debating a larger moss aquascape to make some room. Anyone tried growing this moss before or have any additional pictures of it in an aquarium?

Monday, November 01, 2010

IAPLC 2010 Aqua Design Amano Nature Aquarium Party Video

Going to the official IAPLC party every October is the dream of many aquascapers, and Jeff Senske of ADG was fortunate enough to go to this year's events. Lucky for us, he's made a video of the highlights, which include the party and award ceremony, iwagumi contest, Takashi Amano's gigantic home aquascape, a visit to the ADA gallery, and some rock collecting. The iwagumi contest is a testament to these aquascapers' genius and Amano's home aquascape are just amazing in size and beauty. Pay close attention for the new plant, dwarf hydroctyle, in the gallery aquascapes. I can't wait to get that plant here! You won't want to miss this video.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pavel Bautin's First Place 2010 IAPLC Aquascape

The 2010 IAPLC embargo end is just 2 days away and images from the aquascaping contest are already beginning to leak out. Several sites have already published some of the top aquascapes (although most of the pictures are horribly grainy and clearly poor scanning jobs), but Pavel Bautin has released a high quality image of his first place aquascape on his own website. The tank is quite different and the use of differing sizes of "tree trunks" for forced perspective works very well. Congratulations again to Pavel, and I'll post the top 10 aquascapes from the ADA contest as soon as I can find high quality images.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tanglerose, an ADG Aquascape

ADGVibe, the ADG YouTube channel, released this new video recently, and wow, I never realized a driftwood-only aquascape could be so stunning. With over 100 pieces of driftwood layered to create two dense thickets on either side of the tank, it really almost takes the place of plants. The choice of the Roseline Sharks really suits the layout as well, and watching them glide gracefully in and out of the driftwood makes this video simultaneously stunning and relaxing. Although driftwood like this isn't exactly cheap (this much could easily cost $500+) it's an interesting idea for the aquascaping community.

As a planted aquarium keeper, however, I'm just dying to add some plants in there. I think a carpet of hair grass beneath the driftwood would keep the minimalist look of the tank. What plants would you add if you could?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alberto Sosa's Beniamino Aquascape

Beniamino by Alberto Sosa
Just a heads up of a fantastic aquascape over on Aquatic Plant Central, this little scape (about 10 gallons) by Alberto Sosa is incredibly detailed and interesting. The use of different sized and shaped leaves is top notch, and adds a lot to the aquascape. Check out full size pictures and details, including a plant map and technical details over on his post.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

IAPLC 2010 Aquascape #134 Released

"Tamo daleko" by Slobodan Lazarevic of Serbia, #134 2010 IAPLC
And so it begins. After IAPLC rankings are published, there's always a slow trickle of entries released ahead of the ADA Party in October. Technically, contestants aren't supposed to publish their entries until the party is over as part of the contest terms, but "Octopus" has released his entry into the IAPLC 2010 contest early. Another of the up-and-coming Eastern European aquascapers, "тамо далеко," which Google roughly translates as "Far There," is a captivating aquascape. The aquascape ranked 134th out of over 1000 entries and uses rock very effectively to create a narrow pass up the center of the tank. One of the best parts of this aquascape in my opinion is the lighting, looking amazingly like the soft light of early morning. The only thing I don't like about this particular photo is the reflection off the surface of the water, since it takes away from the whole mountain-scape feeling. You can find a full list of flora and fauna in a post on APC.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

IAPLC 2010 World Rankings Announced

Where the River Begins - Pavel Bautin
Although there aren't any pictures of the winning aquascapes that I've found yet (the aquascape above is just one of the winner's other aquascapes), the world rankings for the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest have been published. Congratulations to Pavel Bautin from Russia for being ranked number one! It's a bit of a shock to see someone from a country where aquascaping isn't traditionally as big as it is in other Asian countries place first, but the win, along with some great rankings for Polish and Ukranian aquascapers really shows how the hobby is taking off in Eastern Europe and Russia. Pavel Bautin does have a gallery of his aquascapes for his aquarium design company, and he is very talented. They look wild and full of life, and if his contest winning entry followed the same line, it's easy to see how he won.

The U.S. and U.K. rankings are few and far between, so get some ideas and get planning for next year's IAPLC!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Win an iPad from Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine

This is kind of cool...subscribe to TFH magazine's digital version for the iPad for just $1, and be entered to win an iPad. Not sure why you'd need an iPad if you were subscribing to the digital version in the first place...but you can subscribe to the regular print version for $28 and be entered to win that way as well. The video of the digital version above looks gorgeous, highlighting several planted aquariums, and the digital version comes with archives dating back to 2007. What better way to use an iPad than look at gorgeous pictures of aquascapes?

Anyone have a subscription to TFH? Looks pretty aquascaper-friendly!

Friday, February 12, 2010

ADG Shop Offers New Driftwood

If you've ever tried to find fancy, branchy driftwood like they use in the aquascaping competitions, you probably got frustrated by those horrible looking sandblasted stumps nailed to an unwieldy piece of slate that every pet shop seems to have exclusively. Buying it online isn't exactly easy either, since you often don't get a piece that looks like the picture. Finding good driftwood is tough. Always a pioneer in providing aquascaping basics to hobbyists (like ADA Aquasoil and ADA rimless tanks), Aquarium Design Group has recently started selling custom pieces of driftwood, called TX Select. No, they won't just send you anything they have in a size range, they'll send you the exact piece pictured. How cool is that? Although it's a little pricey (a medium piece will set you back $50-75), you know what you're getting, and it's been used in hundreds of their amazing layouts before with minimal tannins and minor buoyancy.

With my year-old Manzanita driftwood getting softer by the day, it might be time to look into replacing it pretty soon...

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