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Takashi Amano and Nature Aquarium World


  1. Plants in Nature Aquarium World
    by Shinji Egi <> (Fri, 7 Jul 95)
  2. Crypts - Substrate Heating
    by Shinji Egi <> (Fri, 17 Nov 95)
  3. Takashi Amano
    by Doug Valverde <> (17 Nov 95)
  4. Amano's maintenance and his books
    by (Neil Frank) (Sun, 3 Mar 96)
  5. Amano Interview
    by "K & A, P.A." <> (Thu, 13 Feb 1997)
  6. Amano Plant nutrient ingredients???
    by Arturo Giacosa <> (Thu, 16 Jan 1997)
  7. Aqua Journal Review
    by "Arturo J. Giacosa" <agiacos3/> (Tue, 03 Feb 1998)
  8. Aqua Journal Review
    by Dan Q <dqallwet/> (Thu, 05 Feb 1998)
  9. RE: Amo(sp) = Weirdo
    by "Ryan Stover" <fishboy/> (Sat, 7 Nov 1998)
  10. The small planted tank in Japan
    by dirk_matthys/ (Mon, 26 Jun 2000)
  11. Aqua Journal in Japanese
    by "Ryan Stover" <stover/> (Tue, 1 Feb 2000)
  12. Dumping on Amano (was:AZOO & Anthocyanidins)
    by "Ryan" <stover/> (Wed, 19 Apr 2000)
  13. "Nature"?
    by Roger Miller <rgrmill/> (Wed, 13 Feb 2002)
  14. Amano-One hand clapping
    by "Edward Venn" <e_venn/> (Thu, 14 Feb 2002)

Plants in Nature Aquarium World

by Shinji Egi <>
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 95

Steven Hicks wrote in V1 #162:
> I'm having a bit of trouble ID'ing some of the plants in 'Nature
> Aquarium World' (by ?).  On page 10 there is a small, stemmed, light
> green plant which the author refers to later as 'pearl grass'.  Is
> this hemianthus micranthemoides?  On the same page is a tall, stemmed,
> reddish plant with long (very) narrow leaves.  Is this ludwigia
> arcuata or alternanthera reinekii?  Finally, what is the author
> talking about when he mentions the 'Dutch plant' (it's in his list of
> background/tall plants).

Although I don't have any copy of 'Nature Aquarium World' (by Takashi
Amano), I bet two of the plants are:

'pearl grass': Micranthemum micranthemoides
'Dutch plant': Eusteralis stellata

Eusteralis stellata is labeled 'Oranda(Holland) plant' in Japanese aquaria
market.  'Dutch plant' seems like a very rough translation of it.
Amano had a photo of a layout with these plants at the background, in the
first issue of his Aqua Journal magazine, which made some plant maniacs
sigh over the extremely good condition of the plants.

 - Shinji

Crypts - Substrate Heating

by Shinji Egi <>
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 95

Doug Valverde wrote:
> Takashi Amano does use a substrata additive in some cases, which is only
> evident if you read the very back portion of his first book.  There he
> refers to a sand based fertilizer.

I guess it's "Power Sand".

> I have no idea exactly what this is, although I have a post in to his
> company and should be getting the answer soon.  But I suspect that
> if it is not a type of laterite, it serves the same purpose.

Karen Randall wrote:
| There is enough information missing from NWA (at least the TFH 
| version) to make anything we say guesswork!<g>

Amano is selling "Nature Aquarium Goods" here in Japan.  But, probably not
in any other countries.  I guess that's the reason of missing information.

According to an early issues of Amano's "AquaJournal" magazine,
His "Nature Aquarium Goods" contains following products for substrate:
(1) Growth Plate
    Heating plate for the bottom of the substrate to provide uniform warmth
    to the substrate.  (I don't know whether Amano himself uses this one.)
(2) Power Sand
    Volcanic sand stuffed with peat, fertilizer and bacteria
    This is used for the bottom of the substrate, as laterite mixed in
    the sand.  There are 3 sizes of grains; S(-40cm), M(40-60cm), L(60cm-)
    for different depth of tanks.
(3) Bactor 100
    100 different types of bacteria for the substrate.
(4) Iron Bottom
    Substrate fertilizer with (black) iron coating, supposed to last 2 months.

As for the liquid fertilizers,
(1) Brighty K
    Serves both as dechlorinator and pottasium supply.
(2) Green Brighty Step-1
      (For starting up the planted tanks. 0-3mo)
    Green Brighty Step-2
      (For the well going planted tanks. 3-12(or6?)mo)
    Green Brighty Step-3
      (For the planted tanks with old substrate. 12(or6?)mo-)
    Green Brighty Special for bright light plants
    Green Brighty Special for low light plants

I've just got Iron Bottom, Brighty K, Green Brighty Step-2 to try.  So far,
I have no idea how they actually work.


Takashi Amano

by Doug Valverde <>
Date: 17 Nov 95

Dave think it was you who said you would be interested in knowing exactly what
the sand based fertilizer used by Takashi Amano is.  Well FYI, I asked and here
are the answers I got from his firm. The > are mine, the paragraph following
are their answers.

>Are the tanks in the pictures designed for long or short term setup?

They are designed for long term setup. The Nature Aquarium usually takes at
least a month before it is ready for photography and Mr.Amano is very
meticulous about the growth and exact position of plants, driftwood and rocks
of the aquascape. The plants are planted after anaerobic bacteria is colonized
in the outside cannister filter.
These aquariums are virtually a natural ecosystem within an aquarium with only
the help of a filter and CO2 to keep them going. The lifespan of sich a tank is

>Are they trimmed often, and if so generally how frequently.  Is this a daily,
 weekly, or what schedule?

The frequency of trimming generally depends on the desired layout. When first
setup, wilting leaves are frequently trimmed, until all the aqua plants have
completely adapted to the new environment.

>Noticed the KH reading on many of the tanks was 2 degrees.  This is considered
 by many US hobbyist to be low and most try to obtain at least 3 degrees KH.
 Now on the other hand, my tank is at 2 degrees.  Some have said with 2 degrees
 or less there is the potential for wide pH swings.  Comments?

Because the control of KH levels require chemical additives, we do not bother
with it. As for pH, depending on the amount of CO2, and rate of
photosysnthesis, the pH values do tend to swing from 6.8 to 7.2, however we
have found little evidence that this greatly affects the health of our plants.

>On the substrata what is OISO sand and akadama ceramics?  And on those tanks
 that use sea sand, is this an inert sand or a limestone sand? I assume an
 inert sand especially as the book points out problems with coral and 
 Do you use any substrata additives?  We and the Europeans routinely use
 laterite, or peat, or even dirt as additives for a variety of reasons.  Does
 your substrata consist only of the various sands or ceramics?  Or is 
 sand similar to laterite, and if not what is it?

Oiso Sand is a gravel of sea pebbles (3-5mm). Akadama is baked red soil usually
in the mountains of Japan. We use a peat and pumice based fertilizer called
Power Sand.

>Next I guess is fertilizer.  Some of the tanks say none, others have a CC
 measurement.  What is the fertilizer used and what is its mineral content?

Our plant nutrient formulas are various. The Green Brighty Series is a nutrient
formula primarily of metal elements such as Potassium and Phosphorous, Iron,
Magnesium etc. Brighty K is a chlorine neutralizing agent with a Potassium

>Noticed in comparison to what we use your lights are much less wattage per
 gallon.  Now I know wattage is simply a measure of current use and does not
 give any real ideal of output in lumens, nor a measure of the lux values in
 the tank.  But for example, on my 120 gallon tank I use 440 watts and am
 about to add more.  Even on tanks roughly three times the size of mine you
 show wattage amounts of 300 watts or less.  Are the lights you use more
 efficient then the fluorescent lights used in the U.S.?

Our line of lighting tubes consists of 15W, 20W, 30W, and 40W tubes. We have a
lighting system that houses 4 20W tubes, which we use for our standard 60cm
Our tubes are high in Green with an output of 1250lm, for the 20W tube.

Amano's maintenance and his books

by (Neil Frank)
Date: Sun, 3 Mar 96

The computer seems to be working this morning, so I will try to add a little
information to this thread.

>From: (Karen A Randall)
>Date: Sat, 2 Mar 1996 22:19:59 -0500
>Subject:  What are your aquascaping techniques?
>I suspect even Amano doesn't trim every day... he's got tanks set 
>up in shops and restaurants all over the place!<g>  I suspect that 
>he does a really good job about a week before he wants to take 
>photos of his tanks. ;-) 

He has dozens of display tanks in his aquarium store and his expert staff
trim the plants EVERY MORNING. Both times I saw them, I thoght they were
each picture perfect. There was not a single brown spot or damaged leaf in
the entire tank. It is more work than I would be prepared to do (maybe if I
had more time), but the results are fantastic and appeal to a broad spectrum
of hobbyists in Japan. I think it can eventually become the new standard in
Europe and also in the US.

The correct tools are probably important to make the job easier. In Japan,
there are many instruments (long tweezers, surgical scissors, etc) that are
sold in all the aquarium shops. But they are expensive (~$20-40 USD). But
everything is expensive there, so relatively speaking it is not much. :-)
Potted plants also cost $20-60 there and some small glass aquaria cost
thousands of dollars.

>>  But I think to achieve Amano's level of success
>>      requires "sculpting" very reqularly.

Yes, But it also requires a good artistic sense of balance, color, etc to
get it properly arranged. Something I cannot do, but I can appreciate the
final result. He designs and sets up all of the tanks himself. Even the
placement of the rocks is critical to achieve the appropriate 'feel.' He
told me that a small movement of one of the rocks of a few cm will ruin the
entire arrangement. I suppose that is the difference between the painting
that sells for  $20 and the one that sells for thousands. Certainly, his
arrangements are suitable for a top gallery or even a museum!! It also helps
to have all of the plants available to start with. Unfortunately, we are
more limited in the US because of our plant import laws.
>I really think we have to remember that he picks a "moment" to 
>take a photo of any given tank.  He certainly isn't going to waste 
>time and effort on photographing one in it's worst state.  I'm not 
>saying that the "worst" state might not be _very_ nice to the 
>casual observer (I know there are times when I'm disgusted with 
>how things are going in a tank, and someone walks in and tells me 
>how nice it looks) but I'll bet that the photos in the books are 
>the "best" moments for these tanks.

They are probably the best moments, but each moment is probably a best
moment. I drooled at each of the tanks he had in his store. The ones in his
office were even better. He also has some tanks specifically setup for
photgraphy - even with special glass for the aquarium that cost thousands of
dollars. But this has now become the norm for the tank setups that he sells.
A 20 gallon all glass tank (rounded edges, without seams) sells for $2500.
He recently appolgized to me that I came to see him the first time, when he
was in the process of moving into his new offices and his tanks did not look
their best. When you see something so overwhelming for the first time, it is
difficult to take notice of the small imperfections. I did not notice!

>I find that my tanks are cyclical, perhaps as much due to my 
>schedule as anything else, but also to some extent due to 
>environmental factors.

I beleive that this is also considered in the planning of his tanks. One
example I recall is a Barclaya in one tank which appears in full leaf
periodically, adding a sudden splash of color. Isn't this also done by
outdoor gardeners, using different annuals and perenials. It would be boring
to always look at a static picture. I guess that is also why we have the
fish :-)

>From: (Didi Soichin)
>Date: Sun, 3 Mar 96 00:13 EST
>Subject: Re: Plant Books and Amano's Tanks
> Sorry if this question was asked 1000 times before :). Which Amano book is
>everybody refering to as "volume 1"? I only know of the TFH edition, which 
>doesn't mention anything about volume 1 or 2. I also remember reading a
>post a while ago about some calendars and implying that there would be a
>different volume 1 than the TFH one. If so, where can I get it from and is
>it in any way different than the TFH edition ?

Amano has published 3 books in Japan. The first one was translated into
English and published by TFH in 1994. There were some problems with the
translation (many of the confusing phrases and missing translations were
described in my review, TAG V8 n1). Although it was one of the nicest books
that TFH has ever produced, it is still not up to par with the quality of
the original Japanese edition. But the english edition is less than 1/2 the
price. The second book came out in Japan in 1994 and is written in Japanese
and English. It retails for $80-90 in Japan, but I understand that TFH will
be printing it and hopefully will bring down the cost. Versions for the
European market are also in the works (German, Italian, etc) The third
Nature World Aquarium came out in November of 95, all in Japanese and I
understand that translations are also planned. 

Neil Frank                 Aquatic Gardeners Association,  Raleigh NC

Amano Interview

by "K & A, P.A." <>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997

O.K. folks, here it is.  These are the questions I posed to Mr. Takashi
Amano of Aqua Design Amano for an article I was planning to write.  Mr.
Amano's responses where translated by Mr. Mihir Sapru, International
Marketing Director for ADA.  I hope you find it of interest.

Q.:In your opinion, how much interest is there in Japan for the Nature
Aquarium style and why do you think this is the case?

A.:The Nature Aquarium style occupies about 80% of advanced and
intermediate aquarists in Japan.  Japanese people have always been fond
of gardening.  In Japan, the beauty of Nature no matter how small or
large, has always been a part of Japanese culture.  I feel however, that
a deep love for Nature, natural scenery, and the desire to have a piece
of it in ones home, is a concept that exists in all human beings,
irrespective of culture.  The Nature Aquarium began as an aquaristic
response to this desire.  It is an art form, like painting, gardening or
photography, in which it requires a person to create a natural
ecosystem, in all its natural beauty and efficiency, in a glass

Q.:Do you believe that there are different schools of thought on the
subject, e.g. Dutch, German, Japanese?  If so, what do you believe the
differences are?

A.:I don't really know.  I'm not sure if it can be called "Schools of
Thought," but there is something called the Dutch Aquarium, however, I
believe that it is a style followed by a handful of dedicated
aquarists.  When I visited Europe I did not see anything that was
actually called a "Dutch Aquarium".

Q.:What do you believe is the most important thing to consider when
preparing to set-up a nature aquarium, e.g. layout, fish, plants?  Are
there hard-and-fast laws to this or is it based on instinct and luck?

A.:Setting up a Nature Aquarium relies on a delicate balance of all
factors.  This I believe can also be said for any form of art.  What is
the most important thing to consider when painting a picture, the
canvas, the brush, or the paint?

Q.:If there was one advice that you would give a hobbyist who is about
to set-up his or her first nature aquarium, what would it be?

A.:Never give up!  The Nature Aquarium is something that can not be
mastered in a day, for to master it, one would have to understand nature
itself, and this is a long road full of trials and errors.  To the
beginner this is the best advice I can give: observe Nature, endure and
learn from your failures.  In my years as an aquarist, I have probably
made more errors than anyone else in the field, and this is why I now
can have confidence in what I create.

Q.:You are world-renown for the creation of what is known in the U.S. as
the Nature Aquarium concept, if you could sum up that concept into a
paragraph, what would it be?

A.:Observing Nature, Learning from Nature, & Applying what you learned,
in creating Nature within the aquarium.  I have always said:  Without
first loving he smallest creations, one can not claim to stand before
Mother Nature.

What lies at the heart of the Nature Aquarium concept, are the little
things: the minute details, the microorganisms.  The ecosystems of
Nature all start from bacteria, and the breathtaking landscapes of
Nature, all start from a single stone.

In a sense, the Nature Aquarium is a way of thinking about one's
aquarium.  It is looking to Nature for the answers to all one's
questions about the health, efficiency and layout design of one's

Art Giacosa

Amano Plant nutrient ingredients???

by Arturo Giacosa <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants

Mark wrote:

> Anyone know what difference (if any) between Amano's different liquid
> nutrient supplements (Brighty-K, Lights, etc.). He has drops for the
> first 3 mos., 2nd 3 mos. or something and after the first year.
> I'd be interested in knowing the basic ingredients that would
> correespond with these.
> Thanks!

Dear Mark,

There are some differences between Aqua Design Amano's liquid fertilizer
series Brighty K.  As you said, they are formulated so that one is added
for the first 3 months, then up to a year and thereafter.  They also
have the Shade and Lights fertilizers that are specific for shade-loving
or light-loving plants.  Unfortunately, the company has not released the
actual ingredients, but relies on the customers confidence in the ADA

Their NA (Nature Aquarium) Lights are very high in the blue/green range
(8,000K).  The theory behind this, and the company has done some field
studies, is that in nature, the plants receive direct light mainly
between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. depending on the season.  During these times,
the light in the blue/green side of the spectrum is what mainly hits the
plant leaves.  Red/orange being reflected or refracted by the water. 
Note this is different than terrestrial plants.  ADA believes that
aquatic plants have adapted their photosynthesis to use more of this
blue/green light available to them.  Also note that some aquarists have
stated that this blue/green light may lead to excess algal growth and
algae can better use the blue/green.  Lastly, ADA uses a lot of watts
over a typical aquarium.  More than I've seen or used.

Lastly, ADA also recommends the use of PowerSand.  Powersand is a
substrate additive containing pumice stone, peat and other nutrients to
encourage microflora to grow in the substrate.

Hope this helps and let me know if you need more info.


Aqua Journal Review

by "Arturo J. Giacosa" <agiacos3/>
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998

My fellow APDers,

I have been asked by several people to write a short review of the first
English issue of the Aqua Journal, the monthly magazine of Aqua Design
Amano.  I thought that some of you may also be interested to know my
thoughts and I have therefore decided to post my review.  I apologize
for its length.

The cover of Aqua Journal volume 33, the first English issue, states
"The Art & Science of Aquatic Gardening."  This one statement I think
catches the essence of the Aqua Journal.  Whether you're interested in
the hobby as an art form or whether your interests lie in the more
technical and scientific aspects, the Aqua Journal is for you.  It truly
is a journal that is 100% geared to the aquatic gardener or

Each issue of the Aqua Journal brings its readers special columns.  
Volume 33 begins with one called, Field Feature. It is entitled,
"Beneath the Amazon," and it takes the reader with  Amano and a local
named Jeff on a search for the a native fish of gigantic proportions. 
Through the magic of Amano's camera and his unique talent, the reader
truly gets an interesting glimpse of life in the Amazon.

Next, the reader is treated with a Special Feature column titled, "The
Beauty of Stem Plants (in various sized tanks)."  In this column the
reader truly gets into Amano's mind and learns his techniques for
creating his mesmerizing aquascapes.  In a marked departure from his
previous books, each aquarium is thoroughly analyzed.  Amano truly
becomes a teacher and the reader his student.  Amano gets into the
nitty-gritty that we've all been longing for, e.g. why he placed the
rocks this way and why he chose to use Micranthemum behind a tuft of
Rotala.  A summary is presented that details the history of the featured
aquarium.  There is a short section on the photographic equipment used
to take the fabulous photo.  And the last section gives the technical
details of the tank (lighting, CO2, substrate, etc.).  Three different
aquariums are analyzed in great detail.

The next article turns from a focus on a type of plant- stem plants- to
aquascaping technique in general.  In this article, that I found
fascinating, Amano explains the "Shakkei" principle.  Nine more
aquariums are analyzed from this point of view.  The reader learns to
recognize various compositions such as a concave composition and a
convex composition and their different characteristics.  Then Amano
discusses how to properly trim stem plants in order to achieve a desired
look.  And this article includes pictures depicting every step!

Then we get into a more technical section for all you more advanced
aquatic horticulturists.  The article entitled "Nature Aquarium Notes"
delves into the intricacies of how carbon dioxide affects your planted
aquaria.  Using schematics, charts and graphical representations, Amano
explains the use of CO2 in planted aquaria in an easy to read fashion. 

The "Nature Aquarium Questions & Answers" section is where Amano answers
the questions of hobbyists from around the world.  This volume contains
questions on algae eaters, hair grass cultivation, Yamato shrimps,
lighting, submersed cultivation of plants and air equilibrium, among

Following the question and answers is my favorite section, the "ADA
LAB."  It is a good technical column from the Aqua Design Amano Research
and Development Unit.  This monthly column reports on experiments and
research conducted by the ADA R&D department.  Their findings often lead
to new Nature Aquarium products for the hobbyists.  This month's column
focuses on the ADA product "Phyton-git."  It explains how, Phyton-git, a
phytoncide has many applications associated with the prevention of plant
diseases and bacterial control.

Next, a wonderful article by our fellow hobbyist, Neil Frank, editor of
The Aquatic Gardener and associate editor for Aqua Journal, speaks of
the past, present and future of the aquarium plant hobby in America. 
This column is called the "Global Aquarist Report."  Some noted
aquarists that have been showcased in this section are Claus Christensen
of Tropica and Kaspar Horst of Dupla.

Finally, in the "Nature Aquarium Forum," Takashi Amano discusses the
techniques and methods of cultivating high-light and low-light plants.

Overall, my impression of the Aqua Journal is that it is an excellent
magazine geared to the aquatic gardener or horticulturist.  For anyone
who finds themselves wondering, "How does Amano do it?," the Aqua
Journal is for you.  

I want to make a point of thanking all those people whose Herculean
efforts have made the Aqua Journal available in English.  It is a
fountain of information for every aquatic gardener.


Art Giacosa
Miami, Florida

Aqua Journal Review

by Dan Q <dqallwet/>
Date: Thu, 05 Feb 1998

 Far be it from me to get in the middle of a word exchange, but I just had to comment on
the Aqua Journal. I am an unabashed fan of Amano so I'm not sure how biased my opinion
is of his new english version of the Aqua Journal.
 That said, its awesome. Actually, that's kind of an understatement. Whatever words you
would use to describe his books are applicable here, only I enjoyed the Aqua Journal
more because it has very interesting articles as well.  56 pages loaded with his
incredible pictures. The theme this issue is stem plants. There is an article that shows
a five step sequence on trimming stem plants (with 12 pictures on 2 pages). Other
articles are on an Amazon excursion, CO2, Questions and Answers, a very good article by
Neil Frank, and a few other notes here and there.
  The advertising is minimal and all of it is his products, but even these are done with
good taste. For example, one of his products is a new (at least to me) algae and plant
disease product, and I will quote from the ad, .
"Phyton-git has many applications associated with the prevention of plant diseases and
bacteria control. It can be effectively used to eradicate various strains of algae
including green algae, beard algae and blue green algae..."    Ad or not, I suspect
that's good news to many on this list. Certainly worth an unbiased review if it's
available yet.
  The Aqua Journal is the highest of quality, a cross between a magazine and a book,
first class all the way. The only thing missing is kitty litter.
Dan Quackenbush
All Aquatic Plants

RE: Amo(sp) = Weirdo

by "Ryan Stover" <fishboy/>
Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998

 In my defense I must explain the whole story. I have only used the
deodorant cartridge once, and this is only because it came with the package
set. I now use the regular ADA cartridges because it is cheaper than the
Forest ones. My tanks do not stink either. I agree with the person who said
that if it does you should fix it rater than mask it. I too was wondering if
the Daisy BB cartridges of CO2 would fit the regulator. When I return to
America I will test this. They almost look like the same size. Other
companies sell these cartridges of CO2, but at a lower price than ADA.
Unfortunately they don't fit. The reason I use the ADA CO2 system is the
price of a bottle of CO2 here is outrageous, not to mention the 80$ refill
for a 3lb bottle! Another benefit for _me_ is that the CO2 system is
compact. If I was in America I would invest in a larger unit, but now I only
have my little 20 gallon running on the CO2 set-up. My other two tank use
the yeast method. And I still hate changing those bottles.

 As for I have not subscribed with them. And thanks to your
comments I might not. I have instead bought single issues of the English
version at a huge aquarium shop in Shibuya, Tokyo. The price for the
Japanese edition is 500 (~$4) yen and the price for the English edition is
900 yen (~$7.50). This is a little cheaper than what vectrapoint sells it
for. Once again, thanks for the heads up.

 Now to try and answer a question by Kelly Beard. All of Amano's tank are
made with glass from Germany. I'm not sure if they are built in Germany or
Japan though. I have exchanged email with Art G..(something)at Nature
Aquarium Imports and he says that he has no plans to import them. And I bet
if he did the price would be super expensive. ADA tanks are part of their
line, just not part of the American line.

 Of course ADA is in it for the money, this I will not dispute. One good
example is the Wisa air pump distributed by ADA for over 200 dollars! A new
product by ADA is something called Bright Sand. All this is is a fine grade
light brown sand, no additives at all. And this sell for 900 yen (~7.50) for
3 liters! The buyer must truly be aware in Japan.


The small planted tank in Japan

by dirk_matthys/
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000

Hi all there.
Since I currently live in Japan I have the chance to work with some ADA fertiliser products. I've been lurking the archives and I could see quite some comments. Therefore this. (just plain observation, I am not a salesman). My tank in Japan is a 60 liter. That is 16 gallon small, but it is a little bubbling green paradise.
Initial specs: 
- - 60 liter ( 16 G) , bottom: plain gravel with some clay balls in the lower part
( but since the tank has been in operation for more than 2 years I would suspect it contains a lot of organic waste by now)
- - 2 fluorescent  18W tubes
- - A in Japan very common wet open filter box on top of the tank. ( works well, basicaly a powerhead sucks some water and lets it drip on a substrate, then overflow back to the tank. Since the substrate is submerged I call it a wet filter although it has a dripplate) 
Plants:Watersprite,  Hottonia sp.( don't know which one) , Bacopa sp., and Javamoss. A piece of driftwood and a long curly crypt.(???)
 Plants were growing but not extremely well, green algae(fur) and spot algae were present. 
Fish: 4 Dwarfgourami's , 2 CAE, 4 Corydoras sp. , 6 Cardinal Tetra

STEP1:  I added a ADA CO2 system with the ceramic CO2 diffuser. Well, there was some oxygen production but not a whole lot although I bubbled a lot of Co2 in the water.
Then I added some E. tenellus and a cabomba sp. Both did not grow very well. Time for a change:
Tossed the ADA ceramic plate thing after 2 months. It gets dirty so easily and  the bubbles are reaching the surface. Replaced with a Tetra diffucer ( looks like 20 tiny chambers on top of each other, labyrinth type . This thing diffused the double amount of CO2 in the water without one bubble reaching the surface. So far for the expensive ADA diffuser. 
Result: Plant grew better with the new system, but many deficiencies. Older leaves yellowing and dropping.
STEP2: Started using Brighty K and Green Brighty STEP2 . Fe chelated addition from Dennerle(tablets) and trace element mix (liquid, Dennerle) . Following the dosing on the package Result: Yellow spots dissapearing, Lower and older leaves stay healthier,  red and green  algae growing faster than the plants. Test Po4: 4 mg/l . 
Ok, so the phosphates ain't used? 
STEP 3; tossed the filterbox on top which I suspected to be responsible for serious outgassing and reducing all the ammonia(plant food right?).  Installed a 180  Liter per hour Tetra internal filter ( one of these green cartridges with a powerhead) 
Result: Without any light increase, the oxygen production seemed doubled. Red algae gone within two weeks , green algae appearing but not really fast, plants grow a lot faster especially the javamoss. I suspect the CO2 reaches the plants better with the current and the ammonia was probably a bit more available.
STEP4: an additional light strip of which I use only one bulb (2 available)was added, so total input is now 3X18 =54 Watt for 16 gallon ( must be the limit , it it? ) . 
>From here the algae did not stand a whole lot of chance anymore, I threw in 6 Amano shrimps, very efficient hardworking fellows. The tenellus jumped into an amazing fast growing and spreading rhythm ( sends out runners to every part of the little world). The Hottonia finally started growing instead of melting, The Bacopa has much bigger, redder leaves and keeps older leaves, and the javamoss structure is very very fine and tight, nice light green. 
Oxygen production: "a-ma-zing" ( I want to write capitals) . Within an hour after lights on , there are bubbles everywhere. ( it looks like if there is an oxygen diffuser)
I don't use timers for the CO2, just let it run at a steady pace. The only thing I measure is PH at lights on and light off about once a week. Water changes: 30%, once a week 
( 2,5 buckets) The reason why I write this: Just wanted to share my joy and motivate people. And: if you have a tiny tank, you CAN grow a fantastic underwatergarden.In Japanese housing one cannot place these huge "western" tanks.  And that expensive ADA fertiliser works perfect for me. Expensive OK, but in a small tank it goes a long way before you have to run back to the shop. Oh, and by the way, Although I have a reasonably high fish load, I measure  PO4 : around 1mg/l ! ( I feed just enough so the fish 
don't get skiny.( Food should not reach the bottom easily, 4 times a week) 
Question: Does anybody has tips to cool tanks? The moesson has started and the temperature of my tank has reached 31 degrees C.( Don't want to see my efforts cooked)  I don't want to use a blower on the water surface(outgassing). I have no idea, I come from Belgium and there is never any need to cool tanks ( instead,  heating them 10-12 months a year)   

If this message is :"no good" for this listing, sorry and please advise me, I think we should also read about: "small" fun. ( Although it took me 6 months of thinking and adjusting on a already 2 year old tank) 
"The joys of pruning" Questions about Japan. ( I know most here are Ameriacans but I saw a few Europeans and a couple of people that must be living in ADA country.

- ---------------------------------------------------
Get free personalized email at

Aqua Journal in Japanese

by "Ryan Stover" <stover/>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2000

Here in Japan Aqua Journal is only 500 yen, ~$5.00 USD. Also the versions
here are about 3 years ahead of the ones put out by Vectra Point. Volume 38
first came out in August 1997 in Japan! Aquatic plant science has not really
changed that much over the years, but I have noticed that the ADA Lab has
gotten relatively high tech in their approach.

I must also point out that in June of 1999 ADA also stopped publication of
Aqua Journal too, but ADA is not about to drop the ball on this though. ADA
instead started the publication of 2 separate publications, Suikei and Do!
aqua. Suikei is a gorgeous publication on aquaria and nature. Even if one
cannot read Japanese Suikei is filled with so many large glossy pictures it
does not matter. About 100 pages of Suikei is made of high gloss paper with
lush tanks and nature photos. The other 30 pages or so is composed of: data
on the tanks pictured earlier, plant species info, layout guidance, and a
travel log of Amano and the crew. There is only one advertisement in this
whole magazine and it is for an ADA product on the back cover. The
publication is being put out on a seasonal basis for 1500 yen, ~$15.00 USD.
BTW, Suikei means 'Water View' in Japanese.

Do! aqua, yes that's what it is called, is more of a How-to, product info,
and tips publication. It is rather small at only 5x4 inches and 30 color
pages or so. Nonetheless it is filled with useful info and insight into
ADA's products. This publication is being put out on a monthly basis for
only 100 yen, less than $1 USD.

I just wanted to tell everyone what ADA is doing here. Some day they might
just realize how large a English speaking audience they have and publish
something new in English. Aquarium Plant Paradise, ISBN 0-7938-0518-X, was a
joke. Originally published in German in 1997 and then translated from German
into English. Not only was it out of date with techniques and product info,
but there were numerous typo's and misinformation on how to set up an 'Amano
Tank'. But that is another story.

Please do not send me email asking to if you can purchase Suikei or Do!
aqua. This is just an informative email, not a money making spamming

Ryan Stover

Dumping on Amano (was:AZOO & Anthocyanidins)

by "Ryan" <stover/>
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 2000

I believe I am the only one on this list that can stick up for ADA's product
line. True, that they do not disclose the exact make-up of their liquid
fertilizers and substrates, but that is purely from a business standpoint.
If you advertise what is contained in your product other will copy it and
market it lower than your.

ADA has disclosed some of the nutrients and amino and such in their liquid
fertilizer line, but unless you read Japanese you have not heard about it. I
have spent 5 years in Japan and have used ADA for close to 4 years. This is
not the place to describe all of ADA products but I can comment on a few of
the "software" related products I have used over the years with great
success I must add:

The Green Brighty Series:
These 3 liquid fertilizers are used depending on how long your tank(s) have
been established. Each differs in nutrient composition in relation to the
nutrient requirements of aquatic plants over time. Other than this not much
more is said about these fertilizers. I have used Step 1~3 over the years
and it has worked for me. I have not really compared these to other
fertilizers, but if it works why change (except for price). The main reason
I used these, and other ADA products, is because of availability and price
in Japan.

This is mostly a amino and iron supplement. I have used this for about a
year. It sure did give a boost to my red plants.

Green Bactor
Mostly a bacteria supplement. I add a few drops to each bucket of newly
added water. Does it help? It sure doesn't hurt.

There are many other products that ADA markets, but the English speaking
market will never know about. Nature Aquarium Imports, the company that
imported and distributed ADA, failed to market more information about ADA's
products. Why would someone buy a product they know nothing about? Rumor has
it that ADA is working on a 2000 Product Catalog in English. I would not
hold my breath though. They said the same thing about a 1999 catalog, but
never delivered. True that ADA does sell more in Europe and Asia than North
America, but once again ADA has a German, Italian, and French version of
their product catalog. I know a catalog is not everything, but it is a

It won't be until ADA start importing more products again, and more
information is made available in English that the North American, and other
English speaking countries, will try ADA. I have seen knock-offs to some of
ADA products sold by a relatively new company called Aquarium Landscapes.
Aqua Design Amano is all about high quality therefor higher price. Mind you
that ADA is a Japanese company. A lot of people in Japan are willing to pay
higher price for higher quality. It's a status thing, just like the teenage
girls there that run around with a cell phone in one hand and a Prada bag in
the other.

Regardless of what James Purchase wrote, I don't believe ADA directly has
made any "dicey" claims. I know that there are a few others on this list
that can say that ADA does have some decent "software" products.

Ryan Stover


by Roger Miller <rgrmill/>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002

On Wed, 13 Feb 2002, Bob Olesen wrote:
> Personally, an idealized version of nature is my goal. I think Mr. Amano said 
> of one of his efforts, something to the effect of, "Imitating nature in order 
> to surpass her."  I may have misquoted him, but such is the general idea many 
> of us aspire to.

I'd like to expound on the Nature Aquarium concept a bit, or at least on
my view of the concept.

Last year I became interested in Amano's use of stone and went surfing the
internet to find the roots to some of his layouts.  That led me on to some
books on Japanese gardens.

A couple of my books contain descriptions of the concept of the Japanese
garden that are nearly identical to Amano's descriptions of the concept of
the "Nature Aquarium".  The gardening books go on to explain design
concepts that Amano certainly uses in his aquariums, but didn't fully
explain in his texts.  I think that anyone with an interest in the
Japanese aquascaping style owes it to themselves to get their hands on
some books about Japanese gardens and to study the sections on concept,
design and layout.

I don't think the "Nature Aquarium" concept has much at all to do with
"looking like nature" -- despite Amano's tendency to interleave his
aquarium photos with landscape photos.  Perhaps there is something lost in
the translation, or something unsaid because it seems unnecessary.  I
don't believe that the requirement is for the land/aquascape to look like
nature, but for the garden or aquascape to adhere to some very formalized
concepts of natural composition and balance.  Those concepts are long
divorced from the natural conditions they were supposedly based on.

The most important concept seems to be that the land/aquascape must be
composed of natural materials or of materials that blend harmoniously with
natural materials.  In the aquarium that means that the aquascape uses
naturally weathered stones and wood.  They never use freshly blasted rock
or worked wood.  The substrate material isn't necessarily natural, but it
must appear to be natural.

A second important concept is that the arrangements of plants and
materials must appear stable and informal. Rocks and wood don't teeter in
unstable positions.  Plants are loosely grouped -- usually in odd numbers.  
They are almost never forced into hedges, rows or walls.  Groups of plants
usually consist of three or more different kinds of plants rather than
several of the same kind of plant.  In Amano's aquascapes even the
foreground "lawns" are often composed of two or more different plants
intimately intergrown; they aren't unnatural-looking monocultures.

The actual arrangement may appear loose and natural, but there are
actually a lot of rules about how the arrangements are made.  Amano went
into some detail about his use of the golden section.  Further, plants and
other objects are often arranged in isosceles triangles to provide a sense
of balance.  Groups of 5 or 7 objects are generally sized and arranged in
very specific ratios.

Further,some of the arrangements (of stone in particular) carry a
traditional symbolism and that lends a sense of depth and meaning to the
land/aquascapes. In a garden, a single stone arranged with its "grain"
aligned vertically may represent a waterfall. Two dissimilar stones
arranged together may represent man and woman, yin and yang or good and
evil.  Three stones might represent the trinity -- which could be Buddist
or Christian.

It appears to me that a "Nature Aquarium" is an aquascape composed of
natural and natural-appearing materials that adheres to design principles
that produce a sense of natural composition and visual balance; it has
little to do with looking like a natural scene.

Roger Miller

Amano-One hand clapping

by "Edward Venn" <e_venn/>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002

Speaking about Takeshi Amano, his concepts are based on the Japanese view of 
gardens and gardening in general. A japanese garden must emulate nature, it 
should contain all the elemental forces earth, air, water and fire and 
should be viewable from all sides. Each side should present a different yet 
similar face and should emulate the theories espoused by gardeners through 
the ages and also by Amano san

Amano's inspiration are the landscapes he photgraphs and the zen concepts of 
symetry, design and placement. Zen says that nature is perfect in its 
inperfection and this colours his views. Small things such as a branch 
sticking through a fence or moss growing a rock wall are aspects of this.

Like a house or garden exposed to the elements, the aquarium must age 
gracefully, ie: plants must look natural and fill in their alloted space 
without looking unnatural of forced. Groups of 7,5 or 3 are also a Japanese 
concept coming from those ages in a person's life that are important, Shichi 
Go San in Japanese.

Essential to almost any aquarium layout that hopes to emulate nature or 
natural conditions, materials must appear natural and unchanging. Rock and 
woodwork must be viewable from all sides in a Japanese garden and must evoke 
different images to the viewer. Buildings also evoke this aspect as well for 
example a concert hall appears to look like a piano when viewed from above 
and like something else when viewed from the side.

lastly, it comes down to controlling those forces of nature that can be 
controlled, in the natural world nothing is truly stable or unchanging, 
these forces are at work but move very slowly, in Amano's aquatic world this 
becomes an artificial concept of nature.

Of course not everyone agrees with it. But it sure looks pretty.

Edward Venn
SMG Holdings Co., Ltd.,
Deux Chateaux Blanc 2-303,
1356 Kobuchi, Kasukabe,
Saitama, Japan

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This page was last updated 17 February 2002