Tag Archives: design

Scaped For You Collections

Scaped For You Collections

We just thought we would introduce you to our new Scaped For You Collections that we have just started offering here at Aqua Essentials.

What are Scaped for You Collections?

Scaped For You Collections are essentially ‘ready made’ aquascapes if want of a better phrase. They are aquascapes that have been created by professional Tropica Aquascapers and come with guidelines explaining how to replicate the scape in your own aquarium.

Some people admire scapes they see on Facebook, pinterest, Twitter etc done by the likes of George Farmer & Dan Crawford who are very talented Aquascapers and so many more out there.  They think to themselves “Oh I wish I could have that in my aquarium but just do not have the time to research all the plants needed nor spend time aquascaping it”. Well this is why we are offering you these Scaped For You Collections compliments of Tropica.

So what do I get?

We are offering a variety of Scaped For You Collections for different sized aquariums. We send you all the plants, wood and rocks you will need to produce your chosen aquascape.  You can refer to the product page on our website for easy to follow instructions which guide you when planting, positioning your rock and wood. You can also view the You Tube video by Tropica which explains step by step and guides you along the way. We even tell you which gravel or sand to use too.

What do it do?

So go to the product page (highlighted links) and choose the right Scaped for You Collection and then just ‘buy’! All that you will need will be packaged up and sent to you.

When will I receive it?

As you are no doubt aware we hold a large quantity of plants in stock so it is very rare that we will not have the plants in stock that you order.  However there may be occasions where a particular plant is not in stock or out of season or we are short of quantities (some Scaped For You Collections do require a large quantity of a certain plant) so we will have to order it in hence the reason why we give 1-7 days depending on availability however these Scaped For You Collections are well worth the wait…trust me! We have our plant deliveries in every thursday and friday and will always email you informing you of any minor delays too.

What level is it for?

We offer Easy, Medium and Advanced Scaped For You Collections here at Aqua Essentials.  Some people might like to start with Easy and progress up the ranks once they have gain knowledge and confidence and some keen and experienced Aquascapers might go straight for Advanced. You choose what suits you.  Easy set ups contain plants that are pretty hardy, need low lighting conditions and non CO2 so need little maintainance and easy to keep. Medium and Advanced set ups require more attention and some will require CO2 and good lighting.

What if my aquarium is bigger than the one I have chosen?

That’s no problem at all! Just either add the Scaped For You Collection you would like to your basket and then just add additional plants to make it up for your sized aquarium or just email us or call and tell us which scape you are looking to order and we will advice you how many more of each plant, wood or rock you will need for your size.

We are here for all the help and guidance you need so only a phone away or call 01363 774787 or email info@aquaessentials.co.uk.

This is a typical Scaped For You Collection we offer which is the finished article.

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This is the type of diagram you will be able to refer to when scaping your chosen Collection.

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Scaped For You Collections

Along with the Scaped For You Collection you can refer to additional images which will show you the progress and growth expected over time.

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Scaped For You Collections
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Scaped For You Collections
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Scaped For You Collections

More Scaped For You Collections will be available in due course.

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Aquascaping Layout & The Golden Ratio

Some of you may have heard of this and some of you may have not and its called ‘The Golden Ratio’ which is widely used in planning the layout and perspective of an aquascape.  We have put together a simple ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide on how to create a scape that is pleasing on the eye and has the right composition and design in mind.

The Golden Ratio

Firstly we will look at the The Golden Ratio which will guide you in creating perspective in your aquarium. This ‘Aquascaping Layout  & The Golden Ratio’ guide is used when wanting to acheive the perfect balance when placing objects in a space.  So let’s begin and these 3 steps explain what the Golden Ratio is.

1. Stand back and look at the front of your tank. Imagine there are four lines going across the front of the glass, two vertical and two horizontal, giving you now nine sections.

2. Where the lines cross are the Golden points where you should consider placing your key features to the tank i.e. rock, wood or prominant plants such as reds or plants that stand out.

3. You can use the Golden Ratio to plan the height layout of your plants too.

Symmetry

Basically symmetry does not work in a planted aquarium. It is too formal, structured and unnatural. Think about it would you see symmetry in the wild? No, so lets not make it neat and symetrical in the aquarium.  The focal point (as we mentioned earlier your key feature so wood, rock, red plant etc) should be slightly off to the center. 1 : 1.62 was calculated long ago as the point which is the most pleasing on the eye.  This is where you could consider having a slope on one side too, like a riverbed.

Shape

Please don’t have all your ‘tall’ plants lined up along the back and try and create a ‘hedge’ or ‘wall’ of plants to cover up the background! It is not needed and only looks dated. Try replicating a mountain look by trimming your plants to be taller on the sides and slightly shorter in the center.  You could also add some rocks either side (not symetrical remember to add to your mountain look).

Positioning of the plants

Depending on the scape you are looking to achieve, I like to keep my rocks or wood positioned amongst the midground plants as the stems can easily be hidden amongst the rocks plus you can carpet foreground plants around the base of the rocks to create a really natural look.

Creating depth

Creating depth is not the easiest task however keeping the golden ration in mind it can be done.  The first thing to remember is to avoid positioning the rocks from left to right across the middle in a straight line which just looks two-dimentional and very unnatural looking.  So I recommend planting and positioning in layers starting from the front to the back leaving a small gap in between and from low to high. With time and experience you will become more bold and challenging with your aquascaping and start creating some amazing looking scapes.

Another element to consider when planting your scape is to take note of the estimated growth guides that come with the plants or you can use the guide we use on our plant product page. Obviously you dont want to have to be trimming your plant all the time as it grows quicker than the one behind it so it really plays off to carefully plan your scape and even put pencil to paper first and sketch it out.

With all the above considered when putting a scape together, you should be impressed with the results. If however you need further advice we are only a phone call away on 01363 774787.

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Manzanita Bundles

Manzanita is the most popular wood at the moment and makes for creating the perfect planted aquarium in terms of aquascaping. The reason for this is simple, Manzanita is stylish, creative and steeped in history and every nook and cranny looks incredible. When you look at the wood in close detail, the colours are amazing along with the textures and there’s really nothing quite like it. Aquascaping with it is a breeze and you can transform a new scape into something that looks mature in no time whatsoever.

But one of the hardest aspects of aquascaping is the physical placement of wood and rock. In fact it’s probably harder than growing certain plants themselves as so much technique needs to be used to really ‘nail it’. But don’t dispair as we have an excellent solution…As an online business, he have to take pictures of all the wood we have on the site, otherwise how would you know what you are buying? So it make simply sense for us to take it a step further and actally take a picture of a group of manzanita wood, and we’re calling them bundles. We have carefully selected pieces that work together and would look great in a planted aquarium. We provide dimensions of the shortest and the largest pieces so you get the idea of what the other sizes are like. Manzanita bundles have been really popular so far so now is your chance to take a look at them in a bit more detail – maybe one might catch your eye :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking to be a little more creative,you could always try placing a few pieces of mini landscape rocks at the bottom of the wood. Not only does this improve the transition between the two, but is also helps to anchor down any pieces that want to float.

For all our other pieces of manzanita, click on this link.

The Planted Aquarium Market Today…

I thought I would write a post from a different angle in order to stimulate more responses from hobbyists. I used to be an avid aquascaper, producing aquascapes regularly in order to improve my skills. Today I have a lot less time to be aquascaping even though that is what my business revolves around (kind of ironic isn’t it?!). Most of my time is taken up dealing with the everyday running of the business, providing advice and assistance to customers and ordering goods, sourcing new products etc. But I’m trying to make a bit more time in my day so I can dip my arm back into the water and start scaping. I’ve even got a brand new ADA tank and cabinet which sits empty and looks very sad at the moment…

But the point of this post is to reach out to you guys and find out what you think of the planted aquarium market today. Recently the International Aquascaping Contest took place where hobbyists from around the world were invited to send in pictures of their planted aquariums in order for them to be judged and compared to other competitors. Now this is always a great competition and the standard continues to rise every year. I rarely agree with the winners and often think many of the lower ranked scapes are much better but, beauty is in the eye of the beholder (something for another blog post…). But what really got me about the results was the number of British scapers who submitted their aquascapes and were listed in the top 1000 – I could count them on one hand and found that actually quite sad (in a melancholic way). So I’ve been racking my brains thinking about and wondering why more UK scapers don’t actually scape. Perhaps it’s one of the below:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of skill
  • Lack of inclination
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of money

Is it any of these or is it something else? What I do know is that aquascaping skills are not sufficient and photography skills need to be right at the top too if you’re going to win any decent prize. Have a look at top UK Scaper Mark Evans – some of this tanks are truly incredible and he won the top British award. Check this out:

A truly incredible position and rightly deserved too. Mark’s photography skill is as impressive as his aquasapes and this helps to enhance his scapes. If his photography skills were not where they were today (and lets say he had a poor quality camera), I wonder how this would have effected his aquascaping? Maybe he would have been forced to discover the art of photography in order to pursue his passion of planted aquarium and maybe that’s what more people need to do in the UK…?  Camera technology improves all the time and the price comes down but sometimes if you see the lights and camera equipment involved that Mark uses, it can look rather daunting.

So I asked this same question on Twitter and @pfkeditor tweeted back – Brits like to critise and not get involved. I think there’s a lot of truth in that and wondered if that would ever change. In order for us to improve as a nation we have to be more encouraging and less critical. Yes it’s easy to criticise particularly sat on your sofa with the laptop next to you. But this isn’t helping our unique hobby and we need to be more encouraging to everyone, let people make mistakes and we can all learn together. Lets face it you don’t even need that much money to get you going either. You can buy a small tank and maybe 6-7 pots of aquarium plants, lighting, filtration and a CO2 set and you’re away. What you do need is drive and determination because if you’re going to make a go of it, you’ll need lots of drive, you’ll have to be able to take criticism and move on.

I would really love to hear what you guys think about this subject. What is is that holds you back. What would make you consider entering competitions and why do you think other hobbyists are a little camera shy?

Synthetic Aquarium Plants

Not everyone has the time to be able to commit to a planted aquarium in terms of maintenance – after all we know how long it takes to perform water changes, trim plants, feed and so on and with today’s busy life styles, sometimes we run out of time. From a commercial perspective it’s not possible to look at a planted aquarium everyday (this is what CO2 infused one’s really need especially at the beginning). Lets take www.aquariumdesigngroup.com who are market leaders in the USA. They set up and maintain aquariums for wealthy clients. What is interesting is that many of their clients have aquariums where the plants are synthetic. This is for 2 reasons:

  1. They don’t want the tank maintainers to be in their house every day checking up how things are going
  2. You can create amazing aquascapes even without real plants, as long as the quality of the plants is of high standard.

Let me introduce to you Superfish Plastic Plants. These have been produced to really high standards and once in the aquarium you would be hard pushed to tell they were actually different from live plants. The range consists of different sizes of plants to ensure what ever type of aquascape you want it is possible. To make an aquarium really work which uses plastic plants, we recommend that you use real rocks – something like mini landscape rocks and sumatra driftwood. By using a combination of these natural products with synthetic one’s, the impact can be incredible and the maintenance almost zero.