The Aquatic Gazette

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Nature Aquarium Academy

In Local Fish Shop on February 26, 2012 at 00:01

The owners of the Academy, from left: Raphael Draczyński, Martin Bunch and Paul Iglewski.

If you live in Poland and you are an aquascaper, then you are pretty lucky when compared to the rest of us.

Nature Aquarium Academy is a local fish shop that is just awesome for aquascapers. As its name suggest, they carry the whole range of Aqua Design Amano goods and the shop’s aquascapes are clearly inspired by the Nature Aquarium style.

The compact shop reeks of great character, we can just imagine spending much time there pouring over each aquascape, chatting with fellow aquascapers or just soaking in the atmosphere. It really reminds us of a cosy cafe to spend a lazy afternoon at.

Check out the films of the shop that were shot by Definite Aquascape. We need a shop like this locally!


credit: Nature Aquarium Academy | Definite Aquascape TV


Hagen AquaClear

In Filtration on February 22, 2012 at 00:01

Hang-on filters are popular because of their ease of use and relatively low cost. However, they are only suitable for small aquariums as their filter capacities are far beneath other filters, such as cannister filters. Even among such aquariums which are suitable for hang on filters, the majority will still struggle to provide efficient filtration over the long haul.

How great a hang-on filter performs, is dependent on two fundamentals;
1. How the flow of water is guided
2. How well the filter media performs

In our review on the Eheim Liberty hang-on filter, we mentioned if Eheim does a rethink and redesign of their Liberty filtration media, they will secure the crown of hang-on filters comfortably. The Liberty filters are by far, the best constructed and quality-assured, hang-on filters available today.

Many hang-on filters today have sacrificed filtration capabilities to design requirements. It is always nice to have a sleeker, slimmer filter, but physics will always dictate that such filters will not be as effective as their bigger counterparts when using the same filter media setup. The AquaClear is of the traditional hang-on design, providing more filtering space as compared to slimmer filters such as the GEX Slim Filters.

When it comes to filtration capability however, the AquaClear is the best that we have experienced from a hang-on. The reason why it filters better than the rest of the competition can be greatly attributed to the way its filter compartment is designed. The AquaClear’s filter compartment takes a page from canister filters and follows the same mechanical, biological and chemical filtration stages.

The AquaClear comes complete with its own filter media that allows for three stage filtration and it is easy to substitute it with third party media, unlike Eheim’s Liberty, which requires modifications to do so. Such flexibility is most welcomed and makes a good filter, superb. The ability to use filtration media like Seachem’s Matrix, Purigen and Eheim’s Substrat Pro greatly increase the filtration capabilities of the AquaClear.

The water flow within the AquaClear is genius. No other hang-on filter that we know of directs the flow of water like it. Because of the position of the impeller found in hang-on filters, most will direct the flow of water into the filter compartment close to the halfway mark, which in our view handicaps filtration as there is no clear flow from the bottom to the top, ensuring filtration is flawed by bypassing some of the filtration media.

The AquaClear’s impeller is found at the same location as other hang-on filters. How it achieves a clean flow of water from the bottom of the filter compartment to the top is through the ingenious use of a plastic barrier which prevents water from flowing directly into the compartment and forcing it to flow from the bottom instead. As such, setting up the filtration media in a mechanical, biological and chemical filtration actually works.

Another great attribute that the AquaClear posses is that it runs silently and this is an important aspect. Small tanks which the AquaClear was designed to operate on will most likely be found on desks, bedrooms and offices. More often than not, these areas will require or benefit from an aquarium that is silent.

The only area that the AquaClear that is not perfect, is its build quality. Although it uses high quality plastics that easily best or equal the majority of hang-on filters in the market, it is not Eheim’s quality. Handling Eheim’s Liberty and its filter cartridges are always a joy, with the quality of plastics being the very best.

With our AquaClear, we didn’t use the chemical and biological media provided and in their place, used Seachem’s Matrix, which is fast becoming our biological media of choice. In this setup, our AquaClear 20, the smallest of the AquaClear series, easily filtered [TAG]‘s 15 litres betta tank.

When comparing all other hang-on filters to the AquaClear, the AquaClear filters better because of its ability to move water in a fashion similar to cannister filters. The ability to also use third party filter media just sweetens the deal. We can already imagine using Purigen in these filters and get a filtration ability that far exceeds anything else.

If you are in the market for a hang-on filter, the AquaClear is the best there is now.


credits: Hagen

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest

In Thoughts on February 8, 2012 at 00:01

The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC) is the Olympic games equivalent for all aquascapers worldwide. Last year, aquascapers pit their talents against 1,603 competitors and the winner of the competition went home with USD13,034 or SGD16,255.

Just like the Olympic games, the entries for the IAPLC are categorised into countries and although rankings are based on the individual, there is quite a bit of national level organising from countries who have a strong aquascaping community.

The IAPLC has done much to further the development of the aquascaping hobby. This international competition, coupled with an attractive prize has been an effective catalyst for the hobby. Aquascaping forums see a surge of activity around early December as the majority of aquascapers plan for the competition while the professionals start much earlier. All this activity bring a buzz and excitement to the hobby. New comers are often taken up with all that is going on and it is a great way to get started in the hobby.

The superb aquascaping works by the top aquascapers will continue to have the same effect on the community as Takashi Amano’s initial works. Numerous aquascapers started the hobby after getting inspired by his works, the hobby today is constantly enriched because of the top aquascapes that are released annually due to the IAPLC.

Contesting in the IAPLC has been a great way to improve the art as it adds the necessary pressure and required planning that spurs improvement. Entry to the IAPLC is free and the 2012 contest has a deadline of May 31st. If you have never took part in this competition, we highly encourage it! Here are the top 27 aquascapes of IAPLC 2011 to get you inspired.

Here is the link for application into the IAPLC 2012:


credit: The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest | Aqua Design Amano

Takashi Amano aquascapes with Unzan Stone and Wabi-Kusa

In Film on February 2, 2012 at 00:01

ADA View, Aqua Design Amano’s film unit has published so many films in such a short period of time, that we have stopped trying to put them all up on [TAG] unless they are especially interesting. The vast majority of such films has been to catalogue changes in their aquarium growth and to put them all on [TAG] would not have been practical.

But once in a while, a film appears that is worth highlighting. This aquascape with Unzan Stone and Wabi-kusa is such a film.  The ADA aquarium used for this aquascape is an uncommon type that is only found at the ADA gallery and it’s not for sale. Also, because of its massive size, it uses a sump filter instead of ADA’s Super Jet filters.

Takashi Amano uses the new Unzan rock for this aquascape. And there are new techniques for adding moss to your hardscape that can be found in the second film that we will not spoil it for you here. We will also inspired by the way he used driftwood in this aquascape that really accentuates their beauty.

For us, this is one of the best aquascapes in recent times. New hardscape, unconventional aquascaping techniques and the constant  aquascaping innovation by ADA shows why they are still the foremost aquascaping company today.


Film credits: ADA View | Aqua Design Amano