Amano’s view – Nature Aquarium World – “Artifice Over Nature”

Editors of Aqua JournalEditors of Aqua Journal
This is the essay Takashi Amano wrote for his planted aquarium collection book Glass no Naka no Daishizen ( Nature Aquarium World ) published in 1992. It gives the opportunity to understand Amano’s unique views of nature and his experience.
In autumn, the distinguished professor from Kyoto University and authority on animal ecology Dr.Kawanabe comes to Niigata University to lecture. For the past ten years or so, professor Kawanabe has visited my home, and we always have wonderful talk in which he explains ecology to me in plain and simple terms. He is much easier to understand than a scholarly book, and much nicer to have around. One of his specialties is Lake Tanganyika, in Africa, which is the home of several popular species of dwarf cichlids, fishes of great interest to me.

Of course, it was an aquarium that provided the opportunity for us to meet. I asked him if he would tell me what he thought of the aquarium in the photo. It was that depressing time of year when the leaves have mostly fallen and the trees look dead, but that’s also the time when aquaria look best.

When he first saw it, he was impressed and asked if it would be difficult to install one in his research lab. I was at a loss as to how to reply. Professor Kawanabe is the leading ecologist in the country. I didn’t want to presume to explain things to such a great man.

I told him that he could keep an aquarium like this in his lab if he copied this layout and closely monitored the water conditions. But when I had set it up four years before, I anticipated how it would develop many years later, and this kind of intuition, which had led to such a beautiful result, required a lot of experience.

He nodded and said something that impressed me a great deal. “Yes, such a beautiful waterscape doesn’t exist in nature. Only artifice made by human hands can attain this beauty.”