Editors of Aqua JournalEditors of Aqua Journal

Oasis aquascape expressing “Sabi” with Ohko Stones and aquatic plants

[At the Oasis] Powerful vitality can be felt from plants living in harsh environments such as an oasis in a desert or gaps in concrete. Japanese people feel the “Sabi” aesthetic from the moss growing on stone surfaces over time. The stone surfaces are also a hard to live harsh environment for basic plants. But perhaps the people were moved by the vitality as if it was seeping out of the inorganic stones. A concept of the aquascape is to try a different approach to express “Wabi-Sabi” rather than with moss or ferns. The structure is unified in ocher mainly with Ohko Stones. And by planting bright green and red colored aquatic plants in the gaps between the Ohko Stones, scenery like an oasis in a desert is successfully expressed.
Shooting date: October 18th, 2018(ADA)
Creator: Daisuke Inoue
Aquarium: Cube Garden W120×D50×H50(cm)
Lighting: Solar RGB x 2, turned on for 8.5 hours per day
Filter: Super Jet Filter ES-1200(Bio Rio L)
Material: Driftwood, Ouko Stone
Substrate: Aqua Soil – Amazonia, Colorado Sand, Power Sand Advance L, Bacter100, Clear Super, Tourmaline BC
CO2: Pollen Glass Beetle 40Ø, 5 bubbles per second via CO2 Beetle Counter (using Tower)
Aeration: 15.5 hours after the light is turned off using Lily Pipe P-6
Additives: Green Brighty Neutral K, Green Brighty Mineral, Green Brighty Iron, Green Brighty Nitrogen, Soft Water
Water change: 1/3 once a week
Water quality: Temperature: 25ºC; pH: 6.2; TH: 20 mg/l

Micranthemum sp.
Hydrocotyle tripartita “Mini”
Scrophulariaceae sp.
Syngonanthus sp.
Mayaca sellowiniana
Rotala nanjean
Riccardia chamedryfolia
Vesicularia sp.

Apistogramma bitaeniata
Nannostomus marginatus
Axelrodia riesei
Hyphessobrycon elachys.
Crossocheilus oblongus
Otocinclus sp.
Caridina multidentata

Creating a composition while keeping Sabi of “Wabi-Sabi” in mind

To emphasize the vital energy of aquatic plants, I dared to create the structure while keeping “Sabi” in my mind. Whether it is in nature or artificial, in scenery with a “Sabi” feeling, there is an impression with a sense of harshness as time advances. In order to express such an impression, stones and driftwood with a rugged impression are purposely chosen. The composition is arranged to express scenery with eroded and weathered stones collapsed in a long period of time. To emphasize the impression of the composition, the pieces of driftwood were used as if they were stones rather than pieces of wood, and deep shadows were purposely created under the driftwood pieces. Because I was planning to spread cosmetic sand in the front and plant mainly bright colored aquatic plants, by creating the deep shadowy parts, I considered giving sharpness to the aquascape.
Composition (Photo taken on June 20th, 2018)

①Driftwood pieces arranged radially

When arranging pieces of driftwood, if they are arranged radially, intensity and an extension of a space are executed. Because the shapes of the driftwood pieces used in the layout have eccentric impressions, the composition was kept simple with the driftwood pieces arranged radially rather than making it too complicated. The driftwood pieces were firmly fixed with soil.


②Expression using block shaped driftwood pieces

Block shaped driftwood pieces without branches were chosen for this aquascape and arranged in an Iwagumi like style as if they were eroded rocks with strange shapes. Some layout materials appear to be hard to use, but their possibilities can be expanded depending on how to use them.


③Unified colors of driftwood, stone and sand 

For elements to compose the structure, the color tones were unified in dark brown and ocher. By doing so, it is intended to clarify the expression of “Wabi-Sabi”. Beige colored Colorado Sand is chosen for the cosmetic sand spread in the front, not the white colored one. An image of a desert is successfully expressed.


④Expression of perspective with driftwood

To make the driftwood pieces in the front look large, they were tilted toward the front and positioned. By doing so, the deep shadow was created under the driftwood. On the other hand, the driftwood pieces in the back were tilted toward the back. By making them look small and bright, the perspective is well executed.


⑤Emphasizing “Sabi” with the texture of Ohko Stones

Distinctive Ohko Stones with unique unevenness and the natural ocher color emphasize the “Sabi” feeling. If there was no Ohko Stone available, this aquascape did not get created. Material selections in lines with concepts or themes are important.


⑥Securing a planting space in the middle

When spreading soil and cosmetic sand separated, by securing a planting space like a pocket, more complex expressions can be executed. After arranging the composition materials, I separated soil and cosmetic sand when spreading them in the layout.

Key points for choosing aquatic plants and fish

1 Fish

Because I did not want to emphasize the presence of fish so much in the aquascape, I chose types of fish as small as possible and plain looking fish. To match the “Sabi” impression in the aquascape, I created an image as if they had been living there for a long time.


Syngonanthus sp.

Because Syngonanthus sp. prefers the slightly acidic water condition, Green Brighty Neutral K which does not raise pH and KH in the water was used for the potash supply.

A specified amount of Soft Water was supplied every day. By doing so, the water condition became slightly acidic. And Green Brighty Nitrogen was also supplied every day for a chlorosis prevention purpose.


3 Scrophulariaceae sp. and Hydrocotyle tripartite ‘Mini’

In the planting area in the middle, prostrate aquatic plants were planted. As they grew spreading horizontally, they were intended to cover the composition materials to some extent. For undergrowth aquatic plants, by using BIO Mizukusa No Mori, the condition is great with less failure.


3 Riccardia chamedryfolia

To take advantage of the powerful composition like Iwagumi, Riccardia chamedryfolia was selected for moss.

Although it grows covering driftwood and stones, it does not grow so thick. Therefore it is less likely to change a composition impression. I peeled the moss from Wabi Kusa Mat and attached on the driftwood pieces.