George Farmer interviews Slobodan Lazaveric, a highly experienced and talented aquascaper from Belgrade in Serbia whose first love is reef tanks.
Despite Slobodan Lazaveric’s 30-plus years in the hobby, I only discovered his work relatively recently on the Aquascaping World website. This is one of many brilliant aquascapes by Slobodan but they all share one thing in common — drawing inspiration directly from nature.
Regular readers will notice this is a common theme so, if ever stuck for inspiration, open your eyes next time you’re taking a walk, jog, cycle or train journey among nature.
Slobodan breaks away from one of the popular aquascaping patterns by mixing rocks types, but, as you can see, it works a treat.â€¯ The heavy use of mosses and Riccia provides a welcome mature look and the lack of stem plants result in less distraction from the plant 'camouflaged' rockwork.
Again breaking practice from most planted tank owners, Slobodan meticulously tests his water and makes all his own fertilisers, including a CO2 replacement similar to Seachem Excel and Easylife Easycarbo.
In this face to face interview I asked Slobodan several key questions:
How did you come up with the aquascape?
Most are inspired by nature and I am just trying to make them to look as natural as possible. Mostly, my aquascapes are nothing but the pictures of various beautiful places I've seen a while ago all around my own country. In this particular case, my inspiration was one typical rural and rustic place located in central Serbia.
Did you have a clear idea of how the aquascape would look when complete, or did it evolve gradually?
Prior to the design of any aquascapes, I have a clear vision what I intend to make and how it should look. That's the reason I never make any drawings. As long as I have a picture in my mind, I'm trying to make an aquascape that would look as much as possible like my imagination.
Only a few times have I made aquascapes that were not exactly the same as pictures I've conceived in my mind.
Did you encounter any problems? If so, how did you overcome them?
I made this ‘scape some four months ago and there have been no problems so far. I'm quite sure this tank will be quite stable and accordingly, free of any eventual problems.
This tank is still algae free, thanks to precise and highly monitored fertilisation on a daily basis. I also have to emphasise that all fertilisers I add to this aquarium, as well as all other tanks, are DIY products. Needless to say, that experience and education are of the highest importance for everyone.
Regarding fertilisation, I do not use any of the methods currently applied by most aquascapers.
First and foremost I'm a reef aquarist and therefore convinced that precious levels of some chemical compounds in the tank are most important for success.
In other words, when you know precise levels of the nutrients in the water column, it is easy to act in time and put everything in order, in accordance with plants’ needs. It is well known what plants need for their growth, which I something I learned in my early academic years.
For how long will you keep this aquascape running?
I'm trying to keep this aquascape under control for as long as possible. According to my experience, this type of aquascape tank could last at least six months to one year. Only a very few of the largest set-ups do I keep running for years.
For most aquascapers, it is time to start thinking about a new layout when plant overgrowth and regular trimming technique can no longer help.
What aquascapes and set-ups do you have planned?
I have a lot of ideas but never enough time to implement them. Currently, I’m working on several set-ups, all pictures from nature, as well as some 'scapes based on some beautiful places from Serbia, I've visited recently. Just like this aquascape…
This was ranked 41 in the ADA Contest 2008. Considering this was my very first entry, I was very satisfied.
Name: Slobodan Lazarevic.
Location: Belgrade, Serbia.
Occupation: Today, the fishkeeping and aquatic plants are my occupation, my business, my hobby and still my obsession. Aquaria is my love and also my way of living. I am a breeder of freshwater fish, aquatic plants and corals as well as an aquascaper. I've been dealing with aquascaping for many years but in last few I have to admit I'm focused a bit more on reef 'scaping.
Time in hobby: Over 30 years.
Favourite aquascapers: When I was young Takashi Amano was my inspiration and today it is Mother Nature.
There are a lot of aquascapers that I won’t name because I may forget someone. I'm convinced that some will have a lot of success in the near future.
Tank: 65 x 36 x 32cm/26 x 14 x 13”, 75 l/17 gal.
Lighting: Arcadia Overtank Luminaire, 4 x 24w T5 supplied with a mix of 2 x Arcadia Marine White 14,000K and 2 x Arcadia Plant Pro.
10:00 2 x Marine White 14,000K 24w on
12:00 2 x T5 Plant Pro 24 W ON
16:00 2 x T5 Plant Pro 24 W OFF
19:00 2 x Marine White 14,000K 24w off.
Filtration: Eheim canister filter and Eheim media.
CO2: Sources for all my tanks under 100l/22 gal are my self-made chemical compounds. Pressurised CO2 system is used only in the tanks over 100 l/22 gal.
Water parameters: Tested with accurate test kits:
Fe : 0,1 – 0,2 mg/l,
K : 10 – 15 mg/l,
Ca: 20 mg/l
Mg : 5 mg/l,
PO4 : 1 mg/l,
NO3 :10 mg/l,
KH : 3
GH : 5, pH : 6-6.5.
Substrate: DIY substrate 2cm/0.8” at front to 5-6cm/2-2.4” at the back.
Fertilisation: Technique based on very precise measurement. It is important to emphasise that all fertilisation should be added on daily basis.
Décor/hardscape: Three different types of stones.
Plants: Hemianthus micranthemoides, Vesicularia dubyana, Riccia fluitans, Hemianthus micranthemoides, Lilaeopsis brasiliensis, Hemianthus callitrichoides cuba, Proserpinaca palustris, Hottonia palustris, Microsorum pteropus 'Windelov' Nano moss- Amblystegium serpens, Heteranthera zosterifolia, Eleocharis parvula.
Fish and inverts: Boraras maculatus, Otocinclus sp., Red cherry shrimp. Planning to add Celestichthys margaritatus.
Maintenance regime and fertilisation: Water change twice a week. I use RO water and add various compounds to reach desired parameters.
See more of Slobodan's amazing aquascapes on his website gallery.
Check out some of the other great planted tanks in the Your Tanks section:
Mark Evans, part one
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