George Farmer speaks to aquascaper Mark Evans about his fabulous planted aquarium.
Your tank appears so lush, healthy and mature, yet it’s only a couple of months old. What’s your secret?
There’s no secret! I find a good regime of light, fertilisers and CO2 works wonders. Yet if just one element is missing you could find yourself chasing lost causes.
Wood and rock design and selection are excellent. What types are they and what design rules do you follow with their layout?
The wood is Manzianata from the US and the stone is Seiryu, aka mini landscape rock. We must adopt certain rules to create a pleasing and natural layout, such as the golden ratio or the rule of thirds, but more recently, and after much practice, hardcape design becomes much easier.
Is there any reason why you used so many plant species?
After reading of an interview with Takashi Amano, in which he suggests using at least 14 varieties of plants in a nature aquarium, I tried it myself. I wanted to create as many textures and patterns as possible.
It’s not without problems though. As plant mass grows, things such as distribution of CO2 and flow become more important.This is the weakest part of my hobby, but with each design this ability improves.
You’re well known on Internet forums for your aquascapes. What are the best and worst aspects of making your work so publically available?
The best part would be seeing others becoming inspired. If this helps others I’m all for it. Recognition is a plus factor too.
Not so long back I used to upload high resolution images to the Internet and I recently spotted a few of them on other sites. This is not always a bad thing as I’ve recently had enquiries from authors in the USA and Spain asking if they could use them for their books.
What problems did you have with this aquascape before you stripped it down?
Towards the end of the tank’s life it suffered with algae. This stemmed mainly from my own lack of maintenance as it’s so easy to let it become over-run.
After a couple of weeks trying to turn things around, I finally gave up and decided to strip it down. With my holiday coming up, it also seemed the best thing to do!
What is the most important lesson to learn when entering the hobby?
Anyone looking at setting up a higher tech planted tank must learn the basics and be fully aware of the time that will be needed.
It’s easy to think that, after setting up, the tank will run itself. This isn’t true. They’re like children, needing care daily.
Whatever regime you decide on, you must do the same things each and every day. That means fertilisers, water changes, checking CO2 and so on.
Where do you see the UK hobby positioned in five years’ time?
I’d like to see it where it is now — but with a much bigger community. With so many talented artists developing and great works being revealed on the Internet, I hope it will inspire newcomers.
Your photography is superb. What equipment and techniques do you use?
My tanks are designed with photography in mind and I’m a photographer who wants to take pictures of aquariums, rather than an aquascaper who happens to take pictures!
Gear wise, I’ve recently upgraded to a Canon 5D Mk2. I use lenses such as the Canon 135mm f/2 and the Canon 65mm MP-E macro. I also use two 200w Bowens flash units.
I’ve started doing HD videos and the 5D Mk2 is a wonderful camera for this.
Name: Mark Evans.
Location: Newark, Nottinghamshire.
Years of experience: Five.
Occupation: Lead worker.
Number of tanks: One.
Favourite fish: Pencilfish.
Favourite plant: Crypts.
Pet hate: Laziness.
Tank size: 120 x 45 x 45cm/48 x 18 x 18."
Volume: 240/53 gal.
Fish: Mainly various tetras.
Plants: Hemianthus callitrichoides, Sagittaria teres, Lilaeopsis, Java moss on stones, Rotala rotundifolia, Micranthemum umbrosum, Vallisneria nana bunch, Cryptocoryne bullosa, wendtii tropica, petchii, nevellii and undulata ‘green’, Bolbitis and Microsorum ‘narrow.’
Décor: Manzianata wood and Seiryu stone.
Filtration: One Aqua One @ 1,500 l/330 gal per hour and Hydor Koralia powerhead.
Lighting: Two 54w T5s.
Substrate and fertiliser: Columbo Flora
CO2: 2kg/4.4lb with Boyu inline diffuser.
Background: Various effects. Black, or rear of tank illumination supplied by one 54w T5
Check out some of the other great planted tanks in the Your tanks section:
Mark Evans, part one
This item first appeared in the November 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.