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Interview with Enrico Serena

Interview with Enrico Serena
by Óscar Pereiro

Enrico is one of the most famous and most passionate italian landscapers.

A few days ago was in Tokyo to attend the Nature Aquarium Party 2009, which gives an idea of his great passion for this kind of aquarism:

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Very kindly, Enrico Serena granted me this interview …

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Dear Mr. Enrico, thank for dedicating us part of your time

Thanks to you Oscar, the pleasure it’s all mine. It’s the first time that someone honor me with a interview’s request… and I confess to be a little embarrassed to see my name appear between your previous famous hosts.

Can you please explain us a little bit how is your daily life? (what do you do for work, do you have a family, etc…)

I’m 39 years old, I’m married and I have a son 10 years old. I live in the North of Italy, in Brescia, an industrious city that’s about one hundred kilometre far away from Milano. I work in the daily newspaper of my city where I care about Graphic and Layout.

I would like to know how and when you got into this world of aquariums

My interest in aquariums has started late, almost 10 years ago, but I’m gone in the particular with planted tanks and aquascaping only after the discovery of Takashi Amano’s “Natural aquariums”. Back then my passion blossomed with the desire to test myself in realizing them, but I care to clarify that I’m still a beginner in the subject; in fact, I’ve decided to dedicate myself in a “serious” tank only from a year ago, and IAPLC2009 was my first contest in which I’ve joined.
I feed my curiosity keeping myself documented mostly through the web or specific forum, in particularly an Italian forum of reference for aquatic planted tanksplants and aquascaping: aquagarden.it and I publish mine impression and works on my Blog: Nature Aquarium Blog.

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How many aquariums do you keep actually? How much time a day you dedicate to maintain aquariums?

I own and maintain only one tank at a time, due to reasons of time and space. Actually I’m using the ADA’s methods of conduction, for that reason I execute daily fertilization, and weekly changes of water, pruning and treatments of the tank.

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Where do you get the inspiration from when creating your aquariums?

I get it mostly from books, catalogue, and Internet of course… but I’m also a mountains lover and I spent part of my holiday on the Dolomiti (famous and spectacular mountains of Alps), so I have the chance to photograph lots of rivers and stone that are often source of my inspiration.

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Do you follow any norm of standard proportion when you create you hardscape?

Generally I try to keep in mind the rules of classic composition, particularly the Golden section and the rules of the Third parts. I entrust then lots of attempts which I photograph and then share with friends on the forum so that I can get their opinion and critique.

Now, if you don’t mind, a few technical questions:
Which kind of substrate do you use?

In the past I’ve often used the akadama, bought from a florist specialized in Bonsai, but now I use ADA Aqua Soil Amazonas II and ADA Power Sand Special.

Do you consider filtration as an important part?

Surely important, as much as the light and the fertilization, the filtration system I use is the “classic” sponges and ceramics.

What else do you consider a must when setting up an aquarium?

Respect of plants and animals that lives in my tanks comes first and especially the patience of waiting that the balance comes out naturally without forcing it… anyway, this last one it’s a gift that only a few have and that I’m trying to improve with time.

What kind of fishes and plants are your favourite for your creations?

Surely the plant that I prefer is Glossostigma Elatinoides, for it’s ability to cover the substrate and climb on woods and stones and also because it is the one that made me fell in love with aquatic plants. About the fishes, I’m particularly attached, since my childhood, to the Neon (Paracheirodon innesi), while for the tanks I like mostly the ones who swims in school.

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Can you please briefly explain how you setup an aquarium from zero?

I think to use the most common way: when the substrate and the hardscape are settled I start to fill partially the tank and plant, then I complete the water’s filling, activate the filter (generally already mature because it came from a past arrangement). Then I active the CO2 and start to enlighten with a low period (3 hours) that I weekly increment till reaching 6-7 hours.

What kind of fertilizer do you use?

Actually Ada Brighty K, Step, ECA and the supplemets Green Bacter, Green Gain, Phiton Gyt.

Regarding you aquascaping vision:
In your opinion, in which country you see a bigger interest in the aquascaping?

I think nowhere in the world as in the extreme orient you can find an interest so diffused in the aquascaping. The results of the most famous international contest proof it, in numbers and quality. I think that the dedication, the methods and the philosophy almost maniacal applied from Japan aquascapers or Honk Hong, Singapore, Vietnam ones it’s yet impracticable for the most of occidental country. In Europe there is much interest in country as Poland, Italy, and Spain overall.

How is aquascaping in Italy?

Surely Italy it’s one of the European Nation in which the aquascaping it’s a diffused art with a good amount of practiser and industries that works in the sector, even if the traditional (or marine) type goes much more. I’m part of a community (the already mentioned aquagarden.it) where I had the chance to meet and hang out with the most skilled Italians aquascapers and aquatic plant expert. From Dario Schelfi, the creator of the community, to Pasquale Buonpane that it’s affirming himself as one of the best aquascaper in the whole world (recently he was the best occidental participant at the IACPL2009), and also many others good aquascapers and experts of aquatic plant that I do not mention because I’m sure I would forgot someone. Close to mine city lives Massimo Faberi that own a shop and that gained lot of good result in international contest such as the Spanish contest Aquavida.

Do you know anything about the aquascaping reality in Spain?

Thanks to the web I’ve noticed that the Spain has a truly active and prolific community, with realization of optimum quality. My first contact with aquascaping reality in Spain was couple of years ago with GeoBlog of Rubén Caro. I know the CAE (truly similar in their professional “presentations” at the much more famous CAU, with very good realizations) and the international Contest Aquavida (that it would be beautiful if also imitated in Italy where we miss ad event of international value).

Can you tell us a couple of aquascaper you like the most?

My admiration goes to the creation of the CAU masters and to the Polish Adam Paszczela and Norbert Sabat and the already mentioned Pasquale Bonpane and Massimo Faberi. Not to mention of course the master T. Amano.

Apart of aquariums, do you have any other hobby?

I love mountains. I also love the bike, running, photography, reading a lot of books and arts, in particulary paintings .

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I’m going to give you a list of word and you comment what comes to your mind:

Takashi Amano
Pioneer and master, he made me love this beautiful art.

Diana Walstad
I never experimented her method of conduction.

ADA
It contributed a lot, through it’s marketing and products at the diffusion of our hobby. In my opinion always giving us products extremely elegant and with quality even if a lot expensive to buy them in Europe.

Photography
I’d would to spent much more time and resource.

Forums
Aquagarden.it obviously! I think a few things like the sharing of experiences and the constructive criticize between fans may contribute in the growth of our ability.

AGA
This year I will join this contest for the first time.

Algae
Probably we cannot act without them, even if we’d like to. But they teach us to notice and avoid our mistake.

Contests
A nice window for ideas, a stimulant occasion to improve, stupefy ourself and verify the level, each years growing, of the practiser from the whole world.

Aquascaping
Study, passion and love for the nature, patience, method, peace and serenity.

Hemianthus Callitrichoides
I don’t like it too much.

That’s all Mr. Enrico.

Thanks again and best regards

Thanks to you Oscar!

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