Before anything, I would like to thank you for the time you dedicate to answer this interview
It’s a great honor to me to be able to answer your questions. Thank you for the opportunity.
Would you please tell us a little bit about you, where do you live, how is your daily life, what do you do for a job… anything you consider relevant for aquarium hobbyists.
I live in Budapest, Hungary. In the private life I am an entrepreneur, running a software/design firm and also a founder of the first planted aquarium shop in my country called Green Aqua www.greenaqua.hu . My job related to design in the past 15 years, and the artistic side of it helps me to get closer to the art side of aquascaping. Imagination, balance, layout, composition goes easier with the past knowledge, but of course still a lot to learn to create nicer aquariums.
Additionally to the work we spend a mass amount of time to promote aquascaping in my country. We’re a bit in delay compare to many European countries, as we started 3 years ago in this hobby. We’re blogging, running a large planted tank community board www.akvakertesz.hu and organizing local contest (HAC)
All of this activity pretty much eats up my time, however I could spend another 24 hours per day for the things I missed 🙂
How and when did you get into the hobby of setting up and keeping aquaria?
I do keep aquariums in the past 13 years. However I had a moment 3 years ago, when I’ve seen some nature aquariums, aquascaping works. I knew that I want to do that.
I always loved creative tasks and plants, and I fallen love to this beautiful hobby easily because of that.
Just like many other folks I got caught mainly by Takashi Amano’s nature aquariums. However since that time I’ve seen many professional aquascapers around the world. Their works inspire all of us.
Can you tell me something about the forum Hungarian Aquascaping Community?
We started this board 2 years ago. Before that we only wrote articles on blogs and realized that we just overgrown the capability of the blogging tools. A forum is a great place to organize better each topic and be a daily meeting point of all the hobbist around the country and post without limitation share progress etc.
Since only small information was available in our language, we started to translate and get connected to many blogs and international forums communities.
Fish keeping is a common hobby in my country, and this is a great challenge to promote planted aquariums to a broader audience showing the art form of aquascaping.
We have 800 members and posted over 30000 posts on the forum in the past 2 years. It’s not a bad thing especially this is only in Hungarian, so we closed out the international folks with the language restriction. The goal is to keep up with the leader European countries in aquascaping like Poland, UK or Spain.
And about Green Aqua?
Well as we dig more into the hobby we faced with the issue, that nothing is available on the market here what we need. In the first year we ordered everything from Germany or UK to our personal tanks. Paid lot on shipping, but there was not any other way to do this. Since shops are not realized the demand, we decided to do this on our own. This was the time when we set up Green Aqua, focusing only to planted aquariums.
We started to import all the stuff what we needed, and geared up with many good products and brands shortly. We become ADA Hungary, which was a great moment for us. For today we’re the market leaders in planted aquarium stuff in my country.
With regard to the setting up of your tanks:
Where do you get the inspiration from when creating your aquariums?
Good question. I think I am mainly inspired by some extremely talented aquascapers in the World. Unfortunately nowadays I have less time to be in the nature, which would be a great inspiration source, but things work this way too. There are so many brilliant aquariums out there for today.
Do you observe any norm or standard proportion when creating your hardscapes?
Probably because of my job I had fewer problems with hardscapes. Easier to find the balance using the designer mind, but there’s always place to improve. I am far from the perfect. 🙂
Now, if you don’t mind, a few technical questions:
Which kind of substrate do you use?
ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia on all of my tanks, with ADA Powersand Spec or Tropica fert. layer.
Do you consider filtration to be an important part?
Absolutely. We try to meet with the 8-10 or above turnover on our high light tanks. Good filtration is a must for a balance.
What else do you consider a must when setting up an aquarium?
Well there are many ways to do that. But I do not like limitations on plant selection. So I shoot for high light, but then you can’t live without CO2, and good fertilizer program.
If I can add anything on the top of that I would say natural decoration. If an aquarium looks unnatural, because of the decoration used in them, that’s makes the tank disappointing for the first sight. No matter you have healthy plants there. The overall image will lack of the natural feeling.
What kind of fishes and plants are your favorite for your creations?
If I had to choose some plants I would vote for the Bolbitis, mosses and carpet plants first. But then there are so many amazing stem with their colors. So hard to make decision. 🙂
For fishes I prefer the smaller ones, like Micro Rasbora, Boraras Brigittae, but I only use them in my nano tanks.
Can you please briefly explain how you set up an aquarium from zero?
Depend on the scape, if I build large set of stones I build that outside of the aquarium. Otherwise for wood, and stone aquariums, just put them into the tank and fine their position there. After I figured out the soil setup, to use décor sand or not, the setup goes simply.
For the process, I do follow the ADA way. Use ADA Powersand Special, ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia, sometime with more or less additives.
Plant goes in the first day as much as I can. The more plants the better.
What kind of fertilizer do you use?
Mainly the ADA ones, but used other commercial stuff in the past like Sera, Tetra, Tropica ferts too. We also using EI based mixed fertilizers on some of our tanks.
Let me now please address a touchy topic, at least among Spanish aquarists. There are mixed opinions regarding ADA products. Some people think that ADA fertilisers are readily dispensable, that glass material gets too easily dirty and is excessively fragile, etc. What is your personal view regarding these products and this prestigious brand?
Well without being too diplomatic or sounds like a marketing guy, I have a few thoughts on their products. ADA is a premium line product range. They offer many products what you can use to set up a planted aquarium and run that successfully. Just like any other business area, you have to pay for the quality, the brand and the design.
This not means that you only can have successful aquarium with these products, but once you have the budget there’s an option for you to use it.
On fertilizers, all kinds of packaged fertilizers are expensive for a guy, who uses dry powder ferts on a daily basis or who has very limited budget. But there are many people who do not like powder mixing. They always look after packaged ferts. I guess the fertilizer range is for them.
On glasses I do like them mostly for aesthetic purposes. They look awesome on a nice aquarium which maintained regularly. But will not add anything if you’re lazy with your tank.
For beginners I prefer to start with plastic/acrylic things first. Glasses are expensive toys to make the initial steps with it.
I am not a glass breaker guy, but I also managed to break a diffuser and drop checker in the past.
They are expensive, but a great visual addition to any tank I believe. They are optional not a must have add-ons.
Regarding you aquascaping vision:
How is aquascaping in Hungary?
We’re at the beginning of something, but the following years look promising. With more active members in our community more and more nicer tanks appear. But still there’s many work ahead to spread the word and introduce planted aquarium to different audiences.
In your opinion, in which country you see a bigger interest in the aquascaping?
In Europe Poland is the one. They have a largest community, many great tanks and extremely talented guys. However I see Spain very strong nowadays.
Otherwise of course Japan, and Far East countries.
Do you know anything about the aquascaping reality in Spain?
I see more and more brilliant tanks from Spain nowadays. Fine detail, natural and healthy aquariums. CAE become the European Creative Aquascape Union (CAU) in my opinion.
which is the aquarium style you prefer?
I do not have preference. There are great stone and wood aquascapes too. You can find many beauties from both of them. Dutch maybe not that closes to my preference these days.
What do you think about terrestrial landscapes in aquariums?
If this is well executed this could look awesome. I like the ones where you do not have to tell the story where you can see similar landscape in the nature. The tank tells the story itself.
Can you tell us a couple of aquascaper you like the most?
Well, there are so many great ones, would be hard to pick some of them. Some has better PR than other.
But all time favorite for me is the CAU team.
In relation to the competition this year IAPLC:
How do you value?
The more entrants the better I guess. At least when I look at the current year contest book I see a very strong first few hundred tanks. Too bad many of them we never see only in the contest book, because no one publishes them on the internet.
IAPLC helps a lot to boost the hobby worldwide. Still the best tanks appear here from all of the contests.
The seventh-ranked used a technique called “mirror.” Do you think those “tricks” should not be allowed?
This should not be allowed. It’s a visual trick not matter it’s only a mirror. I would not allow this kind of thing. Of course, as the contest gets bigger, will be harder to filter out these tricks. But I hope this will not be a common thing and the judges will try to avoid putting these tanks in the top works in the future.
What is for you the aquarium should have won?
I would close out the tricky tanks from the winning works for sure. The top 100 tanks need to be taken more seriously. The question here is what they can do if they miss it, and later it gets identified by the community. I never have seen result changes after the official result publication.
But tricky tanks not deserve the best placements for sure.
I’m going to give you a list of words and I ask you to say what first comes to your mind:
Takashi Amano: Nature Aquarium
Lily pipes: Transparency/Design
Cliff Hui: Brilliant talent
Diana Walstad: low-tech
Tom Barr: estimative index
Apart of aquariums, do you have any other hobby?
Photography, Console games with friends
Would you like to add something else?
As a community moderator person I always see problems between people, philosophy, brands, technics they use. Some like this, some like that. Some believe in one thing others are not. DIY vs. off the shelf product owners. Til we’re arguing about this, we will never create such a great aquascapes like the best ones in Far East. This is all about creativity, nature and its beauty. That’s why we all fallen love with this hobby, but many of us lost the point. Let’s try to find this moment again in ourselves.
Thank you for the opportunity on this interview.
That’s all Mr. Lantos.
Thanks again and best regards