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Interview with Andrea Perotti

Interview with Andrea Perotti
by Óscar Pereiro

Andrea Perotti is a well known Italian aquarist and a reference in the international aquarium world.
I was privileged to know him a little more thanks to the interview … With the exchange of emails and a look at the social networks discovered not only the exceptional aquarist, but the good man too … a fighter who I admire and since I have a great affection.

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

Thank you to you, Oscar. The aquariorosa’s interest to me it’s an honor.

Can you please explain us a little bit how is your daily life?

I work for a big company that produces aeronautical engines parts, especially for military use. I deal with quality.
I live in Somma Lombardo, a small town in northern Italy, few kilometers far from Switzerland.
I’m a married man and I have a 12 years old son, unfortunately affected from a genetic brain disease. Because of my son’s disease my life is quite withdrawn; I left all my previous hobbies, because I need to spend the 100% of my free time to provide the required assistance for my son.
I have two dogs that I love as sons and an amazing wife that is always able to let myself feel good and to make myself smiling. She has an incredible fortitude, she is always positive and she is always able to help me to ride out difficulties. She is my sunshine.

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

I bought my first true aquarium in 2002; it was a part of a «pet-therapy» project for my son’s disease treatment. In that period my home became as a zoo, with turtles, birds, dogs etc.
My son he never showed interest for that aquarium, but my duty was to insist and maintain it. Gathering informations on books and magazines, gradually I became fond of aquariology until my total «infection».

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

Unfortunately at home is increasingly difficult for me to dedicate myself to the aquariology, because during my son’s crises there is a high chance for him to breaking a tank, with the consequent high risk for his safety. For this reason last years i took away almost all my 7 aquariums (where only two was mine) and currently I have only two small tanks in a safe and protected area. Within this two acquariums I’m reproducing moss.
Luckily my dear friend Davide Robustelli, a known person in Italy that’s own some aquarium’s e-commerce sites and a plants and ornamental fishes glasshouse not so far from my home, he as 20 plantaquariums but not much time to follow them. Fot this reason, one year ago, he was about to dismiss these aquariums (or to convert them to african cichlids breeding) but, just before, he asked me if I could take care of them, and I accepted with enthusiasm. Currently I go every now and then to the Davide’s glasshouse, and he gives me the opportunity to manage at my pleasure all these aquariums. For instance, I set up the layout I’ve entered at the IAPCL 2011 contest.
During last year I realized some aquascape designs that I’m trying to keep alive over time. Due to the few time available, all these aquariums aren’t extremely managed… I can spend, weekly, only 15/20 minutes each one.

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

I really like the Ryoboku style, used by Amano for his wooden layouts: Probably I’m a little bit influenced by this style, because I’ve seen so many. Furthermore I’m usually inspired by wooded landscape of my my homeland. I live in a green belt because my zone is a part of the «Nature reserve of Ticino»; I rode for 20 years (walk or bike) these wooded landscapes, these wonderful and magic places and, often, I have these places in my mind when I try to set up a new aquarium, trying to recreate something that can give same emotions and flavour. For this reason, most of the time I’ve recreated outcrop landscapes, slightly modified to be a little bit more acquatic. In pratice, underwater forests.

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

I don’t follow compositional rules, but I’m drived by istinct. I always try to realize wild layouts that represent natural and uncontaminated environments… primordial environments… where I can convey my mood and my peace desire.

Now, if you don’t mind, a few technical questions:

Which kind of substrate do you use?

I’ve used PRODAC’s products for years (an Italian company I was an external worker). Currently I’m using almost Seachem Flourite (Black Sand & Onyx Sand) and Tropica (Plant Substrate).

Do you consider filtration as an important part?

Filtration is the base. It’s better to have oversized than undersized filtration.

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

– Water circulation: must be optimal.
– CO2 system: I’d like aquariums with a huge number of plants, so I think is an essential item and I use it 24/24h, but dispensing it lightly.
– Light distribution: The Light must be correctly distributed on whole layout.

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

I like little herd fish, mostly those of the Characidae family. In my tank never fail crustaceans, small catfish (Loricaridae) and small gastropods.
About plants, I love ferns (Microsorum spp. and Bolbitis spp. are always present in my creations) and foreground plants (Hemianthus callitrichoides and Eleocharis parvula are my favorite).

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

In setting up a new work, you need to have a clear idea in your mind. Starting from that idea, you have to find the decorative material (wood and rock). When you’ve found the right rocks/roots/branches, you have to try to enhance them to highest with the hardscape creation.
Usually I plant immediately, inserting a lot of fast-growing plants. If possible, I use plants pruning from other aquariums because you can get a faster and good vegetative activity.

What kind of fertilizer do you use?

For convenience I use weekly a all-in-one fertilizer. Currently I give «Profito Easy Life» within medium level aquariums, and Tropica PlantNutrition when highest requirements are needed.

What do you think of marketing commercial products that many consider almost miraculous?

I don’t really understand what you mean, but anyway I don’t believe to miracles.

Regarding you aquascaping vision?

Aquascaping is the research, the plan, the realization and the maintenance of a studied layout, that allows to convey a private emotion, but it can’t be outside of a good basics aquarium knowledge. Before playing as aquascaper, you need to know how manage an aquarium.

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

At the European level I want to give a mention to Russian Federation, because has been distinguished in all International contests, winner of the last year IAPLC and placed third of this year edition.

How is aquascaping in Italy?

In Italy, the number of people fond in aquascaping is growing and the quality level of the works is raising.

Which is the aquarium style you prefer?

As I said before, I like wooden and wild layout. I don’t like clean and tidy ones; I prefer it if it looks like a natural environment, not man made.

What do you think about terrestrial landscapes in aquariums?

They like me, but I prefer to make them look a bit less terrestrial and a bit more aquatic. I feel myself to have this duty toward aquariology.

Do you know anything about the aquascaping reality in Spain?

Mainly I know the works and the talent of Diego Sandoval; his passion for micro aquariums has infected me. I know AAC and I entered this competition in 2010… a contest with a perfect organization, very professional.

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

The first place is obviously for Mr Takashi Amano, that’s unreachable. Then I want to mention Yutaka Kanno, Long Tran Hoang, Michael G.W.Wong, Filipe Alves Oliveira e Cliff Hui.

You manage a blog (Aqua Experience) and a forum ( Can you tell me something about them?

For years I was a moderator and administrator for others forums not owned, then I felt the desire of create something mine.
At the beginning I create a Blog. In its first year it was full of contents, but I pruned it when the portal was born, and currently is mainly a photogallery of my works. The website (I want to point out that is a portal with forum and not only a forum) is born as a natural evolution of my blog. It’s on-line since 1st Jan 2010 and currently it has a good popular appeal; we have a great number of supporters. Moreover it’s highly regarded by web search engines.

Apart of aquariums, do you have any other hobby?

Currently my only one hobby is the aquariology. Anyway I like races (MotoGP and Formula1) and the hard rock music.

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

– Forums

Places where you can learn a lot and where you can meet amazing people.

– Algae

Unavoidable. No one aquarium is totally without algae.

– Aquascaping

Be able to «read» a layout.

– Contests

An opportunity to compare yourself with the stars.

– Lily pipes

I never had it.

– Photography

Can help you to enhance a layout value from a contest point of view.

– Diana Walstad

My friend Giacomo Guarraci is using a similar methodology from 10 years, but in my opinion his version is better… I hope he will can, in the future, to sell it or, at least, to talk about it in a book. If this happens, probably you will read the Guarraci’s name within your interview, instead of Walstad’s name.

– Tom Barr

I know the «Estimative Index» system… more or less it’s similar to my method. When I read his name, all the times comes in my mind a photo where he swam in a very big and wonderful PlantaDiscus… hahaha.

– Takashi Amano

A genius. Great Aquascaper, great nature knower, great photographer, but above all, great marketing expert.

That’s all Mr. Perotti.
Thanks again and best regards

Thank you to you, Oscar, it was my pleasure.
Greetings to all Aquariorosa’s readers.

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