Aquascaping in the USA!

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Twitter Meh CommentThe primary mission of Scape Fu is to bring the beautiful art of aquascaping to the English speaking world. Can you imagine my enthusiasm and delight when I woke up one morning to see that CNN had run an article on the beautiful world of aquascaping! I was even happy to forgive the misguided title that has since grown on me- Pimp my fish tank: This is the eerie, beautiful world of aquascaping. Unfortunately, my high spirits were rocked when I read the above quote left by MrVicciV. In its simple, run-on sentence way, it encapsulated what I still sense from average Joes in the US- beauty takes too much work and I’d rather burn hours in front of the television anyway.

MrVicciV’s likening of maintaining a beautiful aquascape to mowing a lawn is disheartening. Have we become so lazy in the US that we just don’t appreciate that beauty, art takes work? Where’s our spirit? Where’s our creativity? Where’s our longing for nature? Where’s our soul!?

I wanted to see if the lawn mowing feeling spread across to a similar hobby like gardening. It seems like it does. After a little research, I found this article by a Federal Twist who wondered if gardening was only a hobby. He wrote about a very similar feeling to what I experienced:

There’s far more to it than this. Gardening has a long and illustrious history–thousands of years–as a very important part of human culture, often as the place for practice or contemplation of spirituality, aesthetics, philosophy (the “good life”), even politics–yet our culture relegates it to the “hobby” category. What happened?

The article sends readers to another site dedicated to re-establishing the prominence of gardens in Western society. That site is thinkinGardens. I encourage you to go take a look and become active if you do garden outside of the confines of an aquarium.

I’ve also heard from many people who say that aquascaping is big in Asian countries because gardening is part of life over there with such a rich history. Well, that’s true but gardening has a heck of a history here in the States too. Check out this Smithsonian presentation:

All of this reminds me of a conversation I had with a significant member of the aquatic goods community in the US some time ago. He argued that aquascaping with CO2 and heavy plant growth was just too much for most people. He felt/feels that simple and beautiful aquariums with just hardscape should be the way to go. They are easy to set up and maintain and they don’t cost a lot. It’s good enough.

This is all true but I just can’t go along with that. Something inside me tells me it’s not good enough. Yes, a simple hardscape can be beautiful in it’s own way but it can be so much more with a masterful addition of plants. Would a forest be good enough if it were simply tree trunks? Would a mountain be good enough if it were simply bare rock?

What people don’t get, yet, is that the time it takes to set up an aquascape and it’s maintenance IS the point. An aquascape will never be finished but it’s the journey that contains the benefits to the aquascaper. Cultivating the aquascaping calms your minds, renews your spirit, fosters mindfulness. It’s a transcendental experience. It teaches the interrelatedness of all things. The end is not the point. It’s in the getting there. We, as Americans, have forgotten that in our fast paced world. We not only don’t stop to smell the roses, we don’t even remember that they are there.

If you’re reading this, I assume you do know the roses are there and try, every once in a while, to stop a take a whiff or two. You understand the many benefits of aquascaping. You can appreciate it. If that’s you, then join me in Scape Fu’s mission. Let’s spread the word about aquascaping. Let’s learn to make setting up and maintaining an aquascape easier (yes, even as easy as 1, 2, 3) but let’s also appreciate the fact that it requires cultivation and patience. We’ll be better people for it.

Keep scaping, my friends.


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