The coolest thing about being a relative newcomer to the freshwater "Big Leagues" is that you get to meet some of the cool people who are very highly regarded in that arena. This past weekend, I was privileged to speak at a conference that had a rare mix of freshwater and reef speakers, and got a chance to catch up with some cool people that I'd not previously met.
One of those was Luis Navarro, one of the hobby's legendary aquascapers, aquatic plant lovers, and biotope enthusiast extraordinare! Luis and I spent a lot of time talking and comparing pics of aquariums, aquaecapes, and in his case, incredible wild habitat videos he took in Mexico. You've seen some of his planted tank pics on these pages before.
It didn't take long for me to find out that, in addition to being a supremely talented aquascaper, Luis is an absolute lover of some of these unique habitats, particularly ones with lots of leaves, branches, and other plant material making up the substrate, and has been itching to work with materials to replicate them.
As it happened, he was doing a planted tank demonstration on Sunday, when a little "curveball" was thrown at him: The plants that he expected did not materialize. After a bit of ruminating, he did what all veteran speakers do- he edited on the fly and reorganized his presentation/demo to focus on how to construct a hardscape for a planted tank...right up my alley!
And of course, he needed some materials...Guess who happened to have some aquatic botanicals? Yeah.
So, when one of the world's top aquascapers asks if he can use your stuff in his presentation to do a hardscape, you don't even stop to consider it...
And of course, as amazing 'capers do, Luis was able to construct a compelling hardscape with just the materials we had present, and, even though he would have loved to have had plants, the audience was fascinated by the 'scape as it existed. A true hardscape, constructed live by one of the world's best, with aquatic botanicals as a focal point...!
To my knowledge, this was the first time our botanicals have been used in a live aquascaping demo...and judging by the enthusiasm of both Luis and the audience, I suspect it won't be the last.
The large Catappa leaves, although they probably would not be the first choice in a scape of this size, gave a unique perspective, texture, and look to the layout, helping to enhance the appearance of the wood.
What really amazed me, apart from the awesome scape he created, was the fact that this was created "on the fly", without any real planning or forethought. He literally didn't know what he'd be working with until he opened the bags. One can only imagine what a world-class 'scaper like Luis is capable of creating with aquatic botanicals when he has a chance to scheme a bit...And he will. We're looking forward to seeing a Tannin-themed 'scape coming from Luis very soon- and we'll be sure to feature it right here!
We look forward to seeing many more compelling biotope and hardscape aquarium built with our aquatic botanicals- and YOUR endless imagination.
Keep dreaming. Keep 'scaping. Keep sharing.
And stay wet.