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Aquascaping:
The Art Form of Flora and Fauna
Tennessee Aquarium Hosts Conference in November

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (September 1, 2001) -- Imagine yourself drifting in a lush underwater jungle or being suspended over a swaying "field" of bubble-laden aquatic grass. Welcome to the world of aquascaping, where the science of aquatic horticulture and husbandry become an art form.

One inspiration for aquascaping is Takashi Amano. Amano is a Japanese pioneer in the creation of "natural aquariums." His outlook toward planted aquariums can be likened to that of Bonsai artists. Creating these aquaria is about tranquility, art and balance.

Amano's work has quite a following in Japan and throughout Asia, Europe and the United States. From November 9-11 the Tennessee Aquarium will host the Aquatic Gardener's Association annual conference. Special guest speaker for the three-day conference will be Takashi Amano.

"Amano is a portrait painter who uses an aquarium as his canvas and aquatic plants and animals as his paints," said Charlene Nash, Aquarium horticulturist and organizer of the conference. "He's traveled the world to capture the most fascinating aquatic elements and build them into captivating aquarium scenes.

"Because of the growing popularity of these underwater artworks -- really miniature ecosystems -- the Aquarium has become a trendsetter in incorporating Amano-like philosophies in some of its current exhibits, and we are inspired to do more," Nash added. "It will be exciting to learn from him firsthand."

For more information and registration for the Aquatic Gardeners Association at the Aquarium, see the website www.aquatic-gardeners.org.

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding, conservation and celebration of aquatic habitats. Admission is $12.95 per adult and $6.95 per child, ages 3-12. Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. Members enjoy unlimited visits and other benefits. To join or for program and trip information, call 267-FISH. The Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas and is accessible to people with disabilities.

Profile: Takashi Amano:
Takashi Amano was born July 18, 1954. He first became interested in aquatic plants and animals at an early age and won the prefecture prize for scientific research for his Korean paradise fish studies in junior high school. He began studying and experimenting with the relationships between fish and plants at that time.

He was a creative and sensitive high school student, a National Meet cyclist, a painter of watercolors and the first to start a movement in Niigata to protect the local environment. He grew up near the Yoroi Wetlands, the biggest wetlands in Niigata Prefecture, which is full of aquatic plants, freshwater fish and waterfowl.

He started building and photographing plant aquaria in 1972. In 1976 he began publishing photographs and essays on tropical fishes and plants from his travels in Africa, Asia and Japan's southern islands.

He entered his first photo contest in 1991 with "Chameleon Diary," winning top honors, and "Leading Ladies in Shade," selected for exhibition. His "Yamor" won a sliver medal at the Fuji Film Nature Photo Contest that same year. He has also won several honors at the prefectural and city levels in Niigata.

"I think Takashi has been the organizer of a revolution against the old, rigid concept of aquaria - which were just glass boxes for viewing fish," said one of his colleagues, Dr. Nagashima. "He has made the plants the stars and raised the work of aquarists to an art form."

Amano was a professional cyclist from 1974 to 1990, but at present he devotes his energy to running Aqua-design Amano, a specialty store and maker of plant aquarium products.

Amano: "Humans, the newcomers on this four billion-year-old planet, now have the power to destroy nature. The once-clear water is muddied, and the once-green land is losing its color. In trying to make their lives rich, people have made us all incredibly poorer from the destruction of nature. Only desolate hearts can grow in desolate surroundings. We have to remember that we either live in nature or not at all. Through building and maintaining beautiful natural aquaria, people relearn the intricate connections between forms of life: plants, fish, microorganisms and humans. Riches and beauty come from harmony, from balance. Aquaria are great teachers of this truth."

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding, conservation and enjoyment of the Tennessee River and related ecosystems. Admission is $12.955 per adult and $6.95 per child, ages 3-12. The Aquarium is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas and is accessible to people with disabilities.


 

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