Borrowing from Japanese Gardeners

People seldom fail to notice the similarities between aquarium design and garden design. Good gardeners make good aquarists, and vice versa. The primary difference lies with scale. Gardeners generally have more than four square feet to work with, whereas a fifty-five-gallon aquarium provides only this much space. Among gardeners, the Japanese have mastered the art of making an impressive garden in a minimum of space. The tsuboniwa, or courtyard garden, the bonseki, or dish garden, and bonsai, or pruned dwarf trees, each draws upon basic principles of design to create the illusion of spaciousness. Four basic principles, developed over hundreds of years, exemplify this technique. Aquarists can apply the same rules. They are:

• Inspiration from nature

• Wildness versus control

• Personal expression

• Idealization

Let's consider how each of these works in designing an aquarium.

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