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Članci Početna » Intervjui na engleskom » Interview with James Findley
Interview with James Findley

At the very beginning, greetings from members and editorial staff of the first Croatian aquascape site and forum

If you could please introduce yourself in a couple of sentences ?

Hello, thank you for your interest. My name is James Findley and I am the founder of The Green Machine, a specialist aquascaping store. I am also a professional aquascaper and fine art photographer.

How long have you been in aquascaping?

Over 17 years – once I saw my first planted tank, everything changed for me!

What is your favourite aquascape style and why?

I am excited by all styles of aquascaping. One of the things I love about this hobby is the scope for variety. I like pushing the boundaries: experimenting with new styles is what excites me the most. I often dream about new aquascaping ideas when I am asleep!

You often mention that planning is the most important. Do you stick to that, or do you simply follow intuition?

Whilst planning can be important, especially when you first start out, it is great fun to just play around with styles and aquascape instinctively. I never draw anything, or plan it out on paper, but I often wake up in the night from dreaming about what I’m going to do – especially when it is a very large display tank. I feel very lucky because I am always scaping a tank, or getting ready to scape the next one, so it means I am constantly lost in a world of aquascaping! So I suppose you could say that I mentally plan my aquascapes!

If you are a beginner you might find it useful to read some of the articles on our website, especially the one about ‘The Golden Ratio’ and perhaps the one about ‘Iwagumi Aquascapes’ as these will help you to understand some of the basic rules of aquascaping layout.

I'm also a father of a five- year old, and while going through your aquascapes I have come to „Through the eyes of a child“. Where did you get the inspiration for that tank and others ?

This aquascape shows how it is only really child-like imperfection that can be perfect in the aquascaping world! If you plant a perfectly symmetrical, ordered, neat aquascape then it doesn’t look natural and it doesn’t look very beautiful either. I got the inspiration for this aquascape when my daughter, Ellen, chose the rocks for me. As I watched her select them I could see that to her every rock was beautiful – in her eyes they were all magical and she chose the most magical ones. And I think her choice was excellent! So it shows that only by connecting to our inner, childlike, instinctive selves can we truly create something that is perfect imperfection: something that reflects the beauty of Nature’s genuine chaos.

Let's continue with some technical questions:

Which type of substrate do you use?

My current substrate of choice is ADA, I have used most substrates that are available, but so far ADA is the only one that I have complete confidence in. Wherever possible, I use it with the ADA Power Sand as this gives me superb results every time.

We have often discussed about circulation and filtration on the forum. What do you think about it and what is the flow in your tanks?

There is a lot of discussion about flow lately, but I have run tanks with relatively low flow in the past and had fantastic results with them, so for me it is not such a vital issue, except on the larger 1000 litre or more displays, in which I often add an extra power head for additional movement. Because the body of water is so large in these tanks, I do find that a bit of extra flow helps – but I do not use a mathematical equation to work it out! I just use my instincts and my experience.

Do you have problems with algae and how do you prevent them?

I think everyone has problems with algae from time to time! It is a natural part of the eco system. To minimize algae problems I use heavy planting, lots of CO2 (a lack of CO2 is probably the biggest single cause of algae in the planted tank), correct fertilization regime and good lighting.

Which type of lighting do you use (t5, MH or LED)?

My favorite kind of lighting is halide lighting, followed by T-5s. I have tested various LED lights on planted tanks but unfortunately so far I have not found one that is good enough. Because I make sure that everything in The Green Machine works for planted tanks, they do not currently stock any LEDs – everything in there has to pass our rigorous tests first, and so far we have not found any LED that passes our tests. But I hope that there will be some good LEDs soon. Personally I hope that one will be developed quite soon, so I think it is best to save your money for a little longer until a really great LED light is developed. Of course, as soon as we find one that we are satisfied with, we will be letting everyone know!

Which fertilizers do you use? Do you start with it from the beginning and in which quantity?

At the moment, when I am using ADA Aqua Soil I do not dose fertilizers for about the first 6 weeks, except for Brighty K which I dose from day one (1ml per 20l). After 5-6 weeks, I start using the ADA Green Brighty Series on my smaller tanks. Where budget is an issue, the Tropica TPN and TPN+ are also very good fertilizers.


It is known that you're an excellent photographer, so are you still engaged in photography?

Thank you for the compliment! I was trained as a fine art photographer so photography will always be close to my heart. Now I use photography for fun and relaxation.

How much did photography help you in aquascaping?

Very much – the basic rules of composition, layout and color all cross the boundaries of both artistic mediums, so my training and experience as a fine art photographer has been very useful to me as an aquascaper!

Which equipment and techniques do you use when photographing tanks?

Actually, nowadays the technical team at The Green Machine do most of the tank photography! I prefer photographing nature or interesting architecture, especially in the early morning or just before sunset.

At the end...

You own The Greenmachine Ltd; where did you get the idea from, how was it to transfer a hobby into business and how do you manage?

Once I saw my first planted tank that was it! I am a bit of a perfectionist, so as soon as I saw a planted tank I had to be able to do it! So I became a hobbyist. After travelling in Asia I saw what could be done with planted tanks – when I came back I searched the length and breadth of the country looking for a planted tank shop, but I couldn’t find any. So I decided to open The Green Machine. I wanted it to be a planted tank heaven! At first it was difficult because we did everything, but as the team grew it became more and more enjoyable – now I just plant tanks because I have a fantastic team who take care of everything else, so it is like my dream job and I feel very lucky! It is a family business and we are a very close team.

Please rate the UK aquascape scene?

I believe it is an emerging scene: the standard of aquascaping in the UK is very good, but the standard of shops available in the UK is generally not as good as in some other countries – The Green Machine is still the only planted tank specialist in the UK to date.

Your associations to:

a) The most beautiful plant - I have to admit, my favorite plant changes all the time! At the moment I have a particular affinity for Aponogeton Crispus Red, which I have used in ‘Nature’s Chaos’ to represent a dramatic volcanic eruption and in ‘Through the Eyes of a Child’ to represent sea weed and help create the feeling of an underwater rock pool ,

b) Takashi Amano - Takashi Amano is the man who started all this off: he is the father of aquascaping, an excellent photographer and a great man. His work has been a great inspiration.

c) Life - You only get one, so enjoy it!

d) Aquarium - I don’t know about anyone else, but to me when I look at a planted aquarium, I can feel as though I am almost inside it with the fish looking out! It is like creating a whole new world.

e) Photography - To me, photography is a form of relaxation. Getting a good shot is like placing the final stone in a great Iwagumi!

What could you say to our members?

Don’t fret the small things – enjoy your aquascaping journey and don’t worry about imperfections. Work with as many plants and hardscapes as you can, because this will increase your experience and help you to learn to understand your aquascape so you can begin to aquascape instinctively. Remember that aquascaping is an art form: so there is no right or wrong way to do it, it is just personal choice.

Author: Dario Horvat

Objavio lp u 13.01.2012 14:55
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