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Članci Početna » Intervjui na engleskom » Interview with George Farmer
Interview with George Farmer

1. We know you work as a weapons engineer for a Royal Air Force, that sounds interesting, exciting. What does your work day look like?

Currently I am an instructor with an Expeditionary Armament Squadron, so am busy training personnel in how to work safely and effectively with various aircraft weapons. With recent events in Libya we are very busy and I may be expected to be deployed on operations in Italy soon. Next year I will be in Afghanistan for 6 months.

2. What do you feel are your greatest achivements in the aquascaping competitions and in the hobby itself?

My greatest acheivement in competitions was being invited to be a judge alongside Takashi Amano in the 2008 AGA International Aquascaping Contest. My highest personal ranking has been getting 1st Place, 3rd Place and Highly Commended all in the same category with 3 entries (Biotope Aquascape) in the 2009 AGA Contest. My highest IAPLC ranking was 169th in the 2009 IAPLC. This year I hope to do better… My greatest achievement in the hobby as a whole is knowing that I have helped people by promoting aquascaping and planted aquariums through my work.

3. Could you tell our readers about UKAPS(UK Aquatic Plant Society)? It started as a sub forum on Barrreport right? How much do you think you achieved in promoting the hobby in the UK and worldwide?

Tom Barr was a regular visitor to where a few UK hobbyists were very active and passionate. He suggested the idea for UKAPS and a few of us formed an unofficial committee. We temporarily used the Barr Report as a base until we created in 2007.

Now we have over 6,000 members on the forum and we hold regular events. Higlights have included visiting the Tropica nurseries in Denmark, attending Vivarium in Holland, as well as having exhibitions in the UK-based Festival of Fishkeeping. UKAPS have even been featured in the Chelsea Flower Show (2010) that was visited by The Queen. We are regarded by most as the UK’s best resource for the latest planted aquarium and aquascaping information and host several world-class experts on the hobby, as well as promoting the hobby to beginners.

4. How many aquariums do you have right now? Does it take a lot of time to take care of them?

I am running 3 tanks – 25 litre, 60 litre, and 240 litre. The 25 litre is a desktop nano that is a low-maintenance shrimp tank with mainly moss, crypts. The 60 litre is a high-spec 60cm opti-white with state-of-the-art TMC LED lighting, Fluval G6 filter etc. It’s an Iwagumi ‘scape that’s almost 12 months old.

The 240 litre is a jungle aquascape with lots of big swords, Aponogetons, Crinums and Lilies. I spend around 3 hours per week on all of the tanks.

5. Few technical questions; What substrate do you prefer for your setups, and why?

My substrate selection is based largely on aesthetics. I have found that growing plants in soil-based substrates such as ADA Aqua Soil and similar products give the best growth rates. However, sometimes I will also use inert sand/gravel and rely purely on water column nutrients to feed the plants. Re-scaping in soil-based substrates is also very messy as they tend to turn to mud/sludge in the long-term. I have also had a lot of success with fine gravel on top of Tropica Plant Substrate. For me substrate is one of the less important factors in planted tanks if you have good CO2, water column nutrients and circulation.

6. About water: do you use r/o or tap water? What are the water parameters in your aquariums? Is it hard or soft water?

I use water straight from my tap. It is hard – GH 14, KH 7. Conductivity 750S/m. It also has a lot of NO3 and PO4. I usually perform 50% water changes per week, sometimes more, sometimes less.

7. And lighting? How do you decide how much light to use? Do you use a PAR meter? How about LED lights?

For most of my set-ups I have used T5, but recently I have been using LED. T5 gives better saturation in colours than LED, but the point-source and ripple effect gives a more natural effect. I have used a PAR meter to determine light levels at given distances from the water/substrate in different set-ups with different types of lighting. For a low light set-up I will go for around 20 µmol at the substrate. For high light – 70+µmol.

8. Flow and filtration. How important would you say the flow and the filtration is?

Good circulation and biological filtration become more important the more energy your aquarium has i.e. high light and high CO2 will require excellent circulation to ensure the CO2 and other nutrients are distributed effectively. Lots of fast plant growth also creates lots of organic waste matter from the plants, so good filtration is essential. I am not a fan of using powerheads, as they spoil the aquascape, so would rather use large powerful filters or multiple filters. The 10x guideline is commonplace in the UK i.e. a 120 litre tanks needs a 1200lph filter. In my 240 litre aquarium I am using a Fluval FX5.

9. What about water column ferts? Do you have any favourite brand?

I have been using Tropica Plant Nutrition+ for several years to good effect. It is an excellent all-in-one product for my requirements. Recently I have been using Aqua Rebel Flowgrow fertilisers from Germany. They are excellent and their Spezial-N product is very interesting, as it contains several sources of N. Their Mikro product is also very effective.

10. How do you choose livestock? Do you have any favourite fish? When are the algae eaters intoduced in your aquariums?

My fish selection is based on the aquascape and chosen to suit. I tend to use tetras for most of my aquascapes as they are great for shoaling and photography. Sometimes I will wait months before adding fish, so the aquascape is mature and I can spend plenty of time choosing appropriate fish.

I think fish are a vital ingredient to any aquascape and should be chosen and cared for in the best way possible. I always feed plenty of colour enhancing high quality foods for this reason. Algae-eating shrimp are usually added as soon as possible, but I rarely use algae eating fish these days.

11. Where do you find inspiration for your setups? In nature, other scapes maybe?

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Sometimes nature i.e. my latest Iwagumi (Project Scree) comes from a trip to the Welsh mountains.

I am also a fan of biotope aquascapes and will base the aquascape around a localised theme. Other aquascapes give me plenty of inspiration too, but I try not compromise my individual creativity, although to an extent I think we are all a product of our environment. As I create more aquascapes I am becoming more confident in experimenting with my own path, rather then re-treading old ground.

12. You are also an excellent photographer. What gear do you use nowdays?

Thank you. I have a Canon 50D, 24-105L and 100mm macro lenses. I have studio flash but rarely use it. I really enjoy the photography and find it a useful compliment to aquascaping with several aspects going hand-in-hand i.e. the importance of composition.

13. What is the procedure for a photo shoot? How much time does it take to do a photo?

I spend maybe less time preparing for a photo shoot than most. I maintain my tanks little and often, sometimes daily, and try to keep them as near perfect as possible in terms of no algae on the glass, pruned leaves etc. Because they are mostly open-top it is easy to remove the equipment and fit extra lighting over the top if necessary. My camera is quite good at handling high ISO so I can also shoot good quality images using the aquarium’s regular lighting. Studio lighting gives the best results if set up properly but it is a lot more time consuming. Currently I am using lots of T5 over the top of the tanks to get the final aquascape shot. For instance for my 60cm Iwagumi I will be using 6 x 39w HO T5 with 4 x 6500K tubes, 2 x red/blue tubes for colour enhancement. This gives me enough light to get f/8, 1/200, ISO 400. I usually shoot in burst mode to get the best fish shoaling shot possible.

14. Do you use Photoshop a lot?

No. I use it for most images, but only make minor alterations. I prefer to get as much right in-camera as possible. Photoshop in contests is a widely debated subject that goes beyond the scope of this interview but I do believe that the rules need clarifying for some.

15. Message for our members?

Continual improvement is better than delayed perfection. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to try something different. Thank you for interviewing me!

Authors: Luka Zanic & Leonard Popovic

Objavio lp u 14.04.2011 09:48
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