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Pasquale Buonpane - Oriente e Occidente (East and West)

Pasquale Buonpane Interview

Pasquale Buonpane is an Italian aquarist and plant collector, and recently, well known aquascaper, both in Italy and worldwide. His "East and West" aquascape in 2009 has achieved the following positions in competitions:


Dear Mr. Pasquale, thank you for volunteering your time to this interview so you can share your aquascaping knowledge and techniques with us. Here are the questions I would like to ask you.

Before we get into your aquascape, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in the planted aquariums? How long have you been in this hobby?

I’ve always been an aquarium hobbist, my first tank goes back to my childhood but I made my first aquascape only in 2006.Plants are my greatest passion, I’m a carnivorous and succulent plants collector, so I think it was inevitable for me to get involved in planted tanks.

Nowadays, thanks to the web, it is very easy to acquire information on the management of planted tanks. However, the only technical aspects are not enough to became a good aquascaper: you need the right artistic sensibility and above all, you have to be a good observer of nature.

No, I only try to follow my instinct and my aesthetic sense.

I think my style can be described as a continuous search for simplicity: it is not a coincidence that in my tanks there are always a few elements and usually only 2 or 3 plant species.

I think I’m a lucky man because I live near a magnificent mountain range. In my scapes I try to recreate the atmosphere and feelings of “my” mountains.


Pasquale Buonpane East and West aquascape

Pasquale Buonpane - Oriente e Occidente (East and West)

”East and west” was my first pure iwagumi style tank. The original idea came from a place I often visit where the beech trees, under the weight of snow ,never become tall trees but growing they only form small rounded bushes. In that tank I tried to imitate those bushes using Fissidens fontanus.

I always use to personally collect the stones in nature: I think it’s the only way to get exactly what you need for a particular aquascape. The hardest part was keeping the difference in height between the front and the back side of the tank: the first few weeks I had to pay a lot of attention during the water changes to prevent the substrate to collapse.

The best way to avoid the growth of algae is to fertilize considering the amount of plant mass. In this tank I added some fertilizing tabs only in the areas covered with H. callitrichoides. Fissidens  is a very slow growing moss, so the small amount of fertilizer coming from the substrate to the water column was enough for a good growth.

Pasquale Buonpane East and West aquascape

Pasquale Buonpane - Oriente e Occidente (East and West)

I’ve just told about the fertilization. I use to change about 40-50% of water every week.

As I said it is very important a balanced fertilization to get rid of algae. I also use to add a good number of Crossocheilus siamensis (Siamese algae eaters) as soon as possible. H. callitrichoides is certainly my favorite foreground plant, in this tank I think it took at least two or three months to form a dense compact lawn. One of the secrets to get a perfect lawn is to prune very often. Usually I try to never exceed the thickness of two centimeters.

TANK SIZE: 160 x 52 x 60 cm
LIGHTNING: 4x58w T8 (6500°K)
FILTRATION: External filter
SUBSTRATE: Akadama substrate, sand
FERTILIZATION: Tropica capsules
CO2 ADDITION: about 20mg/l
PLANTS: Hemianthus callitrichoides, Fissidens fontanus
FISH AND INVERTEBRATES: Paracheirodon innesi, Crossocheilus siamensis,
Otocinclus sp., Caridina japonica, Neocaridina
"Red Cherry"


I really like the creative part: aquascaping is an amazing way to express the admiration and love for nature and all the living beings.

Each layout generally does not last for more than a year or two: sooner or later I start thinking of some new ideas and so I start working to let them come true. In addition I have to say that to participate in the contests often is necessary to have new works every year.

A lot of passion, a little bit of luck and the courage to follow your instinct trying not to imitate the “famous” tanks.

I think it will be increasingly difficult to be original and be able to create something of “never seen before”.

Be patient, follow your instinct and try to be a good observer of nature.

Pasquale Buonpane East and West aquascape

Foto from the IAPCL competition (The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest)

Pasquale Buonpane intervju - hrvatska verzija ovdje!

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