Ray Motoyama’s 32 L planted tank is proof that small can be stunning. For some reason, everything about the presentation of this beautiful 8.5-gallon (32-L) planted aquarium speaks to aquarists of different skill levels and says “you too can do this.” As is the case with many fine works of art, its simplicity is deceptive.
One of the first signals that this a bit unorthodox is the choice of livestock. Honey Gouramis, Chocolate Gouramis and Clown Killifish aren’t exactly “standard fare” in the planted aquarium world. These fish at once blend in with the aquascape, and yet make bold statements, denoting an aquarist who’s not simply following what is trendy or easy. Here are a couple stills from Motoyama’s video:
The plants? Motoyama lists his species in this layout as including Eleocharis parvula, Hydrocotyle tripartita ‘Japan’, Anubias nana var. ‘Petite’, Rotala sp. “Green”, Rotala nanjenshan, Rotala colorata, Rotala sp. “Mini”, Ludwigia arcuata, and Fissidens fontanus.
Watch Motoyama’s Tank Now!
Remember that part about it being deceptively simple. In reality, this layout is likely the work of months of trial and error along the way. The Mini Forest layout is just one aquascaping iteration out of many past, and future ones, that Motoyama created with the same basic materials in the same tank. Here’s a look at one of his “teardowns” and re-aquascaping of the same tank, less than a year prior.
You can watch the entire history of this aquarium, as Motoyama takes it from one iteration to the next, watch his Youtube Channel. Based on his past pace, it may be due for an update any day now!