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Aquascape of the Month December 2009: "South American Stream"

Discussion in 'Aquascape of the Month (AOTM)' started by John N., Dec 16, 2009.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    California
    December 2009 Aquascape of the Month
    ______________________________________________
    South American Stream
    by Devin Biggs
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    INTRODUCTION
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    Ever since I was a small child I have always enjoyed nature. I have some biology training from college and I also pursue other related hobbies, such as birding, gardening and hunting. Although our family had some aquariums when I was young, I only became interested in keeping aquaria again about seven years ago. I started out during that period with low-tech marine setups, then developed an interest in poecilid and goodeid livebearers.

    Aquarium plants are natural companions to livebearers because the fish enjoy much better breeding success if kept with plants. I kept a few plants with my livebearers for this reason. I soon became more and more interested in developing planted aquaria as models in miniature of wild ecosystems.





    AQUASCAPING TECHNIQUES
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    Attempting a South American Biostream

    My original intention for the layout was to create a South America stream biotope. This idea quickly fell apart with some of my first additions, such as the Puntius titteya (a native Sri Lanka fish) and the Acorus gramineus (a plant native to Eastern Asia). However, a number of the other floral and faunal elements do originate from South America, although together they might not represent any single geographic area very well.

    I think that the riparium layout has retained the look of a tropical forest streambank. It reminds me of some of the natural places that I visited while living in Costa Rica and in Southern Mexico. The scene in the tank is especially pleasing during the cold and gray wintertime here in the Northern United States.

    I haven’t thought of a name for the aquascape. I suppose that “South America Stream” is an adequate enough name.

    Aquatic Plant Design and Layout Arrangement

    My first problem to resolve while planning this layout was to determine the water level that would divide the underwater and emersed areas. I decided to use the golden section as a guide, with the water area occupying a little less than 40% of the aquarium depth, and the remaining area left open for the emergent plant foliage.

    I also used the golden section while positioning the plant specimens. The showy dwarf taro, Colocasia fallax ‘Silver Dollar’, works as a centerpiece plant for the emersed area and is positioned approximately on the golden section to the right of center. The Nymphaea stellata lotus functions in a similar way for the underwater area and sits near the golden section to the left of center.

    The plants in this setup have required some trimming and other training to encourage them to grow into desired shapes and sizes. The dwarf taro and emergent swordplant have developed some very large leaves. I trim these away from time to time because they throw a lot of shade. I pruned the growing tips of plants rooted on the Nano trellis Rafts (e.g., Pilea cardieri) to encourage branching and to produce more material for propagation.

    Since the emersed plants are all rooted in hanging or floating planters, it is a simple matter to rearrange them in the aquarium to try out different layout variations.
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    Hardscape Reinforces Movement and Flow

    The hardscape has changed a few times since I put together the setup. I started out with the use of a number of rounded river stones arranged randomly in the bottom of the tank. I was dissatisfied with these rocks and some time later I removed them in favor of a few erect manzanita branches.

    The layout has a general triangular shape for the above water area, with the tallest plants situated on the right-hand side and the foliage sweeping down to the lower left. The manzanita branches reinforce this shape and sense of movement.


    GREATEST CHALLENGES

    For the most part, this aquascape has been easy to maintain. I did experience some trouble with algae during the first few months after setup, but algae growth is now hardly noticeable. During the early setup I also tried a number of different plants in the layout before settling with the current combination.
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    FINAL THOUGHTS & ADVICE

    Most of the aquarium equipment and other pieces of hardware were standard off-the-shelf items acquired from local pet stores and hardware stores. The riparium planting accessories included Hanging Planters and Trellis Rafts from Riparium Supply.

    I planned this riparium layout with the idea of maintaining a low maintenance display for our home. The aquarium flora and fauna have more than fulfilled my expectations and we have thoroughly enjoyed viewing their beautiful forms from day to day, along with the subtle changes of the aquascape over time.

    I look forward to continued viewing of the exuberant plant growth and peaceful movement of fishes through underwater plant foliage. I also anticipate with excitement the planning and set up of my next planted riparium display.



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    Note: Some images may have been post-processed to correct for exposure and/or color.




















     

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  2. Jennifer

    Jennifer New Member

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    This is very inspirational riparium. Are you keeping any living animals in the above water sections?
     
  3. hydrophyte

    hydrophyte Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks so much Jennifer.

    Ripariums do not have any land area in the underwater portion, so they are not so good for keeping amphibious/terrestrial animals. There were however quite a few fish in that scape and lots of plants too.
     
  4. CHUNTC

    CHUNTC New Member

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    Great work. Very detail description. Thank you.
     
  5. hydrophyte

    hydrophyte Moderator Staff Member

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    Hey you bet. Thanks CHUNTC!
     
  6. dantra

    dantra New Member

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    Congratulations hydrophyte, it's well deserved. I'm sure your next one will be nothing short of stunning.

    Best regards,
    Dan
     
  7. hydrophyte

    hydrophyte Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks so much Dan!
     
  8. RoC

    RoC New Member

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    Wow i love the stand did you build it yourself?
     

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