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Aquascape of the Month November 2009: "Riverbank"

Discussion in 'Aquascape of the Month (AOTM)' started by John N., Nov 14, 2009.

  1. John N.

    John N. Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
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    Location:
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    November 2009 Aquascape of the Month
    ______________________________________________
    Riverbank
    by Maciek Michalski


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    INTRODUCTION
    [float_left][​IMG] [/float_left]My name is Maciek Michalski. I live in Cracow, Poland and I am a 21 years MBA student. My aquarium passion began about 9 years ago. I remember my dad had an aquarium at home so I was used to it. One day with a couple of friends we decided to set up an aquarium in school and after that the addiction took hold of me. Soon, apart from my father’s tank, I owned a 60 cm tank in my room. I created a typical community tank, then an Apistogramma biotope and finally I read in a polish Aquarium magazine about planted aquariums.

    In 2004 I set up my first planted tank. I read alot about the aquarium plants and how to design planted aquariums on the internet. Polish discussion forums taught me a lot and my aquascaping techniques have progressed. Nowadays I would call myself an intermediate aquarist – I still have to learn a lot, especially in case of practical knowledge. Because of limited space I own two small 60 cm tanks in my room and one nano (Mini S size). I also take care of my father’s tank (192 lts - which after being a successful low tech aquarium now represents the Malawi biotope) and couple of tanks at our clients’ houses (we run a small business here with my girlfriend). Nowadays I am completely addicted to Nature. At the moment I am studying Iwagumi and Ryuboku aquascaping styles in their primary form – minimalistic Iwagumi and wild, natural Ryuboku.


    AQUASCAPING TECHNIQUES
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    A Return to Simplicity - Ryuboku Aquascaping

    I wanted to have an aquascape which wouldn’t require much attention. Having a previously high tech, bright aquascape with HQI lighting, I found I missed something quite different...the simplicity of low light and slow growing plants. I switched gears and decided to return back to simplicity.

    For my simple, low light aquascape, I knew I want to use driftwood and sand together with some stones – trying to recreate an underwater image of a naturally flowing Riverbank (which is the name of the aquascape). The planted aquairum design was inspired by the riverside landscapes and classic Ryuboku aquascapes which I saw on the photos in the Internet and magazines.


    Planted Aquarium Depth with Hardscape Arrangement

    I used two big pieces of driftwood, a couple of Manten stones and two different types of sand. Such a combination makes it possible to create a very natural aquascape with a bit of wildness. The main piece of wood was positioned so that the branches were aimed down into the substrate.[float_right] [​IMG] [/float_right] The other smaller piece of driftwood was aimed upwards as a contrast to the bigger one. The Manten stones were selected in order to secure the wood and add visual accents to the aquascape. This is why I used small and middle size stones.


    For the aquarium substrate slope, I made a typical slope with the sand and added larger sized gravel to make the bed look more natural. I tried to make the whole layout dynamic so that it looks like it was really created naturally by a river flow. I am satisfied with the effect, although as always there are some things which could have been executed much better.


    Increasing Visual Depth - Plant Selection

    As you can see in the photos of the aquascape the composition has a triangular shape. I wanted to set the main focal point in the right side of the aquascape. Therefore on the right side of the planted aquarium layout, I placed the main driftwood piece in an arrangement that accomplished this visual focal point and served as a side of the visual triangle. I further increased the aquascape’s visual depth by using two pieces of driftwood and creating dark places with them.

    The highlighted leaves of the background plant Echinodorus angustifolius helped to visually increase the distance between the foreground and the background. Lots of depth was created naturally thanks to the fact that the tank dimensions are much wider than a regular one. The extra 10 cm width made a huge difference to me – I had enough space to use the hardscape in the way I wanted to.

    In this aquascape, I focused mainly on shade / low light aquatic plants. Moss such as Taxiphyllum barbieri were attached to the driftwood or attached to pieces of coconut shell with thread. Other low light plants also were placed between rocks and Microsorum sp. 'Phillipine' was placed in cracks in driftwood. I only had to trim the moss once a month and remove old leaves of Microsorum sp. and Echinodorus sp.. The plants themselves didn’t require much attention, and I did not encounter any problems with them.



    GREATEST CHALLENGES

    Fortunately this aquascape has been a pleasure to create and maintain. I did not have any major troubles with this aquascape. Almost no algae appeared, except some actually nice Cladophora growing on the driftwood. I think it was because of low light used here. The plants were growing nicely, and so I am pleased with their selection.
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    In an aquascape with moss and ferns, the biggest difficulty is to keep the moss in good order. As it establishes itself, the moss and ferns have a tendancy to grow extremely fast with a wild and bushy appearance. Frequent trimming is necessary in such case. Apart from that, such aquascape is very easy to maintain – just regular water changes and little dosages of aquarium fertilizers are enough to keep it in a good condition.


    FINAL THOUGHTS & ADVICE

    If I had to give an advice for the beginners I would say them, consider all the criticism and advice they get carefully. You must select only information that might really be useful. Most importantly, aquacape for yourself. It is most important to have fun with your aquarium and be satisfied with it by yourself. What other people think about it – it is not as important as your feelings. If you like your aquascape and it gives you joy then it is not very important whether anyone else like it or not.

    As for me I will surely go on with my aquascaping. I try to learn as much as possible from the Internet, magazines and great aquascapers I meet. There are still aquascaping techniques, designs and aquarium plants to discover and try my hand at. I will try to realize as many of my aquatic dreams as possible. At the moment I want to take the aquascaping contests more seriously – hopefully I will get some satisfying ranking next year! Thanks all!









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