Sunday, January 8, 2017

7:25 minutes of calm yourself down. 

Notice the hobbyists use deep substrate, rocks of different sizes and driftwood of various types.

The light must be strong enough to reach the bottom of the tank or else high-light requirement plants will die off. While the light can be too strong for other species of plants and burn them out or cause algae to form all over the tank. Some plants are low light and slow growing. Other species hog light and grow rapidly. The substrate must have nutrients in it and fish poo is insufficient. These tanks also have CO2 injection and sparged throughout, the holes of an ordinary aerator are insufficiently tiny for that.

I've had four different species of moss and they all takeover the whole tank. They can literally fill a tank in just a month of neglect and starve other plants of light and nutrients and space. So the examples in the video with moss attached to branches of driftwood to imitate above ground trees are maniacally maintained. The owner must trim them at least once a week or else the tanks will rapidly become overgrown and thrown far out of balance. And who has that kind of time and attention for their hobby? Large commercial installations are usually overgrown because once installed there is nobody around assigned to their care. And they do need constant attention. 

Yesterday I discovered that this substrate right here, a clay that is baked and its particle size sifted and available in four different colors (poor photo showing the particles dry and wet) at $80.00 for a 5 gallon bucket, sufficient to layer a 55 gallon aquarium to 3 inches, given names like "Natural Amazon" and "Red River" and "Black Diamond" they are the exact same thing as this product named Turface Pro League, a baseball diamond surface conditioner and mound building product, with the exact same colors but with different sport names, "Heritage Red" and "Pro League Red" and "Champion Brown" priced at $20.00 and less for a 50LB bag, basically, the same amount.

The fish in these planted aquariums are little more than afterthought, often a single species. You notice neon tetras appear in a lot of the aquariums for their tiny jewel-like appearance, along with harlequin rasboras. I saw a few schooling transparent hatchet fish too, notice those tend to stay at the the top of the tank. That's a bit of a bummer having the fish hanging out at the top all the time. 

I wanted the neons to breed in the tank and to do that the conditions must be just so. They are very particular little fish for breeding. The water must be soft and slightly acidic. I do see them breeding in there. They can be seen playing fast games of chase and spewing eggs into plant clusters and the eggs need only 24 hours to hatch and there is sufficient plant cover to protect the fry, but the snails move on the eggs before they can hatch. I attempted to rid the tank of snails and I did. I got it down to no noticeable snails at all, hardly any plants and no fish. I thought I had them cleared, a few weeks elapsed with no sign of snails anywhere. Then when replanted snails and their eggs came with the new plants and boom snail infection all over again and no chance of breeding the tetras. 

The same place that price gouges the baseball diamond baked clay re-packaged and marketed as sifted aquarium substrate also offers cultures of plant tissue, cells grown in agar to incipient plant clones. And they're having an impressive sale of 50% off. But how can you tell what you're getting? You must be already familiar with the plants' Latin names. And this is the amazing thing. Aquarium hobbyists all over the world from the U.S. all through Europe, and even to China and Japan and Korea all use these same Latin names. If you go into a shop in Tokyo you will hear these same names, and by all age groups, from young pre-teens to pensioners, these plants are discussed and identified by these names all over the world. It is a universal language. And once you are introduced to the plants, their properties and their name, then you see the same plants appear repeatedly in all aquariums for their attributes of shape and color and size; for their sword shape or broadleaf or compact foreground attributes and for their rapid covering mossy habit. 

It is art. The tanks are three dimensional paintings. The plants are the paints. And that's why knowing their Latin names is crucial. It's the same thing as going to the art store and asking for "titanium white" or "cobalt blue" or a green "copper resinate" or "carmine." 

Those are not your usual Crayola colors. 

The Latin names for the plants tell the aquarium hobbyist if their plant choices can be used best as ground cover, foreground, mid-ground, or background bulk plant, or as mossy covering intended to accentuate branches or dominate the whole scene by covering rocks and gravel and everything. began marketing plant tissue clones usually $10.00 each, now $5.00 with more cultures to come. Here is a tiny sample of the cultures available at the link.

cryptocoryne beckettii

cryptocoryne wendtii 'green'

elocharis acicularis

hydrocotyle tripartita 'Japan'

ludwigia 'super red mini"

myriophyllum tuberclatum 'red'

The variety of aquarium plants is extraordinary. This whole industry has exploded. Everybody is getting into the act. The whole world is joining the fun. Plants are available for aquariums that are not possible to grow in outside gardens depending on location. Aquariums are provided their own climate and that makes exotic underwater gardens possible. The fish are as living shimmering jewel ornamentation. The CO2 introduced for the plants does not interfere with the fish while the plants produce oxygen for the fish. You can actually see the plants produce oxygen. Some species of plants are known for their pearling. The lights come on and within an hour the plants produce bubbles on their leaf surfaces. It's beautiful. 

What follows on the next page are thumbnail photos of the adult forms of these tissue cultures offered by Aquarium Plants that are expected to grow to full form and provided the conditions to do that rather quickly. I think you will be impressed with the range. And this is just the available tissue cultures. There are many more live plants available.

Alternanthera reineckii mini

Alternanthera reineckii purple

Ammannia   bonsai 

Ammannia  senegalensis 

Cryptocoryne beckettii

Cryptocoryne crispatulata

Cryptocorcyne nevilii

Cryptocoryne parva 

Cryptocoryne pygmaea

Cryptocoryne walkeri

Cryptocoryne walkeri lutera 

Cryptocoryne wendtii brown

Cryptocoryne wendtii green

Cryptocoryne wendtii tropica

Cryptocoryne willsii

Crytocoryne wendtii kompat

Cyperus helferi 

Didiplis diandra

Echinodorus latifolius

Echindoorus quadricostatus

Echindorus tenellus

Echinodorus tenellus green

Eleocharis acicularis

Eleocharis parvula

Eleocharis sp. Mini

Floscopa scandens

Glossostigma elantinoides

Gratiola viscidula

Heminathus calitrichoides “Cuba” dwarf baby tears

Heteranthera zosterifoila

Hottonia palustris

Hydrocotyle tripartia Japan

Hygrophila Lanceolata Araguaia

Juncus repens

Leptodictyum riparium

Lilaeopsis brasiliensis

Lilaeapsis mauritina

Limnophilla hippuroides

Littorella uniflora

Lobelia Cardinalis “mini” Ludwigia “Super red Mini”

Ludwigia arcuata 

Lysimachia nummularia

Marsilea Angustifolia

Marsilea crenata

Marsilea hirsuta 

Micranthemum “Monte Carlo”

Myriophyllum matogrossense

Myriophyllum tuberclatum “Red”

Plagiomnium cf. Affine “Pearl Moss”

Pogostemon erectus

Pogostemon helferi 

Pogostemon stellatus “Broad Leaf”

Pogostemon stellatus “(usteralis stellata)

Prosperpinaca palustris

Ranucuus papulentus

Ricca fluitans 

Rotala “Pearl”

Rotala Macranda

Rotala rotundifolia

Rotala Rotundifolia “Green”

Rotala sp. ‘Ceylon’

Sagittaria subulata v. ‘Pussila’

Sagittaria subullata 

Staurogyne repens

Taxiphyllum barbieri

Taxiphyllum sp ‘Flame/Spiky’

Utricularia graminfolia

Vesicularia dubyana “Christmas Moss”

Vesicularia dubyana “Christmas Moss” mini

Vesicularia reticulata “Erect Moss”

So, the idea with the cultures is to know or expect how these plants will mature eventually, and plan accordingly by designing with height, fullness, texture and color in mind as if planting an ordinary above ground garden with tiny nursery plants or with seeds without really knowing exactly how the garden or landscape will develop over time. Quite a lot of it is hit or miss while another large part of it is experience and another large part of success or failure is plain luck and circumstance while the largest part of all, as the video shows, is your own sweet imagination. 


chickelit said...

The one at 1m 4 s looks a bit like Red Rocks.

Most of them could be improved by more fauna and less flora. For example, how about a miniature King Kong figure for most of the "jungle" looking ones?

chickelit said...

Several of the aqua scapes scream Africa, South America, and South East Asia -- lest anyone think this is a white man's hobby.

XRay said...

All rather daunting... especially when I think of the effort required forty years ago maintaining my wife's 20 gal. tank with no plants (real ones) at all! Just fish.

Lem said...


Aren't we humans a sort of living water tank?

Strange thoughts early in the morning or something

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Very, very beautiful. Thank you.

ricpic said...

I wonder how many people who buy an aquarium on a whim have any idea how constant the maintenance has to be to keep it from becoming a swamp? I'll bet it's one of the highest fail rate projects undertaken. Right up there with boats.

Leland said...

I'm so disappointed Chip. According to other people, people like me come to blogs for our 2 minutes of hate. Instead I'm getting over 7 minutes of "calm yourself down". Ah, but I wasn't let down, because I stayed with it enough to find out about price gouging.

I'm happy to have a dog. They are far easier.

Synova said...

I have only a 10 gallon tank and it's overgrown. But I like overgrown. The glass is covered with algae and some is red spots, which is probably not good. The best thing I've found to scrape the glass is junk-mail credit cards.

deborah said...

A wonderful resource, Chip. The thought of executing a tank like this is exhausting. Especially considering the many tanks I've botched and fish I've murdered.

MamaM said...

Resource Shmesource. I'm here for the ending. At which point ChipAhoy hits another bulls-eye in the circle of life:

Quite a lot of it is hit or miss while another large part of it is experience and another large part of success or failure is plain luck and circumstance while the largest part of all, as the video shows, is your own sweet imagination.