AQUASCAPING THE AQUARIUM: MARCH 2017 AQUARIUM TRENDS

Written by Katherine Barrington Updated March 13, 2017
The art of decorating a home aquarium is called "aquascaping" and it is a trending topic in aquarium social media this month.
For many aquarium hobbyists, one of the biggest joys in cultivating a home aquarium is decorating it. The process of decorating a home aquarium is known as “aquascaping” and it is something of an art. Bringing together a collection of natural elements to mimic the look and feel of a real aquatic environment is a skill that takes many aquarium hobbyists years to develop. This week on social media, the topic of aquascaping has been particularly popular. Keep reading to learn more.
 
Purchasing Aquascaping Supplies
 
On March 6th, Twitter handle @AquarGardens announced the launch of a new aquascaping YouTube channel. This twitter handle belongs to Aquarium Gardens, a UK-based company that sells aquascaping supplies. The YouTube channel was developed not only as a means of promoting Aquarium Gardens’ aquascaping supplies, but also to educate aquarium hobbyists in the art of aquarium decoration. There is currently only one video available, but the company plans to release many more in the coming weeks.
 
 
If you visit the Aquarium Gardens website, you will find a wealth of different supplies for turning your aquarium into a lush aquatic environment. Aquascaping involves creating harmony amongst the different design elements in your aquarium dcor concept. It usually starts with the substrate. If you plan to keep live plants in your aquarium, choosing the right substrate is essential. Plants require certain nutrients to thrive, and those nutrients come from the substrate. In addition to starting with a solid foundation of plant-friendly substrate, you may also want to look into plant food to use for occasional fertilization.
 
The fun part in aquascaping is choosing your live plants. As you will see on the Aquarium Gardens website, there are many different types of aquatic plants to choose from. Carpet plants are those which tend to spread along the bottom of the aquarium but don’t grow very tall. Foreground plants remain fairly short while midground plants may grow a little taller. The tallest plants are usually used as background plants, concentrating their placement around the sides and back of the tank so they don’t interfere with central swimming space. You can also add some floating plants to the surface of your tank if you want to diffuse the lighting.
 
Aquatic Moss for the Home Aquarium
 
Though there are many different types of aquarium plants that you can use for aquascaping your home tank, one of the most popular options of late is aquatic moss. On March 3rd, Twitter handle @GreenMachineUK posted a closeup picture of one of their aquascaped tanks featuring a lush carpet of aquatic moss. This twitter handle is operated by The Green Machine, a UK-based aquascaping and aquaponics company founded by James Findley. The Green Machine offers aquascaping supplies as well as tutorial videos.

 
When it comes to choosing aquarium moss to use in your next aquascaping design, you have several options to consider. Here is an overview of the most popular aquatic mosses for aquascaping:

- Java Moss – Perhaps one of the most common aquatic mosses, java moss is native to Southeast Asia and it is known for its hardiness and quick growth. This type of moss needs to be anchored to driftwood or rock to prevent it from attaching to your filter tubing – it also requires a good deal of water movement to thrive. Java moss propagates easily and it can survive conditions that might kill less hardy plants.

- Flame Moss – Native to Asia, flame moss is named for its unique shape. Flame moss grows vertically, developing a lighter green color at the tips that gives it the impression of a flame. This type of moss grows slowly and achieves a maximum height of 4 inches. It does well in low lighting and has a lower carbon dioxide requirement than many aquatic plants.

- Christmas Moss – Another popular choice in aquatic mosses, Christmas moss can survive cooler water temperatures and low lighting. This type of moss grows slowly and it is a good choice for beginners because it is very hardy. Christmas moss should be anchored to rockwork or driftwood and it grows in a triangle shape that looks almost like a Christmas tree.

- Willow Moss
– Known for its deep green coloration, willow moss can survive low temperatures and it only requires medium lighting. Willow moss grows to a maximum height around 4 inches and it is generally very easy to care for. It will, however, turn brown if the water gets too warm.

- Peacock Moss
– This type of moss is very different from other aquatic mosses in that its leaf cells grow in an oblong shape. Peacock moss can withstand temperatures up to 86F and it branches out quickly, growing in a spreading shape that looks like a peacock’s tail.

Many aquatic mosses can survive fluctuations in tank temperature and low to moderate tank lighting, but you should still do your research to choose the best moss for your aquarium.
 
Using Driftwood for Aquascaping
 
Another popular element used in aquascaping is driftwood and it pairs particularly well with aquatic mosses. Most aquatic mosses need to be anchored to some kind of dcor to keep them from floating to the surface – driftwood performs this role well. On March 8, Cichlid-Forum.com published an article about driftwood including information about the different types and tips for preparing and using driftwood for aquascaping.

 
According to authors Alec Perseghin and Eric Glab, there are four main types of driftwood used in the aquarium trade – here is a quick overview:

- Standard Driftwood – This type of driftwood is the most readily available and it is usually comprised of remnants from branches or tree trunks worn down by water or erosion. You can purchase standard driftwood in many pet stores and online in a variety of shapes and sizes.

- African or Savannah Root
– The second most common type of driftwood for aquarium use, savannah root tends to be gnarly on one side and smooth on the other. The benefit of this type of driftwood is that it is self-sinking.

- African Driftwood
– This kind of driftwood looks more like standard driftwood than savannah root and it usually comes in more intricate shapes and darker colors. This kind of driftwood may be hundreds of years old and it is much more expensive than standard driftwood.

- Malaysian Driftwood
– This driftwood is also self-sinking and it has a similar appearance to standard driftwood with elongated branches. It is a great choice for attaching aquatic mosses.

Regardless which type of driftwood you choose for your tank, you’ll need to make certain preparations, particularly for natural driftwood. Driftwood can contain microorganisms which might be harmful to your fish, so you should boil and cure the driftwood before using it in your tank. Boil the driftwood for 15 minutes then drain and refill the pot and boil again for 10 minutes. Boiling the driftwood will help to remove the tannins in the wood. If you don’t remove them, the tannins will stain your tank water brown and they could also affect the pH of your tank water.
 
To use driftwood in conjunction with aquatic moss, all you need is some fishing line. Cut your pieces of moss to the right size and shape for your desired placement, then simply tie them down using fishing line. If you are using a type of moss that tends to spread, you might want to start with smaller pieces and space them out along the driftwood so they can fill in naturally. You can also tie an extra piece of fishing line around the driftwood and tie the other end to a rock to help keep the driftwood from rising up from the bottom of the tank.

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