#9: 284L Aquatic Garden: A Passage thru the Forest
Stephen G. Colley, Westport CT USA | E-mail: stephen.g at colley.org
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Awards and Judge Comments

I love your concept. Even if you took a few liberties, I feel this tank would have faired better in the biotope class. And I agree, what's a cypress swamp without a gar?

Karen Randall

I really enjoy the unique planting arrangement in this aquascape. The impression created is refreshing and original. The sand path going through the center of the aquarium could be offset to one side a little more. Also, it does not have to be so straight (make it curve toward the back) or it will look unnatural. Otherwise, great work!

Carlos Sanchez

Aquascape Details

Tank Size
122 x 47 x 56 cm (48 x 19 x 22 in)
284L (75 gallons)
Black matte posterboard
6 x 54 watt T5 Tek light, 10 hour photo period. Most of the day at 2 bulbs, increasing to a 6 bulb "noon day" peak
Eheim 2026, outflow through hidden bulkheads in the bottom of the tank. Return through twin lily pipes over the side.
Additional Information
Growing up on the Gulf Coast of southern USA, fishing in cypress forests, with their myriad mazes of cuts and channels made by the passage of boats and water, while holding such fascinating aquatic life, created for me a deep love of that environment. This is rendition of how such a cut through a cypress forest, like those I grew up passing though on boats, might actually look underwater. - - - Though great pains have been made to keep this true to a real cypress forrest, a few practical considerations keep this out of the biotope category. Botia striata have been used for snail control, Crossocheilus siamensis for algae control. And Vesicularia dubyana on hidden rocks provides a temporary barrier between the two substrates, to be removed when the foreground is fully mature. - - - Many Nymphaea, like the N. zenkeri here, are not indigenous, but have been present in USA cypress swamps now for around 100 years due to introduction by humans. - - - The Riccia was unplanned, though it is native. It snuck in on the Hemianthus callitrichoides and spread to the Eleocharis acicularis. Since that was both lovely and quite true to the invasive nature of that particular native aquatic weed, it has been allowed to continue spreading along the bottom, just as it would in nature. - - - This is a "point-in-time" tank. It is hard for me to imagine a recreation of any cypress swamp without the ever present top level predators that inhabit them. These fish can eventually outgrow all but the largest of tanks, and will eventually require replacement by juveniles. While this may not be considered "sustainable", neither is the use of any fish population that do not breed in an aquascape - they have to be replaced when they die. Once the predators are a bit larger, the SAE and the loaches will be replaced with larger, mature Lepomis megalotis (Longear Sunfish) to fill their niche within the tank. So the tank should be fun to watch for a year or so any way, while hopefully being somewhat representative of true conditions. - - - With the exception of the temporary addition of a background to provide contrast for photos, this is the way the tank looks every day in our family room. No equipment was added or removed, no special lighting used.
A Passage thru the Forest
Echinodorus cordifolius, Eleocharis acicularis, Eleocharis montevidensis, Hemianthus callitrichoides, Ludwigia Repens, Nymphaea rustica, Nymphaea zenkeri, Nymphoides aquatica, Vesicularia dubyana, Riccia fluitans
Micropterus salmoides "Largemouth Bass" - 1, Lepisosteus osseus "Longnose Gar" - 1, Crossocheilus siamensis "Siamese Algae Eater" - 1, Botia striata "Zebra Loach" - 2, Caridina sp. shown in a photograph is not a permanent tank inhabitant.
Cypress tree stump and a Cypress "knee" for hardscape. Cypress "knees" are protuberances that grow upward from Cypress roots, often breaking the water surface, a common sight in gulf coast swamps. Substrate is Eco-Complete in the planted areas, with quartz river sand for the "stream bed".