Dimensions 48 × 13 × 20 cm
Title Intermittent Floodplain, Green Swamp, Brunswick County, North Carolina
Background Black plastic
Lighting 2- 48" T8 Daylight-Spectrum Flourescent
Filtration External Canister baffled to create minimal current.
Notopthalmus viridescens x6
Hyla cinerea x2
Hyla versicolor x1
Fundulus diaphanus x6
Materials -Aquatic Substrate: Organic soil topped by sand
-Terrestrial Substrate: 10/50/40 Organic Soil, Sand, Dried Sphagnum mix
-Branches, mostly sterilized sugar maple.
Preferred wood would be swamp cypress. Due to an absence of the tree in my area and efforts/laws to prevent the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, importation was impossible. Sugar maple is local to the intended biotope.
-Structure: Constructed out of expanding foam and plastic framing. Natural materials for the biotope, which consists mostly of compacted earth and mud, are not practical for the health or maintenance of a closed system.
Additional Information Depicted in the tank is a segment of a flooded low spot, the muddy banks playing host to the circle of life in a temporary bioscape. Plants on the high ground, consisting of carnivorous plants, mosses and cranberries, overlook the small ponds planted with semi-aquatic plants such as Pennywort. One pond houses Banded Killifish while in the other, a half dozen Eastern Newts scavenge for aquatic invertebrates. Meanwhile, tree frogs happily climb fallen branches and hunt for isopods and crickets.
The biotope I chose to display, an intermittent floodplain in the Green Swamp of North Carolina, is of particular interest to me. When flooded by nearby streams and rainfall, the area becomes a mecca of both life and death, booming with biodiversity. This is what I tried to recreate.
The Green Swamp is the native home to many carnivorous plants, most infamously the Venus Fly Trap. I wanted to include these plants, which are one the most exotic native plants to the USA.
Care was taken in providing specific niches for each species. The two ponds gives separate homes for the fish and newts (totally aquatic), while the upper level gives the frogs space to roam without forcing interaction either between frogs or with the aquatic species. Plenty of protruding branches and plants such as sedges, were provided not only to further the biotopes authenticity, but also as escapes should the tree frogs wander too close to the water and fall in.
Most important in the tank is the idea of temporality. The idea that in this short-lived space, full circles of life take place within the overarching life cycle of the biotope. Rather than believe that all organisms in the tank must be alive forever, as in the normal mode of aquarium keeping, the acceptance that some may die. A plant turning brown or a frog eating a member of the isopod cleaning crew is acceptable and all part of the natural order of the biotope.