Aquascaping is an art form that entails arranging aquatic plants, as well as rocks, stones, cave work or driftwood in an aesthetically pleasing manner within an aquarium. Typically, an aquascape includes fish as well as plants, although it is possible to create an aquascape with plants only, or even with rockwork or other hardscape and no plant. Although an aquascaper's primary aim is to create an artful underwater landscape, he or she is also necessarily concerned with the technical aspects of aquatic plant maintenance. Filtration, carbon dioxide supply at levels sufficient to support photosynthesis underwater, substrate and fertilization, lighting and algae control are among the many factors that must be balanced in the closed system of an aquarium tank to ensure the success of an aquascape.
Dutch Style Aquascapes
The Dutch aquarium follows an orderly, often symmetrical arrangement, in which different types of plants having diverse leaf colors, sizes and textures are displayed much as terrestrial plants are shown in a flower garden. This style was developed in the Netherlands in the 1930's, as freshwater aquarium equipment became commercially available. It emphasizes plants located on terraces of different heights, and frequently omits rocks and driftwood. Linear rows of plants running left-to-right are referred to as "Dutch streets." Tall growing plants that cover the back glass originally served the purpose of hiding bulky equipment in the tank.
Nature Style Aquascapes
A contrasting approach is the nature or Japanese style, introduced in the 1990's by Takashi Amano. His three-volume series, Nature Aquarium World, sparked a wave of interest in aquarium gardening, and Amano has been regarded as the most influential aquascaper in the world. Amano's compositions draw on Japanese gardening techniques that attempt to mimic natural landscapes by the asymmetrical arrangement of masses of relatively few species of plants, and carefully selected stones or driftwood. The objective is to evoke a landscape in miniature, rather than a colorful garden. This style draws particularly from the Japanese aesthetic concepts of Wabi-sabi, which focus on transience and minimalism, and Iwagumi, which governs rock placement. Plants with small leaves are usually emphasized, with more limited colors than in the Dutch style, and fish or freshwater shrimp are usually selected to complement the plants and control algae.
The styles mentioned above often combine plant and animal species based on the desired visual impact, without regard to geographic origin. Biotope aquascapes are designed to replicate or simulate a natural habitat, with the fish, plants, and furnishings all representative of a particular place in nature, and not necessarily to provide a garden-like display. Plants and fish need not be present, but if they are, they as well as any gravel and hardscape must match what would be found in nature in the habitat being represented.Because only species that are found together in nature are allowed in a true biotope aquarium, these tanks are more challenging and less common than the other themes.
In a paludarium, part of the aquarium is underwater, and part is above water. This allows plants to grow immersed, with their roots underwater but their tops in the air, as well as completely submersed. These setups are ideal for brackish water or amphibian setups.
Dutch and nature style aquascapes are traditionally freshwater systems. In contrast ,relatively few ornamental plants can be grown in a saltwater aquarium. Saltwater aquascaping typically centers on mimicking a reef. An arrangement of live rocks forms the main structure of this aquascape, and it is populated by corals and other marine invertebrates as well as coralline algae, which together serve to offer much the same aesthetic role as freshwater plants.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
As a kid whenever I came across some stagnant water my immediate thought will be ''how many fishes will be I able to have in so much water''.If the water level is too low for fishes then my next thought will be ''if i can maintain same level for some more time will moss grow there?'' well thats me,I always had to have some pets or the other for MY SURVIVAL.
My first planted tank was made of steel(stolen from my grany's storeroom).In a place like kerala where its really hot this tank placed in terrace under direct sun was worst nightmare possible.I was allowed to keep only fishes as pet but none of my fishes survived more than four days.When it dies I would coax my grandpa to take me to the nearest aquarium shop to buy a new pair but in the mornings when I come running straight from the bed to check on the fishes which are suppose to be happily swimming around it will be floating at the top.Then with teary eyes I will bury my favorite pet under the coconut tree.Once it became a normal occurence I started flushing them down the drain.
Then after months as an angel from heaven,my great aunt shama who returned from singapore to stay in kerala, explained to me how the temperature rises in my steel tank which kills my fishes and makes my plants rot away.She then gifted me with her glass bowl for keeping my fish.
Then onwards like a charm the first pair of gold fish I owned survived the first four days to live up to three years.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Exactly how to move your fish safely and effectively varies depending on the size of the aquarium or fish bowl, distance travel and mode of transportation. Even seasonal temperatures may effect how you travel with your fish.
Moving Fish - Moving fish is more about time spent in the container rather than the distance traveled. If moving your fish is expected to take less than a few hours by car I might suggest putting him in a small cup. I often keep one or two lying around for just such an occasion. I keep those mainly for transferring my fishes temporarily while cleaning the tank. These containers usually fit right into your car’s cup holder,use the covered type and make a small hole at the top so there is free air flow into it. Avoid excessive heat and cold from the sun or heater/AC unit. Never leave your fish unattended in a hot (or cold) car. Temperatures can reach 120 degrees in the sun, which can quickly kill your fish.
Another great method for storing your fish for a move is in plastic fish bags like those you buy most fish in at your local fish store. Put the fish in the bag with a few inches of water and capture as much air as possible in the rest of the bag. Remember, they require oxygen from the air to breathe so get as much air in the bag as possible. Close with a rubber band and double-bag. Fish stores add compressed air to the bag directly which helps to maximize the amount of time a fish can live in the bag. They often are shipped from one side of the world to the other spending a couple of days in these bags. This method can be used for short distance travel or long distance. When mailing your fish long distance you will need an insulated box, live fish shipping labels, and possibly heating or cooling packs depending on the time of year. You will also need to contact your local shipping company for rules and regulations regarding shipping live fish. Please note too that shipping your fish increases the risk for illness or death. If you have the ability to carry your fish with you, I suggest it.
One more thing to note, before shipping your fish long distance, is fast him for a day or two to minimize waste in the water. Because fishes are shipped in very little water they can quickly become overwhelmed by toxic ammonia. Have a friend or family member carry the fish on his lap. This works fine for small distances.
Moving the Tank - The work involved in moving a fish tank can vary greatly due to the tank size and distance traveled. Obviously a small bowl is much easier to move than a large-scale aquarium. For a smaller 5 gallon aquarium that is well established (meaning it has a good colony of beneficial nitrifying bacteria) you should first disconnect the filter, heater and any other elements. Remove and properly pack your fish (see above). Drain most of the water with a siphon or bucket leaving enough water to keep your substrate and plants wet. Usually a couple of inches of water is fine. If you have a HOB (Hang on Back) filter with filter bags and media, go ahead and remove the bag and place it in the tank so that it remains wet. Some debris may get into your tank but you can filter it back out later. Canister filters can be disconnected and typically moved as is. Filters vary greatly so you may need to asses your situation individually. The tank, plants, substrate and filter media can then be placed in your car or moving truck. Secure well so that it does’t move and so that nothing will fall on top of it. This method works well for shorter distances.
The bacteria in your filter media will not quickly die off. A couple of days out of the tank could cause your aquarium to go through a mini-cycle but a couple of hours will have no adverse effect on your filter bacteria.
For large aquariums over long distances I recommend one of two things. Have a professional aquarium moving company crate your tank and ship it for you. You will need to ship your fish and plants ahead of you and set up your aquarium from scratch. Moving a tank can be costly. In many cases it is cheaper to buy a new aquarium than to have it shipped by a pro. The tank itself is relatively inexpensive compared to all the accessories like lighting, tank stand, filters, etc. You’ll need to assess the cost benefits for yourself.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Tiger Shrimp, as the name suggested, is easily identified by its beautiful tiger-like black or dark brown stripes against the transparent body. Often, it is confused with the Chinese Zebra Shrimp which also has stripes on its body besides white spots. Growing to a maximum of 3.5 cm in adulthood, this shrimp is an excellent algae feeder, although it has a soft spot for fish food such as flakes and pellets.
As the Tiger Shrimp belongs to the Caridina serrataspecies, it has very similar habits and morphology as the Bee family, surviving and breeding best in soft, acidic water with a temperature of between 23-28 °C. Once hatched, the young is exactly a miniature version of the adult, hence it does not go through planktonic larval stage.
Crystal Red Shrimp (AKA CRS, Red Bee Shrimp, Scientific name Caridina sp. "bee") is a breed variant of the freshwater Bee shrimp. Normal Bee shrimp can be found in Southern China or South East Asia. Because the breed form is more intense and vibrant in colour, it has gained popularity in Japan and is now greatly sought after by aquarium hobbyists around the world.
In 1991, Mr. Hisayasu Suzuki of Japan started breeding normal bee shrimps, which are banded with black stripes. He noticed a single red bee shrimp in a batch of about a thousand shrimps and was fascinated by it. This first red bee died but three generations later, he discovered 3 red bee shrimps among the thousands he had bred. After many cycles of selective breeding from redder offspring, he finally arrived at the true red bee. In 1996, he named it "Crystal Red Shrimp" and has been awarded a patent for this recessive red mutation of the normal bee shrimp. Since then Crystal Red Shrimp has been further refined by the founder and other breeders to produce specimens with larger white patches and intensified red.
Crystal Red Shrimp is a fairly small shrimp, growing to about 2.5 cm in adulthood. However, it is very active but remains quite peaceful towards other tank mates. The average lifespan is about 1.5 to 2 years but the gender is hard to differentiate, especially during juvenile stage. Between the ages of 4.5 and 5 months with a size of at least 2.2 cm, it is ready to reproduce in tank. As Crystal Red Shrimp can crossbreed with normal Bee shrimp and Tiger shrimp which are also of the Caridina species, it is highly recommended not to keep them in the same tank.
In the Aquarium
Crystal Red Shrimp is currently the most favorite freshwater aquarium shrimp. It's unique and distinctive red and white color is unlike any freshwater shrimps. Hobbyist have even refine the species to make it more intense red and white by going through selective breeding. They even grade the shrimps according to the intensity of the white and red patterns on the shell.
Probably due to its size, it is not a particularly great algae consumer; preferring soft mosses and a rich vegetable diet. Some hobbyist even go to the extreme of feeding them with boiled organic spinach. There are a lot of variety of flake/dry food made specially for the Crystal Red Shrimp, but make sure the food does not contain Copper. Copper is a heavy metal and even a small dose is enough to kill any freshwater shrimps!
Crystal Red Shrimp is the most sensitive freshwater shrimps, due to the small shared common gene pool of the original 3 bee shrimps. Hence, maintaining a proper environment condition is utmost importance for keeping and breeding Crystal Red Shrimp. Although it may seems difficult to keep, it all drill down to the water conditions.
After years of keeping and breeding Crystal Red Shrimp, we have derived the following chart that shows the optimal water parameters for Crystal Red Shrimp. These are the water parameters that you can easily measured with available test kits from your local aquarium shop.
Water Temperature 23 ~ 24ºC
pH - Acidity 6.4 ~ 6.8
GH - General Hardness 3 ~ 6dH
KH - Carbonate Hardness 1 ~ 2dH
NH3 - Ammonia 0ppm
NO2 - Nitrite 0ppm
NO3 - Nitrate <15ppm
TDS - Total Dissolved Substance 90-120
The most common problem overlooked by most hobbyists is the dissolved substance in the water. You can have all the water parameters correct, but the Crystal Red Shrimp keeps dying. This is because of the different pollution factors or chemicals added by the source of the water. You can buy a TDS meter to measure the amount of dissolved substance in your tank. If the TDS exceeds 150 and your pH is on the higher range, nitrogenous waste in the tank can turn toxic.
Another important factor is the biological filter media in your filter system. A canister filter system is recommended for keeping Crystal Red Shrimp, as it provides the best mechanical and biological functions. A good biological filter media helps to remove organic waste from the tank and provide a balance in the ecosystem within the tank. Most of us at home cannot measure the amount of nitrifying or beneficial bacteria in the tank. Hence, investing on a good biological filter media is important. When choosing the biological filter media, it is important to compare the media surface area. The higher the surface area, the more bacteria will thrive and grow inside
Aquaculture has emerged as one of the fast growing industries in the developing countries like India for domestic consumption as well as for the export. This industry not only generates foreign exchange to the country but also provides employment opportunities to the skilled and unskilled rural poor. On the other hand, aquaculture has also some negative impacts on the environment which are mainly due to conversion of mangroves and agricultural, salination of surface water resources and agricultural land at some places besides causing pollution and diseases. All the major shrimp farming countries of the world have faced environmental problem due to intensification, improper and uncontrolled planning by greed and unlimited profit motives of a section of aquaculture community. In view of this, a proper environmental management is a basic need to sustain the industry in the long run. Selection of a suitable site in the coastal areas is the first and the foremost step which is a crucial factor in determining the success of shrimp farming.
Java Moss is a moss belonging to the Hypnaceae family. Native to Southeast Asia, it is commonly used in freshwater aquariums. It attaches to rocks, roots, and driftwood. The taxonomy of this well-known plant is not resolved; formerly placed in the genus Versicularia as V. dubyana (Brotherus, 1908), it appears as if the plant usually known as java moss belongs into Taxiphyllum, as T. barbieri.
Java Moss does not require any special attention. It accepts all kind of waters, even weakly brackish, and all kind of light qualities. It grows best at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 24 degrees Celsius), but can live in temperatures of up to 85 to 90 °F (29 to 32 °C).But don’t get excited about pH values. pH 9.5 to 10.5 fresh out of the faucet dropping to pH 7.5 in 48 hours Many killie keepers use Java moss as an egg-laying site. Java moss pulls fish wastes out of their water. It also grows in the low light small aquaria many killie keepers maintain. You still need to make water changes, however. To make a killifish spawning mop out of Java moss:
Lasso a good clump of Java moss.
Attach a cork to the clump.
Toss in your breeding tank.
Remove in ten days to hatching tank.
It is a low light plant and makes a great foreground plant. In aquariums you should plant it somewhere where there is good water current because debris gets stuck on it easily and gives it a brown fuzzy appearance. Due to its clinging nature Java Moss can also be made into a moss wall. This can be accomplished by folding a net and spreading the moss evenly across it. Then, the net can be secured together by polyester strings, and held on the aquarium wall by using suction cups. It is a slow starter until it has established itself.
It is especially popular among aquarists raising fry (baby fish) and tadpoles, to protect them from cannibalistic adults. Java Moss can also provide food for the newly formed fry, which can be challenging to feed. Some shrimp like to tear the miniature leaves off it to eat.
Java Moss can be easily propagated via division.