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Aquarium Plant Notes - With Guest Author AJB

Arranging and Grouping Plants

There are many concepts for tank design and layout. Here are a couple of ones that I have tested and seen in action.

1. Tall plants with lots of big leaves, look best when they are used as a solitary plant with no other plants touching its leaves. Decide if you want a main focus on your tank, or a jungle or Japanese look.

2. Grouping several species of the same plant together has a much better look than lots of randomly placed species. When you are designing your aquarium, keep this in mind.

3.Stem Plants usually do not root very deep, so they don't need a massive 4" substrate like Water Onions, Vallisneria, and Swords will. All of these species spread by runners, and are known to have two square foot root areas.

4. When planting stem plants keep in mind that you will be doing constant pruning. When plants such water sprites are rooted, they will need to be pruned consistently due to their very fast-growing nature. The bonus of this is that you can sell any of your good prunes!

5. Grouping plants by color and contrast between green and red and small leaves and big leaves, respectfully, will look much better than two red plant species, or two big leaved plants.

6. The Golden Rule or the Golden Ratio is simply the thought that, for example, say a person were to place a large piece of driftwood in the aquarium. It would not look as good in the center as it would of to the side. The ratio for the best placement of it would be 1:1.618, or about 3/5. Some people don't even need to think about this, it just comes naturally to them. Some people think of the golden rule as the 'optical center.'
7. You have to have a foreground, otherwise your tank won't look as good as it could be!!!!!!!

The Three Basic Compositional Shapes

The Triangular Layout

This is probably the easiest of the three to do. It is done by having tall plants on one side of the tank, and gradually getting shorter while moving to the other side of the tank. However, the plants in front are also shorter than the plants in the back. It looks very nice when completed.

The U-Shaped Composition

Driftwood, rocks, and tall plants are put at the sides, with a foreground type plant in the front and in the center. The two sides should not be the same size, vertically or horizontally. One of the sides should take up more space vertically, and one should take up more space horizontally. This one is about as easy as the Triangular Layout. It is best suited to long tanks, but can also look stunning in a wide tank, if done properly.

The Mound-Shaped Composition

I view this as the hardest of the three to do. It is composed of a mound of plants, rocks and driftwood in the center, as the plants gradually get shorter as they go. It looks rather like an island. Although some may see this as easy, it is actually fairly hard to accomplish. It is best if it is slightly off the center of the tank, and the tank should be tall enough for your biggest plants.


How to decorate with the plant Riccia flutians

As you probably already know, Ricca is a common plant that originated in Japan. It was first discovered for use in the aquarium by the well known Takashi Amano. He advocated using Riccia as not only a floating plant, but underwater. Even though the strands of Riccia plant are small, rootless and just interlock with other Riccia plants, it is fairly easy to keep underwater, and very decorative once it is done. Once it is attached to your rock or driftwood, it looks similar to moss.
So, your wondering just how do I get this plant to stay on an object? The process is fairly simple, and I will attempt to explain it here.

1. First you need to find a rock. I prefer slate, for its ease of attachment and ease of finding a good spot for it in your aquarium. Rinse it well, and put down wax paper on a table, placing the rock on it, the side with the Riccia on it up.

2. Take your Riccia out of your aquarium. Separate any loose bits of java moss, willow moss, or any other plants that might be entangled in the mass of Riccia. Spread the Riccia over the rock, but not in such a fashion that you can not see the rock. You still want room for it to grow, and want the bottom layers to get light.

4. Then, take fishing line or nylon thread, and wrap the Riccia and rock in it. Make it tight, and cross over previously laid strands to maximize the hold of the cord. Tie the cord off well, so it will not come lose.

5. Place the rock carefully in your aquarium. Be sure that it is not covered by any other plants, and your tank has CO2 and nutrients as discussed in my other article, Plants and Nutrients.

6. The only other thing to do is periodically trim the Riccia, as before long it will have grown up and through the cord, to eventually be released and start floating. After a while, your Riccia will get slightly darker, and will not have enough floating power left to float away when it grows to big.

Attaching Java Moss to Rock or Wood
To attach Java Moss to rock or wood all you need is some black thread. Simply wrap the thread around the wood and the java moss, similar to the Riccia above, and by the time that the thread has rotted of, your java moss will have taken 'root,' so to speak.

By Guest Author AJB, Look for his expert commentary on the Message Board

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