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Make Your Own Champagne Island

By Ashleigh Nelson (EastCoastMojo)



Champagne Islands:
Before you can begin this project you must first accumulate at least two Champagne corks, or another piece of cork of a suitable size and shape as to not tip over. Don’t attempt this project if you have just consumed both bottles of Champagne.
After soaking and scrubbing the corks in warm water, arrange them so that they fit together snugly and tie them with a piece of thin rope or a zip tie. You could also push two toothpicks into the first cork and then push the points that stick out into the other cork. Rubber bands will eventually rot and cause your island to come apart.
Once the cork is secured you can add your main plant. I chose a short ground cover plant that we had growing in patches in the backyard. A plant that likes bright light will probably make a good choice as it will be very close to the lights in your tank. Clean the plant thoroughly of any dirt around the roots and wash the leaves well in room temperature water. Trim any roots and leaves that appear frail or damaged. Position the roots of the plant in the gap between the two corks (or if you are using a piece of cork bark you should drill a few holes through for the root placement). You want some of the roots to stick down through the cork and into the water.
Keep a bowl of water handy so you can check the balance and buoyancy of your island. If needed, it is easier to change the position of the main plant before you add the moss. Minor tilt adjustments can be made by trimming away the larger leaves of the plant too. These may very well be shed by the plant as it adjusts to the new environment in your tank. If your island stays upright, but your plant flops over, you may need to separate the cork pieces and position the roots deeper between the corks. Secure the cork pieces with a little tension to keep the plant upright.
Now that the main plant is in place you can add a section of moss, this will help the main plant by covering the exposed roots and provide a small amount of nutrients in the soil that the moss is growing out of. I used moss from my backyard, rinsed thoroughly and soaked underwater for a few hours to help eliminate any pests that may be living in it. Take the cleaned moss and pull it apart, starting from one edge and go almost to the middle, this will create a split to slide around the base of your plant and when pushed down onto the cork you will not be able to see the split. You won’t have to push very hard to secure it.
If you want to get really fancy you could add a tiny figure like you might use in model train or bonsai décor and have a dude fishing off the edge of the island or you could add a tiny boat tied nearby. Just try to keep your design well balanced so it will float correctly and not tip over. If you are having trouble keeping the island from drifting into the filter stream, moor it to a tall plant or driftwood with black thread or fine fishing line.

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