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duff 09-05-2011 08:03 PM

My 1st Riparium!
Inspiration provided by Hydrophyte, I kept seeing all those lovely tanks he has and just had to try my hand at it.

I spent last weekend rooting around in the garage and found my old 8g Finnex tank. Its been sitting around for several years... I figured keeping my 1st Riparium as cost friendly as possible was in order.

Leak test and black spray paint done

I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but really no idea on how to get there. Picked up Great Stuff pond foam, pulled out the wax paper and sharpie. I mark the HOT filter (small Aqua Clear) on the wax paper and started foaming. Had I to do over again, I would have built an internal frame for the GS but did not think that far ahead... Oh well. Here's the blob:

Waited 24 hours and then pulled it out, grabbed a serrated knife and went to town. I wanted to create a small simple waterfall for a bit of sound. In the end I carved away about 95% of the foam! But was able to create two tiers that hold pieces of wood. I created little "well's" behind them that will hold a bit of sand and plants right under the waterfall. Over all I am very happy. Pulled out Black Aquarium Sealant, covered the entire 6"x8" waterfall in it and then patted on some Riparium Supply planter gravel for an almost black natural look to blend into the black background. What a horrible icky sticky ooie gooie mess it!!! Waited 48 hours and then used clear silicon to adhere it to the back, siliconed the edges and patted on a little more gravel.

The filter intake was way to short, so a quick trip to HD and 3/4 clear tubing and the problem was solved. I used hot water to fit it over the upper intake and then hack sawed off the bottom intake "grill" and fitted it to the bottom of the tubing. It added about 6 inches and is perfect now. Other then it did take about a minute to pull the water up. The flow seems to be perfect. Its a very gentle flow and may need a small power head to move more water - but time will tell.


The substrate is actually a combination of a variety of stuff - from the garage. Sand and three colors of small stone/pebbles. I wanted a lighter more natural substrate and I think I got what I was looking for. I then add a piece of mopani wood that has sat in a drawer for many years - love that wood, sunk the minute it hit the water :)

Then off to adding the rest of the plants. I love the hanging planters from Riparium Supply and the nano rafts are perfect for this little tank:

There is so much light coming in fromt he window that the pictures look pretty dark. I will try for a few more tonight after the sun goes down. Maybe I'll have better luck.

So, all in all I am very happy with the final outcome of it. Now for the slow part - letting the plants grow the out!

hydrophyte 09-05-2011 08:15 PM

Hey that's looking great duff. That little shelf that you made turned out nice and I agree much better than the big Great Stuff blob. 3D backgrounds aren't really necessary with ripariums because the plants form most of the whole scape and because the foliage would just tend to shade anything in the background underwater anyway.

It looks like those plants got there in good shape. If you can get a close up of the plants from above that would be great, but it looks like you got everything planted up good. Does the baby panda bamboo look happy? I can't see it in there. That one will take a while to establish, but it will definitely be your favorite plant once it starts growing.

duff 09-05-2011 09:48 PM

Awe thanks! I know it will most likely be covered in no time at all but I really wanted a muted waterfall sound. I work from home and it's deathly quite at times. I realized after the blob grew and grew and grew that it was overkill - boy that stuff expands! I managed to trim it back and it's only about 2.5 inches deep.

I will take a few more pictures once it gets dark out tonight. The plants arrived just fine. The ice pack did its job but was warm when I opened the box. I dumped them all in my tank for the day and potted them up that night. I did trim the Baby Panda about about 2/3 and stuck the trimmings in the planter as well to see what happens. I've done that with all my garden plants to give them a good start, so I figured this would help easy the stress of transplanting a bit more. You're right, I do love that plant! The some of the stems/leaves look pretty bad but the root system is healthy.

All the other plants look good as well and I was able to get all the peat off with a small cocktail fork.

I did add two plants of my own. One is a peace lily that I have had for about 2 years and it is less then a foot tall. I read in your blog that the small leafed version can work so I thought I would give it a try. I also have a small "palm" looking plant that is about the same age and size as the peace lily. Both had small "baby" sprouts coming off them that I was able to pull away from the mother plants (roots and leaves). Potted them up today and we'll see what happens. :)

So now that it is up and running I do have a few questions:

1) At what depth should the plant hangers be at, just below the water line or just above? Or is it different for each plant? (I have them about 1/4 inch above the water line right now)

2) lighting: I have two choices, I have a 26w plant bulb over it now (about 10 inches above it or I can switch to a floor lamp Ott-Lite with a 27w (the light itself is about 17 in long but I can't find much online with regards to the bulb) and is is 18 inches above the waterline and has an adjustable arm. (Plus the tank is next to a north facing window)

thoughts on the lighting and the planter placement?

driftwoodhunter 09-05-2011 09:54 PM

That came out great looking!

duff 09-05-2011 10:19 PM

thanks Drifwoodhunter! I had a great time setting it up

Hydrophyte, here are a few plant shots...

baby panda Bamboo:

Any idea what this might be? (came from a potted plant I have that tends to want a lot of water so I took a few clippings of it to see what happens)

Here is the Palm and the Peace Lily:

Her's the light above it now:

Thanks for any words of wisdom you can pass along!

FIT BMX 09-06-2011 04:50 PM

It looks really nice! Good job!

vespers_ 09-06-2011 07:31 PM

looking good!

10gallonplanted 09-06-2011 07:42 PM

Hmm great job with the waterfall. It will be interesting to see how the riccia turns out. It will probably start growing out of the water. :)

RipariumGuy 09-06-2011 08:17 PM

Good start Duff! I can help out with a question or two.

1) Usually it is best to have the planters so that the water line is just above the top of the it. This helps in hiding them.

2) I'd say that the Otto-lite might be your best bet... Though, with your plant selection either should work.

As far as that new stem plant of yours, I am not sure... Be sure to update with how it turns out though!

duff 09-06-2011 09:05 PM

Thanks guys! I appreciate the feedback.

10gallon - I hope that it does start to grow up a bit - if not I have a few other mosses that I'll try or maybe some HC down the road as it has some sand in it to give extra hold if needed.

Riparium Guy - thx for info. I am still playing with the final waterline and think I will actually lower it (and will lower the planters as well). I'm also planning on ordering a new bulb for the Ott-lite as the one in it is about 2 years old. The ott-lite is more linear and covers the tank better. Worst case - I'll use an old Catalina tank light that fits the tank and has 48w...

I also dug around in the pot that I have the unknown plant it and actually found the original plant tag - I always keep them but then forget about them :)

Hopefully this is good news? It is actually Pilea glauca Silver Sprinkles. Its taken a beating outside on my front porch due to the extreme heat here in Dallas - so hopefully it will take root over time in the tank. I've used it in several pots out front for the last few years (fully shaded) and its done great until this year - it's almost dead at this point.

hydrophyte 09-10-2011 09:12 PM

Hey Duff that's all looking great. Nice work potting everything up! I am glad that those plants traveled well. It will be great to see more pictures as this all grows in.

Sharkfood 09-11-2011 03:29 AM

Nice Riparium!

I very much like the little pool on the back wall.

duff 09-11-2011 03:46 AM

Hydrophyte - Thanks and they did travel well indeed! I am very please and now trying to avoid going to a bigger tank. I saw the Mr Aqua 17g tank and think it might serve me better as I already see this tank is a bit small. But for now I will let it all settle in and think about upgrading in a few months, lol

Sharkfood - thank you! I know its not the norm for a riparium but I wanted just a little bit of sound and it actually worked! I am pleased to have finally set it up :)

Sharkfood 09-11-2011 03:57 AM

I like it better this way. Ripariums are great in their usual form, but I think the background makes the tank much more interesting.

hydrophyte 09-14-2011 04:47 AM

How are those plants doing? Have they started to root yet?

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