Also known as a “Riverbank Aquarium,” the Riparium is growing in popularity. Let’s go over the basics of this new planted tank trend and learn if it’s the right hobby for you.
If you’re an experienced aquarium hobbyist well versed in the art of cultivating aquarium plants, you may be interested in learning about a new type of planted tank – the riparium. Ripariums are great for beginners as well as experts because the plants are easier to grow but there are still plenty of options for customization. If you are curious to learn more about ripariums, this article is the perfect place for you to start.
What is a Riparium?
There is no exact definition of the word “riparium,” though it is generally used to describe a tank that recreates shoreline conditions. For example, a tank setup to mimic the shoreline of a stream or river would constitute a riparium (also known as a “riverbed aquarium”). These tanks are typically decorated with marginal plants – that is, plants that are rooted in an aquatic environment but produce leaves which grow above the surface of the water. These plants must be adapted to low oxygen levels because they typically grow in boggy or muddy substrates. Marginal plants must also be adaptable to changing water levels since they grow at the water’s edge.
There are a great many benefits associated with ripariums versus traditional planted tanks. For one thing, it can be difficult to balance the water conditions necessary to cultivate both live plants and aquarium fish. With ripariums, you can choose marginal plants which are usually much easier to grow. Another benefit of ripariums is that you do not need to worry about keeping oxygen levels in your tank high and you don’t even have to fill the tank completely with water. The downside of a riparium is that you will have to prune your plants to keep them from overgrowing the tank and you might have to take steps to prevent pests like aphids or spider mites.
Choosing the Best Plants for Ripariums
If you want to cultivate a thriving riparium, you need to be intentional about which kinds of plants you choose. There are three factors to consider when choosing your plants:
- Adaptability to tank conditions
- Appropriate size and shape
- Aesthetic appeal
The ability of a plant to adapt to the conditions in your riparium is the most important factor to consider. The best plants for ripariums are those that adapt well to wet conditions – this includes plants that grow naturally along the edges of streams, rivers, and lakes. Plants must also be able to tolerate low oxygen levels and very wet soil. Some of the most adaptable aquarium plant species include Anubias, Cryptocoryne, Microsorum, and Echinodorus. Plants that tend to grow well in ponds may also be a good choice as long as they do not grow too large for the tank.
The plants you choose to cultivate in your riparium are completely up to you, but you would be wise to consider three tried-and-true combinations:
- Carpeting stem plants with Cyperus umbrella sedges
- Tropical forest plants like Pilea and Spathiphyllum peace lilies
- Acorus sweetflag with various other accents
Umbrella sedges, or Cyperus plants, are used to growing in wet, marshy conditions and there are many different species to choose from. These factors make them a great choice for the riparium. These plants do particularly well when accented with carpeting plants. To use carpeting plants in your riparium, go with a hanging planter attached to a trellis that the plant can spread over. Tropical forest plants like Pilea and Spathiphyllum peace lilies are another great option because they are easy to cultivate and they offer great coloration and variety. Acorus sweetflag is a species that grows in bogs and marshes, so it will thrive in riparium conditions.
Cultivating a riparium is just like any other planted tank – you have to choose your species carefully to match your tank conditions. The more research you do before you set up your tank, the better off you’ll be able to help your riverbed aquarium flourish.