Natural occurrence of carpets? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Natural occurrence of carpets?

Not sure of which department to post in. I'm a bit torn, I want to do a carpet but also want it to look natural and not man-made. Anyone know of areas with naturally occurring carpets I can use for inspiration? Perhaps some flooded fields of some kind?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 01:13 AM
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Probably worth doing a google image search for streams, underwater bog photography, carpeting plants in the wild, insert-specific-plant in the wild, that sort of thing. Most of what you find won't look inspiring but there may be a few hidden gems.

Go for what looks nicest to you and feels as natural as you can get it. Most (not all) wild, natural settings aren't going to look pristine and manicured like our tanks.

If you're at all torn on carpeting plants and are in any way new to the hobby, I say don't do it with your first planted tank. Wait until you start a second tank. And definitely don't do it in a tank where you're not able to remove it and maintain things as-is without it or if you won't feel comfortable starting over.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 01:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hujeta View Post
Not sure of which department to post in. I'm a bit torn, I want to do a carpet but also want it to look natural and not man-made. Anyone know of areas with naturally occurring carpets I can use for inspiration? Perhaps some flooded fields of some kind?
I don't think manicured carpets exist in nature...not like we see them in aquascaped tanks anyway. Flooded fields typically kill the grass underneath because they are not meant to grow submerged. There are types of grass that will survive flooding, and there are actually seed mixtures meant to be planted in waterways and ditches that collect water (see this link for info: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal...cs142p2_020778). But those floods are temporary and usually the plants need exposure to air and to dry out sometimes.

If you look at pictures of natural underwater areas, you usually see patchy areas where plants are growing. It's not usually an even carpet. Water levels usually rise and fall in nature, so some plants that are submerged will once in a while be exposed on dry land. Also, stream currents often erode banks and prevent plants from growing evenly.

I think the most "natural" looking carpeting in an aquarium is on high slopes, around hardscape, and the mosses that can grow on driftwood, etc. Not trimmed, growing wild.

Full, even carpets just look to me like a tiny person should be in there with a lawn mower keeping it manicured like a golf course!

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 02:59 AM
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yes temporary and emersed in nature. Here's some HC.



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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 03:08 AM
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Carpet lawns are 100% man made, pioneered by Takasha Amano who explored plants that can imitate terrestrial lawn. The closest natural aquatic lawn may be Vals bed, but they are tall like elephant grass. Nature aquarium is imitation of natural landscape, not aquascape.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 06:35 AM
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Take a look at pictures of american waterweed, european waterweed, think its technically Elodia. I remember seeing underater fields of this stuff in crystal clear shallow cool water lakes and rivers when I was a kid. Its not really adaptable to an aquarium due to the size, the stuff can grow a few feet in height but will carpet acres of shallow water ways and looks almost like a secondary layer of green wavy water in a way.

If you have the right tank for it some dwarf swords or similar can have that more natural look IMHO but its not for everyone ecspecially depending on the style you want.

But nothing quite like a freshly mowed yard under water.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 12:15 PM
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Carpets exist in nature, they may not be IALPC perfect. But they do exist.

Eleocharis sphacelata


Sagittaria subulata


A LOT of the plants we grow in our tanks naturally occur not fully submerged but either emersed or at the waters edge only being submersed during flood. Now that I have a high tech tank to experiment with wild plants, I am finding that its actually pretty easy to find plants in the wild that grow in the aquarium. So far I have at least 5 species of plants growing in my 40 breeder that I pulled from the waters edge. I have another 2 species that its too early to tell if they will grow or die.


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 12:57 PM
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They are weed fields, not lawn which by definition, has to be uniform and dwarf in height like a golf course. If I neglect mowing my lawn, it will turn into a weed field. In nature, there are terrestrial lawn found in great plains of Africa, Mongolian steppe, Alaskan tundra, and Iceland moss forest. I don’t think aquatic lawns exist in nature and none of the posted pics resemble a sunken lawn.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
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They are weed fields, not lawn which by definition, has to be uniform and dwarf in height like a golf course. If I neglect mowing my lawn, it will turn into a weed field. In nature, there are terrestrial lawn found in great plains of Africa, Mongolian steppe, Alaskan tundra, and Iceland moss forest. I don’t think aquatic lawns exist in nature and none of the posted pics resemble a sunken lawn.
This then becomes a definition issue. A field of 99% hair grass is a weed field but 100% is a carpet? /shrug

I have a patch in my Walstad that is 2 varieties of hair grass plus microsword thrown in. Is that a carpet?

Then also becomes the issue of whether we are talking about an area of ground the same size as the footprint of the aquarium, or are we talking about an entire landscape we are trying to replicate. I posted pictures where if you were only looking at say a 2 foot by 4 foot area you would only have one plant species growing in that space. But if you looked a wider shot that encompassed the entire horizon then you will end up with hundreds of plants species (just a guess).

If the question though is whether you see plants of the same species growing in close proximity to each other, the same plants that we grow as carpets in an aquarium, then the answer is yes, it does happen in nature.

Here are some more

Micranthemum umbrosum


Unknown could be Callitriche, Micranthemum, or Hemianthus.


Here is a link to Tom Barr talking about monkey flower growing permanently submerged in CA as a carpet.


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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 02:53 PM
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I've seen several aquatic grass fields in the Chesapeake Bay, rivers and lakes while paddling the kayak around. Where they meet with shore or "hardscape" resembles carpet aquascaping? Sure the grass may be a foot or two tall, but in 15-20 ft of water it looks to scale...
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 03:04 PM
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I've seen several aquatic grass fields in the Chesapeake Bay, rivers and lakes while paddling the kayak around. Where they meet with shore or "hardscape" resembles carpet aquascaping? Sure the grass may be a foot or two tall, but in 15-20 ft of water it looks to scale...
Yep, you see "carpets" of tall reeds/grass growing but as mentioned they will be tall. The carpets we think about in our tanks are for a given time and then they have to be cut/replanted, that wouldn't happen in nature unless maybe once a season in many situations.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 03:33 PM
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Yep, you see "carpets" of tall reeds/grass growing but as mentioned they will be tall. The carpets we think about in our tanks are for a given time and then they have to be cut/replanted, that wouldn't happen in nature unless maybe once a season in many situations.
Gotcha, but I read the original question as: Is there anything in nature that would resemble an aquascaped carpet? And from what I've seen the answer would be yes (...on a larger scale, but proportionately very similar) Just taken at visual face value on one particular day, and not considering maintenance.

IMO, the pic attached could be remnants of a downed 30ft Oak laying in field of 2ft weeds in 14ft of water
OR
some twigs of Manzanita laying in some UG in a 2.5 gallon tank

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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 03:51 PM
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Gotcha, but I read the original question as: Is there anything in nature that would resemble an aquascaped carpet? And from what I've seen the answer would be yes (...on a larger scale, but proportionately very similar) Just taken at visual face value on one particular day, and not considering maintenance.

IMO, the pic attached could be remnants of a downed 30ft Oak laying in field of 2ft weeds in 14ft of water
OR
some twigs of Manzanita laying in some UG in a 2.5 gallon tank
I get the scale thing and i agree, I guess I'm reading the OP question differently. The key word is "carpet" Even in nature on a large scale, there is a cut-off on what would be considered a "carpet"
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 05:33 PM
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The grass and Vals fields are about the closest to carpet plants in look, but on the tall side of prairie than lawn. Golf courses require regular mowing. Africa safari and polar tundra have grazing herbivores to mow them down. There are no grazing fish to mow down aquatic grass fields.

Amano’s carpet plants are labor intensive requiring regular pruning and maintenance. Eventually, most carpets will choke themselves to decline beyond maintenance requiring restarting..
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-13-2020, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies!! Super helpful. It's interesting to see the different interpretations of my OP, I suppose it's not entirely clear to me either after reading your comments on it and considering different takes on it. I think I was hoping to find naturally occurring carpets, as to justify my want for a carpet in the aquarium without making it unnatural (however loose that term may be) and I've gotten a great amount of examples of that.

Especially the video posted on natural HC Cuba, which is my preferred carpeting plant. I suppose an area of that can be flooded, and I can try and mimic that in my tank. With that in mind and appopriating the use of multiple carpeting plants as below I think I can achieve the look I want and not have it feel out of tune.

My long & shallow 24G:
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