Hi all - After six years of nature aquarium-style scapes in my 57g show tank, I wanted to try something different. In poking around the usual web sources for inspiration, I came across the idea of doing a riparium. What attracted me was the flexibility; I could easily fool around with plant placement, light levels, water levels, etc. Plus my tank was perfectly suited for it: open top, rimless, suspended fixture at variable height (and tunable light intensity). So...I jumped in with the help of hydrophyte and his "aqua verdi" web storefront.
In a nutshell: different and fun for me, and my wife & neighbors are big fans (because of the location of the tank and the frequency of our visitors, I get a lot of running commentary).
This is early days, of course. Things are just starting to grow in, but you can search the term "riparium" and see lots of finished examples of what I'm aiming for. So far, the plant I like the best is the little (so far) dwarf taro. The kids love the water repellent leaves, and I love what the plant should eventually grow into. Fingers crossed.
One of the interesting things about this style is that you can't use standard strategies for stacking plants to deal with lighting your foreground/background. The emergents in the back are obviously going to eat the light in the back of the tank, so it'll be hard to put something tall in the subsurface back there. I just tossed a bunch of trident on driftwood and I'm hoping to get it established in front with high light then move it back eventually. Also, my foreground gravel setup looked nice at first but is going to get green quick unless I get some stems in quickly. I'll figure it out eventually, and some otos ought to take care of things in the meantime.
Also, an uncompensated plug: Devin at Aqua Verdi was super helpful in getting me going, and the planting boxes he sells are really nice for this purpose, not least because you can "stack" them allowing you to do a mix-and-match background and foreground. Imagine being able to do that with rooted plants.