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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have tried quite a few different kinds of plants in ripariums. Among these are some very useful selections. I have also encountered some that were unsuitable for riparium culture, either because they did not adapt to culture in water under artificial lighting, or because their growth habits and shapes were unsuitable for riparium layouts. Several were just too large to keep in an aquarium display.

One group that has emerged (that was a pun :icon_lol: ) as especially useful riparium elements are some of the small herbaceous plants in Genus Pilea. This group is in Family Urticaceae, the nettle family, and is distributed mainly in tropical areas. There are several Pilea species that are used as houseplants or terrarium specimens, so they can be found in stores without too much trouble.

I have found that the most useful way to employ Pilea plants in ripariums is to plant them on trellis rafts and then position them in the layout midground. They are useful for this because they are relatively short-statured and compact, so they fit well well in front of taller riparium background foliage. These plants also have the important advantage of having modest nutrient demands, so they can grow with their roots suspended right in the water and get along well with the nutrients provided by fish waste and modest water column fertilization.

Here is a shot of my new-ish 50-gallon setups that includes a few very nice little Pilea plants and other light emersed stem plants



Here is a close up that shows the two different Pilea in there.



Each of these is growing on a Nano Trellis Raft, a foam part that can hold the stems erect and with the bases in the water. The picture below shows the larger of these, which I am identifying with the provisional name, Pilea Florida ditch #1. You can probably make a good guess as to how I acquired this plant.



Here is the smaller plant floating right in front of that one in the tank, Pilea Florida ditch #2.



Actually, I am not 100% certain that this little plant is a Pilea, but it looks like one to me.

This last picture shows better how the plants grow in the Nano Trellis Raft. The plant here is also a Pilea. I am not sure if it is a species or cultivar, but I have seen it identified with the moniker 'Silver Tree'. It has attractive silver-patterned, purple leaves and is the fastest growing Pilea that I have tried.



'Silver Tree' grows so fast that it is necessary to crop the tops of the stems and replant in the trellis raft when it becomes too leggy. The new cuttings root readily when planted in this way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The familiar and pretty-easy-to-find "aluminum plant" (Pilea cardierei) is another good choice. Here is a group of stems fresly-planted on a nano trellis raft.



And the raft just snaps into place next to the other features in the tank. It will take about a week for that P. cardierei to start to develop new roots there around the leaf axils that are underwater.

I gotta try to get some of that "Moon Valley". It looks like it would be great for a little midground accent.
 

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Nice! I've always liked Pileas. I have another one called Pilea "Moon Valley" that's been growing really well for me.

That is a very nice one, and I think I have seen it in stores selections of house plants. I will start looking for it again. I really like how it looks.

My Pilea plants have not been as successful as Hydrophytes. They grew very well for awhile, but then they started dying. I have only a couple left now. I'm not at all sure why the problem started. The biggest failures were in one of my "grow out" tanks, where the water quality wasn't maintained nearly as well as in my show ripariums. I suspect that could be the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My Pilea plants have not been as successful as Hydrophytes. They grew very well for awhile, but then they started dying. I have only a couple left now. I'm not at all sure why the problem started. The biggest failures were in one of my "grow out" tanks, where the water quality wasn't maintained nearly as well as in my show ripariums. I suspect that could be the problem.
I lose a lot of stuff in my "growout" tanks too--they just don't get the same attention as my display setups and suffer from inconsistent conditions. At some point I really need to set up a proper fishroom with better air flow, semi-atomated water change, better temp control, and a more efficient work area. I am certain that it will save money and time in the long in comparison with the piecemeal system that I have now.
 

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Awesome write-ups on these as well as all other riparium related articles. So many things to try so little tank room.
I have also experienced some less than stellar results in my grow out tank. Some things do well enough, others suffer badly.

Without taking this too off topic something about composition clicked in my head as I read through the replies. Hydrophyte definitely has the knack for it, Hoppy as well and even if its without much thought its there. Maybe its a innate artistic sense, much study of habitats, or just trial and error/ knowing growth patterns but regardless your layouts look awesome and very natural. Much like planted tanks I feel like there can be many different types (moods, feelings, whatever its being called today) of layouts with ripariums even when confined to the base model of planter cups and rafts.
I think I may be rambling now as I've lost the thought on composition... oh yea its going to be a while before I get there. I'm still in the experimental stage learning what I can/can't grow and wanting to try more things... I feel the 29G is only the beginning but man its pretty fun trying to catch up.
 

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This one, at http://www.glasshouseworks.com/trop-p3.html looks like a great candidate for very low growth on a raft. I may tweak my budget a bit and try it. It isn't too expensive either.

Or, this one:


That's a great website to visit for riparium lovers. You could make a whole riparium with all of those varieties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That one shows up pretty reliably among houseplants too so you might spot it when out shopping.

If you inquire about ordering at glasshouseworks let me know what they say about shipping now in the wintertime.
 

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I tried out the website and the first think I noticed is that they require a minimum order of $15, as I recall. I'm not ready for that much yet, and I would be getting more plants than I have a place for. Looking at local stores is actually more fun anyway. Only the rare ones are worth paying extra for shipping. (Maybe I'm just experiencing post-holiday bills hangover now though.)
 
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