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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I decided to try my hand at a riparium because it combines two of my hobbies, and sort of makes sense to include a shoreline in an aquascape scene...

(This tank was originally introduced here: 25cm nano cube Riparium - The Planted Tank Forum , but I didn't know how to move the thread so I made another...)

Updated Picture:








Tank: Do! Aqua 25-c (4 gallon) + Mr aqua large 1.2gal HOB breeder box
Heater: Hydor 50watt
Filter: finnex px360 + Seachem Matrix
Lights: 23watt 6500k cfl in work lamp reflector
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia

Betta (black and red)
[STRIKE]ramshorn snails[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]orange sakura shrimp[/STRIKE]
skud shrimp

Submerged Flora:
Crypt wendtii 'tropica'
Crypt wendtii 'Mi Oya'
Crypt undulata
Crypt willisii
Crypt Lucens
Fissidens Fontanus
Singapore moss
[STRIKE]Anubias nana[/STRIKE]
Anubias nana 'petite'
Anubias Coffeeolia
[STRIKE]Java fern [/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]Hygrophila 'siamensis 53b'[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]Hygrophila polysperma[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]Ludwigia repens[/STRIKE]
Ceratopteris thalictroides (water sprite)
Salvinia natans
[STRIKE]Brazilian pennywort[/STRIKE]
Heteranthera zosterifolia (Star grass)

Riparium Flora:
Spathiphilum 'petite' (peace lily)
Pilea cardierei (Aluminum plant)
[STRIKE]Pilea glauca 'aquamarine'[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]Pilea depresa[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]Chamedora elegans (neanthe Bella palm)[/STRIKE]
Ophiopogon japonicus (mondo grass)
[STRIKE]Acorus gramineus 'variegatus' (sweet flag)[/STRIKE]
[STRIKE]Schefflera elegantissima (False Aralia)[/STRIKE]
Syngonium podophylum
Hygrophila 'siamensis 53b

[STRIKE]Seachem Nitrogen
Seachem Potassium
Seachem Phosphourus[/STRIKE]
Seachem Equilibrium

I was already in the process of making a nano 10" cube for shrimp and I wanted to see if I could make a believable riparium out of such a small tank... I started this tank as a dry start with moss and crypts back in early December...

To get over the fact that most riparium plants would overshadow the 10" of front to back tank space quite fast, I decided to use a hang on the back breeder box to house the planters and rafts... a finnex px360 canister filter takes water from the cube and sends it into the breeder box and then overflows back into the tank...

I mostly did this project over the Christmas holidays so my options for supplies were limited... I made my own riparium planters from acrylic sheeting custom made to fit the breeder box... I ended up using seachem matrix instead of hydroton, and used leftover aquasoil for the top layer... the rafts I made from 4 layers of craft foam sheets crazy glued together and drilled holes to fit the stems... they work very well but could be thicker. ..

Plants were also limited up here in frozen north, so I decided to try chamedora elegans from home depot, ophiopogon japonicus and acorus gramineus 'variegatus' from petsmart, pilea carderi and pilea glauca 'aquamarine' on the rafts and philodendron climbing up the emersed driftwood with the root dangling behind...

While the pilea and philodendron are starting to take off, I'm getting crown rot on some of the the chamedora shoots with some leaves drying up and the acorus seems dried out despite trying to keep the rhizomes above the water with very small roots and I only used matrix for this planter... the ophiopogon isn't doing much at all... I'm not sure if this is failure or just transitions... it's only been flooded since Jan 13th so I have to be patient and just fertilized for the first time today...

Somehow in the future I am going to obtain acorus gramineus 'ogon' and probably Cyprus dwarf sedge to replace the the background, I just have to wait on the local nurseries to start bringing them in for the spring. ..

The emersed driftwood is attached to an equal sized chunk below the surface...

I'm finding it hard to properly photograph the under water part so bear with me until I get some good shots with the dslr... I've tried with the light above and to the side...

I added 12 orange sakura shrimp and one perished so far


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298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is a quick shot of the HOB breeder box that houses the acrylic planters:

And this is the HOB breeder box before I filled the tank... it's been modified to fit the glass and shortly after this shot I cut down the plastic to increase flow across the whole length instead of just through the the main overflow on the left:

And these are the planters I made from acrylic sheeting, cut on table saw and edges clean with a router table, then bonded with methylene chloride. .. holes drilled on all sides for water diffusion:

This is a shot before I filled the dry start and planted the riparium portion:

When the water was clear before I added alder cones, the first occupant was a juvenile cherry shrimp:

The acrylic planters sit on the bottom of the HOB with about 1/2" above the water:

Once I replace my faulty Hydor 50w heater I will house it in the remaining space in the HOB under the aluminum plant raft...

I wish nurseries were open up here in the frozen north... I need to get my hands on some of the proven riparium plants... my background choices are not fairing so well... the roots on the acorus gramineus 'variegatus' have rotted and there's isn't much rhizomes to use a rubber band to stabilize them... do the rhizomes NEED to be above the water completely? I figured the matrix would still allow oxygen but I guess not :(

I have a bunch of Spathiphyllum 'petite' but that is too broad for this nano... I'm thinking Cyprus dwarf sedge and some kind of grass... not sure I like the fan look of the acorus and the mondo grass, while not dieing, is showing no growth but maybe I need to be more patient :wink:

There are some really good nurseries around here that have plenty of tropical plants but not much in the way of marginal or pond plants this time of year. .. I just picked up some syngonium, the common one and a smaller reddish one... as well as pilea glauca and pilea depressa and I am now adding those for the foreground... the mid ground is covered with pilea cardierei...

But I want the background to be "grassy", so I'm gonna have to wait for the pond plants to come in... maybe this chamedora elegans palm will pull through as its a very beautiful plant... maybe I have the crowns to far into the water. .. maybe I should raise the planters?

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298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've seen others have success with pilea glauca so I decided to try it... we shall see how unruly it gets... 2 days in and it looks like roots are sprouting!!

Close up:

I got the idea for this plant from ukamikazu over at aquatic plant enthusiasts:

The Aluminum plant is growing gang busters... at least this will give the illusion of the background being filled in until I get my real background plants in order:

The pilea glauca is definitely starting to root in only a couple days:

I also added some pilea depressa to the opposite side on a foam raft... after only 1 day in a grow out tank the roots began to grow:

I wanted to try a plant I haven't heard of being used in riparium so before I even set this tank up I cut the roots from several False Aralia (Schefflera elegantissima) over a month ago and stuck it in one of my tanks with decent sucess:

With new growth:

And most of these roots have grown underwater:

We shall see how this plant does long term... I'm seriously thinking of adding it to this tank...

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Meanwhile in my grow out tank, I've finally potted up the Spathiphyllum 'petite' into a soap caddy with matrix. .. I will add a top layer of aquasoil or flourite once it settles in... unfortunately this caddy is wide but not very deep:

The roots have grown already with these Spathiphyllum free floating, so we shall how well they do in the caddy:


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is so beautiful, though I am wondering how visible the submerged portion is. From these pics it looks really dark. Do you plan to light it up with something?
Photography of riparium setups is very hard because in order to properly expose the brighter emersed portion the submerged portion is inevitably underexposed :(

In person, the submerged portion is relatively dark but everything is visible... I could supplement with more light but the idea is that this tank be as natural as possible as a stream/river bank scene where the area directly under these terrestrial plants would be overshadowed and shaded out...

I will be taking photos soon with my DSLR in order to capture the dynamic range seen in person :proud:

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298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm curious to see how the Pilea depressa and Pilea glauca 'aquamarine' do on the rafts. May have to try some out myself if you are successful with them.

Nice tank!
Both of these species are rooting like crazy and new leaves are forming... the pilea depressa seems very adaptable as even a completely submerged stem began to send out roots from each node without the leaves dying off...its definitely a more 'filled in' plant with its leaves closer together than the pilea glauca 'aquamarine' but i think each has its place as a trailing forground plant on rafts or climbing up driftwood or cascading over the edge of the tank...

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That piece of wood is absolutely made for that size tank, and this application. Wow. Great looking scape.

I was also gonna suggest doing a manual HDR shot. If your camera has an HDR function, that would work as well, but manually taking all three exposures and combining them with software would make this tank REALLY pop in photographs.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That piece of wood is absolutely made for that size tank, and this application. Wow. Great looking scape.

I was also gonna suggest doing a manual HDR shot. If your camera has an HDR function, that would work as well, but manually taking all three exposures and combining them with software would make this tank REALLY pop in photographs.
Yeah, once I get the riparium plants situated I'm gonna have a proper photo shoot done with my dSLR, and I'll try HDR...

The pilea sp. are doing great in the rafts, as are the philodendron cuttings and the False Aralia (Schefflera elegantissima) in the acrylic planter which has new growth and new roots, although some of the lower leaves are starting to drop...

I have removed the Chamedora elegans (neanthe Bella palm) as it slowly dried out with no roots forming... I'm not sure why this one didn't work... I tried raising the crowns up but maybe it was too late :(

I filled the empty acrylic planter with 3 more Ophiopogon japonicus (mondo grass) to fill out the back, as the current ones have been growing new leaves and the roots have reached the bottom of the planter and new runners shooting everywhere...

The Acorus gramineus 'variegatus' (sweet flag) rotted away at the rhizomes, despite being above the soil but I didnt like it anyways... too 'angular' if that makes any sense... the arching of the mondo grass is more pleasing to me :icon_smil

Meanwhile the crypts are growing great underwater, filling in everywhere... the crypt undulata and wendtii 'mi Oya' may prove to be too large for this nano :wink:

I've also added a stem of hygrophila 'siamensis 53b' into the aquasoil with the intention of it growing emersed to bring some nice flowers into the mix...

I've transfered the heater and thermometer to the breeder box which cleaned up the main tank nicely, but for some reason this raised the tank temp 1°C... I really want to build temp controllers for all my tanks to alleviate this kind of malarkey!

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298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I love those boxes!!! Could you make a few for me? I'll gladly paid you, :D

PM sent
Sadly I have no time to build more of the boxes for my own uses... the 28 month old toddler and 5 week old newborn are taking all my time and sanity :help:

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298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Beautiful setup. Sounds like you could use some "serenity" :)
Oddly enough this tank hasn't achieved the status of 'serenity inducing' yet... I'm not as happy with the small cube form factor as I thought I would... of course I've modified the shape with the HOB breeder box on back... I'm thinking this would have worked better in a 30cm cube!

Also it's definitely lost its punch without the palm giving a sense of height... I can't wait until pond shops open so I can get my hands on some Dwarf Cyprus... the pilea glauca is growing well but looks too spindlely and sparse... I need something growing up in front of it so I'm gonna move it back into the HOB...

Updated pictures to follow...

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298 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well I only had a few minutes to take some crappy cell phone snaps yesterday... one of these days I'll get some dSLR pics taken...

Here is the riparium section from the front...

March 2015 25cm cube riparium by nbtobey, on Flickr

View from the top, which is my favorite angle... perfect to see the nice bio film scum that's accumulated on the surface :confused1:

March 2015 25cm cube riparium by nbtobey, on Flickr

The underwater section is growing in nicely but it's still pretty dark... I haven't mounted the light in its final location so it will get brighter :icon_cool

March 2015 25cm cube riparium by nbtobey, on Flickr

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So the False Aralia decided to die off overnight... I guess it didn't like the planter :eek5:
I moved the survivors to another tank bare rooted so hopefully they will recover...

Despite the fact that Spathiphyllum 'petite' might be too big for this tank I added a flowering specimen to the empty planter, but maybe it will stay small enough to fill in its corner of the HOB... perhaps it will give me the height I want without the spread if I trim back the older leaves... I also added some more pilea cardierei to the raft that had pilea glauca on it... it was looking to sparse in that section.

That's what I like about this riparium thing; you can experiment with species and placements without disturbing the main tank and substrate...

Here's a quick shot of the changes. ..

March 2015 25cm cube riparium by nbtobey, on Flickr
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