We received some excellent new fish in the mail with an order from the native North American specialty online store, www.ZimmermansFish.com. It's a lot of fun to receive new shipped livestock or plants, and even better when they show up 100% alive as perfect specimens.
These two species will work as centerpieces for a couple of new planted biotope setups representing aquatic ecosystems in the Southern United States. We ordered the bantam sunfish (Lepomis symmetricus) as a group of small adult individuals. This small sunfish (to only ~4") is relatively peaceful and and can be housed in a relatively small enclosure with just a few individuals. Most other Lepomis species are more feisty and should be kept in larger groups to disperse aggression.
The Bantam Sunfish has a rather limited geographic range that includes a few areas in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois. We will use the 56-gallon tank that has previously housed a group of species Betta to develop a riparium planting as their habitat biotope. The plant combination will make a few compromises with plants that aren't necessarily from the species' range, but it will create the general appearance of the Bantam Sunfish's densely-vegetated, quiet freshwater habitats: these include river oxbows, swamps, ponds and shallow bays of larger lakes.
Tjhe following link directs to the FishBase.org page for Bantam Sunfish:
Japanese Sweetflag (Acorus gramineus) is among the best of riparium plants for recreating a grassy riverbank or lake shore. This plant will fill several of the planters as background foliage, with a few other selections mixed in for variety and biotope representation. Mexican Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is an easy to grow riparium plant that might occur in some of the same places as the Bantam Sunfish. We also have a couple seedling specimens of the swamp-dwelling Dwarf Palmetto (Sabal minor), a characteristic Southeast US plant. Tall Bluebell (Ruellia brittoniana) would be another good plant to include.
The older photograph linked below shows a 50-gallon tank planted in this manner as a riparium with Japanese Sweetflag and a few other selections.
While it is an easy grower, Japanese Sweetflag requires a little extra care for planting. It is not a true grass and it grows from a creeping rhizome, similar to the habit of aquarium Anubias plants, that should be positioned right at the substrate surface during planting. The following sequence of photos shows the preferred planting method with the Aqua Verdi Riparium Planter.
In a week or two we will write another post with background information and biotope design ideas for our second new fish species, Redeye Bass (Micropterus coosae). Stay tuned!