News / biotope

Swamp Tank: Happy Plants in the Riparium Setup at Fish Planet in Deerfield, Illinois

Swamp Tank: Happy Plants in the Riparium Setup at Fish Planet in Deerfield, Illinois

Steve at Fish Planet sent us a few update shots for his showroom riparium planting. The plants look very good and the tank has been a big hit with customers. The following lists basic specifications for this planted model ecosystem:

  • Tank - 45-gallon cube (24" X 24")  - a great size and shape for a riparium planting
  • Lighting - 4X 24", 6,500K HO T5 lamps in pendant fixture, lighting for underwater area supplemented with Finnex I LED strip
  • Water circulation/filtration - Eheim 2213 canister supplemented with 100 gph power filter

The robust plant growth above and below water provides lots of natural water purification and habitat structure, allowing for an active fish display with lots of animals. Livestock include Neon Dwarf Rainbows, Silver Hatchetfish, Pygmy Cories and Burmese Rasboras. Among the submerged aquatic plants are various Crypts, Java Fern and Christmas Moss. Riparium plants include Colocasia Dwarf Taro, Ruellia Dwarf Bluebell, Ruellia Tall Bluebell and Acorus Japanese Sweetflag. Notice also the floating leaves of Nymphaea Dwarf Lily.

There is no CO2 injection to enhance underwater plant growth; the tank uses instead a natural approach with the generous fish stocking and bioactive substrates. The riparium plants of course acquire all of the carbon dioxide they need directly from the air, where it is usually much more available than underwater. The submerged plants and riparium plants do benefit with twice-weekly fert dosing for NPK and micronutrients. 

We look forward to more updates on this beautiful riparium. It looks as the the Ruellia plant might flower soon with its lovely pink blossoms. That will be a treat!  

Neon Dwarf Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox) - an excellent choice for an active fish display in a planted tank.

Colocasia Dwarf Taro with other riparium foliage

The Ruellia Tall Bluebell has numerous flower buds and will bloom soon.




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Build a Planted Riparium!

Build a Planted Riparium!

Visit the Aqua Verdi/Riparium Supply site, subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch our Facebook page for tips, new products and design ideas you can use to build a beautiful, relatively easy-care ecosystem display.

The attached photograph shows a Central America/Mexico biotope riparium in a 50-gallon tank. Plants include Acorus Japanese Sweetflag, Acrostichum Leather Fern and Ruellia Dwarf Bluebell.

Use this coupon code in the Aqua Verdi store for a 15% discount on riparium planters and other items in our Dry Goods Collection...


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Riparium Plants!

Riparium Plants!

A few days ago we received an order of fresh plant material including a number of the best riparium plants. We now have Acrostichum Leather Fern in stock again, as well as several new selections for the online store. Read about Saururus Lizard's Tail, Wedelia Oxeye and more right here...

New Riparium Plants - 23 March

We really want to spread the word about these cool new offerings, so we've activated a new coupon code, effective for just 48 hours (until the evening of 31 March) for a 25% discount on everything in our Riparium Plants collection...


Don't miss out on these cool new plants!




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New fish in the mail!

New fish in the mail!

We received some excellent new fish in the mail with an order from the native North American specialty online store, 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 page for Bantam Sunfish: Lepomis symmetricus Forbes, 1883

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!






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Part 1: Three Riparium Biotope Ideas

Part 1: Three Riparium Biotope Ideas

This short series of posts will offer suggestions for planning and establishing biotope ripariums to represent the aquatic habitats of three different regions. Aquarium biotopes create the most natural-looking combinations of plants, substrates and livestock, while also providing excellent opportunities to learn about the flora, fauna and ecology of beautiful wild places. We should all build more of them!

Part 1: Southern United States, Mexico & Central America   

120-gallon Mexico River Riparium

Above, Mexico river biotope riparium in 120-gallon aquarium.

The Biotope: the freshwater aquatic habitats in this vast area are represented by a wide variety of distinctive ecosystems that include swamps, rivers, lakes and mountain streams, but there is a certain amount of overlap in the aquatic plant and fish diversity. While planning a riparium biotope for specific kinds of fish, the aquarist should focus on a specific area and habitat to guide plant, hardscape and substrate choices.

Hardscape & Substrate: try to find photos or scientific descriptions for the specific area you wish to represent. There is wide variety. Mountain streams in the Southern United States, Mexico and Central America are typically lined with large rounded boulders and finer gravel particles. Swamps, marshes and quiet creeks can be recreated in the aquarium with gentle water flow and finer gravel substrate combined with sunken manzanita twigs and oak or magnolia leaves. Lakes often have more angular boulders and beds of sand or fine gravel. A large sunken driftwood stump can also help to recreate a lake environment. 

Livestock: the most popular aquarium fish from this region are livebearers in Family Poecilidae and various cichlids (Family Cichlidae). Among fish from the Southeastern United States, an area with exceptionally high fish biodiversity, are a few other groups kept in aquariums, such as cyprinids and darters. Very small livebearers, such as Heterandria formosa, can be housed in nano tanks of just a few gallons, while large Central American cichlids or groups of Poecilia sailfin mollies might require aquariums of 75 gallons or larger. There are also many fish species options from this area to inhabit medium-size tanks, such as wild type Xiphophorus platies & swordtails and Cryptoheros cichlids. The Mexico-endemic livebearer family, Goodeidae, also includes fascinating and beautiful aquarium choices.

Riparium plants: fortunately, a number of the best, well-tested riparium plant choices originate from this area. The following lists several of these with notes:

  • Asclepias curassavica "Mexican Milkweed" - this tropical relative of the familiar monarch butterfly food plant grows in wet, sunny places throughout the Southern United States, Mexico and Central America. It is one of the easiest riparium plants to grow and bloom. Combine it with grassy riparium plants, such as Cyperus, to create a riverbank or marsh environment.
  • Cyperus spp. dwarf "Umbrella Sedge" - there are three or four different small-growing Cyperus species available for sale in the gardening trade. While they may not necessarily be from this area, there are dozens of native species of Cyperus from wet habitats in this area that share the characteristic tall stalk with a a whorl of grassy leaves on top, so the common garden varieties will work well as riparium stand-ins.
  • Echinodorus cordifolius - another species that occurs throughout this area, this is also the Echinodorus swordplant that adapts best as an emersed plant in riparium conditions. The all-green species plant grows to a large size relatively fast, so it is a good choice for filling out a larger planting, while the white-variegated cultivar E. cordifolius 'Tropica Marble Queen', stays shorter. 
  • Ruellia brittoniana "Mexican Petunia" - another widespread plant in this area, R. brittoniana is available as several different cultivars that vary in stature and flower color. The dwarf forms of Ruellia brittoniana have foliage that reaches out across the water horizontally and are especially useful for adding visual depth and hiding riparium planters. Provided with good light and fertilization, Mexican petunias will flower abundantly in the riparium with white, blue, pink or violet blossoms.
  • Spathiphyllum spp. "Peace Lily" - this familiar houseplant originates from the tropical species that grow along rainforest swamps and streams in Southern Mexico and Central America, as well as South America. Use it with the above species and others to create a biotope for poecilids and cichlids from these more tropical areas.
  • Zephyranthes spp. "Rain Lily" - this true lily grows from a bulb and blooms with beautiful white, yellow or pink flowers. It is very easy to grow, but the the flimsy, onion-like leaves provide little foliage, so it should be combined with other more robust plants in the riparium layout.    

With some research, a dedicated hobbyists can find other possibilities among hardscape, livestock and riparium plants choices to recreate aquatic biotopes for this region. Some of the plants mentioned in the list above are actually represented by numerous different species in the Southern US, Mexico and Central America that might be difficult to find, but the species available as garden plants, including the Riparium Supply selections in our online store, can work well as stand-in representatives.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned and watch for our next two articles to offer  more ideas for planted riparium biotopes.






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