The Fascinating Beauty Of An Underwater Universe

Most people know the feeling of being drawn In by the luminous underwater cosmos In a beautiful aquarium. Unconscious of time, It Is possible to sit and watch the background and the movements for many minutes, perhaps even for hours. It is this serenity that brings the urge to have your own aquarium as a hobby. In fact an aquarium is the combination of several different hobbies. Some people focus on the kaleidoscope of different fish, while the plants are just decorations. Others try to re-create a particular aquatic environment with fish, plants and decorations, as it exists in the wild somewhere in the world. Others again are interested in breeding a particular species of fish or growing particular plants, perhaps because they are rare or present an extra challenge.

In the field of aquaculture some people want new plants and regular variation in their aquariums. Others are inspired by the Japanese photographer and aquarium artist Takashi Amano, who creates large, integrated landscapes that take time to develop and call for a great deal of care and patience.

Before going out to buy your first aquarium, it is important to decide what exactly you want to do with it. There are endless possibilities. The next pages outline what needs to be taken into consideration, and how to make a good start, once you have decided.

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The installations must work properly before the plants are added

If you have decided to take up aquatic plants as a hobby, and perhaps dream of a Japanese-style landscape aquarium, you need an aquarium with a maximum capacity of 150 litres and the largest possible standard aquarium lamp. Larger aquariums require special lamps. In addition, serious problems with algae are far more difficult to overcome in a large aquarium than in a smaller one.

You have to decide whether to have an ordinary enclosed aquarium, or an open one. Open aquariums are lit by hanging lamps, and the surface becomes an extra dimension, allowing for additional interest, such as floating plants.

When you have selected the aquarium, you need a suitable filter. In an aquarium where plants are the main focus, the best choice is a small, motor driven filter with sufficient capacity to keep the water clear of algae and set up sufficient circulation to maintain an even temperature and CO2 saturation in the water. Avoid air-driven filters and bottom filters as they simply encourage the growth of algae, and in an aquarium with only a few fish and small quantities of food, a small filter is perfectly adequate. On the other hand if your taste is for shoals of fish and "cut fJowers"infl3iant aquarium, you will of course need to deal with the amount of food

The aquarium needs shade, but also light and CO2

An aquarium should never be placed where It receives direct sunlight. Just a little direct sunlight in the course of a day is enough to cause algae to grow explosively. Naturally, the plants need light in order to live and grow, and therefore artificial light is used for up to 12 hours daily. Fluorescent tubes are the most common light sources, although many types of tubes and reflectors are available, and aquarium lighting can be provided in many ways. Hanging lamps are another option for open aquariums - so it is not easy to specify precisely how to ensure good lighting. As a rule of thumb, however, there should be not more than 20 cm between fluorescent tubes in a 40 cm high aquarium, 15 cm if it is 50 cm high, and 10 cm if the height is 60 cm.

keep in place than rounded grains if you want to build up contours that vary in height. Both types are equally good for the plants. Even if the water is only medium-hard, if KH > 5 dh, it is always necessary to choose calcium-free gravel.

The bottom can be decorated with stones, roots or whatever looks attractive, as long as you make sure that it does not give off harmful substances to the water. If you collect stones in the countryside, soak them in clean water for a couple of days, then scrub them completely clean with a stiff brush. Great care should be taken with tree roots found in the wild. They often still contain sap, which can have disastrous effects on both fish and plants.

It is possible to compensate to some extent for reduced light by raising the concentration of CO2 in the water to about 30 mg/l using a CO2 system. If you have good lighting and rapidly growing plants, the CO2 concentration should be 15-30 mg/l, and should never drop below 10 mg/l. Plants cannot photosynthesise without carbon, and for the vast majority of plants CO2 is the only carbon source in the aquarium.

Light and CO2 requirements depend on the choice of plants. Anubias, Cryptocoryne, Microsorum, Vallisneria, Echinodorus, Taxiphyllum, Monosolenium and Sagittaria are examples of plants which do not demand very much light or CO2. They are therefore good plants for beginners, since reduced light and CO2 means less need for attention and a lower risk of algae.

A beautiful result starts at the bottom

Never buy gravel for an aquarium before deciding what else you want in the aquarium. The bottom substrate must of course allow the plant roots to grow and hold the plants in place. But the colour of the substrate has an effect on the plants, whether the fish will feel secure, and on the overall impression the completed aquarium will give. A light substrate will throw light back for the benefit of the plants, while a dark one will "steal" light. On the other hand, a dark substrate compensates for lack of depth in an aquarium, highlighting the fish and the colours of the plants. Ultimately it is a matter of taste, and innumerable colours of aquarium gravel are available.

Designing a beautiful aquarium

Before you start, it is worth making out a rough plan and looking at the front of the aquarium. Divide the area into nine rectangles (3 rows and 3 columns). The points where the lines cross each other are the best positions for the most striking solitary plants and highlights, to form what is known as "the golden section". It will bring asymmetry into the aquarium, which catches the eye and creates far more interest than a dull symmetrical structure.

It is important to exploit the effect of depth in the aquarium. Let the substrate slope from just a few centimetres at the front, and rise to as much as a third of the height of the aquarium at the back, using stones and roots to create variation and different levels. It is also a good idea to create dark or "blind" angles with crevices behind objects, or a hollow behind a stone or tree root.

The plants that grow tallest should be placed at the back of the aquarium, with lower ones in the foreground to enhance the effect of depth. Choose plants with leaves in varying shapes and sizes to make a contrast, so that your aquarium does not look like green wallpaper. Groups of red plants are also effective in breaking up the green. Remember to allow for open spaces around the solitary plants too. AquaDecor Bogwood and DecorRock are useful in open spaces, because they are so easy to move about and adjust until they give just the effect you want.

Gravel with a grain size between 2 and 4 mm provides good conditions for the plant roots to grow in. Rough-edged gravel is easier to

DID YOU KNOW: Tropica AquaDecor - tropical aquatic plants at display

Following the production of water plants on coconut discs, it is now easy to use tropical aquatic plants into any kind of glass. Consequently, water plants can now be used in a new and fun decoration in the office or at home. Challenge your own creativity and turn empty glass vases into exiting underwater landscapes or use AquaDecor as it comes from the shop. AquaDecor is also suitable for hostess gifts replacing the more traditional wine gift.

AquaDecor

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The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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