Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Here it is better, down where it's wetter . . .
January 16, 2014 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Aquascaping is fucking awesome. Proof. More Proof. Proof proof proof. All the proof.

All links via Colossal
posted by Think_Long (38 comments total) 85 users marked this as a favorite

So let me make sure I understand: you plant a composed scene in an aquarium using flora that looks like full-size stuff growing above ground? Maybe with some accessories, too? Just like a terrarium, but underwater (with optional fish/sea-monkeys/other living creatures)?

Dang, these are awesome. I would enjoy some of these scenes as wall-sized, animated art!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:39 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

After I got over my disappointment that Aquascaping did not involve Sexy Aquaman - I gotta say the aquascapes are absolutely awesome! Bonus points for not using coral or other reef materials.
posted by helmutdog at 9:41 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

About half of them look like the backgrounds from the Tolkien movies by Peter Jackson. Apparently New Zealand is...under water? Is that why the word for "sea" is in its name?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:42 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]

Add baby squids to create your own Lovecraftian Horror diorama!
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:45 AM on January 16 [7 favorites]

These are beautiful, but I fear for the mental well being of the fish. Their little brains may not be able to handle pine trees underwater.
posted by orme at 9:51 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

These are delightful and you are delightful for having showed them to us.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:57 AM on January 16 [14 favorites]

Apparently New Zealand is...under water?

Duh! What did you think "Down Under" meant?
posted by yoink at 9:58 AM on January 16

I am not a big fan of the style in the first link where you are basically making a diorama. The pine trees in the very first picture of the first link are just sticks with a type of underwater moss stuck to them.

I acknoledge it takes alot of work to get a stick with java moss stuck to it to look like a pine tree, as almost all aquarium plants are really aggressive tropical varieties that have a strong 'take over the area and smother all competition out of existence' instinct. And these plants can grow really really fast since they have water to support their shape no matter how stretched out they get.

I prefer the 'nature aquarium' look that invokes trees and hills in a more abstract way. Like here

My own planted tank looked like this at one point, but now I don't have time for meticulous pruning and shaping and basically mow everything down once a week or so. I'm sure the newly hatched cherry shrimp appreciate the dense underbrush anyways.
posted by kzin602 at 9:58 AM on January 16 [5 favorites]

Fish's opinion of underwater pine tree.

Will it eat me? It's not eating me.

Can I eat it? Find something else to eat.
posted by notyou at 9:58 AM on January 16 [6 favorites]

Color me impressed. This is a terrific thing. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by davejay at 10:00 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

I'm only sad the images aren't bigger, or that would be my rotating desktop right now. Gorgeous!
posted by Erasmouse at 10:02 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

kzin602 - that's a great link you've shared as well, thanks.
posted by Think_Long at 10:04 AM on January 16

I love looking at these but could never handle the maintenance that goes into these tanks. It's like underwater bonsai, except you have to keep things alive and make sure algae isn't sucking up all the plant fertilizers you're dumping in. It's really impressive what some people do.

Also really cool to me are the Japanese style paludariums, where terrestial plants are included above the water.

I started keeping aquatic plants because they're impossible to kill for a brown thumb apartment dweller (you don't have to water them!) so I prefer the almost no-maintenance low-tech Walstad method. They tend to look more jungle-y than pruned like these tanks but it's still really cool.
posted by bradbane at 10:06 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]

I love looking at these but could never handle the maintenance that goes into these tanks.

I kind of figured that these are made for the show only and are not really maintained after that, but I could be wrong.
posted by Think_Long at 10:09 AM on January 16

These aquascapes impress me less as landscapes and more as dreamscapes.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 10:13 AM on January 16 [2 favorites]

Out of curiosity, how do they judge these? Does one send in a photograph, and how can they be sure it's not been doctored? It seems like shipping a working, set-up aquarium to wherever the judging is to take place would kinda screw it up.
posted by Runes at 10:18 AM on January 16

This post is awesome. awesome. awesome. awesome.
posted by Teakettle at 10:19 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

So cool.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:20 AM on January 16

In case anyone still doesn't understand the proof thing, here is former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien to explain.

Also, awesome aquaecapes.
posted by Kabanos at 10:20 AM on January 16

It's like underwater bonsai, except you have to keep things alive and make sure algae isn't sucking up all the plant fertilizers you're dumping in.

Also your bonsai tree grows at least an inch a day, every little bit of bonsai scrap you cut off will spawn a new bonsai on the other side of the room if it gets forgotten about and the bonsai tree is trying as hard as it can to get uprooted and stick itself to the ceiling.

Also there's super cute little animals hanging out on the tree and you are paranoid about injuring them as you prune.
posted by kzin602 at 10:20 AM on January 16 [4 favorites]

How the hell do they keep (most of) these things so damn clean?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:22 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

I started my first planted tank about a year ago, I'm pleased with the result thus far but there's much more refinement to do. The soil substrate amazes me, this is easily my lowest maintenance tank. The only problem is the usual aquarist lament: I need more space for more and bigger tanks.

How the hell do they keep (most of) these things so damn clean?

In my tanks, Otocinclus. They are so efficient that I have a separate tank intentionally growing algae for them to take vacations in when they scour their home tanks clean.
posted by jamaro at 10:29 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]

I'm with Chinese Jet Pilot. These are hauntingly beautiful dreamscapes.
posted by MsVader at 10:32 AM on January 16

posted by OmieWise at 10:35 AM on January 16

Does anyone know how they take such amazing pictures of the tanks? My buddy has an awesome saltwater tank where he's been growing coral, but we've struggled to take decent pictures because of the lighting.

Any tips?
posted by stinkfoot at 10:37 AM on January 16

The underwater Arizona desert is hilarious. Seaweed cacti! Seagrass tumbleweeds!
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:38 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]

I raised and bred tropical fish for years (well over 1000 gal of tanks in my apt) and the only thing green I could grow was algae. But then again I was raising cichlids that dig and move stuff around so no plant would be safe. Those examples here that do show some fish have small, nondestructive schooling tetras and the like. Very pretty though...
posted by jim in austin at 10:43 AM on January 16

Damn, this is pretty much the coolest thing I have ever seen. Thanks!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:51 AM on January 16

I can't find the link to the streaming HD Webcam focused on one of these 24/7. SURELY THIS MUST EXIST!?!?!?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:03 AM on January 16

Here is my brother's tank, which has a fairly impressive carpet of aquatic grass covering most of the tank, which isn't easy if you've never tried.

The main trick to keeping the algae under control is very careful management via shrimp. Different shrimp eat different things, and you can use them to (partially) clean your tank. Of course keeping correctly sized populations of various shrimp alive is no easy task either, and they don't co-exist well with all fish and water conditions.

Takashi Amano is the big name in this hobby and his tanks and photo books are astonishing. He is also credited with introducing the Caridina multidentata shrimp (also known as Amano Shrimp) into the hobby, and it remains the most popular general tank cleaner today.

So time, talent, shrimp and more time and talent. That's all you need ;)
posted by samworm at 11:26 AM on January 16 [3 favorites]

Glad someone already mentioned Takashi Amano, he is amazing.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:58 AM on January 16

I don't have any decent photos, but I have a "bonsai" in my aquarium -- the taproots of an oak, with phoenix moss (aka fissidens) attached.

Someday it will be awesome, but phoenix moss grows very, very slowly. And the effect is slightly offset by the fake log I had to add to give my ridiculously shy school of corydoras additional places to sulk hide.
posted by Foosnark at 12:41 PM on January 16

Wow, so lovely!
posted by freya_lamb at 12:45 PM on January 16

i dispute nothing from the op
posted by Quart at 1:39 PM on January 16

The Siam Paragon mall food court in Bangkok has some amazing aquascapes - here's the best photo I could find (not that great unfortunately). Sitting in front of one of these munching on Burger King is a pleasant way to pass an hour.
posted by Wantok at 4:08 PM on January 16

Aquariums were invented in the early 19th century England as part of the naturalist craze, nearly every middle class family had one for a while. The Victorian idea was that nature could be studied to find the hand of God, it was a way for the middle class to spend their leisure time learning and improving personally and also advancing the field of science. There were no specialists, naturalism was open to anyone. Collecting sea shells, stuffed birds, fern gardens, hot houses etc.. all part of the naturalist trend. Darwin killed it by making biology a field for specialists, but the naturalism "hobby" continued its own path.

Of course there was no electricity, so aquariums were very difficult. How does one keep the fish oxygenated, the water clean.. very carefully with trial and error they were able to find the right balances of plants and fish. It is still done today by some.
posted by stbalbach at 4:12 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]

So beautiful and tranquil--what a contrast to the absolute gritty hard work and upkeep to have one of these things looking good.

I raised and bred tropical fish for years (well over 1000 gal of tanks in my apt) ...

Holy crap, that's like 7000+ lbs of water--how do you keep from going through the floor?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:42 PM on January 16

Aqua Forest Aquarium in San Francisco is one of Amano's "official" stores. I love checking it out from time to time. Even the tiny >1 gallon tanks are amazing to see.
posted by aloha at 10:54 PM on January 16

« Older Even Ph.D.s Who Got “Full Funding” Have Huge Amoun...  |  Wings and Beef on Weck aren't ... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments