Nature Aquariums
February 15, 2008 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Nature Aquariums. Little plastic castle and bubbling treasure chest don't do it for you? Me neither. But the living landscapes Aqua Forest Aquarium creates in fishtanks are gorgeous. [Flash-based image gallery]
posted by scarabic (19 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
These are beautiful. Exactly the sort of thing I've been trying to do in my little aquariums.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2008


Takashi Amano's Nature Aquarium World is a beautiful coffeetable book on this subject. I only have the first book, so I can't comment on the other two. Also, I read newer editions don't have the nice glossy paper.
posted by mealy-mouthed at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those are pretty amazing. The exact opposite of the deathtrap goldfish tanks of my youth.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2008


The exactapparent opposite of the deathtrap goldfish tanks of my youth.

Not that I'm about to strike a blow of freedom for fish, but they are still enclosed for your enjoyment.

But I like them.
posted by DU at 11:21 AM on February 15, 2008


If I gave my fish that many places to hide I'd never see them.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2008


Actually, one of my childhood goldfish did try to jump to his .... freedom. I saw him jump out and land on the desk, so I put him back in. The next day, when I got home from school, he was dead on the desk.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:29 AM on February 15, 2008


If I gave my fish that many places to hide I'd never see them.

Funny, you'd think so, but when I gave my fish tons of thick plantings to hide in, I saw a lot more of them- I think they feel a lot more confident being out and about when there's a good hidey hole a short dash away.

Takashi Amano's work is gorgeous, and has been a source of inspiration for years. I'd not yet stumbled upon Aqua Forest Aquarium, and I'll have to go check it out. Great link, scarabic!
posted by ambrosia at 11:39 AM on February 15, 2008


There is a great place in Atlanta that is just like that. I go there not so much to buy anything, so much as to relax on a couch in front of one of their saltwater aquariums and watch the fish while soothing music plays in the background.
posted by nzero at 11:53 AM on February 15, 2008


This seems like a nice fresh water alternative to salt water tanks with coral if you are interested in a more beautiful landscape for your fish.

My questions are how much effort does this really take to do at home and just how expensive is it. I didn't see a kit being sold on that website, which leads me to believe you'd have to spend tons of hours reading up on this, many more hours contemplating what products to buy, then tallying it all up to find out you'll need a second job to pay for the thing (leaving you with no time to care for it).

Anyone have any practical experience with these things?
posted by Muddler at 11:59 AM on February 15, 2008


You know, I've been wondering whether you might not be able to get really good-tasting drinking water out of an aquarium with just the right balance of organisms, though I'm not sure how many fish I'd want in there.

I've tried filtering of all kinds and it does get rid of a bunch of noxious tastes, but something is missing. The best-tasting water I can remember ever having came out of the tap of an old cabin on Mt. Hood in Oregon, stream fed and carried to the cabin in wooden pipes. I finally decided it must be chemicals the living things there were adding to the water that made it so good.
posted by jamjam at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2008


A lot of these folks use supplemental CO2 in their tanks to get the plants to grow so lushly. Haven't taken that plunge myself.
posted by Area Control at 12:49 PM on February 15, 2008


I think this is Takashi Amano's signature tank.

I'm an aquarium nut. Planted tanks upstairs, and a 120g Reef tank on the go in the basement. The man is a god in my circles.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:51 PM on February 15, 2008


This seems like a nice fresh water alternative to salt water tanks with coral if you are interested in a more beautiful landscape for your fish.

Both rely on a lot of specialized gear, and careful attention to water parameters. Coral reefs are a little more expensive, but easier to keep in balance in my experience.

Anyone have any practical experience with these things?

Sure. What do you want to know?

The basics are very clean water, filters that do not over oxygenate the water, a good clean up crew, excellent lighting, rigid and controlled dosing of fertilizers, and CO2 supplementation. All very easy to accomplish in a home aquarium, but hard to keep in balance.

Fortunately, many options exist for smaller aquariums now, and with the increased interest in 'home hydroponics' lighting and other gear is readily accessible.

You know, I've been wondering whether you might not be able to get really good-tasting drinking water out of an aquarium with just the right balance of organisms, though I'm not sure how many fish I'd want in there.

Not at all. The plants do a good job of filtering out the fish waste, but the water is still not suitable for consumption. Like, rinse-your-mouth-out-with-Listerine-if-you-get-a-mouthful-while-siphoning bad.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:57 PM on February 15, 2008


Those are cool. I like big, huge aquariums. I think they're really neat. That's the kind of thing I'd do if I were rich....put giant aquariums in my house and pay people to take care of them.

But I'm not rich, and I am lazy. As pretty as these are I doubt they'd thrive in my home. Ah well.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:20 PM on February 15, 2008


Scarabic, you just killed my 6 months in the making first post, now you get to see me rant :)

It was planted aquarium folks the first people I met after moving to San Francisco. They were very generous and friendly. In the pictures of your desks thread you can see a tiny tank where I keep some of the most exotic anubias and mosses I have. If you are interested, join your local planted aquarium group. It will save you a lot of money and trouble.

I have a few issues with this post. You only linked to Aqua Forest. They have pretty looking tanks, but they are EXTRMELY expensive. If you are to believe Amano, and AF, you need a $400 tank with $500 lights, a $250 filter, $200 in CO2 tank an regulator, $120 in substrate, $100 in test kits and a lifetime addiction to expensive fertilizers. Hell, they even sell "Amazon Forest" scented CO1! Enough to discourage newcomers. Aqua Forest is good for inspiration, but you don't rally need such top quality stuff.

You can get equally impressive aquariums investing less than $100. 6th Avenue Aquarium sells acrylic tanks at $1 per gallon, but don't buy any live stuff there. You can do DIY CO2 with yeast and sugar, and you can use normal CF bulbs if you don't go for the very high light plants. Take a look at Tropica's list of plants to see all the options.

Then go stock at Ocean Aquarium. They don't have a website, the aquarium is in a dirty alley full of crackheads, but Justin LOVES his tanks and is a real expert. He will quarantine everything, and would rather not make $300 than sell fish to an unqualified customer (witnessed this a few times). When I cam for a job interview in San Francisco, not knowing if I was ever going to be her again, I used my free afternoon to go to Ocean Aquarium. Even in the backwoods of Mexico we know that this is the best place to go this side of Singapore and Japan.

Also, the Amano style is not the only impressive style in planted aquariums. Amano style is expensive and very labor intensive.In the cabinet under the tanks there is a lot of equipment to keep the water clear, and everything needs to be trimmed, replanted and cleaned at least weekly. The other extreme of the spectrum is a filter less, heavily planted tank with few fish, where you setup with as many species as possible, and keep what survives in your particular location. I don't have all the links handy, but if I ever get motivated enough, I may make a post on very low tech planted aquariums.

If anyone in S.F. wants to get started on this, contact me. I have a spare filter or two, and some plant cuttings. I have more Java Moss and Ferns than I can use.
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:49 PM on February 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


Forgot to link to the AGA galleries. You can see all kinds of styles, like this or this
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:55 PM on February 15, 2008


The forums at plantedtank are a decent info source, too.

/keeper of carnivorous aquatic greenery: utricularias, aldrovanda
posted by jamaro at 1:57 PM on February 15, 2008


Thanks for all the added links, everyone. I had no idea this was such a genre out there!
posted by scarabic at 3:38 PM on February 15, 2008


Well. There went my evening. From plantedtank, I ended up at PlantGeek & that's always the end for me. Someday I will have a lush beautiful tank or three like those...
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:53 PM on February 15, 2008


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