Freshwater aquariums have definitely changed since I was little. I remember the "cool" looking tank consisted of fake neon plants, bright colored gravel and funny skeletons that moved. (At least I thought it was cool!)
Today's current trend is now the nature aquarium, presenting a landscape cut straight out of a river or pond. These tanks look picturesque with their live plants, natural gravel and flowing landscapes. I have set up many of these tanks and wanted to show you how you can set up your own in a three part series. The extra great aspect of this step by step set up is that will allow an easy to follow guide for nature aquarium beginners.
Step One: Pick a Theme
This is a important step because it decides many of your choices for you. Does your theme include rocks, wood, decorative sand? What is going to be the focal point of the tank or are you even going to have one? To help me with this I looked online for examples of nature aquariums and found certain qualities in each that I liked. You can also look at the environment around you and obtain ideas from that. Many nature aquariums are setup mimicking the environment.
Step Two: Pick the Tank
I recommend purchasing a long horizontal tank for planted tanks. This is because the horizontal tanks allow more space for aquarium design and allow for more dynamic focal points than a vertical tank (in my opinion). Horizontal tanks also allow more space for a spread out planted layout, but odd shaped tanks can help create different ideas. I have chosen a 20 gallon long tank for this project mainly because of the shape of the wood that I am incorporating into the layout.
Step Three: Prepare the Aquarium
I am using an old 20 gallon long aquarium that has black trim around the bottom and top. This should be removed due to the trim "framing" and "obscuring" the layout of the plant and wood. The point of a nature aquarium is to show a natural environment with each component interacting in perfect harmony.
Removing the black trim was slightly difficult and required work. I used a Philips and pliers. I slowly pushed the Philips between the glass and the trim, loosening the sealant, while griping the trim with the pliers to pull it off. The top trim came off in small parts while the bottom came off in one large piece. (Honestly, Mike did this!)
After the trim was removed I cleared away the extra sealant and cleaned the entire aquarium. This gives the aquarium a clean fresh look that is perfect for a nature aquarium.
Now that I have designed a layout and prepared my aquarium, I can easily setup the aquarium having obtained the materials ahead of time. Next week I will arrange the wood, rocks and sediment in the aquarium explaining the importance of layout, lines, and the nature aquarium substrate.
Next: Your First Nature Aquarium Part II
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