Today, we’re going to think outside of the box. Or, to phrase it more precisely, we’re going to think outside of the tank. Most aquariums are watertight and carefully enclosed – for good reason. If they weren’t, then fish would unwittingly leap out of the tank and commit fishy suicide on your living room floor.
So, aquarium designers include heavy lids that prevent fish from escaping. But Mother Nature doesn’t have a lid. It doesn’t respect borders — it carelessly grows over them and expands in an unstoppable wave of organic growth. If your aquarium replicates nature, then why should it be any different?
One clever approach to aquariums is to build an aquascape that’s specifically designed to overgrow. Some species of plants, particularly freshwater varieties, will readily grow both underwater and above water. Fill your aquarium with these species and you’ll have an aquascape that’s part aquarium and part garden. Just make sure that your fish are bottom-dwellers that aren’t prone to leaps of faith.
Technically, these types of aquariums are called ripariums. They represent wet habitats along the edges of ponds, lakes, and rivers. They’re an interesting alternative to traditional aquariums because they accommodate lush, leafy marginal plants that stick out of the water. These are not to be confused with paludariums, which feature a mix of aquatic and terrestrial sections.
The easiest way to achieve this effect is to use tree branches. Not only do the branches help to create a more organic and chaotic feel, but they also serve as excellent anchors for plants. They can host mosses and river grasses below the water, and they can support large, leafy plants above water.
Alternatively, you could include floating plants, such as lily pads, into your aquarium. Lily pads are popular in pond aquascapes because they are most beautiful when they’re viewed from above, but they can still add unique charm to an aquarium that’s primarily meant to be viewed from the side. The lily pads will create a leafy, green ceiling and add a forest-like maze of underwater stems.
As you can see, aquariums don’t always have to fit into neat little boxes. They can expand, overflow, and practically explode in thick foliage. If you think aquariums are eye-catching, install a custom riparium into your living space to create an absolutely unforgettable piece of aquatic art.