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  Growing Aroids in Planted Ripariums
From: Devin Biggs <dbiggs at xantusidesign.net> on 2009.10.02 at 02:07:52(20134)
Hi All,

I have had a few years of experience growing plants in ripariums, an apparently new style of planted aquarium that features emergent or marginal aquatic plants. Of
the various kinds of plants that I have used, aquatic and semi-aquatic aroids stand out as being especially attractive and useful for creating these decorative
displays. I have a few recent pictures of my 65-gallon tank, which includes a handsome dwarf taro, Colocasia fallax, as a centerpiece. Here is a full-tank shot of this


This C. fallax is in fact a recent cultivar named 'Silver Dollar' that I acquired from Plant Delights Nursery ( http://www.plantdelights.com/ ) last spring. I also have
the regular species C. fallax, but 'Silver Dollar' seems to grow somewhat larger. It is such a pretty plant. Here are a couple more pictures showing that specimen:


This riparium setup also incorporates as background plants a sweetflag, Acorus gramineus 'Ogon'. I understand that sweetflags are no longer classified in Araceae,
but they are presumably close in evolutionary and in their own group, the Acoraceae. Here is a good-sized 'Ogon' in a riparium planter:


Acorus gramineus is another excellent riparium plant. I have tried a few different wetland grasses and sedges in ripariums, but most either grow too large or develop
messy, ratty foliage in riparium conditions. Sweetlflags, on the other hand, have tidy leaves that arch gracefully into the layout midground and evoke a grassy
riverbank appearance. Here is another picture that shows this pleasing growth habit well:


Asiatica Nursery recently listed several "new"--these include "old and very rare classical cultivars"--A. gramineus selections, 'Cava', 'Isuzugawa', and 'Kin Gin Chu
Ya'. These plants are right at the top of their aroids page (Available from:
http://www.asiaticanursery.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/plants.viewCategory/catID/73/index.htm ). I might have to add these to my collection, because I am fond of

Anyway, I have thoroughly enjoyed searching for water-loving aroids and growing them in my ripariums. I have additional observations for a number of different
plants and five other riparium setups that I can relate here too.



From: Susan B <honeybunny442 at yahoo.com> on 2009.10.02 at 13:35:08(20136)
Hi Devin,
Thanks for sharing your photos. Your riparium looks great!

There is quite a bit of water, any fish or other animals in there?



From: Devin Biggs <dbiggs at xantusidesign.net> on 2009.10.03 at 05:00:13(20141)

There are quite a few fish in there. They include a quartet of Apistogramma cichlids, several Puntius barbs, and Ancistrus catfish and shoals of
two different tetra species. The last time I counted there were twenty-some individuals. You should be able to see acouple fo the bright red
barbs in that picture that I linked.


From: "Marek Argent" <abri1973 at wp.pl> on 2009.10.04 at 00:46:27(20148)
Hello Devin,

If you have Puntius (Barbus) tetrazona, thow them away. They are worse than
They chase other fishes and bite their pinnae, especially the species with
long pinnae like the black tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi).
In a local pet shop they had G. ternetzi and P. tetrazona in one aquarium
and all the tetras had damaged pinnae and they were close to death.
I told them what's the reason and now they have Puntius tetrazona in a
separate aquarium,
sometimes with other Puntius species like P. titteya or P. conchonius, and
tetras are healthy.

From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2009.11.10 at 17:35:03(20256)
Hi All,

I have been away form the list for a while, but I have a couple of new
pictures worthwhile for this thread.

My Cryptocoryne themed riparium setup has been doing well. It got to be
rather overgrown, but last night I removed/trimmed the largest plants. The
light is now better able to penetrate down through to the water.


The plants look rather disheveled in this picture, but their looks will
improve as they settle in and re-grow a little bit more.

One of my favorite plants in this setup is the large Cryprotocoryne
wendtii to the right of center. I pulled that specimen out for a studio

From: Susan B <honeybunny442 at yahoo.com> on 2009.11.11 at 16:31:26(20266)




From: Brian Williams <pugturd at windstream.net> on 2009.11.12 at 02:31:01(20268)
Very beautiful setup it makes me want to clean my tanks up and start
growing these to specimen size again. Extremely inspiring!!
From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2009.11.14 at 20:22:13(20274)
I have a couple more shots of Anubias from this tank. The A. barteri in
this picture has grown quite big.


I have that one planted on a Riparium Supply trellis raft, which holds it
up above the water and provides a substrate for the roots and rhizomes the
develop. Over time the roots adhere tight to the foam raft.

Here is another tank picture from about a month ago.


The A. barteri is visible there on the far right. You can see that the
whole underwater area is quite shaded and dark. The barteri and Micrsorum
ferns had gorwn too large for the tank and were throwing too much shade,
so I removed them to another tank.

My last couple of shots show an Anubias barteri variety 'Nana', also
growing emersed on the trellis raft.


This plant is a more manageable size than the species. I have it planted
on several rafts and it comprises most of the midground of the aquarium
layout in the above-water area. It blooms often. Here is a picture of the

From: <hostas at fuse.net> on 2009.11.14 at 21:06:41(20275)
I had never heard of a riparium before and have had trouble finding information about a palidarium. I think the planting of plants in containers is a wonderful idea and you have inspired me to try it in my 46 gallon bowfront aquarium. Can you refer me to any books on the subject? I did visit your website. Do you have more information about the fertilizing of plants?

Betty Davis

From: ExoticRainforest <Steve at exoticrainforest.com> on 2009.11.15 at 14:07:45(20282)
The scientific term for plants thatgrow on the edge of a stream is riparian. The term Riparium is acombination of the scientific term with the word aquarium. There aremany good articles on the net on how to set up planted aquarium as wellas some excellent books that can be found on pet websites although someare very expensive.

I'd suggest you contact Devin Biggs dbiggs@xantusidesign.net for helpsince he is one of the guys that came up with the idea of the Ripariumand offers a line of products that makes setting up your aquarium mucheasier. Devin can likely suggest a good book for you as well.




From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2009.11.15 at 19:01:59(20289)

I'd be happy to answer any questions that might come to mind. I also have
a number of good riparium plants and I'd be glad to send you some cuttings
and divisions.

From: Zach DuFran <zdufran at wdtinc.com> on 2009.11.16 at 15:16:22(20298)

You should be able to find a lot of information if you google "paludarium" - note the spelling.

This type of setup has even received its own category over the last couple of years in the AGA Aquatic Plants layout contest. You can view the award winners from 2008 here: http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/2008.cgi?&op=showpage&name=view-paludarium


From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2009.11.17 at 03:57:51(20308)

While they do have superficial similarities, paludairums and ripariums are
distinct kinds of planted setups. Paludariums employ built-up terrestrial
areas made with stones, driftwood or synthetic materials. In ripariums, on
the other hand, the land area is only implied. The emergent semi-aquatic
plants are instead supported with hanging and floating planters similar to
some items used in garden ponds.

Paludariums are the best choice for systems that include
ampnibious/terrestrial animals such as frogs and turtles, while ripariums
are primarily for displaying aquarium fish and plants. Since the riparium
planting accessories are modular and easily moved about, ripariums are
generally easier to set up and maintain than paludariums and a very wide
range of plants can be grown in them.



From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2009.12.29 at 08:11:12(20414)
Hi All, I haven't posted in some time, but I have an update for one of my
riparium setups. I replanted the little 20-gallon tank that I have here in
the living room. Here is a shot that I got from the other night.


All of the background plants are aroids. This shot from above shows them a
little better.


The plants are, from left, Spathiphyllum 'Petite', Alocasia amazaonica
'Polly' (maybe?), Spathiphyllum ?, Diffenbachia ?, Spathiphyllum 'Golden
Glow', Cyrtosperma johnstonii.

I acquired most of these as potted houseplants from the grocery store and
places like Home Depot--hence the incomplete variety information. I
suppose that the C. johnstonii is the only thing of much botanical
interest. I also like the 'Golden Glow' Spath. because it is unusual.
These plants have all grown well in here. I am especially pleased that the
Cyrtosperma has done so well--I wondered about that one. It will
eventually become too large for this enclosure, but it is still only about
10" (25cm) tall and growing slowly. It grows a new leaf only every 4 weeks
or so. Here is a shot of one of the unusual leaves of this plant.


The little foreground plants that you can see in the shade of the aroids
include a couple of different Pilea sp. and Hypoestes sp.. There are a few
different Cryptocoryne gorwing in the underwater area. Fish include
peacock gudgeons (Tateurndina ocellicauda), pygmy cories (Corydoras
pygmaeus) and a poecilid livebearer (Poeciliopsis prolifica). The fish
make a nice display too. I especially enjoy the little cory cats.


Devin Biggs

From: michael kolaczewski <mjkolaffhbc at sbcglobal.net> on 2009.12.29 at 17:00:02(20417)

Excellent Photos of an excellent set up.

Could you comment on evaporation...

What is the rate of water loss in your riparium

Any special treatment to the water before filling,

refilling ? Temperature requirements ?


Michael K.



From: "Marek Argent" <abri1973 at wp.pl> on 2009.12.29 at 18:55:15(20418)

This Dieffenbachia is 'Camilla' cultivar.


From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2010.01.01 at 08:56:32(20425)

There is some evaporation from my setups that have open tops, but it is
not so difficult to manage. The little 20-gallon setup with the
Spathiphyllum and Alocasia probably only evaporates a liter or so of water
per week. The much larger 120-gallon tank, on the other hand, probably
loses 15 liters per week to evaporation. It is easy to replace this lost
water because I perform water changes once or twice each week for every
tank for the sake of maintaing favorable conditions for the fish and

From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2010.03.05 at 03:43:09(20696)
Hello Everyone, I haven't been back to this thread in a while, but I now
have a few updates for my tanks.

I had a riparium planting going in a 50-gallon tank that was looking very
nice. I began to dismantle it just the other day because the plants were
getting a bit overgrown and I wanted to use several of them for
propagation. I have a few pictures of it here from the last few weeks when
it was looking very good.

Here is a view of the emergent plants from above.


This is a side view that illustrates the positioning of the plants pretty

From: dbiggs at xantusidesign.net on 2010.03.05 at 03:43:09(20697)
Hello Everyone, I haven't been back to this thread in a while, but I now
have a few updates for my tanks.

I had a riparium planting going in a 50-gallon tank that was looking very
nice. I began to dismantle it just the other day because the plants were
getting a bit overgrown and I wanted to use several of them for
propagation. I have a few pictures of it here from the last few weeks when
it was looking very good.

Here is a view of the emergent plants from above.


This is a side view that illustrates the positioning of the plants pretty

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