A New Display Tank: An Amano-inspired Planted “Canyon”

planted display tank

This new 60-gallon cube display tank is located at the entrance to our retail store Plant Room

Several week ago, we posted about a new cichlid display tank in our retail store Fish Room. Not far from that tank, we have another new display tank with a very different look and theme. This tank was designed and set up by myself and former Fish Room supervisor and biologist, Sara Stevens. We were inspired by the style of the world-famous Takashi Amano, an aquarist who popularized mind-blowing freshwater tanks designed to resemble terrestrial forest and landscapes. These tanks have a higher focus on the aquascaping and livestock is chosen as a compliment rather than the focus of the tank.

 

 

 

 

 

The "river" tapers off from the front corner to the back to create dimension and distance

The “river” tapers off from the front corner to the back to create dimension and distance

The Display Tank Concept and Design

While our tank doesn’t completely follow the true Amano style, we still wanted to focus on taking the aquarium out of the underwater setting and give it more of a land-based feel. We love the look of the petrified wood available at our retail store and decided to use this rock as our centerpiece. The petrified wood has a color and texture a lot like that found in canyons so we made use of perspective and the space available in the 60-gallon cube tank to create a large cliff face in the back and a smaller rockmount in the front, which meet in the back corner, giving us a “river” diagonally down the center of the tank. To create even more of a “river” appearance, we lined this canyon with pond liner to separate the fine white sand representing the river itself from the black Eco-Complete plant substrate in the rest of the tank. Sara did a great job of arranging the rockwork to add the illusion of depth as the river flows from the back to the front. Instead of a traditional underwater aquarium background, we used a desert background that turned out to be an excellent complement to our theme!

 

 

 

A few of the plants used to create a lush environment

A few of the plants used to create a lush environment

Live Plants

The live plants in the aquarium were all chosen to represent the forest surrounding our canyon and the plants growing down the riverbed. In any planted tank like this, the aquascaping will take time to grow in and become established. We wanted an almost overgrown look with the plants over time so we chose plants that would grow and spread. Plants were chosen that can grow and root into the cracks of the petrified wood and I plan to also establish low, carpeting plants in the foreground of the tank. The bunched plants in the background were chosen with a gradient in leaf size and color for a transitional, ombre look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

L-R: Marbled Hatchetfish, Forktail Rainbows, Glowlight Tetra)

L-R: Marbled Hatchetfish, Forktail Rainbows, Glowlight Tetra)

Live Fish and Inverts

The fish and invertebrates in the tank were some of the last additions we settled on. While Amano’s tanks use a lot of small, schooling fish like Neon Tetras (if any fish at all), we wanted to use some of the more overlooked fish in our Fish Room to show how gorgeous they can be when established in the right tank. The stars of this tank are several pairs of Forktail Rainbows. Their body shape and swimming style makes them the hawks circling high above our river canyon and the color they’ve developed is a great complement to the rockwork and plants. We added a school of Glowlight Tetras for some additional color and movement as well as a few pairs of a gorgeous freshwater goby known only by its scientific name, Stiphodon percnopterygionus (who we’ve taken to calling these little guys “Pterodactyl Gobies” because that scientific name is a mouthful, even for us!). Most recently, we’ve also added a few Marbled Hatchetfish for some extra surface movement and a True Siamese Algae Eater and freshwater Nerite Snails to help with cleanup.

 

 

 

Visit our Retail Store to see this tank morph and grow!

 

In a tank like this one, pre-planning is important. We had a concept drawn out before we started and made some adaptations to it as we went along (the original design had a sand volcano erupting in the back and spilling sand down a rockface) but all of the adaptations were made while keeping the overall look, theme and the future appearance of the tank in mind. Since the plants will take time to get to the look we had in mind while starting the tank, this kind of design and aquascaping isn’t one for an aquarist wanting a finished product right away. But, with a little planning, patience and imagination, you can end up with a gorgeously original display far from the average aquarium. Visit our Lancaster, PA retail store to see how this landscape grows or to create your own!

 

Tank Specifications:

 

 

 

Source:

Stiphodon percnopterygionus photo found on SeriouslyFishy.com species profile, © Leo Chan

Visit the new and improved Aquatic Article Archive on ThatPetPlace.com!

The Aquatic Article Archive on our website has had a renovation over the past couple of weeks so if you haven’t visited for awhile, head over to ThatPetPlace.com and check it out. We’ve reorganized the categories to make articles easier to find and added some of your favorite posts from this blog to the archive as well. Now, you can browse the following Aquatic Article Archive categories:

 

Aquatic Article Archive General Care

An excerpt from the General Care section

General Care

This section has basic aquarium information for many different types of aquariums. You’ll also find information on some of the basic principles of aquarium-keeping like stocking guidelines, water testing, the Nitrogen Cycle and more. This is a good place to start with basic questions on how to set up a new aquarium or before venturing into a new aspect of the hobby. Important steps when adding new animals to your tank – Acclimation Procedures and Quarantine Tanks – are also explained here.

 

Aquatic Article Archive Troubleshooting

An excerpt from the Aquarium Troubleshooting section

Aquarium Troubleshooting

The Aquarium Troubleshooting section is a go-to location for all issues and problems that an aquarist might face. This includes an overview on Common Fish Diseases, a quick reference chart of Aquarium Medications and the more comprehensive overviews on Active Ingredients in medications from this blog. It also includes other articles about common aquarium problems.

 

 

Aquatic Article Archive Filter Guides

The Aquarium Filter Guides section

Aquarium Filter Guides

This section includes basics on all different kinds of filtration that an aquarists has to choose from. Visit here to get more information on each kind of filter to help you determine which is best for your tank and the best way to maintain the filter and media you choose.

 

 

 

 

Aquatic Article Archive Lighting Guides

The Aquarium Lighting Guides section

Aquarium Lighting Guides

Like aquarium filters, choosing aquarium lighting can be a daunting task. The Aquarium Lighting Guides section has Aquarium Lighting Charts to help you choose the best fixture for a Freshwater Fish-Only Tank, Freshwater Planted Tank, Saltwater Fish-Only Tank or a Saltwater Reef Tank. It also includes information on each types of lighting available.

 

Aquatic Article Archive Other Equipment Guides

The Other Equipment Guides section

Other Equipment Guides

Equipment other than lighting and filters are included in this section. This includes, air pumps, chillers, heater, salt mix and protein skimmers.

 

 

 

Aquatic Article Archive Compatibility Charts

The Aquarium Compatibility Charts section

Compatibility Charts

Our Compatibility Charts for aquarium livestock are all found in one place in the Compatiblity Charts section. These charts can help you make educated decisions on what livestock can go together in your tank. Separate charts can be found here for Marine Animals and for Freshwater & Brackish Fish. Our much-requested African Cichlid Compatibility Chart is located here as well.

 

Aquatic Article Archive Live Plants Planted Aquarium

The Live Plants & Planted Aquariums section

Live Plants & Planted Aquariums

All things planted are included here. These articles include basics tips for live plants, supplies you’ll need for your planted tank, the most important nutrients for live plants and using Carbon Dioxide for plant health. Our popular blog on Dipping Plants to Eliminate Snails is found here too.

 

Aquatic Article Archive Freshwater Fish Guides

An excerpt from the Freshwater Fish Care Guides section

Freshwater Fish Care Guides

This section includes over twenty care guides for many different groups of freshwater fish common in the aquarium hobby. All of these care guides were written by our marine biologist and aquatic science staff and have been popular handouts in our retail store at the Fish Room Education Center.

 

Aquatic Article Archive Saltwater Fish Guides

An excerpt from the Saltwater Fish Care Guides section

Saltwater Fish Care Guides

Over two dozen of our popular Saltwater Fish Care Guides are found here. Like our Freshwater Fish Care Guides, these were all written by our experts and are part of the Education Center in our retail store Fish Room. These care guides are a good place to start for basic information on lots of groups of fish, including care, feeding, compatibility, water parameters and behavioral information.

 

Aquatic Article Archive Coral and Invert Guides

An excerpt from the Coral & Invertebrate Care Guides section

Coral & Invertebrate Care Guides

This section is the home of the care guides available for many different saltwater invertebrates, including some corals. These care guides include specialty inverts like Mantis Shrimp and Pistol Shrimp as well as reef animals like Maxima, Squamosa, Derasa and Crocea Clams.

 

 

 

Are there any other articles you’d like to see here on our blog or in our Aquatic Article Archive? Let us know what you’d like to see and we’ll do our best to cover any topics you’d like to learn more about!

The “Salmon Cannon” and other Odd Aquatic Stories from the News

Here are a few stories that I came across recently that are definitely not something you see every day.  Some of these are a real head scratchers.

 

What is the worst fish to eat?

The Souza family from Rio de Janeiro may have found out the hard way.  The family sat down to eat a fish dinner, a nice meal provided by a family friend who caught the fish on the Brazilian Coast.  As they started to eat the fish, it quickly became apparent that there was something wrong.  The Fish that they were eating was a poisonous Puffer Fish, whose venom has paralyzing effects.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-29762738

 

Climate Change Awareness

I’m not sure how transporting 112 Tons of Glacier from Greenland to Copenhagen, Denmark is somehow a good idea to promote Climate Change Awareness, but that is exactly what has been done.  The Ice will be put on display so people can SEE climate change, as the icebergs melt.  Given the Carbon footprint of capturing and transporting these things 2000 miles, only to melt in the street seems a bit misguided to me.

http://gizmodo.com/what-it-takes-to-transport-112-tons-of-arctic-ice-over-1650551970

 

Invasive Species lead to a drastic decision

Invasive aquatic species are a real problem; invasive species can destroy habitats, and outcompete local species where they are introduced.  In San Francisco’s Presidio Mountain Lake Park invasive species of Carp, Sturgeon and Bass have been wiping out indigenous species.  After years of trying conventional methods like fishing, trapping and even electroshock without success, they are planning to take even more drastic measure.  They are going to poison the lake, to kill all the fish, and then reintroduce native fish back into the pond.  Death by conservation is a tough way to go for anything living in the pond if you ask me.

http://news.discovery.com/earth/california-lake-poisoned-to-get-rid-of-invasive-fish-141020.htm?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dnewsnewsletter#mkcpgn=emnws1

 

Shooting Fish from a cannon

In what sounds like a skit from the Muppet Show, a real fish cannon has been developed to help aid migrating salmon get over man made obstacles like dams and powerplants.  Check out the video, it brings a whole new meaning to flying fish.

 

I hope you found these stories interesting, until next blog,

Dave

Popular Pistol Shrimp for Home Aquariums

 

Like their fellow hitchhiker-turned-aquarium-stars, the Mantis Shrimp, Pistol Shrimp are coming into their own as popular aquarium additions. Unlike the Mantis Shrimp, most Pistol Shrimp can actually be kept with other tankmates.  They may even form bonds with some tankmates like Shrimpgobies that can be fascinating and entertaining to watch. Here are a few species of popular Pistol Shrimp for home aquariums.

Pistol shrimp get their name from the loud popping sound they can make by quickly opening or closing their specially adapted claws. This is used as a defense mechanism to frighten off would-be predators and, unlike the Mantis Shrimp they are sometimes confused with, they are harmless to most tankmates. They can be kept with most fish that will not prey on them but should not be kept with some other crustaceans, especially small shrimp or lobsters.

Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus)

Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus)

Tiger Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus bellulus)

The Tiger Pistol Shrimp is one of the most common and most popular pistol shrimp. It’s one of the species we get in to our store most often. These shrimp aren’t as striped as one would expect from a “Tiger” Pistol Shrimp but has a mottled, vaguely striped coloration in shades of tan, cream and reddish brown. The legs are striped and its claws have dark bands like the rubber bands on the claws of a lobster at a seafood restaurant. These pistols are true commensal species and may bond with any shrimpgobies – genus Cryptocentrus, Amblyeleotris, Stonogobiops and others. This species can grow up to about three inches in length and is one of the larger pistols.

 

Randall's Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

Randall’s Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

Randall’s Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus randalli)

The Randall’s Pistol Shrimp is also known as the “Candy Cane” or “Red-banded Pistol Shrimp” and is one of the other species that we get in most often. While the Tiger Pistol Shrimp has a more mottled pattern, the Randall’s Pistol has more solid bright red and white stripes over a somewhat translucent body. The body and legs may be yellow – sometimes bright yellow – in some shrimp. This pistol shrimp only grows to about an inch and a half in length but, like the Tiger Pistol, isn’t too picky about which shrimpgoby it forms a pair with. It is better for smaller nano-reefs than the Tiger Pistol Shrimp.

 

Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

Red Caribbean Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus sp.)

These pistol shrimp aren’t usually identified down to the exact species since several different species are almost identical. All are red with white markings, some with purple accents or banded antennas. However, these shrimp don’t usually pair with shrimpgobies. Instead, they form a relationship with the Curlycue Anemone (Bartholomea annulata), a common Caribbean anemone with long spiraling tentacles.

 

 

 

Green Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus euphrosyne)

Green Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus euphrosyne)

Green Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus euphrosyne)

The Green Pistol Shrimp is one of the more understated species. These shrimp have a brownish, olive green color more suited to the environment where they live. Rather than the rocky coral reefs of many others, the Green Pistol is found in muddy estuaries at the mouths of rivers, usually in full saltwater but some can tolerate the more brackish waters closer to the bays and mouths of the rivers. These shrimp are best kept in tanks with deeper, finer substrate closer to the muddy bottoms they have come from.

 

 

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus lottini)

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus lottini)

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus lottini)

Pocillopora Pistol Shrimp are fascinating and rare pistols with a different modus operandi than other pistols. Like its common name suggests, these shrimp live within Pocillopora colonies. They will sometimes live alongside other coral-dwellers like Trapezia crabs where they may even work together to fend off attacks from coral-eating starfish like Cushion Stars or Crown Of Thorn Stars. They stay fairly small, usually well under two inches, and can vary in color. Most are yellow-orange with purple markings like speckles or a stripe down their back. Some of these may be regional variations, others may be subspecies.

Bullseye Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus soror)

Bullseye Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus soror)

Bullseye Pistol Shrimp (Alpheus soror)

The Bullseye Pistol Shrimp is one of the most stunning in appearance. The body is bright yellow-orange and the claws, legs and antennae are bright purple. Although they are also sometimes known as “Michael’s Pistol Shrimp”, the name Bullseye Pistol Shrimp comes from the white-ringed black spot on the middle of each side. This pistol shrimp is another that doesn’t usually form a bond with shrimpgobies. Some may share a burrow with some shrimpgobies, but they aren’t as reliant on the bond as other pistol shrimp and will often live on their own without a goby and may leave a pair at any time. This species also tends to be more active and will venture further from home and more into the open than others.

 

 


These species are just some of the more common to enter the aquarium hobby. Others are sometimes available as well and each have their own unique behaviors and appearances but all can make for fascinating additions to a saltwater aquarium!

Blue LEDs: The Invention That Revolutionized Modern Lighting

Blue LEDIsamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuki Nakahmura are three men you have probably never heard of.  If you were Cliff Clavin, you would probably refer to them as three men who have never been in your kitchen.  Their work however, you are most certainly aware of, and probably use it in some form or another every day.  These three men were responsible for inventing the first blue light emitting diodes (LED) in the early 1990’s, which revolutionized the way we light our world.  For their efforts, they have been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for physics.

 

For aquarists, the use of blue LED Aquarium lights has been widespread, especially reef aquarium keepers who are keenly aware of the stunning ability of blue LEDs to promote fluorescent colors in corals.  Nothing makes coral colors pop like they do under blue LED light.  The amazing growth in the genetically engineered GloFish craze, is largely due to the ability of blue LED lights to really bring out their amazing glowing coloration vs. traditional blue light sources.

 

Nobel prize winners

Why are Blue LED lights important enough to win a Nobel Prize?

LED lights had been around for many years, with the first patents and commercial products showing up in the 1960’s, starting with red LEDs used as indicator lights.  Other colors of LED were developed in the following years, including green LEDs, but the Blue LED development would elude scientists for decades to come, until Shuki Nakahmura demonstrated the ability to produce blue LEDs in 1994, and then with Hiroshi Amano and Isami Akasaki developed a high efficiency, high output blue LED in 1995. This started the modern LED lighting revolution.

 

The Blue LED was the missing ingredient for creating white LED light.  Mixing red, blue and green light produces light that appears white to the human eye, which can be seen in many modern applications of RGB LED light fixtures.  With the foundation of the newly invented Blue LED, scientist quickly developed a white LED light with the use of a phosphor coating on the Blue LED chips.  The White LED has changed the world, they are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and long lasting.  As production costs have decreased, and efficiency and output have increased over the last 20 years, LED lighting is rapidly replacing other forms of light in just about every application imaginable, from your homes, to your cars, to street lights to your cell phones.  The combinations of white and blue LED lights now dominate the aquarium lighting market.

 

Thank you gentlemen, the world is a better place for your efforts, and our aquariums look nicer too.

Until next blog,

Dave