So as usual, I've been thinking about aquarium stuff; in this instance, stuff that we seem to take for granted. I was thinking about how much stuff has evolved over the last decade or so, which has made it easier than ever to create amazing aquariums.
You know, like...substrate materials.
Sand. Gravel. That kind of stuff.
It wasn't all that many years ago that the only choice we had was "#3 gravel", the gold standard for aquatic substrates. Useful stuff which pretty much any fish store on the planet carries to this day.
Oh, and maybe a few "out there" epoxy-coated colored gravels, like black (my fave) and the venerable "Rainbow" gravel, which graced more than one lifelong fish geek's first 10-gallon tank all of those years ago.
What's really cool right now is that, not only can you find the tacky numbers from yesteryear- a sort of buzz are "throwback"- but you can find a ton of speciality substrates for just about every type of aquarium- every aesthetic taste; every utilitarian function.
Growing live plants? Which refined clay, low-pH substrate do you want? One with 0.5mm grain size, or larger? In a deep brown color, or "natural?" Keeping African cichlids? Oh, which rift lake- Tanganyika or Malawi? And fine sand, or a more "mixed bed" look? Doing a river tank from the Amazon region? Orinoco, or Rio Xingu?
Yeah, there's a substrate for that.
It's pretty cool.
And a testament to where the hobby is at right now. We're not satisfied with "adaptable" or "close enough", even when it comes to stuff as seemingly innocuous and arcane as what goes on the bottom of our aquariums. We want materials that are very remeniscen, or representative, of what's really on the bottom in the natural aquatic environment that we're trying to replicate in our aquarium, and that, luckily, extends to leaves, seed pods, and other materials.
It's a very cool time to be an aquarist- especially when what goes on the bottom of our tanks is near the top of what interests some of us.
Simple thought for a Saturday.
Stay excited. Stay creative.