One of the fun things about the botanical-style aquarium is that, to a certain extent, it's "anything goes" in terms of materials that you can use to represent the wild habitats. I mean, when you think about flooded forest floors and rainforest streams, you're talking about an aggregation of material from the forest that has accumulated via wind, rain, and current.
This is a remarkable and fascinating habit to replicate in the aquarium. As opposed to a more "contrived" 'scape, with a carefully selected piece or pieces of of driftwood, what I'm framing out here is a more simple, less "placement-oriented", and far more natural-looking 'scape.
I mean, sure, you could certainly use some aesthetic thought in the concept, but when you're trying to recreate what in nature is a more-or-less random thing, you probably don't want to dwell too much on the concept! Rather, put your effort into selecting good-looking materials with which to do the job.
Thats where we come in.
(Yeah, you knew I was going to get there somehow, right?)
We have aggregated (pun sort of intended) a nice selection of interesting twigs, branches, and tangles (as I like to call smaller stuff) with which to accomplish this. The beautiful thing about this idea is that you don't necessarily have to use 12 different varieties of branches and such to create a remarkably complex and interesting scape.
My current fave is Oak branches, which we offer via our "Twenty Twigs" pack (yea, probably our most literal product, being comprised of...wait for it...twenty selected Oak branches and twigs! Didn't see THAT coming, huh?). Because there has been so much interest in this product, we have made two sizes available!
The "regular" is comprised of small to medium sized pieces, ranging ranging from less than 2 inches (5.08cm) up to 10 inches (25.4cm). The "large" size has pieces that are bigger and thicker overall, ranging in length from 15 inches (38.10cm) or more! We can get you larger pieces from time to time as well.
The idea is that you're creating a matrix of these materials to impart a very natural and interesting look to the aquarium.
Now, such root/branch tangles DO take up some physical space in the confines of the aquarium, and you need to take this into account when stocking, equipping, and maintaining such systems. Access, water capacity, and filter intakes/outputs need to be considered when you move in a project like this...but that's half the fun, anyways- right?
And of course, you could always incorporate a layer of leaf litter, which really seems to go perfectly with this type of niche. In nature, we see leaves and other materials accumulate in these root tangles and aggregations of fallen branches, so recreating this in nature is kind of a "no brainer!"
When assembled in conjunction with a nice aggregation of leaves, this configuration provides a remarkably interesting aquarium with a different sort of aesthetic.
And the nice thing about utilizing tangled branches in an aquascape, as opposed to a more traditional "wood-centric" 'scape, is that you can end up with something that is incredibly realistic and functional.
And you get some advantages. Case in point?
The potential to keep little groups of fishes, (like my beloved Checkerboard cichlids) behaving naturally in the same tank. Now, I'm no cichlid expert, but I do have a certain love for keeping little "communities" of fishes like Checkerboards together. Oh, and what about Darter characins? Fishes like that? Lots of possibilities, huh?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of such an aquascaping configuration is to foster natural behaviors and spawning activities among the resident fishes. I would imagine that for "uncontrolled" breeding of many species, the dense matrix of twigs and leaves would create a very good environment for this!
I envision all sorts of habitat simulations that you could do by utilizing a matrix of small branches and roots in your aquarium. And, what's more, I can see more and more interesting insights that we can glean from our experiments in this area...what will YOU discover?
Stay interested. Stay creative. Stay curious. Stay observant. Stay unique. Stay diligent...
And Stay Wet.