In the Amazon region, areas flooded by rivers of blackwaters, with acid pH and low sediment load (in addition to being nutritionally poor), are called “igapó.”
As enthusiasts of the fascinating forest floors of Amazonia, we've spent many years trying to replicate this habitat in our aquariums. It dawned on us some time back that it would be cool to be able to replicate this habitat even more realistically- on a small scale, by creating a "seasonal dynamic", encompassing both "wet" and "dry" seasons.
The Igapo is famous for the hardy terrestrial grasses which endure the inundation caused by seasonal rains and blackwater river flooding. With the other materials that accumulate on the forest floor, such as leaves, seed pods, and branches, when flooded, this formerly terrestrial locale becomes a rich, productive aquatic habitat- home to numerous fishes and other organisms.
It's a tinted, silty, somewhat turbid world- an underwater habitat, unlike anything we've traditionally attempted in aquariums before.
After two years of considerable research and a lot of trial and error, we've developed this unique substrate formulation that's perfect for small-scale representation of the igapo habitat in your own home...what we've affectionately called the "Urban Igapo!"
Consisting of a variety of soils, sands, clays, and minerals, it's intended to look and perform much like the podzol-type soils found in Amazonia. Somewhat sandy, with a claylike feel to it, and much lower nutrient content than typical soils, this stuff is the closest representation we've developed to date! It's hand-mixed from high-quality ingredients in small batches, and is intended for all sorts of interesting experiments!
Our concept is pretty straightforward: You start with a small aquarium or bowl, and add some of the Nature Base Igapo to the container, and give it a good wetting. Add your seeds, let 'em sprout and grow to a good size, and when you're ready...bring on the flooding! Add fishes. Enjoy...Remove fishes, drain water.
HOW TO USE NATURE BASE-IGAPO:
This product is NOT intended to replace more "conventional" substrates in a typical aquarium. Its physical characteristics will be far different than anything you've used in an aquarium before! We created this mix for experimentation in smaller, more easily-controlled systems. Of course, you could use it as the substrate in a larger system, if you can handle the aesthetics and understand the unique characteristics of this material!
Pour Nature Base into your empty aquarium to create a thin layer (approximately 1.5"/3.81cm) of substrate. DO NOT RINSE! Add enough water to create a very wet, almost muddy texture all the way to the bottom. If you are growing terrestrial plants or grasses from seed, add them at this time. After a day or so, carefully spray down the substrate layer with fresh water. After your plants or grasses sprout and begin to grow, you can slowly add prepared blackwater to a depth of about 1/4"/0.635cm, increasing the water level every couple of days until you reach your desired depth. At this point, you may add fishes and treat your system like a more conventional aquatic feature.
NOTE: You will likely experience some siltation/turbidity in the water, which may clear over time. You should also expect some tint to the water caused by some of the fine botanical materials present in the mix, even if you're flooding your system with clear freshwater.
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