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South America Riparium

I got a couple more pictures of the orchid blooms tonight...


...a macro shot...

This tank really is overgrown. This picture shows that the taro and big sword on the right are blocking all the light:


I'm getting ready to start yanking stuff out. I intend to replant with a new mix of species. I'll have some more shots soon.

Where am I going to put these big plants?
Here is the "after" shot--I left just a few planters in there:


I'm inclined to leave it like this for a week or two to see if I can get some better growth from the underwater foliage, especially the Echinodorus quadicostatus.

Here is one of the plants that I am going to use for the rescape, the sweetflag Acorus gramineus 'Omogo':


This is a handsome plant.
You have some of the best looking tanks I have ever seen, I like this concept of tank very much indeed.
Congrats on the great achievements and also thanks for sharing them with us :)
you have quite a unique style , i must say that everytime i see one of your posts here and there i am always quite excited to open it and see what you have for us :D looking at your tank in live must feel like being in the jungle , i like a lot the luxurious plantation , yet organised enough not to look messy ...but not too organised to look like it was planned ...

....i am not sure that i am being clear ...at all ...i mean it is a very nice tank ... ;)

i especially like this picture


if you allow me to talk about one thing that disturbs me , even though the emerged part is perfect , the imerged (english?) part does not seem to contrast enough with it , maybe that some more hardscape (rock work?) there would have looked great , anyways this is only a personal reflection on a small detail , this tank is great the way it is ;)
Thanks so much Nico and LondonDragon!

I agree that most pictures of this tank, especially these latest ones, do not show the best harmony between the immersed and emersed areas. One problem is that the big taro and swordplant became very large and started to shade the underwater area. Viewing the tank in person offers a more balanced display: the fish add a lot of visual interest to the water portion and the underwater area also is better lit in real life than in photographs.

I was just organizing some image files and found a few pictures that I had forgotten about from about a month. I shot this one with flash.

I haven't been back to this thread in some time. I still have this tank set up, but I am mainly using it for grow-out, so it is not so photo-worthy. But, I do have another fun update.

The other night I got a bloom from my Traub's spider lily (Hymenocallis traubii). I was so happy to see it open. This one is not currently growing in a riparium, but I had it in the Mexico semi-biotope last year. I kept the bulbs dormant this winter and they began to grow right away when I potted them up in a terra cotta pot with clay gravel for growing in a container pond.

The foliage is only about 30cm tall--many other spider lilies are bigger--so this plant has the right size and shape for growing in a riparium like my 90cm tank or larger. The flower stalk grew somewhat taller, to about 40cm.

Hi all,
This is a great thread, very inspirational. The orchid is nice, looks like Spiranthes?, but is presumably a "jewel orchid" Ludisia discolor ? The Hymenocallis picture reminds me that when I was last at Kew Gardens one of the Crinums in the pond (in the tropical section of the Princess of Wales Pavilion) was flowering. I didn't write down which one it was, but it may have been C. americanum. Here is one from the Guitarfish emersed thread http://www.guitarfish.org/category/raised-brick-pond.


cheers dArrel
Thanks again Darrel. Guitarfish has gotten some real nice pictures from that container pond of his. I have been meaning to set up something similar.

I have one Crinum--not sure which--too but it has never bloomed for me in a tank. The Hymenocallis might be easier to bloom.

I'm pretty certain that that orchid was a Spiranthes odorata. I have since killed it off (whoops) because I did not adequately chill it for a winter dormancy. It did not seem to grow so well under lights. I have looked around some for other orchids suitable for growing in a riparium without much luck. Most of the wetland-associated orchids seem to have touchy winter dormancy requirements.
Hi all,
I've had the same sorts of problems with winter dormancy, I killed off a well-grown seedling Darlingtonia and some Sarracenias, as I didn't have anywhere to put them outside, so I planted it in with the non-hardy insectivorous plants, they grew well through the summer, but they never looked happy after that and dwindled away.

Crinum thaianum will definitely flower <http://aquariumgardeners.com/org/quest/031231_quest.htm> if it can push its scape out of the tank. There is also Crinum campanulatum from the non-spidery flowered Crinums. <http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/crinumcamp.htm>.

There are quite a few bulbs that occur in places which are submerged for part of the year, before flowering in the dry season. I had Cypella aquatilis for a while (very easy from seed). Apparently Dierama pauciflorum is also found in marshes and I've recently seen a Tulbaghia sp. sold as an aquatic.

Crinum campanulatum

Cypella aquatilis

Dierama pauciflorum

cheers Darrel
Thanks so much for those tips Darrel. I have been meaning to try Cypella. I never heard of Dierama pauciflorum before, but it sounds like a good one and it is apparently pretty easy to find here in the states.

I have been looking into a small evergreen Disa orchid, D. tripetaloides, as a possibility for growing in ripariums, but I imagine its dormancy requirement will also be difficult to accommodate. The only dormancy-requiring flowering plants that I have had real good luck with are the Hymenocallis spider lilies and Zephyranthes rain lilies. They don't provide much foliage interest, but rain lilies are real easy to bloom in a riparium so long as there are sufficient light and ferts. Here are some shots of blooms that I have gotten.


Zephyranthes grandiflora


Zephyranthes macrosiphon


Zephyranthes candida
Hi all,
Disa sp. are pretty tricky, they like cool conditions and to grow in living sphagnum, wet in the summer - drier in the winter. I like Zephyranthes as well, I've got a nice half-hardy pink one (Z. robustus) somewhere. Dierama pauciflorum is hardy here, but I don't think it would survive a winter permanently wet. I grew mine in dry places in the garden, but I do water them in the summer if it's very dry (2 weeks without rain is a drought in the UK). A lot of S. African Irids do well in Ireland and the SW UK, because they benefit from a lot of rain in the summer. I've still got Schizostylis, but I've given away some Watsonias & Gladiolus flanaganii to a friend in W. Ireland as it was never happy here. Cypellas are very easy from seed and may even flower the first year.

cheers Darrel
They sure have a lot of nice flowers in South Africa. I was told that Disa tripetaloides is somewhat easier, but still a bit touchy. I really like the look of that Diarema pauciflorum, but I suppose it would need to go into a largish setup.

You know another orchid that I have meant to try is Phragmipedium pearcei. Unlike most phrags this one supposedly grows in truly wet situations, and (again, unlike most phrags) has tidy, grass-like foliage) and only grows to about 30cm tall. This sounds like a perfect blooming riparium plant. It could be a good loose South America biotope companion for swordplants and peace lilies.

http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&...m pearcei&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

I got back to work on this tank last night too. I tidied up the underwater area some, cleaned the glass and yanked almost all of the emersed plants. Now I am pondering a new scape and starting out with selection of centerpiece plants. Here are two options that I have in mind.


The specimen on the right is a plant that I have been growing for some time, an emersed Anubias hastifolia. It has such as attractive way of holding its leaves.


I am unsure as to how this plant will do long-term in an open-top setup. I have been growing it in a tank with a closed canopy and higher humidity. If it is anything like the Anubias barteri that I have tried growing in lower humidities then it won't do so well longer term. I have found that hardened A. barteri leaves hold up well enough in drier air, but new leaves whither and fail to develop.

The plant on the left is an intriguing possibility. Leather fern (Acrostichum danaeifolium) is a gigantic plant (to 3.5m tall) that grows in freshwater swamps and brackish magrove swamps in the tropical Americas and West Africa. Luckily my plant has only grown slowly under lights and after six months it is only about 30cm tall.


I have had this one in an open-top tank all along, so it should do well here.

I intend for this rescape to be more subdued than others that I have tried so I am going to try use only green plants and avoid variegated foliage and warmer colors.
Tonight I am going to do my best to move the fish around. I need to get the Ilyodon livebearers and Cryptoheros cichlid out of here. I really like these fish, but the Ilyodon are gorwing and reproducing too much and now the tank is overstocked. I want to get more plants into the underwater area and the cichlid is nipping the leaf tips from all of the submerged plants.

I decided to go with the leather fern as the centerpiece plant. I figured out a general theme and got a few plants in the tank to illustrate. This is only half-planted, but you can imagine the general idea--a background with the grasslike Acorus gramineus and a few other plants with unusual foliage as accents.


I am glad that I had that A. gramineus on-hand I think that I got a pretty good effect with it. I will also add stem plants on trellis rafts all along the emersed midground. This will cover up those planters and create more visual depth.
Thanks Darrel! I like this combination too. I have a second smaller plant to add that will do something similar, and then I am going to plant the midground area too.