February 2012 Meeting

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

GWAPA’s February 2012 meeting was hosted by Judi Hammett in Catonsville, Maryland.  The meeting featured the first “Plant of the Month” talk, by Cavan Allen, and a presentation on the Nature Aquarium Style of Aquascaping by Kris Weinhold. 

Cavan spoke about Eriocauon compressum, a species native to the US. It grows in low, marshy, “mucky” areas from New Jersey down along the coast to Texas. E. compressum is a rosette plant, with tall, flattened, grasslike leaves growing from the base of the plant. A “fairly substantial plant,” it grows in large clumps. It is very buoyant, and has a surprisingly small root system for such a large plant. What appears at first glance to be a single white, cottony flower atop a thin stalk is in fact a group of flowers. E. compressum requires soft water, lots of light, a nutritious substrate, and lots of space.   It is difficult to keep planted in the substrate, and will need to be weighted or tied down. When moving the plant from one aquarium to another, trim the spathe (flower stalk) it may immediately send up, to prolong the life of the plant.

The Plant of the Month Committee currently consists of Cavan Allen and Kris Weinhold, but other members are invited to join. Any member is invited to speak about a plant they find interesting, and it does not have to be new or rare.

In preparation for this year’s aquascaping contest, Kris outlined the basics of the Nature Aquarium style of aquascaping.  The goal of the Nature Aquarium style is to reproduce nature in the aquarium. It does not necessarily represent an accurate or realistic view, but rather an “idealistic view of how plants grow in nature.” Aquascapes may mimic a lush streambed, or even terrestrial landscapes.

Unlike the Dutch style, the Nature Aquarium style features “nothing too flashy,” with more green than red, and tries to look “non man-made.”  Moss is often used to soften the hardscape, and the tank is stocked with small fish not meant to be the main focus of attention. Most tanks last about 4-6 months.

The hardscape provides the framework of a Nature aquascape, and may not be very prominent once the plants grow in. A Nature aquascape has less defined lines, and a more natural look. Commonly used plants include mosses, fine leaved stem plants (rotalas, ludwigias, pogostemons, mayaca), ferns, hairgrass, Blyxa japonica, and various crypts. Green plants provide a calming effect and a great background for fish. Red plants provide a focal point –excessive use of red plants may lead to a less natural, “scattered” look. Yellow plants provide a soft impression without the full contrast of green.  Appropriate attention to leaf size and shape are another method of achieving contrast.

There are a number of resources available for ideas and information about the Nature Aquarium style. ADA’s Aqua Journal Digital Edition, now available in English, is a source for step by step instructions on how to design a Nature Aquarium Aquascape. Aqua Journal is available by subscription, and can be found at http://www.adana.co.jp/en/aj/index.php

The Aquatic Gardener’s Association website is a great place to go for aquascaping ideas. Pictures from the past 10 years of their International Aquascaping Contest are available at http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.org/   Other resources include the AGA’s quarterly journal The Aquatic Gardener (free for AGA members),  Takashi Amano’s Nature Aquarium World books, Amano’s monthly column in Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and George Farmer’s articles on the Practical Fishkeeping magazine website at http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/

GWAPA’s aquascaping competition officially begins now! Any size aquarium may be entered, as long as it is in the Nature Aquarium style. There will be beginner and advanced categories. Only one entry per member. Deadline for photos is November 18. Voting will take place on the forum through Novemeber 30, and winners will be announced December 2. And yes, there will be prizes for the winners!

The meeting concluded with our usual mini auction, which included “Plant of the Month” Eriocaulon compressum.

Members are reminded to renew their memberships. Membership entitles you to full forum access, participation in group buys, participation in club events such as our annual aquascaping contest, and discounts from some vendors. Membership cards will go out this week to those who have already renewed.


–jrh  2-29-12