The Aquatic Gazette

Aquascape | Riparium Style

In Aquascape Series on June 17, 2011 at 04:55

The Dutch style and Nature Aquarium style covers almost every aspect of aquascaping today that it is difficult for any new style to emerge. However in recent years, the Riparium style has started to gain momentum and recognition, due in no small part to the efforts of its founder, Devin Biggs. Today, Riparium Supply, a company that Devin Biggs helms, champions the Riparium style through publications, hardware and support.

The Riparium concept was developed when Devin Biggs was living in Jalisco, Mexico. During his time there, he visited nearby river habitats and was inspired to recreate a tiny section of a river with native flora and fauna. While investigating these native flora, he discovered that many of them grew as emergents and used these native flora for his first Riparium aquascape. It was in this aquascape, that he realized he could keep the emergent flora growing at the water line by using small plastic rafts that he made out of plastic vanilla extract bottles.

The concept behind the Riparium style is to recreate the wet habitats and ecosystems that are found at the banks of rivers, lakes and streams. In this habitat, marginal plants have their roots within an aquatic environment but grow their leaves outside of it.

To replicate this habitat in an aquarium, the Riparium style usually does not fill the aquarium full of water but leaves a significant amount of space empty. This amount of space will vary with the type of marginal flora that is found in a specific Riparium aquascape. In some cases, the aquascape chosen will require a tank full of water, but the majority of Riparium aquascape are found with water that is lesser than the Dutch or Nature Aquarium styles.

Today, Riparium Supply retails hanging and floating planters that are essential to creating a Riparium aquascape. Marginal flora grows on these planters and they can easily be moved and repositioned, allowing a form of flexibility not available in the Dutch or Nature Aquarium styles. Over time, flora that have been planted in these planters will cover them and thus obstructing them from view, allowing the aquascape to be the sole focus.

Naturally, the best flora for the Riparium style are those that are found in a similar environment in the wild. One great appeal of the style is the flowering of marginal flora, which results in a highly attractive and eye catching aquascape. This blooming of flora is something that is not often seen in the Dutch or Nature Aquarium styles.

Marginal flora can provide substantial amounts of shade and shelter in a Riparium aquascape if the right flora is chosen. In such an aquascape, fauna may feel more comfortable and secure due to the overhanging leaves and the shadows they cast. In the wild, much of an aquatic habitat’s fauna can be found at the areas where marginal flora grows, as this area provides plenty of shade and food. Another advantage that Riparium style has over the Dutch or Nature Aquarium style is the ability to rear fauna that is susceptible to jumping, without they need for a aquarium lid. The Riparium aquascape can be designed specifically for such fauna and allow them little chance of jumping outside of the aquarium.

A great way to enjoy the Riparium style is to view it from the top. A Riparium aquascape that has been expertly executed has an intricacy that is stunning to behold when viewed in this manner. The overlapping of tall flora anchored by the combination of low, floating flora creates a sense of realism of nature. It is a joy at observing fauna peek through the floating flora and swim around the marginal flora with confidence, just like in nature.

Because a Riparium aquascape contains lesser amount of water, this will translate to a lesser amount of fauna supported. When using a fauna to aquarium size ratio, the Riparium aquascape will always be able to support less fauna than a Dutch or Nature Aquarium aquascape.

However, unlike fauna, flora does not really depend on a specific amount of water to determine the amount that can be sustained. When comparing the ratio of water to the amount of flora, the nutrient uptake by flora in a Riparium aquascape may be similar or even greater than the Dutch or Nature Aquarium aquascapes. As such, when comparing similar tank sizes, the filtration of water by flora in a Riparium aquascape is often more effective than the Dutch or Nature Aquarium aquascapes.

An aquarium that is full of water is always a serious amount of weight, and tanks should always be supported on dedicated aquarium stands made to withstand such weights. As a Riparium aquascape is not a fully filled aquarium, it opens up lots of opportunities in terms of aquarium placement. One prospect that excites us is to have a Riparium aquascape placed on a working desk. Almost anyone will welcome such a relaxing distraction and stunning re-creation of nature, without risking a collapsed desk.

The Riparium style usually requires smaller, or the lack, of equipment when compared to the Dutch or Nature Aquarium style because of the lesser amount of water and the use of marginal flora.

A lesser amount of water will always mean that a smaller filter can be used. A smaller filter is easier on the wallet and more flexible in its placement, an important factor if your Riparium aquascape is not placed on a conventional aquarium cabinet and equipment must be displayed in the open or hidden in a corner.

For healthy flora growth in a Dutch or Nature Aquarium aquascape, injected pressurised CO2 is often used as CO2 in an aquarium is not enough. For the Riparium aquascape that uses marginal flora, this addition of CO2 is not required as marginal flora absorbs CO2 from the air and not from the water. This saves the Riparium aquascaper the cost of purchasing a pressurised CO2 set and the space to house it.

The future for the Riparium style looks bright. Instead of a variation of the Dutch or Nature Aquarium style, the Riparium style has numerous unique factors that sets it properly apart.

A great reason to why the Nature Aquarium style is universally popular today is because of the efforts of Aqua Design Amano, a driving force in the development and encouragement of the style. The Riparium style looks set to follow in the footsteps of a success story as Riparium Supply is as passionate in the development and encouragement of the Riparium style.

We are excited about the future as the Riparium style continues to gain popularity and look forward to more aquascapes of this unique style and to what it continues to develop into.

Here is a short video that shows the equipment used by Riparium Supply.

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Pictorial, information and film credits: Devin Biggs | Riparium Supply

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