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Ripariums: A New Type of Planted Tank

Fish and marginal aquatic plants come together perfectly in these creative, beautiful setups.

By Devin Biggs |

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One of the most distinctive features of aquatic ecosystems, such as ponds, rivers, lakes and streams, are the shallow shoreline areas where the land meets the water. In this zone, both aquatic and land-dwelling animals find abundant food and other resources. Many popular aquarium fish prefer shoreline areas in their natural habitats. The lush plant growth there provides dense cover where smaller fish can hide from predators, and it also supports many aquatic insects and other small food items.

The shoreline plant habitat is such a special kind of environment that certain plant species, known collectively as marginal plants, have evolved to grow there. Marginal plants enjoy bright sunlight, usually ample nutrients and abundant water, but they must also contend with low oxygen levels in the muddy or boggy substrates where their roots grow. Marginals include beautiful foliage and flowering species. Some are popular garden pond plants. Others, mainly smaller-growing marginals, are enjoyed by hobbyists as aquarium plants. These include crypts (Cryptocoryne spp.), anubias (Anubias spp.) and swordplants (Echinodorus spp.). Since they grow right at the water’s edge where they are subject to changes in water level, these kinds of aquarium plants can grow with their leaves either above or below the water’s surface.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the July 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.

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