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Author: Leslie Tsen (B.S.) Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources. Wildlife Conservation
The elegant yet simplistic design of a well-setup Iwagumi style aquarium is as mesmerizing as the complex structure as seen in various aquascaping styles. Being able to create an aesthetically pleasing underwater scenery is not an easy task, especially if you are only working with limited elements. Brought to the international spotlight by world renowned aquascaping expert – Takashi Amano, the Iwagumi aquascaping style utilizes a unique combination of rocks with different shapes and sizes to replicate the beautiful rockwords as seen in many Japanese gardens.
To highlight the rock texture and formation in an Iwagumi aquarium, ample amount of open spaces must be provided. Overall visibility is also important. As a result, short, horizontally-growing plants such as Glossostigma elatinoides and Hemianthus callitrichoides are preferred over stemmed or broad-leafed plants as they are less likely to obscure the view. Complemented by the short lush plants around them, these magnificent rockworks showcase nature’s beauty in a raw, unpretentious way. Do not let its simplicity fools you, an Iwagumi style aquarium is not necessarily the easiest to set up nor maintain. Just to name a few, algae issue, unhealthy plant growth, melting plant leaves, and rotting plant roots are just some of the countless issues that one is expected to encounter when keeping an Iwagumi style aquarium. Since an Iwagumi design provides such an open view, even the smallest flaw has no place to hide.
Start by filling the tank with a thin layer of substrate. Substrate additives such as tablet fertilizers and soil mixes can be added in this stage to increase the overall nutrient content in the substratum level. Gently place your stones on top of the soil layer to prevent cracking the tank. Once you are satisfied with the stone placement, add a layer of soil again. Gently pour some water through the top of your stones to wet the soils around them. If the soil sinks to a lower-than-expected level, top it off with more soils until a desirable level is reached.
Gently flood the entire tank to avoid disturbing the substrate by too much. Once the water level reaches about 1 to 2 cm above soil level, Glossostigma can be planted with a pair of aquascaping tweezers. Plant the runners into your substrate and make sure that only the leaves are showing. If you are planning to add in other species of plantlets, plant them now. If you are tying mosses to stones, wet the stones beforehand. Once you are finished with planting, fill up the rest of the tank with water until an appropriate level is reached.
Add dechlorinator and dechloraminator into your water and begin to set up other equipments. Filter, CO2 supplier, CO2 drop checker, and light can all be installed in this stage while fish and other live animals will not be added until the tank is fully cycled after another week or so. During this cycling period, daily water change of about 15-30% is expected to reduce algae growth. Liquid fertilizer can also be supplemented daily according to dosage to achieve optimum plant growth. Monitor your water parameter closely and observe your plants’ condition. Once the water condition is stable (no ammonia and nitrite, nitrate below 40ppm), fish and shrimps can be progressively added. At this point, the carpeting plants should have covered a majority of your tank.
Disclaimer: This article contains materials referred from published scientific journals and is strictly meant for educational purposes only. It must NOT be substituted for any forms of medical care, treatment, and consultation from veterinarians, aquatic experts or other licensed professionals. NO compensation shall be reimbursed by Harvest Fish & Pet for the direct or indirect loss, damage, injury, or death of both living (user included) and non-living beings caused by the application of information from this article either in full or in part.