JJPhoto Rio Sorub 02
I love to study great aquarium setups, and I love to decorate tanks myself. I am a sports fisherman, and therefore I have seen many aquatic environments from which to draw some good ideas about how the nature decorates its own aquascapes; for example how small and big stones around roots "behave" in fast flowing water, where plants can grow in rocky areas, and so on...

The ideas for my own tank setups come from many sources and countries, but usually they have been limited by whatever decorations I already had, and of course the price of new stuff.

Lately, I have gone full-out, however. I wanted to decorate my 325 litre tank using the natural aquascapes of the Amazon. I went to Rio Acarí in the Amazon basin to fish with my friends August 2012. We targeted species like redtail catfish (Phractocephalus hemioliopterus), reticulated shovelnose catfish (Pseudoplatystoma reticulatum), Southern peacock bass (Cichla pinima) and common peacock bass (Cichla monoculus), trahira wolf-characin (Hoplias malabaricus), ocellate river stingray (Potamotrygon motoro), and all sorts of piranhas…

I am always a very busy angler on trips to exotic places, as my interest is not only in catching big fish with rod and line, but also photographing everything, and of course my huge love of all things concerning aquarium fish, plants, …JJPhoto 325 Aquarium Setup 01

And no less on this latest trip to the Amazon, where we spent a full day exploring a clear water tributary, named Rio Sorubí.

The Sorubí is quite narrow, making boat travel a real challenge. Our guides hacked passages through the jungle, and we even made close contact to a bee’s nest, an experience we could happily have done without. Hour after hour, kilometre after kilometre, of sublime aquascapes in crystal clear water with thousands of fishes, ranging from big stingrays and peacock bass to many species of tetras, corys, cichlids and much, much more. I took several hundred photos both above and under water; I made videos from it all, and generally sucked in the experience big-time, swearing there and then that I would redo my tank, as soon as I came home.

The trip was a total success on all accounts; many fish, good photos, lovely food, happy days with my friends, new friendships made - and good inspirations…

JJPhoto 325 Aquarium Setup 05Arriving back home in Denmark, I started my search for mangrove roots to imitate the underwater “design” in the Amazon. That proved a difficult task, until I was shown what RockZolid can do. They make fibreglass backgrounds and roots, and luckily they make a mangrove roots-system, which fits my 325 litre tank almost perfectly. I only had to make some small adjustments in height. These mangrove roots are not exactly cheap, but they are super realistic. This mangrove root is delivered in pieces and needs assembling, connecting the pieces with aquarium silicone. Unfortunately, the joinings were a little too visible to my taste, so I decided to paint them with Makemake Colour Fix, a paint, which is suited to underwater jobs.

The mangrove root sorted, I started to look at plants. In far the most places in the jungle I found a long leafed plant, I don't know the name of, so I decided to go outside the Amazon environment and use giant vallisneria as a substitute. Also, the weeping moss I use on the root is from Asia. The last pieces, which are not from the Amazon, are the Ketapang leaves. I am actually waiting for the real leaves to be sent to me, as my friend in Brazil is going to post them shortly.JJPhoto 325 Aquarium Setup 08

The Ketapang leaves are best known for their beneficial substances they add to the water, but as they also give off much colour, so I boiled them a couple of times, to get rid of most of the tannins. The leaves are there for decoration only, in this tank.

Decorating the tank was easy enough. For the benefit of the plants I used Oliver Knott's "Nature Soil" below the gravel and the sand. The plants I placed fairly much as I had seen in the Amazon, with the added "having to look nice" touch. I tied the moss to the top horizontal parts of the root with thin braided fishing line. I add CO2 every day, and the moss soon grabs a hold on to the branches, and then line can be removed.

All the fish and big snails are from the Amazon basin.

Aquarium details:

Oliver Knott's "Nature Soil", river gravel, coarse sand, and on top fine cichlid-sand.

RockZolid Mangrove Root F, Makemake Colour Fix

Giant vallisneria (Vallisneria australis "gigantea"), stream bogmoss (Mayaca fluviatilis), dwarf arrowhead (Sagittaria subulata), weeping moss (Vesicularia ferriei), and leaves from Tropical almond "Ketapang" (Terminalia catappa)

Emperor tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri), cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi), brown pencilfish (Nannostomus eques), (Corydoras species C030), (Corydoras species Cw028), (Pseudolithoxus nicoi), (Peckoltia species L387), (Peckoltia species "Rio Tocantins"), (Ancistrus species L180)

Colombian ramshorn snail (Marisa rotula)

JJPhoto 325 Aquarium Setup 06b

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