I have a start on a new display. I don't have the tank in place yet, so I start this pre-journal thread to jot down some ideas. As I get it rolling I might just continue with this thread, or start a new journal thread. I had a lot of fun with the layout that I had going in my 200L tank. Here's a recent shot of that one. I list here are a few features that characterize this one pretty well: A tank filled with water to about 2/3 of total depth Relatively bright lighting Erect, tidy, "grassy" background plant (Cyperus) that throws relatively little shade Fine-leaved sprawling stem plants (Bacopa, Limnophila, and others) growing on trellis rafts and forming dense floating carpet Underwater scape lacking plants, but with an artistically-rendered stone layout Relatively large and showy fish A striking centerpiece plant (Cyrtosperma) This new project will use some of the same elements, with important variations. I want to employ a general "Nature Aquarium" design concept. I list here the main features that will support this idea, which include a couple of important modifications for emersed riparium growing: Emersed plants with relatively fine foliage Emersed plants having mainly subdued, green foliage, as opposed to leaf variegation or bright coloration A well-rendered underwater hardscape lacking plants or having just a few bright green plants A group or two of small, tightly-shoaling fish No conspicuous centerpiece plants or fish So, moving on to more specific ideas, I organize the general plan here by sub-heading. Tank Hardware As for the 200-litre display, I intend for this setup to also feature a mostly-full tank, but I will use a smaller enclosure. My best idea right now is to use a standard 60-litre tank--I have several of these laying around--with the top rim plastic rim removed. I like this tank shape (60cm wide X 30cm deep X 30cm tall) very much. This is a smaller tank than any that I have tried for an actual riaprium layout, but I think that it should work well with the right configuration of equipment an plant selection. As I did for the 200-litre setup, I will probably fill this tank with water to about 2/3 of total depth, so it will hold about 40 litres of water. I will figure out some kind of canister filter for filtration and circulation. I want to put this tank on a stand built in the raw industrial (http://hydrophytesblog.com/?p=214) style that I have used several times before. This type of stand will look perfect with this light fixture... http://www.paradigmgardens.com/hydroponicstore/store/product.php?productid=2204&cat=84&page=2 I will put all of the background plants in magnetic riparium planters. For a small layout this planter style is superior to the model that uses suction cups. The suction cups stick out from the side of the planter cup, adding about 5cm to the total width. By using the magnetic riparium planters I will be able to fit seven cups along that rear pane of glass in the 60cm tank. Hardscape As I mentioned above, I hope to draw on Nature Aquarium design principals for this layout. I intend for the underwater area to lack plants, or include just a few, and feature a well-rendered hardscape with rocks. I have enjoyed the effect of the rounded river stones in the 200-litre setup. While it is pretty easy to situate these rounded stones in a convincing layout, I think that I will try to use angular pieces for this project. I will also encourage the development of an algae crust or patina for these rocks. So long as filaments of hair algae are scraped away from the rocks and the gravel is maintained clean with frequent stirring, a scape with algae-covered rocks like these maintains a neat yet natural appearance. Emersed Plants--Layout Background My general idea is to develop the background with "grassy" foliage. The major constraint for the plant growth habit and shape is that they scale well with this smaller tank. I think I have some pretty good selections for this concept. The selections that I describe here grow well in wet/marginal aquatic situations. I have several ideas for midground emersed plants to be grown on trellis rafts. I will come back to describe these with another post. Of these three plants only the first, Pogonatherum crinitum is a true grass (Graminae). The Cyperus is a sedge (Cyperaceae) and the Acorus is a sweetflag (Acoraceae). Pogonatherum crinitum This one is still untested for riparium culture--I only recently acquired it--but it looks like it might be a winner. Known with the common names "baby panda bamboo" or "miniature bamboo", among others, it is not a true bamboo, but it is a grass. I am confused as to whether Pogonatherum paniceum (another plant that appears in searches) and P. crinitum are synonyms, or two distinct but similar species. I get the impression that they are the same thing. Descriptions for both describe plants growing with bamboo-like foliage to about 45cm tall. It is very popular as a bonsai subject or houseplant and also makes a good houseplant. This could be a great riparium plant. Acorus gramineus "dwarf" I am still uncertain about the best classification for this plant. I have the species right, but I have run into some conflicting information on the variety, so I just identify it with "dwarf" in double quotes. The foliage is neat and tidy and has a perfect shape for a setup like this, with leaves that arch forward from the creeping rhizome at about a 45 degree angle. The top of that planter cup is three inches or so wide. The leaves reach to about 20cm in length. Bruised foliage of this particular Acorus variety has a wonderful sweet spicy smell. Sweetflags are highly susceptible to spider mite infestation and damage, so it will be important to watch for these plants and treat promptly if they appear. Cyperus albostriatus 'Nanus' I have had this plant for a couple of years. It is unusual among Cyperus in that it has a running rhizomatous growth habit, instead of clumping habit. It is a bit difficult to see in this photograph, but the foliage includes leaves that arise in whorls from axils on the tops bare flowering stalks, like other umbrella sedges, as well as longer leaves that grow out of the ground from the plant crown. It grows to about 30cm tall. This is a hardy plant and it stays looking very nice all winter long when kept as a houseplant. It dose well as a marginal aquatic, but thrives best with the crown at least an inch or so above the water surface.