Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Garden

I'm been working on a New Garden recently.  It's not your typical garden.  First off it's a water garden.  Yes, I know, lots of gardeners have those.  OK.  Here's the next kicker.  It's indoors.  120 gallons of fantastic indoor water garden (the tank is 4 foot by 2 foot by 2 foot).

Yes, I confess, I consider my planted aquariums to be indoor water gardens.  I grow live plants, don't I?

Setting up a planted aquarium has some similarities to building a raised bed.  You need to prepare the bed (in this case I refinished the aquarium stand) and pick out what kind of soil you want in the bed.  In the aquarium this is called substrate and, no, standard aquarium gravel won't do.

So I bought six 20-pound bags.  Two different types of substrate.  One the "soil" and the other the "compost."  The bags came pre-seeded with bacteria.  Bacteria are as necessary in the aquarium as they are in the garden soil.

Then I picked out some boulders.  These rocks have to be carefully chosen and carefully cleaned.  Some types of rock can give off substances that harm fish.  And you don't want garden soil in the aquarium.

The good news is that these boulders didn't cost me much money.  Not like going to the rock yard and spending hundreds of dollars for one for the outside garden.  Scale matters.

The hard part was lowering the biggest rock - a good 20 pound rock! - down 24 inches to the gravel while bent over the tank and standing on a step stool.  

Then comes the fun part.  Picking out plants.  Just like in the outside garden you have to landscape the aquarium.  The choices in plant material are not as varied and the information about them is harder to find. You have to consider light levels (artificially supplied), pH (you know, just like you get when you get your soil tested.  You don't get your soil tested?  Come close, let me whisper in your ear - I don't either!),  and water hardness.

Then you get to pick out the animals in the aquarium garden.  I'm moving some of my fish from my existing tank.  These fish will help the aquarium get established.  Eventually I'll move my angelfish over and do something different in the old tank.  

So the really fun part?  Catching fish in a well planted tank.  Here's my existing tank.  

The first fish was easy to catch. The second one, not too bad.  The third - I have fish in there?  I'll take my time and catch a few now, a few later, a few tomorrow.

Tomorrow, though.  Outside gardening!  Only a few more weeks to enjoy working in the outside garden.  I'll have all winter to work on the indoor gardens.

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating undertaking!

    I must confess, seeing all three rocks spaced out evenly in a line makes me want to reach in and shove them into a little clump. :D