Most Popular Marine Fish in 2016

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in Blog, EricR, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Most Popular Marine Fish in 2016

  Most Popular Marine Fish in 2016 The subsequent list is a compilation of our bestselling medium sized marine fish. Most of these fish can be housed in an aquarium of 75 gallons or larger. These fish are prized for their remarkable patterns and coloration, as well as their active bright personalities.   #8 Heniochus Butterfly/Longfin Bannerfish The most impressive feature about this fish must be the elongated dorsal filament, from which it derives the name “Bannerfish”. Once established it is generally active and fairly hardy for a butterfly fish. These guys look phenomenal in groups, small or large! #7 Hepatus Tang/Regal Blue Tang “Dory”- The popularity of this fish exploded when Finding Nemo hit theaters, and has definitely resurged thanks to Finding Dory. Not to say that the big pictures were the only source of popularity, however; its striking black mask and vibrant blue and yellow coloration make this fish a sight for sore eyes. These fish can be sensitive, and a U.V. sterilizer is absolutely recommended. #6 Bartlett Anthias These are great fish to have swimming out and about in a fish only or reef aquarium. They are usually kept in harems, with one male to multiple females. Interestingly enough, if the male perishes, the dominant female will begin to change sex to take the male’s place. Best kept when fed small meals of high energy foods throughout the day, such as arctipods, reef plankton, or a high quality pellet soaked in fatty acids. #5 Flame Angel These fish are definitely show stoppers, their bright red orange coloration is almost impossible to match. Best as the only dwarf angel in the tank. These fish can be sensitive, so they are also best kept with a U.V. sterilizer. Careful in reef tanks, they have been known to nip at polyps! #4 Melanurus Wrasse/Hoeven’s Wrasse Another great choice if you are looking for something active for your tank. The red, blue, and yellow mask on these fish is certainly something to marvel at. When frightened, or going to bed for the night, these fish are known to bury themselves in the sand.  Should be fed high energy foods, and kept without small crustaceans or mollusks in the aquarium. #3 Foxface Rabbitfish A great fish for any tank! Fish only or reef, even with slightly more aggressive tank mates, these fish can find a home anywhere. They are peaceful herbivores, but they are armed with venomous spines in their dorsal fin that can be used to ward off aggression. When frightened or going to sleep, they can change their yellow bodies to a blotchy grey and white in order to blend into their surroundings. Should be offered algae based foods 2-3 times a week. #2 Coral Beauty Angel The classic dwarf angel fish, these can be housed in a tank as small as 40 gallons. Usually they are better behaved in reef tanks then some of their cousins, but keep in mind, they can always change tastes! A U.V. sterilizer is recommended. #1 Yellow Tang These are vibrant fish great for almost any aquarium of adequate size. These herbivores hail from Hawaii and are beginning to make a bigger scene in the aqua culture industry. Beware adding them as one of the first fish to the aquarium as they can...

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Most Popular Marine Fish to Buy in 2016

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in Blog, Patrick D, Saltwater Fish, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Most Popular Marine Fish to Buy in 2016

Most Popular Marine Fish to Buy in 2016

Most Popular Marine Fish to Buy in 2016 The following list compiles our best sellers among the small tropical group. Most of these fish make great nano reef inhabitants (30 gallons and under). Reef keepers of all sizes desire these fish for their color and behavior, making them the most popular among all marine hobbyists. For most of these fish it is advised to only purchase one per aquarium, regardless of size.   #8 Filamentosa/Flasher Wrasse These small wrasses get their name from the extraordinary dorsal fins and “flashing” colors. They are all from the Indo-Pacific reefs and must be fed Calanus Arcti-Pods to retain their colors. #7 O-Spot Prawn Goby These sand-movers and shakers are one of the most desired nano fish because of their symbiotic relationship with pistol shrimp. They are inexpensive, hardy, and fun to keep. #6 Maroon Clowns They are the only clownfish with a separate genus (Premnas). They use a unique spine on their operculum to spar with other clownfish and conspecifics, thus never add them with other clownfish. #5 6-Line Wrasses A hardy wrasse that stays small (less than 1.5 inches). Although look out! They can be aggressive toward other tankmates later on. #4 Yellowtail/Blue Damsels Only keep one per aquarium. These smallish guys never hide and are some of the most resilient yet docile Pomacentrids. #3 Royal Grammas This beautiful small basslett comes from Caribbean waters, often seen by divers off the coast of Florida. #2 Green Chromis One of the most widespread fishes of the Indo-Pacific tropical reefs, they can be kept in groups in 40 gallons or larger. We recommend not starting with them and only purchasing SHIEC-collected specimens. Come in and ask about this sustainability effort! #1 Ocellaris Clowns “Nemo” – Almost all in the trade are Aquacultured. This is a huge step for our industry. If interested, please call or stop in with any questions you may have on these fish. As an added bonus, mention you saw them on “the most popular 2016” list and get 20% off any of these fish for purchase. Stay tuned for Most Popular 2016 medium...

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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Keeping Seahorses and Pipefish – Not a Pipe Dream

Posted by on Jun 23, 2016 in Blog, Kristen S, Reef Aquariums, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Keeping Seahorses and Pipefish – Not a Pipe Dream

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Keeping Seahorses and Pipefish – Not a Pipe Dream

Seahorses are one of the most unique and easily recognizable marine fish, so it’s no surprise that many customers ask about keeping them in their saltwater aquariums.  Because seahorses are very different-looking from other fish, they require special consideration when thinking about keeping them at home.  The seahorse’s lesser-known cousin, the pipefish, is also a very interesting fish to keep.  Unlike seahorses, pipefish can be kept in reef tanks, but certain considerations should be kept in mind such as tank-mates and feeding. Seahorses fall into the genus Hippocampus within the Sygnathidae family.  It’s easy to see at first glance that these fish are extremely different from your average tang or clownfish.  Seahorses don’t have scales; instead they have a bony armor that protects them.  They also don’t have a caudal fin; instead they have a prehensile tail that they use to anchor them on to rocks, coral, or algae.  They only use their dorsal and opercular, or modified pectoral, fins for movement and as a result, they’re not very strong swimmers.  In the wild, seahorses live in sheltered areas of coral reefs or grass beds with little water current.  Their horse-like mouth is specially adapted to suck up tiny organisms like amphipods, isopods, copepods, and mysid shrimp like a vacuum. Because seahorses are so specialized, they do not do well in high flow reef tanks competing for food with other fish.  A species only aquarium is the best way to house and appreciate them.  With the right equipment it’s easy to create a seahorse display at home.  A 29/30 gallon tank is a great starter option.  You may also want to consider getting a taller tank; seahorses are more vertical swimmers than horizontal.  After you have a tank picked out, you want to make sure that you have good filtration as seahorses are messy eaters and they are especially sensitive to changes in water quality, so a protein skimmer is a great addition.  The second thing you want to make sure you have is low flow because they can’t swim against strong currents. Unique features of seahorse tanks are hitching posts, or things for the seahorses to hold on to with their tail.  Branch rock, plants, gorgonians, and soft corals can all be used as hitching posts.  Soft corals may be used because they usually don’t have a strong sting; other more aggressive species of corals should be avoided because the seahorses lack scales and are stung much easier.  Crabs and shrimp should also be avoided as they may injure the seahorse or a particularly large seahorse may pick at them.  A good tank mate would be Nassarius snails; seahorses are messy eaters so having a sand-sifting snail will help prevent too much waste buildup.  Feeding seahorses can be a challenging task; they can be fed live foods such as brine shrimp, but should eventually be moved on to frozen food such as mysis shrimp.  Getting a seahorse to eat frozen food may take quite a while, so be patient.  There are many species of seahorse available to purchase that come in a few different colors.  The common species that we carry are Hippocampus erectus, H. reidi, and H. kuda.  There are also hybrids available that are combinations of two species. Pipefish may look very different from seahorses, but...

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Keeping Dory and Responsible Fish Care

Posted by on Jun 3, 2016 in Blog, Conservation, Education, Saltwater Fish, William C | Comments Off on Keeping Dory and Responsible Fish Care

Keeping Dory and Responsible Fish Care

Are you anticipating the release of Finding Dory? We sure are! After the success of Finding Nemo, we expect Dory’s movie to be an even bigger blow out. And like with Nemo, we know you’re going to wonder… “Can I keep a Dory?” Let me begin with, “Yes, absolutely!” We love when people get to bring home a fish they can connect with as well as Dory, but there are some things you should know first… By William Ciaurro Dory Specifics Dory is a fish known as the Hepatus Tang, that’s Paracanthurus hepatus for you nerds! Hepatus tangs, much like other tangs, like A LOT… A LOT of space to swim and roam! I would almost never sell Dory to any tank smaller than 75 gallon. AND YES, that does include the tiny “nano” Dorys we get. These are just babies. The babies will grow, and need a large nurturing tank to grow up healthy. Dory is what I would consider a delicate fish so an ultraviolet sterilizer is an absolute must (see our sizing guide)! Dory should have a very mixed diet consisting of vitamin soaked pellets, frozen mysis shrimp, and LOTS of algae. Tangs prefer to graze throughout the day therefore we recommend the use of algae sheets attached to rocks or clips. My last major key to success with Dory is consistent cleanings. No fish wants to have 40 gallons of water flushed in and out of their tank once a month! It’s much better to do smaller water changes more frequently, like say 20 gallons, every 2 weeks in your 75 gallon aquarium. (wink, wink: Do it!) Please note: Dory does not play well with other Dorys. When they get large, almost one foot, they will be territorial with one another. Being Responsible What do I mean by being responsible? Well fish are animals too. It’s important that we treat them with the same respect that we treat cats, dogs, and other animals with. We at Absolutely Fish always stress that fish live a long time, and you should be prepared for that. Hepatus Tangs can live over ten years. It’s very disheartening when folks bring back their fish in buckets looking all chomped up saying, “I had no idea it would get this big/live this long.” Don’t buy a fish on the false premise that you will “upgrade later”. We would once again like to emphasize, they live a long time, and the last thing we want is for the animal to outgrow the tank. If you’re going to take these animals home to your “ocean in a box,” then please make sure it is in fact an ocean. Fish keeping is not a right, it’s a privilege that we should not abuse. We take a lot of care to ensure that fish end up in great forever homes, and we hope that this blog inspires you. Our aquatic friends mean so much to us, and we hope they mean as much to...

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Species Suitable for a Nano African Cichlid Tank

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Becca N, Blog, Cichlids, Freshwater Fish | Comments Off on Species Suitable for a Nano African Cichlid Tank

Species Suitable for a Nano African Cichlid Tank

Species Suitable for a Nano African Cichlid Tank:   African cichlids don’t have to be kept in a large aquarium. While the majority of African cichlids grow to be at least five inches and longer, there are also interesting African cichlids suitable for smaller aquariums. These smaller species of African cichlids generally grow to be no more than five inches and can be kept in a tank of 20- to 30-gallons. Some species are even capable of being kept in 10-gallon tanks.   The majority of these micro African cichlid species hail from Lake Tanganyika in East Africa. There are four categories of suitable species for a 30-gallon Lake Tanganyika tank. As you look over this list keep in mind that as a general rule fish under three inches are suitable for a 10-gallon tank and fish over four inches would do best in a 30-gallon tank or larger.     FREE SWIMMING Cyprichromis leptosema and Paracyprichromis nigripinnis can be kept peacefully in small schools of three or more. The rest of the free-swimming cichlids should be kept one individual fish per species group.   Cyprichromis leptosoma Max size: ~3.5” Paracyprichromis nigripinnis Max size: ~4” Xenotilapia Sp. Max size: ~3” Opthalmoltilapia ventralis Max size: ~6” Reganochromis calliurus Max Size:~6”   GOBY CICHLIDS Should be kept alone or in male/female pairs as they can become very aggressive with other similar types—including their own species. Eretmodus cyanostictus Max size: ~3.5” Spathodus erythrodon Max size: ~3.0” Tanganicodus irsacae Max size: ~2.8”   SHELL DWELLERS For shell dwellers, it is best to choose one of each species and in each size class, as they can become aggressive towards their own kind, especially in smaller tank set-ups. Neolamprologus brevi Max size: ~2.5”  Neolamprologus leleupi Max size: ~3.5” Neolamprologus multifasciatus Max Size: ~2”– thought to be the smallest cichlid in the world! Neolamprologus gracilis Max size: ~3.5” Julidochromis transcriptus Max size: ~3” Julidochromis dickfeldi Max size: ~4.5” Larger Neolamprologus sp. Max size: ~5-5.5” sexfasciatus tretocephalus brichardi daffodil cylindricus     CAT FISH Cat fish are normally peaceful. They can be kept alone or in small groups. Synodontis petricola Max size: 5” Bushynose pleco Max size: 6”     THINGS TO REMEMBER   The total maximum inches of fish should be less than or equal to the gallons of water in aquarium (i.e. 18 total inches of fish is equal to 18 gallons of water). However, with many African cichlid tanks, you can slightly overstock. If your tank is overstocked you must maintain excellent water quality, filter more than usual, and perform frequent water changes. Doubling to tripling your filtration for any African cichlid set-up is recommended.   It is also important to note that Lake Tanganyika has the highest pH of the rift lakes at around 9.0. The addition of lake salts and buffers to the aquarium will help to stabilize the pH to natural levels while also providing the fish with the electrolytes they need–the better the water quality, the healthier and better looking the fish.   At Absolutely Fish we frequently stock all of these small African cichlids and carry all of the equipment you need to keep them happy and...

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Freshwater Invertebrates for Aquariums

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Blog, Kristen S | Comments Off on Freshwater Invertebrates for Aquariums

Freshwater Invertebrates for Aquariums

When setting up a freshwater aquarium many of our customers ask what other kinds of animals they can put in the tank other than fish.  There are many species of invertebrates that are easily kept in a community aquarium and some even help keep the tank cleaner.  Some of these groups include snails, shrimp, lobsters, clams, and crabs. Snails are a great addition to most tanks because they eat algae off the glass and decorations and they scavenge on uneaten flake food which helps keep the gravel clean. A snail’s diet can also be supplemented with algae wafers for them to graze on.  They work very well in peaceful community tanks with nothing aggressive that might eat them.  Harder water is also beneficial, though not required, to keep freshwater snails; the minerals help them build their shell. One popular species is the Mystery snail because they come in several different colors including gold, white, and black.  These snails will help keep the tank clean by eating algae but be careful adding one to a planted tank as they will also eat plants.  Another popular snail is the Nerite snail; these snails have zebra striping on their shells.  Many aquarists also like them because their eggs will only hatch in brackish water so there’s no worrying about there being baby snails in the tank (only white eggs on the glass). Pest snails, such as trumpet snails, can be introduced accidentally to a tank on live plant leaves. There are a few ways to get rid of them.  One way is to place a sheet of algae on the bottom of the tank overnight and the next day many of the snails will be on the algae eating it so you can remove the whole sheet with the snails.  Another way is to introduce something that will eat the pest snails such as a species of loach or an assassin snail.  Assassin snails are opportunistic carnivores so they will eat pest snails if they are available, but they will also eat detritus off the gravel and they do have a cool yellow and brown striping pattern. Another great invertebrate addition for planted aquariums, are crustaceans like shrimp.  There are a lot of different kinds of shrimp that come in a variety of colors.  Similar to snails, shrimp are best added to peaceful tanks with nothing that will eat them, especially the smaller fancy shrimp.  They also like a lot of décor to climb on such as moss.  Shrimp pellets are needed to feed shrimp because it helps keep their exoskeleton strong and helps with molting. Japonica shrimp, or Amano shrimp, are a popular addition because they are great algae grazers, especially in planted tanks; they will eat the algae off of the plant leaves and moss.  Flower shrimp are a cool addition because they have fan-like appendages that they use to fan leftover food towards them out of the water column.  It’s a very unique and interesting behavior to observe.  Ghost shrimp, as the name implies, are basically transparent shrimp.  Be careful adding them to a tank with other shrimp, as they are known to be cannibalistic. The fancy shrimp come in a huge variety of colors.  These shrimp are much smaller than the Japonica or the Flower, so while they...

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Keeping Feather Dusters in the Home Aquarium

Posted by on Apr 8, 2016 in Chris F | Comments Off on Keeping Feather Dusters in the Home Aquarium

Keeping Feather Dusters in the Home Aquarium

“I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough of the bad luck of the worm” said Franklin D Roosevelt. When someone mentions a worm most people picture your stereotypical earth worm living in the garden eating compost and getting eaten by birds in the cool early morning. However several species of worms known as “feather dusters” within the marine aquarium hobby display a splendid variety of colors and patterns along with unique lifestyle. Believe it or not feather dusters are annelids, which simply means they’re closely related to earthworms, such as the ones you find in the garden. However they differ significantly from their mobile relatives by being sessile (living in a fixed spot). Similar to earth worms, feather dusters have a segmented body, although it is usually hidden by a tube constructed of mucus/detritus with some species living within corals or constructing their own calcium carbonate tube. The most distinguishing part of a feather duster is the “crown” which is basically feather shaped rays known as radioles. These radioles are arranged in two half circles that form a funnel utilized in filter feeding of suspended material. The cilia on the radioles generate currents which draw water, food particles and waste in and out of the crown. The feather duster worms belong to several families of Polychaeta. Those with a soft tube consisting of a polysaccharide matrix of mucus/detritus are generally from the family Sabellidae, with a single genus being capable of creating a calcareous tube. The hard tube feather dusters belong to the family Serpulidae. Feather dusters feed on a variety of particulates suspended within the water column such as fine detritus, bacteria, phytoplankton, and tiny microorganisms, most of which are found within a well-established reef aquarium at least a year in age. For best success one should only add a feather duster once the aquarium has been established for this amount of time and there is a healthy population of other reef safe organisms such as corals, fish, shrimp, snails, etc. The addition of various filter feeder foods such as phytoplankton, rotifers, zooplankton, marine snow and various other liquid-based foods will meet their nutritional needs. Remember to feed sparingly as excessive overfeeding will contribute to poor water quality. Water flow is crucial to the health of feather dusters worms and the reef aquarium in general as water currents stimulate natural physical functions, bringing food/waste to and from the organism and helps in respiration. Thus water flow for feather duster should be considered medium and indirect, preferably alternating, flow via a wave maker. Lighting is not a major concern to feather dusters as they obtain the majority of their nutritional needs from filter feeding and don’t directly rely on symbiotic zooxanthellae for their energy requirements. So placement of feather duster worms usually occurs on the bottom/middle portions of the aquarium. Problems with feather dusters in a correct environment are relatively scarce. However, some fish and invertebrates have been known to eat/damage feather dusters deliberately or accidentally. Butterfly fish can easily eliminate feather dusters due to their specific lifestyle and diet. Some wrasse species also have a penchant for eating feather dusters, thus care should be taken to research any potential species being added to an aquarium containing feather dusters. Finally,...

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Designer Clownfish

Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 in Blog, Kristen S, Saltwater Fish | Comments Off on Designer Clownfish

Designer Clownfish Kristen Schmicker   Clownfish are definitely one of the most popular and easy to keep families of saltwater fish. They’re great for beginners; they have great personalities; and many people love observing their symbiotic relationship with anemones. Perhaps the most popular species of clownfish would be Amphiprion ocellaris, or “Nemo” as many people refer to them. Another type of clownfish commonly kept in aquariums would be Amphiprion percula, which can easily be mistaken for A. ocellaris. The easiest way to differentiate the two is to count the spines in their dorsal fin; A. ocellaris typically will have 11 spines and A. percula will have 10. A third popular clownfish species is the maroon clown, Premnas biaculeatus. This species is much more aggressive than A. ocellaris or A. percula, but is just as hardy and easy to keep. From these three species there have been countless “fancy” or “designer” types available for sale. These different color patterns may occur naturally in the wild or are created through generations of selective breeding. You may notice that these pairs of designer clownfish are much more expensive than their standard counterparts. This is a result of the work that goes in to creating the different, and in some cases, rare patterns on the fish. Another factor is the grading of the pattern. You may notice the word “Ultra”, “Premium”, or “Extreme” before the name of the fish, or it might say “Grade A” or Grade B”. These titles depend on the amount of white on the fish, odd or desirable markings, extra stripes, and in some cases the white stripes have a hint of baby blue in the outline. As you can guess the more of those factors on the clown, the more expensive the fish because in most cases only a handful of clownfish will have those odd patterns. Ocellaris has perhaps the widest range of patterns out of the three mentioned. One of my favorites is the Naked Ocellaris. These clowns have no white striping whatsoever; this was simply a unique mutation that occurred in the breeding process. A similar type is the Nearly Naked Ocellaris, these clowns have only a single dot behind their head. There are also Misbar Ocellaris where one or more of the stripes did not form completely, or in the case of Extreme Misbar Ocellaris, the stripe is missing altogether. One popular variation are the Snowflake Ocellaris; these were created in the UK through selective breeding of regular A. ocellaris.These also come in Premium, where the first two stripes are joined, and Ultra, which has the most white. Wyoming White Ocellaris were also developed from a regular pair of A. ocellaris; these clowns are almost all white. The DaVinci Ocellaris were created by crossing a Wyoming White with a regular A. ocellaris and the result was an interesting white pattern that resembles a painting. The DaVinci Ocellaris also come in Extreme, Grade A and Grade B depending on the amount of white. Another naturally occurring color morph of A. ocellaris is the Black Ocellaris, these clowns are completely black and white. Some may possess small amounts of orange but this is typically lost as they mature. The Black Ocellaris also come in Misbar varieties. The rare Midnight Ocellaris is another unique mutation where the...

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A Thank You to our Maintenance Clients and Team

Posted by on Mar 25, 2016 in Blog, Patrick D | Comments Off on A Thank You to our Maintenance Clients and Team

I was talking with some of our maintenance clients recently and they brought up a few remarks I would like to share with you. They said to me “It is one thing to be looking at a dirty tank and paying someone to clean it, but Chris not just did so, he then listed a dosing regimen for our reef, two easy jobs for us to do weekly, which changed our tank.”   Another client who keeps African cichlids said to me that their fish have never been so colorful than before and asked me what Jason was doing while cleaning. I said it was the spirulina/astaxanthin food he was bringing, not so much the cleaning.   Recently I received a call from a client who wanted to compliment me on the maturity Nelson had at their home, as their 2 year old was having a meltdown. “He not only dealt with our children and the dog, he made the tank pristine, and cleaned up after himself to where you wouldn’t have known he was there.”   And one of our high-end discus clients asked me just last week, “Why isn’t Jimmy in the store, coaching your planted discus keepers? He is outstanding with tricks and husbandry care on these habitats.” Well I said he is maintaining a lot of other clients who value his services and there is no time to have him in the shop.   A thorough aquarium cleaning is what we all want. A professional, mature aquarist who cares and is meticulous with advice to offer, is priceless.   I thank all of our service clients for their patronage and support. As well, I thank the techs for their hard work, dedication, and compassion for aquatic life.     Thank you, from Pat, Eric, Jason, Jim, Patrick, Chris, Ryan, Kristen, Nelson, and Dibyarka.     -Patrick Donston Owner of Absolutely...

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Top 10 Low-Light Plants for Beginners

Posted by on Mar 18, 2016 in Blog, Jenn | Comments Off on Top 10 Low-Light Plants for Beginners

A huge java fern “mother plant” Top 10 Low-Light Plants for Beginners Jennifer Ruivo Java Fern If you have the opposite of a green thumb and kill every plant you touch, try Java ferns. These are incredibly hardy plants that can survive extreme neglect. In fact, you could remove all of the leaves and have no problem, as long as there’s a healthy rhizome (the thick horizontal “trunk” of the plant). The fern will simply grow back new leaves, and the leaves you removed will start growing baby java ferns complete with roots! Speaking of the rhizome, when “planting” the Java fern, only plant the roots, not the rhizome! The lack of water flow under substrate can cause rotting. Alternatively, don’t even plant the Java fern! You can just tie the rhizome and roots to driftwood or rocks until the plant grabs hold. Either use transparent fishing line or dissolvable thread for aesthetics. Under favorable conditions, the Java fern grows steadily and new growth can be easily spotted as translucent leaf tips.   A pile of happy marimo Marimo This is my favorite “plant” on this list! Marimo, or Japanese Moss Balls, are actually spherical clumps of a type of algae called cladophora. They are very hardy, due to the conditions of their native home, which are deep lakes in Japan. Marimo are unbothered by dim light and cold water, and will tolerate a small amount of salt in their water. The only downside to them is their slow growth. A marimo may grow only half a centimeter per year! But look on the bright side: no trimming! Marimo also appreciate being moved or rolled around once a while. It helps them stay spherical. If they get out of round, don’t worry! Just pat them back into shape in your hands like a meatball. Combine with white sand and large stones for a zen look.     Anubias with a healthy rhizome Anubias This is another plant that grows from a rhizome which should remain uncovered. Anubias are almost as hardy as Java ferns but have darker, smoother, and rounder leaves. If you think your anubias is growing slowly, you’re right. These plants are notorious for how slowly they grow. I like to think of them as the sloth of the aquatic plant world, as they also move so slowly that algae can grow on them. If that’s the case, gently wipe the leaves or trim ones that are too far gone. Propagate by cutting the rhizome, assuring at least one leaf per section.         Aquascape using tiger lotus lilies Nymphaea Lilies The smaller relative of water lilies found in ponds and lakes, dwarf lilies are an interesting low light plant. Usually they’re found as not-yet-sprouted bulbs. Plant them halfway into the substrate, root end down, at an angle. You’ll soon see their characteristic wide leaves on thin stems begin to erupt from the bulb. Let the leaves reach the surface of the water to increase its access to CO2, which will quicken its growth. Fish appreciate the shadows of the leaves, which in the wild provide shelter from piscivorous (fish-eating) birds. These plants are available in many different varieties, but red dwarf tiger lotus is my favorite.       Cryptocoryne wendtii “green” Cryptocoryne My...

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