Category Archives: Riparium Stuff

Setting Up a Planted Riparium: The Three Riparium Styles (part 1)

Many of the decisions you make concerning your planted riparium will be influenced by what style of riparium you plan to emulate.

Overall, (or a more proper term would be “so far”) there are three riparium styles:

The Three Riparium Styles

  • Low water level, high humidity
  • Low water level, low humidity
  • High water level

We will cover each style individually.

An emersed Cryptocoryne.

The low water level, high humidity type setup is great for people with “collectoris” (a horrible disease caused by excessive plant collection). This is because the high humidity levels, usually caused by the use of a glass top or hood, make this type of setup perfect for growing emersed aquatic plants: Cryptocorynes, Anubias, Limnophilia, Bacopa and Alternethera are a just a few examples. Adventurous hobbyists can also fore into the world of misters and automated rain systems with this setup.

Low water level, low humidity ripariums are one of the more popular types of setup. Large riparium plant specimens are well suited to this type of setup. There are, in reality, two ways you could go with this breed of composition. One is confined to the inside of the aquarium, this setup has a boxed feel. The other grows up and out of the tank, and has a much more open feel.


An example of a rimless aquarium from GLA. If you cannot invest in a rimless tank, look into “derimming” aquariums.

The water levels in the above two styles tend to be around 1/3rd of the tank’s total height.

There happens to be an interesting concept often used by artists that lets one find a good ratio of water to air in a planted riparium. The Golden Section is a line which separates two sides of an object. What determines the size of the sides is the Golden Ratio (1.618033…). It has been proven that objects (the riparium plants) placed along this line (or water line) are much more aesthetically pleasing than if they were placed differently.

To find the Golden Section, simple multiply the overall height of the tank by the conjugate of the Golden Ratio, which is .62. The product of the said equation is equivalent to the height airspace found in a riparium. So, a tank that is 10 inches high should be filled to about 3.8 inches, as 10 x .62 = 6.2, and 10 – 6.2 = 3.8. Remember, the product of finding the Golden Section is the height of the airspace. So to find the height we need to fill the tank too, we must subtract the height of the tank by the result of the airspace.

Pendant light fixture are often a necessity for high water level ripariums.

The last system has a high water level and low humidity. This style also looks best when planted in a rimless aquarium with pendant light fixtures (which become somewhat of a necessity with the increased amount of water). These setups tend to use the box shape of the aquarium to characterize the aquatic section of the display, giving the tank the least box-like feel of all three styles.

Remember, these are just guidelines and ideas. You don’t have to emulate the outlined styles to have a succesful and good-looking riparium!

Please stay tuned for more posts in our “Setting Up a Planted Riparium” series of articles.


Riparium Plants: List of Popular Species

House/Pond Plant Species

  • Spathiphyllum sp. (peace lily) – Most species
  • Pilea sp. – P. cardieri (aluminum plant), P. depressa (creeping jenny), P. grandifolia, P. mollis ‘move valley,’ P. myriophylia, P. nummulariifolia (creeping charlie), P. spruceana ‘silver tree’
  • Gibasis geniculata (Tahitian bridal veil)
  • Dieffenbachia sp. (dumb cane) – Dieffenbachia amoena
  • Chamaedorea elegans (parlor palm)
  • Acorus sp. (sweetflag) – A. americanus and A. calamus
  • Pogonatherum crinitum (baby panda bamboo)
  • Cyperus sp. – C. alternifolius, C. gracilis, and C. papyrus
  • Oplismenus hirtellu
  • Syngonium sp. – S. wenlandii, and various other species
  • Cyrtosperma johnstonii

Emersed Aquatic Species

      • Microsorum sp. (java fern) – pteropus, pteropus ‘wendelov,’ pteropus ‘needle leaf’, (Any java fern species that can be grown emersed)
      • Echinodorus sp. (amazon sword) – E. bleheri, E. cordifolius, (any species that can be grown emersed)
      • Hygrophylia angustifolia
      • Limnophilia aromatica
      • Anubias sp. – A. barteri, A. nana, A. hastifolia, (any species that can be growned emersed)
      • Cryptocorne sp. (crypts) – C. ciliata, C. wendtii, C. cordata, (any species that can be grown emersed)
      • Bacopa sp. – B. monnieri and B. caroliniana
      • Taxiphyllum barbieri or Vesicularia dubyana (java fern)
      • Taxiphyllum alternans (Taiwan moss)
      • Vesicularia montagnei (Christmas moss)

Riparium Plant: Cyperus spp.

Cyperus spp. – Umbrella sedges

A grouping of Cyperus spp.

Orgin: The tropical/subtropical regions of all continents

Care Level: Easy

Planting Method: Planter

Placement: Background

Planting Medium: Hydroton with capping medium

Growth Rate: Medium

Size: Large

Propagation: Splitting crown of larger plants, flowering

Notes: Very commonly available house and pond plant. Very good used as an accent, or with carpeting stem plants. There are many Cyperus species out there. If you do not want to experiment, be sure to get a tried and proven suitable species for your riparium.

Riparium Plant: Pilea cardierei


Pilea carierei cuttings

Courtesy of Riparium Supply

Origin: Southern Asia

Care Level: Easy

Planting Method: Nano Trellis Raft

Placement: Foreground

Planting Medium: None

Growth Rate: Medium-Fast

Size: Medium-Large

Propagation: Cuttings

Notes: Pilea cardierei is a beautiful riparium plant, that is readily available in the houseplant industry. Great plant for Asian themed biotope. Larger root systems. 

Riparium Supply Small Magnetic Hanging Planter Review

The back of a Riparium Supply magnetic planter

The Riparium Supply Small Magnetic Hanging Planter is just like a suction cup planter, only instead it uses two strong sandwich magnets to attach to the walls of a riparium. The magnets are very strong, so caution should be taken when working with these planters. Riparium Supply has a article about this, and I highly suggest reading it before using this product. There are many advantages to these planters. For one the magnets will never ware out, which happens over time to the suction cup planters. The magnetic planters also have a small stabilizing bar, so that the planter isn’t at an angle when attached to the wall of a riparium, like the suction cup planter. Because the magnets do not take up alot of space like the suction cups, you can fit more on the of them on walls of your tank. Although the magnetic planter a little more expensive then the suction cup planters, they are well worth the extra cash.

What is a Riparium? – AquariumWiki Article

Ripariums are a style of aquaria that utilize a combination of planters, rafts and riparian or emersed aquatic plants (i.e. Spathiphyllum, Dieffenbachia, Acorus, Pilea, Bacopa, Cryptocornes) to create a riparian-like display. The planters are generally made of plastic with several small holes in it. When planted, they are usually filled with a clay based planting media, planted with a hydrophyte or other water loving plant, then attached close to the water line on the back or sides of the riparium display tank. The rafts are usually small and made of a tough foam with many holes sized for the stems of plants in it. After the stems of the selected plant are placed into the holes of the raft, it is attached to the front of a planter in the display. The roots of the riparium plants then have their root systems completely submerged under water and are able to absorb nutrients including nitrogenous wastes from the water column. Ripariums have been confused with another style of aquaria known as paludariums. The biggest difference between these two styles, is that paludariums have a set land area, while ripariums have no set land area, but are comprised of movable planters and rafts. Riparium displays have numerous advantages, including providing cover for shy fishes, removing nitrogenous waste from the water column, adding vibrant colours to a setup, and creating a naturalistic display.

This is a write up I did for AquariumWiki .

Riparium Supply: Tank Planters

A new and ingenious product out from Riparium Supply, Tank Planters are truly a breakthrough in aquaria. What are they, what do they do and are they any good you ask? Well, I shall tell thee.

Tank Planters utilize a small plastic “Planter” filled with a nutrient-rich substrate and the plant’s roots in a self contained unit, that looks like this:

This new product allows you to move plants around, with out having “root trauma,” and it lets you keep your current, non nutrient rich substrate (like silica sand and gravel) and still get good plants growth. Do to the build of the Planters, they are best planted with plants that have large crows and large root systems. So stem plants aren’t a good idea…
So far, I have a Large Tank Planter 2-Pack, which I will use for a vall’, and an Echinodorus spp.
For more info, take a look at the Tank Planter website.

First Thoughts

The packaging is very sleek and professional. All the components where packed perfectly. As I open it up, the strength of the plastic of the planter is amazing. They are very strong and durable, yet very easy to hide behind rock work or under the substrate. The directions are in plain English, so there is no need to get out the German dictionary. Setup is easy. I have a vall’ planted in one of the planters in seconds. After checking that I had done everything correctly, I add it to my 40g Breeder Riparium. I will have to see how everything turns out growth wise, but it should do very well judging by the others who have used these.

Price wise, these babies have an OK price tag, but are completely worth it! Right now, Their are two sizes, Large and Small, and are up for sale in packs.

Tank Planters Mini Garden Combo Pack
Tank Planters Large Planter 2-pack

Take a look! They are worth every penny!

My First Flower!

What a momentous occasion! My first flower! As I was cleaning my 20gH riparium a couple days ago, I noticed a small white stem growing from my largest peace lily (Spathyllium sp.). Later, it was apparent that it was a flower! I am pretty exited, but there is one downer…I am 500 miles away from my tank on vacation! At least the flowers last a long time.