3649 Fishinger Blvd. Hilliard, OH 43026
Providing A Niche by Bill Wymard, Marine Biologist
We all want our aquarium to “look” a certain way—the presentation, setting and beauty, all part of making us proud of the aquarium. However, there is more to aquascaping the aquarium “than meets the eye”. It really is important parts of making our fish feel secure and acclimated to their environment, keeping them healthy.
Providing a niche, using substrate, rocks, driftwood, plants and ornaments will not only make it look beautiful but also provide an environment to enable the fish to thrive!
Plants can be an extremely important part of the ecosystem of fish. Most fish exist in the wild with plants; some eat them, others lay eggs on them, and many use them for territory and structure. Besides these benefits, plants can help bring out colors, health and behavior of the fish.
Rocks also provide an integral structure underwater. Some fish spend their entire lives around a group of rocks. In fact, for rift lake cichlids (a highly popular group of aquarium fishes), rocks are their entire life. Virtually the whole lake is nothing but either sand or rocks of varying sizes. The fish breed on them, hunt around them, defend them as territories and more. The use of rockwork in aquariums will not only add aesthetic appeal to the tank, then, but it will also provide a natural structure for the fish to feel safe.
Driftwood is yet another piece in the environment in fish’s lives. Consisting of either fallen branches or tree roots, driftwood provides the same advantages as rocks do. An important thing to remember about driftwood is that, since it was once alive, contains tissues that will break down over time in water. Acids and tannins will leach out into the water, lowering the pH of the aquarium. Additionally, some of these acids, such as gallic acid, will tint the water a tea color. The fish that live naturally with driftwood will enjoy this effect and may help improve color and behavior, especially breeding in these species.
Ornaments can also play an important part in the aquarium. Just as rocks and driftwood provide structure, so do ornaments. Virtually all ornaments are created with inert materials, so they can be used in any type of aquarium.