Transforming a Fish Bowl into an Aquatic Plant Paradise

Who says fish bowls are only good for decorative purposes? If you have a spare bowl lying around, why not turn it into a captivating piece of underwater art? By setting up a planted aquarium bowl, you can create a lush green centerpiece that will mesmerize anyone who lays eyes on it. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of transforming a simple bowl into a stunning aquatic garden.

What exactly is a planted aquarium bowl?

Think of a planted aquarium bowl as a mini underwater oasis. It’s a small, unfiltered, and unheated version of a traditional aquarium. Rather than housing fish, this bowl is all about showcasing the beauty of the plants themselves. It’s like having a little indoor garden that requires minimal maintenance, making it perfect for both aquarium enthusiasts and regular gardening enthusiasts alike. And don’t let the term “bowl” limit your creativity – this concept can also be applied to other containers, like a beverage dispenser!

The plants in a planted bowl serve as natural filters, creating a harmonious ecosystem. If you choose to add live shrimp or snails, they’ll help maintain the balance within the bowl. This approach, known as the Walstad method, is named after Diana Walstad, who extensively explored this concept in her book, “Ecology of the Planted Aquarium.” It’s a fascinating read that delves deeper into achieving a balanced aquatic environment.

Essential elements for a planted aquarium bowl

You’ll be relieved to know that setting up your own planted aquarium bowl isn’t as daunting or expensive as it may seem. In fact, you might already have everything you need lying around in your home!

  • Container: Look for a container that holds at least 1 gallon of water. If you’d rather not support the fish bowl industry, a large vase or jar can work just as well. Think outside the box!

  • Substrate: Don’t forget the importance of a good substrate for your plants to thrive. A layer of potting soil, topped with a smaller layer of pool filter sand or play sand, will do the trick. You can even supplement with root tabs if needed.

  • Lighting: Since you’ll be keeping easy and low-maintenance plants in your bowl, expensive aquarium lights aren’t necessary. A regular desk lamp, like the one from Ikea, can provide adequate lighting for your plants.

  • Plants: Keep it simple with easy-to-maintain plants. Aquariadise has a list of recommended options that you can explore.

  • Invertebrates (optional): Although a non-filtered bowl is too small for fish, you can still introduce some live animals into your aquatic paradise. Consider adding a small group of dwarf shrimp or a couple of nerite snails. They have a low bioload and are great at keeping algae at bay.

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Setting up your planted aquarium bowl

Once you’ve gathered all the materials, it’s time to bring your underwater garden to life. Start by preparing the substrate. While some prefer to plant their greens before adding water, feel free to choose whichever method suits you best. Just remember to be gentle to avoid disturbing the layers of substrate as you pour in the water. After that, you can turn on the light and let it shine on your newly created aquatic haven. If you want to maintain a consistent lighting schedule, consider using a timer set to a 12-hour cycle. And voila! Your bowl is ready to go.

Maintaining a planted bowl is a breeze. Besides weekly small water changes, it requires minimal care. If your bowl only contains plants, occasional trimming and the occasional root tab every few months should suffice. However, if you’ve added invertebrates, remember to provide them with food regularly. Be sure to remove any uneaten food within a few hours to prevent ammonia spikes.

So there you have it! Setting up a planted aquarium bowl might sound complex, but once you grasp the basic principles, it’s a straightforward process. If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!

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Planted Aquarium Bowl

Ames Farm Center