This has proved one of James’ most popular aquascapes of all time, so we thought it was about time we published it in journal format.
This 150 x 150 x 75 cm Nature Aquarium by professional aquascaper James Findley grew in beautifully – the layout was completed in July 2011 and it is definitely one of the most stunning works we have ever had on display.
At 3 years old this super tank was transformed into a jungle style aquascape. You can learn about this transformation in another of our articles here: Nature’s Chaos Transformed into a Jungle Style Aquacape!
This video shows the aquascape at just over 1 year old
This 30 minute video documents the creation of the Nature’s Chaos and features some videos shot when the aquascape was 7 weeks old.
- 5ft x 5ft x 2.5 ft high (150cm x 150cm x 75cm high) TGM all acrylic aquarium
SUBSTRATE AND LAYOUT/HARDSCAPE MATERIALS (Many prices are much lower today- click the product to see!)
- ADA Powersand Special L, 2x bags at £179.99 per bag… £359.98
- ADA Aquasoil Amazonia Granules 9ltr, 10 bags at £34.99 per bag… £349.90
- ADA Aquasoil Amazonia Powder 9ltr, 4 bags at £49.99 per bag… £199.96
- ADA Tourmaline BC 1 x £24.26
- ADA Clear Super 1 x £26.50
- ADA Bacter 100 1 x £25.99
- ADA Penac P 1 x £37.99
- ADA Penac W 1 x £37.99
- TGM River Pebbles XLx 40kg £265.00
- TGM Tropical Bogwood 2 x XL £180.00
- Fine black sand ‘ Limpopo’ 3 x 25kg bags at £33.99… £101.97
- TOTAL £1609.54
- Eheim 2080 Filter at £280.57
- ADA Bio Rio Filter Media x 3ltr at £16.33 each… £48.99
- Sera Siporax Filter Media x 7 ltr at £14.99 each… £104.93
- Aqua Medic Titanium Heater x 2 at £60.20 each… £120.40
- TOTAL £554.89
- Aqua Medic 2 x Twin 150 watt Metal Halide at £499.00… £998.00
- Eleocharis parvula 40 at £5.99… £239.96
- Staurogyne repens 15 x £7.99… £119.85
- Hygrophila corymbosa ‘Compact’ 4 x £7.99… £31.96
- Aponogeton crispus ‘Red’ 4 x £13.25… £53.00
- Blyxa japonica 5 x £5.99… £29.95
- Hydrocotyle ‘tripartica’ 4 x £5.99… £23.96
- Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ 8 x £5.99… £47.92
- Fissidens fontanus 6 x £13.25… £79.50
- Pogostemon erectus 4 x £7.99… £31.96
- Rotala wallichii 4 x £5.99… £23.96
- Riccardia chamedryfolia 4 x £13.25… £53.00
- Anubias sp ‘petite’ 5 x £13.25… £66.25
- Anubias nana ‘gold’ 4 x £8.99… £35.96
- TOTAL PLANTS £837.23
- Paracheirodon simulans x 750
- Hemigrammus hyanuary x 45
- Corydorus aeneus ‘ gold stripe ‘ x 12
- Corydorus gossei x 12
- Corydorus adolfoi x 10
- Corydoras duplicarius x 5
- Corydorus oiapoquensis x 3
- Corydoras pygmaeus x 35
- Black Otocinculus x 75
- Farlowella catfish x 5
- Caridina cantonensis x 500
Inspired by Nature
“Nature’s Chaos” is an 1800 litre Nature Aquarium designed and created by James Findley – professional aquascaper and founder of the The Green Machine. He gave it this title because it “represents the chaotic beauty of nature, and as a tribute to the photographic work of Eliot Porter”.
Nature’s Chaos is a triumph of ‘concept aquascaping’ – whereby the aquascaper preconceives a theme for their creation which is usually inspired by nature. In this case James took his inspiration from a South Pacific volcanic island- “I wanted to create something with a great sense of scale”. He used a combination of well placed bogwood and rocks, along with careful plant selection and intricate planting to achieve the desired effect.
Nature Aquariums of this size are quite a rarity and provide several challanges to the aquascaper. Fortunately James has plenty of practice creating large aquariums such as those on display in The Green Machine. He called on his many years experience to make informed choices throughout the aquascaping process.
The greatest challenge with a tank that will be viewed form all sides is to ensure that “there is a certain continuity within the hardscape when the tank is walked around and viewed from all angles”.
The hardscape (sometimes called layout materials) is an extremely important element- James describes it as the bones of the aquascape; “If you get the hardscape right, the rest of the aquascape will flow naturally from it”. Once the two giant pieces of bogwood were in place he manipulated the rocks until they complemented the natural flow of the wood. “It was a days work getting the substrate and hardscape in place and it took a further day to complete the planting.”
Like all plants, aquatic plants need nutrients, light and carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow. For Nature’s Chaos James chose to use 4 x 150 watt metal halide lights – a total of 600 watts of light- enough to penetrate to the bottom of the aquarium and support even the most needy of plants. CO2 injection is via a custom pressurised CO2 kit by The Green Machine- “I didn’t want to limit my choice of plants with a compromise on light or CO2”.
It’s important to begin an aquascape by understanding and imagining how the layout will evolve over time because plants constantly grow and change.
Eleocharis parvula (hair grass) is used to excellent effect to re-create the look of grassy plains at the foot of the mountain.
Clumps of Fissidens fontanus growing on the bogwood look “like dense plant growth found on the side of a cliff”. Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ growing in pockets at the top of the hardscape is meant to “re-create hanging vines and jungle like growth on mountain tops”. ‘Cuba’ is a high light plant, and the top of this aquarium is the ideal location for it; close to the 600 watts of light that is responsible for its dense growth.
Staurogyne repens is used as a carpeting plant (by cutting it back often) around the rocks to soften their edges – giving the impression of greater age.
James used an Aponogeton crispus ‘Red’ to create the impression of a volcanic eruption in the sky.
Rotala wallichii and Pogostemon erectus were heavily trimmed in the early days to achieve a denser growth. They are lush thicket-like areas which add colour and contrast to the surrounding plants.
Fish were added after the aquascape was finished. A huge shoal of Green Neons (Paracheirodon simulans) often look like a flock of birds circling the peaks of the mountain. Crystal red shrimps (Caridina cantonensis) provide a stark contrast in colour to the predominantly green hues of the plants. Six varieties of Corydoras draw ones attention to the bottom of the aquarium.
Nature Aquariums of this scale are a rarity because of the space required, costs involved and the technical and artistic skills required to set them up and maintain them. The success of this aquascape is plain to see and it has proved immensely popular throughout the world.
It’s important to remember that stunning aquascapes can be achieved in any size aquarium, with a range of budgets.
Wherever you find your inspiration, be it from nature, other aquascapes, or something else, beautiful results can be achieved with a little planning and patience.
“Aquascaping, much like like gardening, teaches one patience and an appreciation for Mother Nature.” – James Findley
Nature’s Chaos is currently on display to the public at The Green Machine (Wrexham, North Wales).
The following photos were taken when the aquascape was 7 weeks old…
The following photos were taken in August 2012 (just over one year after the layout was finished)…
Note: the sand was always supposed to be black like a volcanic island. We had some problems with the first batch of sand which is why in previous photos the sand is much lighter. The issues with the sand have since been rectified and we replaced the sand to fulfil James’ original vision.
After 3 years this super tank was transformed into a jungle style aquascape. You can learn about this in another of our articles here: Nature’s Chaos Transformed into a Jungle Style Aquacape!