Wabi-Kusa: Transforming Balls of Plants into Aquatic Art

Torn between surf and turf? Can’t decide if you’d rather have a garden or an aquarium? Evidently, Japanese aquascapers have struggled with the same problem. Their solution is to come up with an aquascaping style known as Wabi-Kusa.

Wabi-Kusa arrangements involve aquascaping, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are aquariums. It would be more accurate to call them ripariums, which are aquariums with overgrown plants that climb out of the water.

The aquascaping hobby really owes a lot to the Japanese. They’ve pioneered some of the most interesting and unique aesthetic styles. The Japanese word “Wabi” roughly translates into “something that is beautiful yet natural,” and “Kusa” means “grass” or “plant.” Together, the phrase approximately means “beautiful, imperfect grass.”

Wabi-Kusa straddles the fence between earth and water. Aquascapers create these aquatic gardens by taking balls of plant life and arranging them in bodies of water. The plants eventually grow upward to create island-like ecosystems.

Of course, the Wabi-Kusa is just one half of a two part equation. The surrounding body of water could be as simple or as ornate as you like. Some Wabi-Kusa enthusiasts simply prefer to place the plant balls in clear, unadorned bodies of water.

Other Wabi-Kusa arrangements, like the one shown below, make use of the aquatic space to create a lush carpet of verdant growth. Add a few fish in the water and you have a fully-fledged riparium.

What makes Wabi-Kusa so compelling is that it showcases two very different worlds all in one neatly-contained box. Above the waterline you have tall, leafy plants that reach for the sun. Below the waterline you have fish, shrimp, and humble carpet moss.

Either way, you may want to throw planning out of the window. Many aquariums require the aquascaper to carefully plan out the layout of the aquascape, down the placement of the tinniest rocks and plants. Wabi-Kusa, on the other hand, is a celebration of natural chaos, so much so that it’s nearly impossible to predict how the Wabi-Kusa balls will grow.

That’s part of the appeal. You can choose where you place the ball, and you can choose which half of the ball is submerged in water, but past that you have to leave everything up to nature. The plants will grow outward and upward as they please.

There’s something inherently captivating about Wabi-Kusa arrangements. In a hobby that’s dominated by meticulous planning and careful upkeep, Wabi-Kusa aquascapes are refreshingly wild and chaotic. The combination of terrestrial and aquatic features seems to scream, “I don’t fit into your neat definitions – I do as I please.”

Do you delight in the wild, untamed growth in the natural world? Do you want a hands-off aquascape that will grow into its own unique ecosystem? If so, the Wabi-Kusa is the perfect aquascape for you.

5 Reasons Why Fish Make Better Pets than Cats and Dogs

People always argue about whether cats or dogs are better, but I think these people are missing the point. There’s one type of animal that’s way better than cats and dogs combined. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint: go check out any other article on this site. Still can’t guess it? Wow, you’re bad at this game. The answer is fish!

So, allow me to end the great pet debate once and for all with the top five reasons why fish are the king of the pet store.

5. Variety

I’ll admit that dogs do come in many different shapes and sizes. There are dutiful German shepherds, amiable labs, and energetic beagles. Cats come in several different varieties as well, but the differences are so minor that when asked what kind of cat a person has, most people answer it with something like, “A brown one,” or “A fat one.”

Fish, on the other hand, are absurdly diverse. With over 32,000 known species of fish, they boast the most diverse group of any vertebrate animal. You’ve gotclassic fish like goldfishfrilly fish like the lionfish, enormous and dangerous fish like the great white shark (though I wouldn’t recommend trying to put one of those in your home aquarium) and bizarre fish like the seahorse.

4. They Won’t Pee on your Carpet

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? Well, it’s true. Fish make the perfect pet for people who prefer an orderly house. If you want to get a cat and scoop kitty litter, or get a dog and pick clumps of hair off of your clothes, then knock yourself out.

Fish are perfectly content to hang out in the special habitat that you design for them and spend their days flitting around the fish tank for your viewing pleasure. Plus, I can promise you beyond any shadow of a doubt that you will never have to clean up a steaming pile of fish poo. The most you’ll ever have to do is a little bit of scrubbing and tank maintenance now and then, but that’s still way better than picking up dog feces with a little plastic bag. Yuck.

3. Fish are Beautiful

Even die-hard dog lovers and cat people have to acknowledge this point. There’s a good reason why all of those pedigree dog shows don’t let any other species in. If there were a fish category, suddenly all the dogs would look dull by comparison.

2. Fish are Hypoallergenic

I genuinely feel sorry for people who are allergic to America’s most common pets. I’m definitely a pet person, so I think it’d be hard not having an animal buddy to greet you when you get home from work everyday. Luckily, even the most sensitive noses can tolerate a fish tank. You could be deathly allergic to shellfish, and you could actually keep several species of shellfish in your tank without really needing to worry about it. Fish make excellent neighbors: they’re small, tidy, and considerate.

Fish Tank Cleaning

Image source: Firehow.com

1. Anything Dogs and Cats Can Do Fish Can Do Better

“You can cuddle with cats and dogs. ”
You can cuddle with fish, too! What’s stopping you?

“Dogs can sniff out bombs and hunt animals. A dog’s nose can save lives!”
You think fish people are going to be impressed by a good sense of smell? Ha! Bears have the best sense of smell in the animal kingdom, and sharks are a close second!

“A dog can protect my home and my family.”
Haven’t you ever heard of moats? Surround your house with bull sharks and piranha, and criminals will think twice before breaking in!

“My cat can climb up my wardrobe. I’d like to see a fish do that.”
Fish can descend several miles beneath the surface of the ocean. Beat that!

“I can take my dog to the park.”
You can take your fish to the park, too!

Taiwan Scientists Create Fish Nightlights!

Those of you who are fans of the nerdy sitcom The Big Bang Theory might remember an episode entitled “The Luminous Fish Effect.” In it, a bored genius scientist decides that he’s going geneticaly alter the DNA of goldfish to create glow-in-dark luminescent fish nightlights. It might sound like a ludicrous idea, but hold onto your pants because scientists have actually already done it.

Taiwanese researchers, who evidently had nothing better to do than play God and fiddle with fish DNA, created a new breed of bioluminescent cichlids. The whole process really wasn’t as high-tech as you might think. The scientists didn’t create these glowing fish with laser beams, exposure to nuclear energy, and the Large Hadron Collider — they did it the old-fashioned way: fish sex. The Council of Agriculture in Taiwan bred together Convict cichlids and angelfish over seven years, tampering with DNA along the way.

It was a long and grueling process. Scientists had to literally sit next to fish tank and wait for the fish to lay their eggs. Once the mama-fish squirted out the eggs, they had an extremely short window to inject gene fragments into the fish eggs while covering the eggs in an electric field (OK, that part is pretty high-tech). The result was a generation of fish babies that gave of an eerie green glow.

Hearing about fish like this is bound to provoke one of two reactions: “That’s terrible” or “Holy-moly I want one.” Those of you who are in boat number two are in luck, because these fish are scheduled to hit the market. The scientists just need to run some basic experiments to make sure that these fish don’t randomly transform into miniature Godzillas and go on a rampage through local ecosystems.

So, to sum it all up, yes: you can own your own fishy nightlight. Eat your heart out Sheldon Cooper.