Emersed aquarium ideas

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AC Members
Original poster
Sep 11, 2004
I am currently thinking about setting up an emersed planted aquarium out of my long abandoned 29g setup. I think I want to move itnto a bay window (it has very good sunlight.) and make it lightless/filterless/near maintenance free setup.

My current thoughts have the plants being the main feature and have them grow out the top. I might add some small fish(perhaps least kilifish.. I have had those before and this idea is similar their native environment if I remember right.)

I was thinking of some dwarf Iris and maybe some rushes I would like summer time blooming with a winter rest period.( The space I will keep this in will range from 85f to 50f ).

Design wise thinking tall stuff(maybe 1-2f higher than tank lip.) in back with shorter or maybe submersed species in front. Tank will be 1/4 to 1/2 full...again perhaps varying to emulate seasons.

So, I am posting this asking for some inspiration perhaps 0n the specific species I should try and where I might acquire them.

Also, I am a bit confused about what substrate I should use. Since it will be filterless, perhaps play sand and put plants in pots? if I understand right, the rushes will consume the silica/minerals from the closed system hopefully minimizing buildup concerns.

Again fish is not an immediate concern, but I don't want to make a decision that will exclude them.

Thanks for reading my rambling mess. :)


Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
West Falls NY
Real Name
Sounds like a great plan!

I'm not sure the height of a 29g is an ideal setup for this, but I'm sure you could make it work.

Not really emersed, but I've got pothos growing out of a large bubbler breeder box that hangs off the back of my 75gal I've had it like that for years now. I've probably trimmed and tossed out a mile's worth of pothos at this point given it will grow around the room.


AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
SF Bay area, CA
It could be awesome! Look up paludariums. A club friend had a really nice tank (75g?) with all kinds of cool plants (orchids, crypts etc) & pretty killifish (not least) in a few inches of water. I "think" his tank had a filter with a spray bar return along the back to water/mist the plants.

We're going to need pics please!