Episode 74: Aquascaping with George Farmer

Aquascaping creates incredible landscapes underwater. Photograph: George Farmer.

Aquascaping creates incredible landscapes underwater. Photograph: George Farmer.

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Professional aquascaper George Farmer turned his hobby into a successful career, becoming one of the stars of the aquarium scene. I visited his home in Cambridgeshire to find out where it all began, get some tips on how to get started with your first underwater landscape, and find out how his love of aquascaping helped him deal with PTSD in the wake of his previous career as an RAF bomb disposal operative.

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Check out the links below for useful links relevant to my chat with George…

Photograph: George Farmer.

Photograph: George Farmer.

  1. Not sure what aquascaping is? Check out this YouTube video from George which explains all.

  2. The book George mentions as setting his aquascaping in motion is Nature Aquarium World by Japanese aquascaper Takashi Amano.

  3. George Farmer’s nano tank piece for magazine Practical Fishkeeping is here.

  4. The plants in the main tropical tank we discuss are Anubias, Bucephalandra, Microsorum fern, and brown-leaved Cryptocoryne. The LED lights above are from Kessil. George recommends buying plants as fresh as you can when a new delivery has come in, or buying micropropagated plants from companies such as Tropica.

  5. The creatures in this tank are pearl gouramis, harlequin rasboras, dwarf chain loaches and cherry shrimp.

  6. If you don’t have much room, check out George’s YouTube video on this low-tech nano tank.

  7. Check out George’s Instagram and Twitter accounts for more aquascaping images and inspiration. His YouTube channel is full of tutorials and useful info whatever your level, from beginner to expert.

  8. Patreon subscribers of $5 a month or more can listen to an extra interview with George about why aquascaping is mainly a male pursuit, how to get started as a complete beginner in aquascaping, and why the super-rich tend to have saltwater aquariums. Not sure what Patreon is all about? Scroll down to find out more!

Question of the week

This Peperomia cutting is showing signs of oedema on the smaller leaf. Photograph: Jane Perrone

This Peperomia cutting is showing signs of oedema on the smaller leaf. Photograph: Jane Perrone

Rosie was worried about her new Peperomia bolybotrya ‘Raindrop’ because its leaves were starting to go lumpy and curl under.

I suggested the problem is probably oedema, where the plant is drawing up more water from the potting soil than it can transpire through its leaves. The cells then pop and the water released damages the tissue of the leaves. It’s a really common problem with fleshy leaved plants such as Peperomias.

The best way of avoiding this happening is making sure you don’t overwater - let the soil get ready dry between waterings - and make sure the potting mix is free draining. Rosie can’t fix the damage, but she should leave the damaged foliage and allow the plant to ‘grow past’ the problem. In spring the whole plant can be chopped back if the damage is really bad.

For more on oedema, check out this useful RHS page.

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This week's show featured Roll Jordan Roll by the Joy Drops, An Instrument the Boy Called Happy Day Gokarna by Samuel Corwin and Overthrown by Josh Woodward, all licensed under Creative Commons.