Welcome to my portfolio. I use this as a place to store my public projects

Moss Bonsai Tree Aquarium

Moss Bonsai Tree Aquarium

I saw these little underwater moss bonsai tree aquariums when I was in the depths of YouTube last year. I was transitioning between my backpacking trip May 2016, and starting my Masters in July 2016 and I did a few projects to pass the time. The hydroponic system, algae photobioreactor and this aquarium were all started in that time-frame. This aquarium project is the only project that survived. I discuss these reasons in my other blog posts.

In a nutshell, I wanted a moss tree. The fish themselves were not the pet, they were instead a vector for transmitting nutrients (poop) into the water column to fertilize the moss. I got a few shrimp to be caretakers and maintain the lawn and whatnot.

Okay so how do you make a moss tree? Well I bought an assortment of moss through eBay. I ended up purchasing them from the UK. They shipped in just a week or two in the mail.

I bought a few different types of gravel from Amazon, and I found a few rocks outside. I bought pretty much everything on Amazon to be honest. I first had to sanitize them by carefully boiling them. Man was that scary! I thought trapped gases inside them might make them explode.

These types of mosses (common names: Java, Christmas, Spikey, Flame) are pretty funny. They do not have root structures so they cannot really fasten to things. They either get wedged in crevices then stay via friction, or they just meander through the water like tumbleweed. I opted to super-glue them (just a dab to secure them). You can see the moss super-glued to the rock in the above photo. The mosses were shipped on a stainless steel mesh and fastened with fishing line.

I next ordered a special kind of wood that will sink in water and will not release tannins. Mopani driftwood I think? I will look into this and post it here later. It was bought off of eBay and shipped from Singapore! Gosh don't you love our interconnected world? I can buy moss from England, and attach it to wood from Singapore in the same week.

Next the tree was ready for the aquarium! There are still no fish yet, fish need a cycled aquarium and a full ecosystem of bacteria in the tank to survive. With the plants in the aquarium now, the tank was prepared for their arrival after a couple weeks. I bought a few neon tetras and a couple ghost shrimp and I threw them in the tank!

My tree was flourishing! I would trim it over time and add the extra moss to more rocks to create a more vivid landscape. I also experimented with different backdrops and lighting.


Over time, algae starting fluorishing as well. So I turned down the amount of light in the tank, limiting it to a backlight and I added an ivy plant to the filter which grabs excess photons from the backlight. The ivy will suck up extra phosphate and nitrate and hopefully limit the algae bloom.



The tank is going strong!

Taking 3D Images of 5 nm Nanowire Bundles

Taking 3D Images of 5 nm Nanowire Bundles

Spirulina Algae Photobioreactor

Spirulina Algae Photobioreactor