Submitted Photo: Zeke Lam
Plan. Build. Nurture. Senior Zeke Lam, an award winning aquascaper, has enjoyed the world of underwater life ever since he was young.
“I have a memory of a cup of water on a beach with little things swimming around in it, and I think it made sense for me to eventually get into the aquarium hobby. You start with a tank from Petco and some kit and you have some fish but they die on you. Some people stop there and others do more research and keep going. I kept going and joined the Minnesota Aquarium Society in 2011, which is where I got invested in plants more than fish,” Lam said.
The Minnesota Aquarium Society is one of the largest and oldest aquarium clubs in the United States, formed in 1931. Lam is now the 2018 leader for the Horticulturists program. His aquascaping portfolio took second place at a Minnesota Aquarium Society competition.
The ability to provide reliable care for one’s plants and fish is an essential part of the aquarium hobby. Providing the right water and light requirements are essential for the tank life to prosper. For a seasoned aquascaper, a tank is at one’s pleasure to design and manipulate to almost any aesthetic that is desired.
“I’ll turn on the light before school and there will be half an inch to an inch of visible growth from the day. The other thing about plants is that they respond really quickly to environmental factors… Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as other micro-nutrients. For some plants, if you limit nitrogen it triggers them to produce more red or orange pigments and in many cases for aquascaping that can be desirable. Playing with chemistry is fun,” Lam said.
“[Fishkeeping] is a lot more fun when you have plants. Naturally, a lot of the fish come from tropical climates where there are a lot of plants in the water and when you have them in a bare tank you’re not seeing the behaviors that they might display in the wild.”
It’s important to do research and see what they need in terms of care. Do they need carbon dioxide and a lot of light or are they good to grow wherever?