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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey I wanted to start a thread to pool all the WK resources and inspirations

The Name
Although ADA coined the name "Wabi-Kusa" specifically for the product, TundraFour Gives us a deeper look at what it actually means.
If you look at the etymology of the phrase "wabi-kusa," the definition you're left with is very open-ended.

The Japanese word "wabi" denotes part of an aesthetic (wabi-sabi). The Wikipedia article on wabi-sabi states that "wabi... connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance."
The Japanses word, "Kusa" means grass (or plant in some contexts).
I suppose a planted aquarium or even a blade of grass that somehow captures or evokes the feeling connoted by wabi could be referred to as wabi-kusa.
TundraFour then goes on to show us a really great link of what a google image search turned up when the japanese characters for "Wabi-Kusa" were entered into the search field. Google search of wabi-kusa in japanese


Question From Oni
I saw your step by step wabi kusa, looks great! Can you tell me the stem and tall plants you used in the final picture?
I am a newbie to the plant world so I'm clueless in identifying plants, thanks!
Hey oni, glad you like my work!
The real philosophy behind wabi-kusa (with the true japanese meaning of the word - not the commercial ada thing) Is that they are 100% natural, you take your tools - scissors tweezers ect. - and take them to nature, then take your inspiration from whats around you! you dont need a great knowledge of plants and you dont need any money even! just look at the plants around you, dig some up and replant them in your substrate(wich should also be dug up from your surroundings - or use my WK-Soil coming soon ;P)
so the short answer to your question is - the stemmed plant I used is a rose-bay willow herb, but you should use whatever you find as that will work best
hope that helps

Question from Posit
Hi, im looking to start my first wabi-kusa
can you give me a good recipe for substrate. i have some extra ada aquasoil, do you think it is possable to use it in some way? I have a good "tank" and would love to get started. thanks!
heres my recipie:

get a bowl, add your spare aquasoil and a little bit of water, then mould it into a small ball, then go into your garden or for best results down by a river in the woods and dig up some soil

spread out some substrate fert on a flat surface and roll the wet aquasoil-ball around it to give a nice coating

then put the soil you have dug up around the center ball and pack it tightly into a large ball
remember to try and cover all the mud
Please Do Not Hesitate To Ask Questions In This Thread Or By PM

Noteable Wabi-Kusa's
My Inspiration For Starting WK - Chongs Hawiian WK/Ikebana
My first
Messy's 3x3 WK
Bacarlile's Custom WK - One of them is very High-Tech
Messy's Take on WK
One Of My own WK experiments
TurtleHeads WK


Other Resources
The Wabi-Kusa Website!
The Fully Photographed Guide
Google search of wabi-kusa in japanese

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48 Posts
I would like to add that I tried my first wabi kusa (picture 11) using the classic japanese method. I took a little shovel and some ziploc bags to the local stream and collected everything. The tank was pristine for two weeks (with twice a week 50% waterchanges). After that, some of the mosses began to mold while sulfurous compounds built up below the wabi ball. Additionally, grubs, catipillars, and other insects emerged from the mud that I had collected within a week or so. I think many of the plants that I collected (esp. mosses) require the regular ebb and flow that a stream in central Texas provides, but who knows?

The second Wabi Kusa that i did has 1/3 the volume and uses a Tom Aquatics Aqualifter pump ($10) with a $1 filter filled with some carbon. It obviously runs much better and the plants are growing much faster. Also, the plants were all purchased from an lfs, including java moss and Eleocharis parvula.

The first one was basically free and much more fun, but it didn't last long.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good observation bacarlile ill write up an article on the WK's lifespan
however when you get it right WK's can last indefinately! my first one is still going after nearly 5 months and due to its size has recently had to be temporarily rehomed to an empty 15gal
when i get home (im on holiday) i will take pictures of my latest WK, that uses my latest WK products (WK-Start and WK-Sun, coming soon to an ebay near you :p) which even 2 days after i set it up had begun to flower!.

also i tried a google search for "wabi-kusa" and turned up some cool results - if your too lazy to type
we have been blogged upon :)
some random person with amazing taste in planty

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks melgrj im flattered
guys you should see me latest WK it is tré cool
it will eventually be rehomed to our common room but its the summer hols now
it will also be my first one with fish
it boasts 5 different types of moss including phoenix moss and is meant to be a biotope of a scottish "burn" (the scottish word for stream), i will be trying to catch some fish wild to put in it
pictures once i find my camera

dimensions are 60x20x22

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
tbh thats a bit to simple for me, i think it would get boring easily, as they grow the slowest ever
takes like 10 years to get them to the size you buy em at

wabi-kusa is just SO easy, i cannot emphasize that enough, its not like a regular planted tank, which needs planning and knowledge and money, you literally just go and do it, just get out to a stream or even just to a hill or forest dig up a load of tiny plants, dig up some mud find some moss, et viola!
just remeber to bring four things
water (for wetting the soil to clump it easy)

you could even bring a trowel to dig the soil, but i just use my hands

im atm talking to a surgical tools company to try and get wkuk branded toolsets (wabi-toolkit)

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I have a question I made a WK. made a ball of Aqua soil amazonia with some peat moss mixed in and some fine sand stuffed all sorts of mosses and aquatic plants that were grown emersed and when I got it wet it just disinigrated :mad: what do you do to keep in in a ball shape instead of a melted mass of dirt with plants sticking out of it?

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wiste - Technically It isent, but you cant make a pauldarium outdoors and with only nature as your supplier

so whilst it is the same thing as an object, they are much easier to make requiring less resources and practically no cash. also its smaller :)

arowanaman- good question! The key to WK is the substrate, it should really be a claggy soil from by a river, ive found that using anything else but natural soil results in disater. Also using aquasoil, whilst good for the plants isent supposed to stick together in water.

My best tip for WK substrate is - get the soil from whence you get the plants

also remember to cover the sides with moss and bind it in cotten, hope that helps!

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Hey, I'd like to set some of these up for friends of mine. My first question is, how do you keep a Wabi Kusa going for an extended period of time? Would you have to fertilize into the water at all (like EI), or do you just let the soil go until it gives out?

Can a Wabi Kusa run successfully long-term without a center of nutrients (ie. using only soil found in the creek area and nothing else)?

If you use a root tab, how would that affect invertebrates such as red cherry shrimp? Would any leaching effect harm the shrimp?

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
great question erijnal
Ill answer your points one by one
The longest going wabi-kusa i know of is my own first one which has been going for nearly 5 months now, and shows no signs of letting up, the key to that i have found out, is when the soil is collected, I collected the soil just before spring broke and so should have enough juice to keep going all summer through to autum.

I do fertilize my WK's with my own mix of fertilizer (coming soon) however before i made that i used miricle grow 3 drops per day (anymore and the water turns green)

So Depending on your view of Long term it could go either way - If you want a coupple of years you will need to fertilize, If you want up to 6 months depending on when you colected the soil that is attainable.

RCS are notoriously hardy (for shrimp) and as long as the root tab contains no copper i would think it should be fine (but you should seek a second opinion

To sum up, WK's are very natural and so almost follow the seasons, I think this is a could thing you could make a WK for every season!

Tip of the day - Not all plants will survive the first few days in a WK if they start to wither pull it out and replace!
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