I'm going to show you how to create this cool project that will look great in your home or office!
I was recently thinking about how I could "bottle up" the balance and beauty of nature and incorporate it with a BalVino balancing wine bottle holder.
After viewing some truly incredible terrariums, aquariums, potted plants and aquascapes, I came up with a plan to make a relatively simple project that will be housed in a wine bottle and use the BalVino as a stand!
I decided on an aquascape based on several factors. Originally I was going to score and remove the side of a wine bottle to plant a terrarium. I ruled this out because frankly I don't have a clue as to how to remove the side of a wine bottle, I'll keep that one in my back pocket for now.
*There is an IMPORTANT reason that I could not put any fish or other animals in this aquascape to create an aquarium. When the wine cork is replaced at the end, it creates a tremendous amount of pressure in the bottle that would be terrible for any poor little creature that was in it. Also, the oxygen in the bottle is quickly depleted, so no good for animals!
On to the fun stuff!
You will need the following materials for this project:
- Clear wine bottle with intact cork
- 2 cups of light colored super fine aquarium sand
- long very thin twigs
- Several colors of small stone a quarter to half inch in diameter. Length isn't an issue but they have to fit through the bottleneck. (I used black, white and red)
- Small Marimo Moss Ball no more than 2 inches in diameter (found at local pet store or Amazon.com)
- Small funnel or 8.5"x11" sheet of paper or card stock
- BalVino - balancing wine bottle holder
- Coat hanger and/or chopsticks (to rearrange contents)
- Optional (very small 1 to 2 inch) seaweed type plant
Grab that bottle of vino and get rid of the contents. Prevailing wisdom suggests that you should just drink it, but do with it whatever you like. Rinse that sucker out and run hot water over the labels. You can use a metal spoon once the label is thoroughly soaked and scrape the label off.
Use the funnel if you have one, otherwise you can roll up a piece of paper or card stock to use. Pour all of the water from step one out of the bottle. Use the funnel, paper or otherwise, and dump about 2 cups of sand into your wine bottle. You'll want to fill about a fifth of the bottle as it is laying on it's side. At this point don't worry too much about sand covering the inside of the bottle. Once it is full of water than sand will settle to the bottom.
moss balls, yup.
It's time to put the Marimo Moss Ball, twigs, and any additional aquarium plants into the bottle. Fun fact, the "moss balls" are not actually moss. It is a type of algae that likes to live in cool lakes and streams in Iceland and Scotland. More on plant care later. You may need squeeze the moss ball into the bottle. It is important that you compress the moss ball without twisting it. If you twist it may tear, but it can take a little bit of a squeeze and be "ok." Just make sure that you don't get a moss ball larger than 2 inches in diameter or it may not fit. These are pretty dense so don't plan on compressing it more than about 25%.
It's time to fill the bottle with cool water. Ideally you should use filtered or bottled water. You can let the water sit out overnight to let some of the chlorine evaporate out of the water. I don't know a lot about this, but chlorine is a gas in the water that evaporates out of the water faster than the water itself. Chlorine in the water with the Marimo moss ball creates a harsh environment for it, and we don't want that. I would like to note I have made several of these with tap water and have not had any problems yet. The moss balls have remained healthy for a couple of months in this aquascape design. Just keep in mind that different areas have varying water compositions. As you're filling up hold the wine bottle containing your sand, moss ball, twigs and other plants with water hold it as close to level as possible to keep the sand at the "bottom" side of your bottle.
shake it off.
This part is a little bit scary, but it is necessary. With the wine bottle on it's side, cover the open end with one hand and hold the base with the other hand. You're going to need to gently shake the bottle so that the sand is level along the base and to shift the sand off of the Moss ball and any other plants. It is best to do this over the sink. While keeping the bottle as level as you can, drain the water into the sink. Basically you needed to fill the bottle in order to cleanse the contents and arrange them, but that initial fill will have really cloudy water from the bits of debris in the aquarium sand.
Now, you should have a bottle with about three quarters of an inch of sand which creates close to a level base. Your Moss ball should be mostly free of sand on the top and sides. It should appear "clean." Any other plants you stuck in the bottle may be partially buried or floating at this point. That's not a problem! As long as you're at this point then you're ready to move on. Otherwise you will need to rinse and repeat. Pun definitely intended. If the base isn't level or you still have sand all over the moss ball just fill it back up with water and shake it around again until you're there.
Now you will need to use the coat hanger or chopstick or pencil or whatever you've got handy to arrange the twig, bury the seaweed roots. Once this is all set, you're ready to insert the little rocks into the wine bottle. Once these are in, you will need to be pretty much done messing around inside the bottle. Tilt the bottle and let gravity carry the rocks to their final position. Too much motion at this point forces the rocks down through the sand and they become hidden so be patient and deliberate.
Not to scare you, but if this happens you will probably have to start over except with the moss ball in the bottle the whole time because once it's in, it isn't coming back out with the bottle and the ball as single pieces. I have had to restart and it's not so bad, but you will need to either have more dry sand or let the sand sit out for a day or so to dry to funnel it back in.
clear the air.
It's finally time to fill the bottle one last time. Keep the bottle level with the sand at the bottom. Fill the aquascape with water slowly. At some point depending on the shape of the bottle you are going to have to release a final air bubble without tilting the bottle too far. Just move slowly and be patient. If you tilt your aquascape too far in this final stage you risk burying the stones or rolling the moss ball to the bottom of the bottle.
Now you will force the cork back into the bottle. Make sure that the cork you use to seal the bottle does not have a corkscrew hole all the way through it. There is enough pressure in the bottle that it will force water out through the hole. Set the bottle on a slight angle with the neck up. You will have to slip the cork into the bottle as you simultaneously remove your hand that was previously covering the hole. I know this sounds crazy hard, but it's not too bad. I promise. You may lose a tiny bit of water or capture some air but it won't affect the final product. If you spill too much, just fill it back up and try again. Easy Peezey.
balance is key.
Put your new awesome aquascape in your BalVino! Every month or so you will need to change out the water. Your Marimo moss ball can live up to 100 years and grow to 10 inches in diameter in the wild! Probably a bit less in the aquascape. Make sure that you keep your aquascape out of direct sunlight as the moss balls enjoy cool shady places.
Once your wine bottle aquascape is in balance it will look great at your desk or tucked away on the kitchen counter or in the family room or living room. It will remind you that like wine bottle aquascapes, life is better when it's balance.