Foreword by Nathan Hill…
The following extract is my own abridged take on a delightful store we went to visit for the March 2020 issue of PFK. In a trend that we’re seeing more of over recent years, it’s a write up of a focused and specialist site that concentrates its efforts into one genre of a rapidly expanding and diversifying hobby.
My words here only scratch the surface of an in-depth piece continued by Steve Baker. Plus, there’s a wealth of images not to be missed.
“From tiny acorns, and all that. Riverwood Aquatics is in its seedling stage right now, but here’s a new store with potential to become much bigger than the sum of its parts.
Pete, the man at the helm, is everything I want in an aquatic store owner; energetic, passionate and resourceful. It shows in the shop layout, and especially in the display aquascapes — you can tell a lot about a store from its ‘mannequins’, and these displays tell me the storekeeper has very green fingers. Ask him anything technical about his set-ups, and you’ll catch no flies on him. Dose rates, bubble counts, flow… he has it all mentally stored.
The hardscape selections have that ‘hand-picked’ look about them, and Pete has already considered the pieces at length. Pick one up and he’ll have a back story of how he’s already planned it for one layout or another.
From weathered river cobbles to striated Seiryu stone, from dense chunks of bogwood to spidery lengths of vine, and everything in between, you’ll find all you need to knock up an Amano-calibre aquascape. And I don’t say that as an exaggeration.
From the livestock side of things, there’s little in the way of fish. There are no sales tanks, and fish are sold direct from the planted displays — assuming you’re happy to wait while they’re caught. Still, what little livestock there is, is in fine health and fully coloured, as you’d expect from the likes of Neon tetra in a heavily vegetated set-up.
But the plants. Oh my, the plants. I have to disagree with Steve here and think that the selection is pretty huge. Unlike many stores I visit, where it’s one healthy plant to three ‘meh’ plants, everything in Riverwood’s impressive upright display is densely packed and pristine. The pricing is entirely on point: £5.50 for a Tropica plant, £4.50 for any other pot. There are some absolute gems to be had in the selection, for anyone who knows what they’re looking at.
Then there are the (not so) little extras. I don’t think I’ve ever seen mangroves on sale outside of for filters lashed on to marine refugiums. Appreciated, not many of us have the space for a full-on tree in our homes, but by crikey I’d like to try at least once in my lifetime.
On the dry goods side, it’s unashamedly plant based — obviously. There are plenty of diffusers, bubble counters, tools and substrates you won’t find in the regular aquatic stores, and not much in the way of fishkeeping stuff. Keep an eye out for the little bits you won’t find anywhere else, like the 12mm and 16mm filter strainers to safeguard your shrimps going up filter pipework.
If you’re a plant fan, you should come here. There aren’t many stores like this in the UK, and it’s quite the experience to see such passion in a niche area of the hobby.”