Aquascaping is to aquariums what gardening is to potted plants. Instead of shells and gravel, aquascaping lovers today seek to develop their aquatic art with driftwood, live plants, rocks and fish.
Like any other hobby, the practice needs dedication, time and research. You need to understand the basics of plant nutrition, fish and water chemistry, among other things.
In this article, we will share with you a clearer view of aquascaping. We will go from a basic introduction to the development of different aquatic landscapes. Without further ado, let’s get started!
What is aquascaping?
In recent times, more and more people are adopting the art of aquascaping (aquascaping).
Aquascaping is defined as the configuration, decoration and organization of a set of elements, including, but not limited to, stones, rocks, aquatic plants and logs, in a handmade way to generate a more aesthetically pleasing appearance in the aquarium.
Aquatic landscaping, as the practice is also known, allows the aquarist to express himself through fascinating species and visually appealing aquatic organisms.
However, developing the perfect aquarium is no simple task; it requires dedication, however, it ends up being fun and rewarding in the end.
Many of us work long hours and are often exposed to a lot of pressure. After a day’s work, an aquarium not only reminds you to take a break, but also to kick back and relax while enjoying a breathtaking aquatic view.
Different styles of water landscaping
Similar to other art forms, aquascaping allows for a variety of styles and approaches. Every individual has different preferences, expectations and desires regarding their fish tanks.
Below we will share the most popular styles, each defined by its own unique features and characteristics.
Also known as the natural style, natural aquascaping was first developed by a Japanese man, Takashi Amano, in the late 1990s.
It is well characterized by a purely natural feel and look, mimicking real landscapes in the aquarium through logs and rocks as a centerpiece.
The wild style is best suited for beginners as it is one of the easiest to develop.
As the name suggests, the result should resemble the uncontrolled appearance of a jungle. One of the most prevalent features of this style is that the vegetation is not pruned, so it becomes quite dense over time.
Around the 1930s, the Dutch style of water landscaping emerged and became popular, especially with the inaugural announcement of aquarium equipment. The style primarily focuses on the color, texture, and height of various plants.
It may seem like an easy aesthetic to achieve, but honestly, the Dutch style does require extensive knowledge of different plants to develop an aesthetically pleasing landscape.
Unlike the Dutch style that only incorporates the use of plants, Iwagumi landscaping is structured around the development of a careful arrangement/positioning of stones and logs.
The general configuration of the Iwagumi style comprises the use of three stones; the larger one referred to as the Great Buddha, and two smaller pieces known as the Auxiliary Stones.
Here, the important thing is to add stones with the same texture and color, and to develop a sense of harmony and unity in the aquarium.
Read More – Can Betta Fish Live in an Unfiltered Aquarium?
Step by Step: How to start your journey in Aquascaping?
Step 1: Choosing the tank
Beforehand, determine the size of an aquarium you will be using, as well as the style you want to reproduce.
Try to imagine what the final design will look like, taking into account the different types of materials at your disposal, such as stones and logs. Also, consider the pieces of flora and fauna that will be present in your aquarium.
Step 2: Adding the substrate (rocks and sand)
The substrate added will vary depending on the style of aquascaping you want to adhere to.
Typically, gravel and sand do not support plant growth; thus, the most fertile soils work perfectly. Get soil that is high in nutrients and maintain a slightly acidic or neutral pH to enhance healthy plant growth.
Step 3: Choosing decorations
Again, the selection of decor elements will vary depending on the type of aesthetic you are trying to achieve. Most landscapes with physical elements are composed of stone, logs and rock.
Step 4: Adding the water
Water must be poured carefully to ensure that the substrate is not displaced.
There are several ways to add water. You can, for example, place a small bowl above the substrate and slowly pour in the water. Additionally, you can choose to fill the aquarium slowly with an ultra-thin siphon.
Step 5: Growing plants
Some species are great for starting a new aquarium because as they grow, the roots mold well to suit their needs for nutrition and substrate.
You can place plants in the substrate using tweezers. What’s more, they should be pushed down nearly an inch into the ground to keep them from coming loose.
If you want to create an aquarium with more sophisticated plants or in large numbers, it is worth investing in knowledge about planted aquariums.
Step 6: Organizing Items for Aesthetic Purposes (The Main Task)
Instead of placing a piece of wood directly in the center of the tank, try placing it off-center, or perhaps in a corner, as it creates a sense of contrast and tension.
Placing a second decoration on the other end creates an attractive gap. Sometimes leaving out space also works well, depending on the style you want to explore.
Rather than rushing to fill in the empty areas in your aquatic environment, make sure this fits in with your overall design in some way.
Step 7: Adding the fish
The species selected is based on one’s taste and preference. The only thing you need to ensure is that the fish won’t get too big for your aquarium.
When you’re ready to add some fish, you shouldn’t just insert them directly into the aquarium. Instead, let them acclimate to the water’s conditions.
For this you need to place the bag they were brought in in your aquarium for about 10 minutes.
After that, you can gradually add a small amount of this water to the bag with an interval of 5 minutes until it is full, then drop them into the aquarium.
The whole aquascaping process can seem difficult to accomplish because you must find the perfect balance between creativity and some chemical/biological principles.