Aquascaping - An Introduction

Aquascaping is more than just placing rocks, driftwood and plants into an aquarium, it's an artform in itself. 

An aquascaped tank is art, it's a person's individual expression of creativity. Like art there are different styles, the end result is subjective and what matters is that it’s enjoyed by the viewers it’s intended for. Like art, aquascapes can be inspired by many things including places, scenes and emotions however aquascaping differs greatly from other forms of art as they are ever evolving and continually changing as the plants grow and the ecosystem comes alive.

Shinrin-Yoku Forest Bathing IAPLC 2019 Botany Way Scapes

To describe it in a more literal sense, think of it as gardening or landscaping underwater. It involves the careful arrangement of different elements including plants, rocks, driftwood, sand and gravels etc. into an aesthetic layout that's pleasing to the eye. The final touch is generally the addition of livestock such as fish and/or shrimp which bring the aquascape to life.

When discussing or reading about aquascaping the words ‘Nature Aquarium’ are often heard. Nature Aquarium is a concept founded by the late Takashi Amano from Japan. Mr. Amano-San is the founder of the brand Aqua Design Amano which is well recognised and respected within the hobby for their high quality products and beautiful installations.

"What is the essence of a beautiful landscape? The compositional beauty produced by flora and other things may be part of it, but isn't it ultimately a perfectly functioning ecosystem? It is, in fact, a balance. The world of aquarium is no exception.....'what type of environment would I prefer if I were a fish' was always at the base when the layouts were created." - Takashi Amano

To create a successful aquascape one must find a balance between the hardscape, plants and fish along with the layout and composition of these elements. This is then combined with the appropriate lighting, filtration, CO2 and nutrients required to create a healthy ecosystem within the closed environment of an aquarium. We will cover more on each of these elements in future tank talks.

Quite often you will hear the terms “low tech” and “high tech” thrown around in conversation which correlate to whether the tank is a low energy or high energy set up. There are many factors to consider when determining the energy level of an aquascape however we will attempt to define them as follows.

Low Tech - We prefer to use the term low energy for this style as it generally consists of a setup without CO2 injection, lower lighting levels and minimal to no fertilisation. With the reduced energy input the plants will grow slower in this style which on a positive side can also mean that nuisance algae and other issues are slower to form and easier to get on top of. It's Important to select only plant species that will do well with these conditions such as Cryptocoryne, Java Fern, Anubias, Bucephalandra and mosses.

High Tech - An aquarium that is high energy almost always includes the addition of pressurised CO2 and high levels of lighting to create an ideal growing environment for most aquatic plants. With the higher energy input into the aquarium the plants experience faster growth requiring higher levels of fertilisation to keep up with their nutritional demands. The high energy input can also mean that problems such as nuisance algae can develop fast if things become too far out of balance.

All in all aquascaping is a highly rewarding hobby, it is relaxing and can even be meditative at times. You will learn delayed gratification as you build on your skills and perfect your aquascape as it grows in over time. Best of all you end up with a beautiful piece of living art to enjoy. So why not give it a go if you haven't started already, reach out to us if you need any advice on how to start out or what products to choose, we are happy to help in any way possible.

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