A Guide to Advanced Aquascaping

Aquascaping is a learned art form that allows you to create an underwater landscape, inspiration for many works come from both underwater locations but also natural scenes such as mountains, jungles, deserts, waterfalls and many others.


Before starting your aquascape it is best to look at other aquascape’s that have been created, a video halfway down the page should provide some great examples.

aquascape

Before you create your underwater scape it is important to look at the major factors that will make this work, Although its not essential - a lowlight/no CO2 setup can be just as eyecatching.

 

Click on These for more Information:

THE LIGHTING

THE SUBSTRATE

CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2)

LIQUID FERTLIZERS

ORNAMENTS (WOOD, ROCK)

 

 

Ok so now it’s time to aquascape. Before we start it’s important to remember that the biggest factor in Aquascaping is imagination. The internet can only tell you so much but with your sense of view and imagination it is not hard to create something truly inspiring. Nothing is concrete, if you design something, create it and dislike it, take it down! Destroy and rebuild it as many times as you want until you are impressed.

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Things to avoid:

  • Becoming frustrated – yes the tanks on the internet are beautiful but not impossible; they have nothing that you don’t have so gofor it!9
  • Using one type of plant – it may give a theme to the tank but can become boring – mix it up!
  • Using only large leaf plants, larger plants will make your aquascape look smaller and not as deep, the finer the leaves, the larger your scape!
  • Keep it simple stupid – yes it’s great to have the whole tank full of every type of plant that’s ever existed, but this doesn’t look good! Be sure to have as much open space as filled space, infact tanks with lots of open areas look great, fill them with a school of fish.

The process:
Assuming you put your substrate in, connect up your CO2 and turn your lights on you are ready to go.
So, design. I cannot give you your design but i can give you some pointers that will help the design process.


First of all let’s look at symmetry

  • Symmetry is not wanted in planted tanks
  • Symmetry makes the take look too structured and neat, in the wild would you see a large rock directly in the centre of the river? Of course not, the central focus should not be in the middle but slightly off centre, for optimum focal point it should be around 1 : 1.62, it was calculated long ago that this point is most pleasing to the eye. 3
  • It will make the tank look like it is identical on either side, it would be better to have the tank sloping to one side, like a river bank maybe?

 

The next factor is shape

  • Having high plants in the background all the way along is a terrible misconception. People believe maybe the “hedge” type look will be attractive..... NO!. The best shapes are those that follow a smooth curve.
  • The convex shape is aesthetically nice, it can be produced with rocks to make a “mountain” looking scape, for more information on these scroll down the page.8
  • The concavity shape is also great, the plants can easily be trimmed to be high on the edges and then lower in the middle making a dip, this will also give you open space in the middle and open space looks great.
  • The triangular setup or sometimes island setup also looks very neat, the off centre gradient seems to be somewhat attractive.2

 

 

 

 

Foreground Middle ground and Background

  • It is important to keep a clear distinguished line between the three
  • Having a low foreground then straight to a high background may give you more open space but looks terrible5
  • Putting rocks and wood in the middle ground looks very nice, the background stems will complement them and the low foreground plants look like grass at the bottom of a mountain range or forest.
  • Wood that sticks out right to the surface can look so very amazing. This with moss on it can create another dimension within the tank and enhance the depth.

 

Creating a 'mountain' styled scape

  • It is important to have lots of open space aswell as scaped space
  • Do not have the mountain in the EXACT centre of the tank, as stated above you want it to be slightly to the left or right.
  • Although you may feel like it would look better, try not to push your mountain into the corner, this will create more of a sloped tank and will not give you the defined lines of a mountain shape.
  • Use no or very low foreground plants, mountain scapefor the 'cliff' face of the mountain you do not want an 'intermission' plant. For the first third of the mountain you want the slope to be almost vertical to make sure you get the steep structure.
  • The rocks you place in will need to be covered in some sort of plant and possibly dug into the gravel a bit to provide a more natural setting
  • Only use one type of rock! and use 'sharp' edged rocks for that peak look
  • You may use the substrate to provide a higher base for the mountain
  • Make sure the edges of the mountain slope down toward the edge of the tank and are not flat, otherwise it looks like a rock formation and not the slope of a mountain.'

 

Some inspiration :

Planting the tank

  • Begin with the background plants and work your way into the foreground11
  • Logs and rocks can be taken out to make it much easier for attaching plants
  • When planting it is important to plant the stems quite densely, this will reduce the amount of time your tank needs to grow in
  • Place a few stems into the substrate about an inch apart or closer if desired using tweezers.
  • The moss and java/anubais will need to be tied to the rock or wood to give the best effect6
  • Having blyxa along the middle to breakup the back/foreground is a very good idea
  • The moss should be put quite sparsely to begin, this will ensure the new shoots will grow onto the object it is placed on and if in the right conditions it will grow so fast you will believe it to be a weed.

Plant colourations and sizes

  • Red and orange plants give a nice touch to the aquascape
  • Be careful not to put in one single red plant such as a tiger lotus, this mistake will draw attention away from your central focus and cause uneasiness within the viewer as their eyes dart between both points of focus.7
  • Different shades of green also provide a wider variety and make the tank look more natural and less structured.
  • The size of the leaves will change the look of the tank, large leaves will make the tank look smaller but smaller leaves will make the tank look much bigger than what it actually is.
  • Be careful not to clump all of each plant type together, this looks more like a store than an aquarium.

Recommended fish

  • Certainly the best types of fish are small and usually schooling
  • Good examples of these are Australian rainbow fish, such as threadfin’s, praecox and other dwarf varieties.10
  • They have avid swimming habits, breed regularly. Around 50-100 in a larger aquarium will make the tank come to life
  • Other good choices are tetras because they are small and will often school
  • The most popular in aquascape’s are ember tetras due to their small size but bright colouration, neon tetra’s are great but maybe try something unusual, everyone has seen neon’s before, but people will be astounded by something different4
  • Choosing smaller fish is recommended as it will caise the tank seem much bigger than what it really is, this should be complemented by the use of small plants. E.g. the first picture on this page, that tank is little over a foot long, but it could easily be percieved to be at least 3ft in length.
  • Colourful fish are recommended but not essential, with lots of plants the fish are not the predominant feature and there colours will not show as well, but they are nice to have and will combine to create a peaceful retreat.

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