Aquascaping is the craft of arranging live aquatic plants, rocks, stones, driftwood and other objects into an attractive underwater environment. A live-planted aquarium is an exotic, colourful addition to interior decor that incorporates fish-keeping. In aquascaping, the focus is on the scenery and the created environment, but aquascaping planning must include a consideration of the type of fish and the commitment to maintenance. Creating a live-planted aquarium requires knowledge and patience to combine materials, plants and fish into a pleasing aquatic world.
Depending on the kind of fish kept and the level of maintenance you commit to, a minimalist design in aquascaping reduces aquarium decor to the essential. Interpret nature with minimal layouts of short grass or ground covers and strategically placed stones. This design is well-suited to large species of fish that eat aquarium plants and root in substrate, digging up plants and displacing gravel.
Recreate Natural Habitats
Research your fish species and create an environment as similar to their natural habitat as possible. For example, the natural habitat of swordtails is heavily vegetated flowing streams, rivers and springs in South and Central America. Live-planted tanks for swordtails could include many plants firmly anchored in a thick substrate and moving water. The natural habitat of angelfish is the river bed of the Amazon River, so create an aquascape for them with sandy, gravel substrate, and plants native to the Amazon River, such as sword plants and hair grass.
Use a focal point as the central part of the aquascape. One unusual rock or a large, gorgeous plant either in the centre of the tank or off to one side becomes an anchor for secondary scenery such as rock piles, hollow logs and short grass. A focal point centred around a theme such as a coral reef or a flowing riverbed creates a mini water world.
Always keep the health of your fish and of your aquarium environment in mind. Don't overplant or crowd too many plants, rocks and objects into the tank because it will trap food and debris and make it more difficult to maintain a healthy, safe environment. Leave enough space between plants to allow for their mature size and plenty of aeration within the water.
Use aquarium-safe silicone to create unusual rock formations, bond driftwood and rocks for attractive hardscapes or create underwater caves from stones. Connect driftwood together in piles on a sand bed. Experiment with different natural materials, using pictures of natural underwater habitats for inspiration.
- Fish Lore; Aquarium Aquascape Design Ideas; Fish Lore; 2011
- "Freshwater Aquarium Models: Recipes for Creating Beautiful Aquariums That Thrive"; John H. Tullock; 2006
- "Freshwater Aquariums for Dummies"; Maddy Hargrove, et al.; 2006
- "The Inspired Aquarium: Ideas and Instruction for Living with Aquariums"; Jeff Senske, et al.; 2006