What is Aquascaping?
At it’s simplest, aquascaping is the craft of arranging aquatic plants along with rocks, stones and driftwood in an aesthetically pleasing manner within an aquascape aquarium.
There are many different styles of aquascape. In the past the garden-like Dutch style was popular. Stem plants, which are trimmed and replanted play the main part in this style of garden. These days many aquascapists take their inspiration from nature and the Japanese style of aquascape has become incredibly popular.
Typically an aquascape aquarium includes fish as well as aquatic plants and hardscape, although it is entirely possible to create an aquascape without fish.
Dutch Style Aquascape Aquarium
The Dutch style aquarium typically uses a diverse range of leaf colours, sizes and textures in much the same way as a typical terrestrial garden might be arranged. The style began in the Netherlands around the early 1930s around the time that freshwater aquarium equipment began to be commercially available. Usually around 80% of the aquarium would be filled with plants and little substrate would be left visible. Tall plants that mask the back wall of the aquarium serve as a screen to hide bulky equipment stashed behind the tank.
Nature Style – Japanese Style Aquascape Aquarium
The aquascaping master Takeshi Amano and his beautiful creations have undoubtedly had a huge influence on aquascaping as we know it today. Introduced in the 1960s Amano’s three-volume series of books “Nature Aquarium World” set a new standard in aquarium aquascaping.
The main objective was to create an aquascape that evoked a grand sense of scale within the relatively small confines of an aquarium. The focus is more on minimilism and composition as the main sources of beauty, with set rules which governed hardscaping. Fish and shrimps are selected to complement the planting and control algae, minimising the number of species to encourage schooling and compliment the aquascape.
Biotype aquariums are designed to replicate exactly a particular aquatic habitat found in various geographic locations around the world. Here the focus is to match what would be found in nature as closely as possible, including considerations for gravel and hardscape and even the chemical composition of the water.
Although the main aim is to create a beautiful underwater landscape, there are many technical considerations to consider when setting up an aquascape aquarium. These factors include carbon dioxide levels to promote plant growth, substrate types and fertilization, lighting and algae control. Luckily there are a great many resources available to anyone starting out today and it is not such a ‘dark art’ as it used to be.