The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Aquascaping Your Aquarium

If you are looking for something that can look exactly like the sea habitat in just an aquarium then you are at the right spot. While you are searching for great habitat for your fish.

We would like you to tell that Aquascapes are increasingly popular and while they can look dramatic they are even not so difficult to adjust in a tank and we are sure that the fish will love it.

If you know the basics of water chemistry, fish, and plant nutrition, then it will be very easy to cycle the aquarium and can be essential for the Aquascapes.

However, if you look into the installation of Aquascapes then you will see that it takes more time to plan and more money to pull off but you should not worry about the performance of these because, in the end, it will cause a good effort to do so.

In this guide, we will be covering all sorts of things regarding aquascapes. You will be having a lot of fun after you will inherit this knowledge that we are more likely to transfer to you.

So, let’s get started with our article. We hope that you will like it.

Aquascaping Styles: Choosing a Preferred Layout and Look:

Aquascaping Styles

You should start from the beginning if you are new to this. You should from the very first design because if you see through it you will start to understand that aquascaping project always decides on the design.

Let me clear the year for you if you are still struggling, the aquascaping project is like a house project, or f you are a builder are you are building something so before you start building you always need a design which is called a blueprint.

Blueprint is like a design prospectus that we make before we start the construction of any project. It helps in the building of any project just like.

If you are starting something new you have to design it first, just to look that what is in your mind, what you are trying to build, you just put all your plans on a piece of paper, the paper that you are putting all your ideas into is called the blueprint.

There are several designs for aquascaping that aquatic designers have used in the past. And we would like to share some of the designs with you so you can learn how it is built.

What similar ideas you can think of after you have an idea by seeing these pictures and learning from them.

Jungle Aquascaping:

If you look into this design then you will see some plants that are thriving and just fill in those spaces that are open spaces. If we like to define this design then we would say that it is a sense of chaos.

If we talk about plants in this design then all the larger plants like amazon sword, banana plants, and tall species like Vallisneria and craniums, al are placed inside the aquariums instead of placing in the background.

They are placed haphazardly around and most likely stay started to grow or create a thicket of growth that normally ended with growing Anubias and chain swords that are slower growing species and are easily grown.

If you are looking to idealize this design in your aquarium then you can think of aiming for the sense of organized chaos, they can be untamed but can not be a messy design that you are thinking of.

If you look into the best aquascaping methods then you can see that the examples that will be suitable for you are the imposed though species group, adequate pruning, algae control, barriers like driftwood, and in the end, the rocks that can break up the visual flow.

As if you driftwood and rocks then we think that these two things give a look of wild appearance as if your aquarium is swept in during a flood or you have just mot make you aquarium clean from the past couple of years.

If you are looking for a jungle experience or want to make your aquarium like a sea jungle then you should consider floating leaves or plants as they give the proper look for the sea jungle.

The biggest challenge for you in this aquascaping is the lights. As you know plants tend to grow bigger in a certain light, and as a result of that, they can overflow all the other plants as well and can create real chaos for sure.

They can easily overshadow one another by growing thinkers and larger than before.

For this solution, you will need plants that are trimmed or you will have to trim your plants so they can be in their smaller size when you plant them in the aquarium.

They are grown slowly so at the time you will thinking to take them out and plan others they will be grown to their normal size and then you can put them for a year or two in the aquarium so they can buy you some time and cause you some lease money on the aquascaping.

The second challenge you will be facing in this environment is how to give nutrition to the plants if you have a light fish population.

Normally, you will be having a lot of fish but if you are low on cash then sometimes the population of fish decreases and that’s why the nutrition of the plants that are coming from the fishes is coming in low form.

There is a solution for making plants get more nutrition even you have a light amount of fishes, you can get a CO2 reactor which will help you in giving all the carbon dioxide the plants need and will keep them fresh for a long time.

Dutch Aquascaping:

This design is the most popular design of all the aqua scaping designs as it is called the dutch aqua scaping design.

If you are an outdoor designer or a gardener then you will notice why this design is so much popular among all the designs.

While all the other aquascape designs such as Biome, Amano, and jungle are mimics to nature, this design is like beauty in the water as it is the perfect design or it is also called the garden. The design is tidy, well maintained, and organized if you see through it.

If you are thinking of plants, whether you put some randoms or not then you will be amazed to see that all the plants in this design are central focussed.

The most important thing about this design is to choose the plants that are familiar in aesthetics to each other and can work together with each other.

The preferences of the design are most likely to be the aquatic plants that will improve the overall look for your aquarium, and most of all the contrast and form of the plants are very important.

If you look into the contrasting of the colors like red versus green, leaf textures like fine versus broad, size contrast, and more impacts that come with the plants, all these things make the dutch aquascapes so great and this design relies on these attributes.

You can use driftwood and rocks in this design as well but it is your choice because they are not as showy as in the other designs they are used to.

If you see in this design then you see that most of the population of almost 70% of the aquarium substrates are covered by plants.

Even you are having an open water zone, creeping or carpeting plants coats, they are all the substrates that you will need to design the dutch aquascapes.

Hence, all the substrates are meant to be covered but it does not mean that it needs to be aesthetically pleasing as in other styles or designs.

But if you want to make it look like dutch then it should support the robust plant life.

If you do not know this and you are going with the dutch then you should know that this design will work when you will keep it maintained and it has the highest requirements for maintenance.

If you want to keep the plants fresh and healthy then you probably have to keep the maintenance in check and for this, you will need to check regular pruning, water testing, and fertilization.

If you want to put carbon dioxide in the water for your plats to breathe then you will probably have to install the CO2 reactor in your aquarium as well.

If you are thinking about the fishes then they tend to be fish heavy as all the waste material is the source for the plant’s fertilization and can end up as food for the plants.

As if you do not know which types of fish refer to this aquascapes design then we should tell you that Discus, Corydoras, and Cardinal Tetras are the best choice for this habitat.

Nature Amano Aquascaping:

Nature Amano Aquascaping

Nature aquascaping design is not much older, it only came into being in the ’90s and took 90’s by storm as Takashi Amano first introduced this aquascaping design to the world by starting its own aquarium shop.

If you look into the nature aquascape design you will see that this design is all for nature and is usually as nature’s call.

The style continues to copy the Japanese gardening skills and is famous for its stem gardening. The philosophies behind this design are more than Japanese, it is an ancient gardening skill that most of the Japanese used in their gardening and still now used.

The design refers to the Wabi-Sabi as this is a major aesthetic principle that is referring to the transcience, asymmetry, imperfection, and recognizing natural process.

If you look into the nature aquascapes then you will probably see that it might have the substrate piled up drastically to one side to mimic a riverbank.

If you look into some common designs then you will find that it includes a rock canyon with bonsai which is coming from the walls made from driftwood and java moss.

If you look into this aquascaping then you will see that fish and plants are the most important thing for this design but as they are important the other aesthetics are important as well.

With that said, you will be thinking that there will no space for the fishes or some things that you have to put in extra, then we should tell you that there is a lot of space even you design heavily planted nature aquascapes.

You can put many different designs that you love to put as the fish will be drifting through canyons and caves and plants that they tend to go towards.

If you look at this design in terms of maintenance this design is the easiest to maintain and it is all thanks to the light bioload of these minimalist aquariums. As they are easy to clean and can be fertilized as well.

Iwagumi Aquascaping:

This is another example of nature aquascaping as this design is very familiar to the above design and its special focus is on the substrates and rocks.

The design prefers and gives attention to the large anchor rocks. As the name, Iwagumi is a Japanese name and is also called rock formation.

If we talk about rocks then we should start with Oyaishi, as this rock is a keystone rock that should not be placed centrally in the aquarium as it shows imperfection to nature itself.

If you look into the second spot stone that we will be talking about then its name is Soeishi, these stones are not large as Oyaishi.

If we look at the stone that is suitable for the aquarium then it is called Fujseki and this stone scattered across the bottom in a manner naturally yet it is aesthetically pleasing as well.

However, all the non-symmetry designs and off-center designs are aesthetically common to all aquariums and aquascaping styles that refer to nature.

If you see through this design then you will see that this design is even more minimal than nature style, usually, if you see then you will notice that only one species of fish and plants can cover this habitat in the tank.

If you are looking for a match that will make a great contrast to the visible substrate and large rocks then you should go for Dwarf hair grass and Vallisneria that will make a good contrast to your tank.

If you looking for the fish species for the rock arrangements then Cherry Barbs or Endler’s livebearers are the best choices for this.

As if you are concern with this then you can add cherry or bee to your tank collection as they can finish off your tank collection.

If you look at the size of the tank for Iwagumi Aquascaping then even in a 50+ gallon tank you can only put 12 tiny fishes.

In Iwagumi Aquascaping, rocks matter the most than the fish, you should choose your rocks to make the design successful as the fishes can be a minimal option for you for this habitat.

As for the best rock for this habitat, it is the Seiryu blue dragon stone as this stone is traditionally used for Iwagumi Aquascapes.

They have a complex, texture experience, as these stones are the best for this habitat and have grain and exterior fractures that make this stone the ideal showpiece and it can be put at the center of the tank as well.

Driftwood can be used as well but it should be smaller pieces so it does not overshadow the other stones in the tank.

Biotope Aquascaping:

Biotope Aquascaping

Biotope is also called Biomes Aquascaping, which is the most diverse style. These aquarium styles refer to the environments found in nature, down top plant and fish species choices.

This habitat refers to perform some research on what fish or plant is suitable for this Aquascapes as in today’s time, many species of plants can be found in the world that is suitable for this habitat.

If you want to find fishes that are suitable for this habitat as well as the plants that are suitable for this habitat then you will have to make your research more deeply.

Fish and plants that have the same qualities have the same water temperature, the same in terms of pH, and many other factors as well.

This Aquascapes has also inherited some elements from the other aquascapes as well like jungle and nature and these two designs have more inherited in the design of Biomes. It also tends to be like a garden as in dutch but it is more like a chaos garden.

The environment you want to create with this design is on your hands whether you want to make it strict or easy.

If you put some rocks and substrates that are replicating the other habitats then it might be more aesthetically pleasing and can be a better choice for you and for the ecosystem.

If we give you an example on this then it would be of rift lake cichlid biome aquascapes, if you create this using some materials like gravel and rocks with minimal plant growth, so the result would be a more accurate environment.

Specifically, if you choose limestone and dolomite for this environment, it can be a better choice as well and can help you buffer the water chemistry towards alkaline, most fish prefer this environment as well.

Walstad Aquascaping:

This design was written in a book that was produced by Diana Walstad and the book’s name was Ecology of Planted Aquarium.

If we compare all the designs then this design is more of a designable aquascape and less of the aesthetic philosophy has been used in it.

Furthermore, it does prefer filtration, water changes, and additives more than putting some more beauty in the environment.

Only the thing you have to do is to keep your food in check, see that light and heat are provided, and mostly keep the plants trim. You should also keep the tank topped off.

The key to maintain this design is through the soil.

In Walstad aquascaping, the fish population should be kept low but not so low because you will have to provide CO2 and nutrition to the plants.

The main purpose of this environment is the plants and the rapid slowly growing plant species is the aid of this process.

Aquascaping Materials You Should Consider:

Aquascaping Materials You Should Consider

If you are building an aquascape by yourself and just thinking of the familiar aquascaping designs then knowing the proper material and the required materials to finish the final project.

You should keep a check on all the accessories, substrates, organisms that you need to make your Aquascaping aquarium.


We hope that you have understood all the types of aquascapes. Just to give a heads up you should first follow these aquascapes.

So you can learn how to create one of your own and you should do more research on plants and fish and what habitat every plant and fish species prefer.

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