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by Akua Design 27 Jul 2021

What is Aquascaping?

Aquascaping consists of designing and planting an aquarium in order to create an aquatic landscape. It is mainly used to reproduce a natural and artistic state. The objective is to provide emotion to the viewer of the aquatic landscape. The aquascapeur in the same way as a landscaper for gardens, he anticipates and projects the future landscape, makes planting schemes as needed and according to his experience, creates his decor (in English "Hardscape") and thus determines the style of the bac that he would like to reproduce.

All the elements must be coherent, harmonious and well thought out:
- The type of plants and their arrangement in the aquarium.
- The floor of the tank on which an inert decoration will be integrated, such as roots, fossilized wood or rocks.

Each planted box becomes unique, the soil can be of variable color or appearance in order to bring out the colors of the plants (the use of black soil emphasizes the elements of colors), the relief ... Determine your choices of plants, location taking into account the evolution of each thing (growth, light needs ...).

There are currently three types of aquascaping with aquarium plants: Japanese, Dutch and "Wild jungle". These three techniques give rise to a multitude of variations and combinations.

 Japanese aquascaping:

This Aquasquaping technique is largely inspired by nature, a terrestrial landscape and the aquascapeur tries to recreate or interpret it in an aquarium. Takashi amano, a referent in the matter, describes 3 ways that you can use to aquascape your aquarium in a Japanese philosophy of nature: triadic, concave and island. The hardscape then takes on a capital importance in the creation of the aquatic landscape, the goal being to be able to take a photo representing its creation.
The main characteristics of this style of bin are:
- The significant use of rocks and roots, in order to recreate, for example, a forest or mountain atmosphere.
- The parsimonious use of red plants, to accentuate the natural aspect (the dominant color in the plant world being green).
- Failure to respect certain rules of the classic planted box: the three planes (bottom, intermediate plane, foreground) are not necessarily clearly established, the plants are not necessarily all grouped in beds, and these beds are not always pruned geometrically.

Here is an example of work done by Takashi amano:


aquascaping amano

 Another Japanese example:aquascaping style japonais

Dutch Aquascaping:

"Dutch" (or Dutch-style) aquascaping is a planted tank technique that forms a very well-maintained plant bed. the whole presents strict rules to be respected, and for several years, annual competitions have been organized to designate the most beautiful aquariums. For more information on how to create a Dutch aquarium certified to meet the requirements of this style, visit ...

Wild Jungle Aquascaping:

"Wild Jungle" aquascaping is a technique the master of which is certainly George Booth, which he describes admirably in his "Modern Aquascaping" seminar. It uses different textures and colors to achieve a feeling of wild harmony in the aquarium. Aquascapeurs that are good with this technique have a focal point in the aquarium and use different textures and colors around the focal point in order to push, attract the eye in different but very precise directions.

aquascaping style jungle


Example of a layout with a focal point:

A few main principles have been accepted to create a bin that is pleasant to look at, principles which remain general and subject to everyone's appreciation:
- Distribute the leaf shapes well so as not to create a mass effect while not giving the whole a too messy appearance.
- Use stem plants are a great way to sculpt your landscape.
- For smaller aquariums (below 200 liters) prefer species with fine foliage. It will make it look bigger than it actually is.
- Group the plants by species, do not disperse them: the effect will be better in groups. The creation of clumps of plants will have a much greater visual impact than a scattered plantation.
- Arrange the plants by creating levels in the tray, thus creating depth and allowing each plant to be seen better. For example, you can divide plants into three planes: foreground, midplane, and background. It seems logical to respect the natural heights of the plants, and therefore to distribute them in the three planes according to their adult sizes.
- You have to try to create a focal point in the tank or two at most. It is generally something pleasing to the eye, the place where the observer's gaze will be systematically drawn. It is ideal to place the "flagship" plant of the tank, for example a single red plant among predominantly green plants or a stone, a piece of wood, or a magnificent group of plants.
- Red plants in particular can help you give contrast to your landscape. However, if you have already chosen a stone to be your focal point, you could cloud your landscape, and your gaze again will be lost as you move from one point to another. - Avoid putting 2 types of decorative elements at the same time (for example: wood and rocks together, two types of different rocks), the decoration will appear more natural.
- Do not place the elements symmetrically and avoid even numbers to keep a natural effect. Prefer dissymmetries (2/3 - 1/3) and odd numbers of decorations (3-5-7 => respect for the golden ratio).
- Think carefully about the size of the final plantation when choosing the decorative elements.

  • The point of intersection of these two lines corresponds to the focal point (either to the right or to the left, depending on your convenience). It is also possible to have two focal points, as below.


The Golden ratio :

The golden number, golden section or divine proportion and other mystical names ... are denominations which designate an arithmetic ratio: the golden number. The latter is neither a measure, nor a dimension, it is a relationship between two homogeneous quantities allowing, in our case, an ideal visual effect and which omnipresent in nature and has been widely used in the most remarkable constructions.

To find the focal point of your aquarium, simply measure the length of your aquarium and divide that number by 2.618. Take this result and measure it on the aquarium, mark it, you got your part with the ratio 1, the rest of the length is the part whose ratio is 1.618. So this is the ideal location to have what you have chosen as the major element of your aquarium, the focal point. Of course, you do not have to use the golden ratio: a focal point can quite be at another place of the tank (for example towards the corners at the back - dixit Takashi Amano).

The hardscape

What we call the hardscape, that is to say the inert elements of the decor (wood, rock, gravel) tend to occupy an increasingly important place in modern aquascaping. However, this is a matter of personal taste and some will always prefer a decor made up entirely of plants.

On the other hand, it is undeniable that the use of rock or wood gives the planted aquarium both visual attachment points and a much more natural appearance.

It is also necessary that stones and pieces of wood are well chosen (favor the natural aspect) and homogeneous (absolutely avoid using several types of stones in the same landscape).

aquascaping hardscape



Sources: fishfish - aquafolie
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