What is Aquascaping? 4 Great Aquascape Ideas for Beginners

Aquascaping, a new hobby that’s equal parts gardening, creativity and aquarium caretaking. Aquascaping brings a bit of nature from rivers and streams indoors. Beyond hobby, it provides a bit of serenity for a living space and a beautiful habitat for our beloved fish. In this article, we introduce four major styles of aquascaping. Nature Aquarium, Dutch Aquascaping, Iwagumi and Jungle Aquascaping.

Each style has its own unique requirements and characteristics. Each offers a different appeal. Ready to jump into this gorgeous craft and get started on an aquatic adventure? Let’s begin!

1. Nature Aquarium

Nature Aquascape

Nature Aquarium. A concept introduced and by Takashi Amano, the world-renowned Japanese aquarist. It is a style that attempts to replicate nature. It’s a harmonious aquatic garden that is tranquil and awe-inspiring. Its a journey that allows you to bring a piece of the wild into the comfort of your indoor environment.

Philosophy Behind Nature Aquarium

At the very core, the Nature Aquarium embodies nature. Balanced and self-sustaining within the aquarium. Achieved by careful selection of plants and fish that coexist harmonious. The goal of a nature aquarium is to preserve and appreciate the innate beauty of nature. You’re on a mission to cultivate for yourself a piece of living art. ​

Plant Selection for Nature Aquarium

Embarking on the Nature Aquarium path demands a keen eye for selecting the right mix of plants. Here’s a glimpse of some plants that thrive well in this setup:

  1. Java Moss (Taxiphyllum Barbieri): A hardy plant that’s easy to care for, making it a fantastic choice for beginners. Its lush green foliage provides excellent cover for fish and also aids in keeping the water clean.
  2. Amazon Sword (Echinodorus grisebachii): Known for its broad leaves, this plant adds a touch of drama and height to your aquascape. It’s also relatively easy to maintain.
  3. Dwarf Hairgrass (Eleocharis Parvula): This is a carpeting plant that gives your aquarium a well-manicured grassy bed, mimicking a natural underwater meadow.

Nano Fish Selection for Nature Aquarium

What is aquascaping without the gentle swish of fins amidst the greenery? Choosing the right fish is crucial for maintaining a balanced, harmonious environment. Here are some nano fish suggestions:

  1. Neon Tetras (Paracheirodon innesi): Their vibrant colors and peaceful nature make them a perfect choice for a Nature Aquarium.
  2. Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha): Known for their playful demeanor and ease of care, they add a dash of activity and color.
  3. Chili Rasboras (Boraras brigittae): These tiny, vibrant fish are not only visually pleasing but also gentle on the plants.

Craft Your Own Nature Aquascape

As you step into the realm of aquascaping with a Nature Aquarium, you are about to embark on a journey of endless creativity and learning. The marriage of the right plants with compatible fish breeds will yield a thriving, captivating aquatic garden. Start with a clear vision, sketch your layout, and patiently watch as your underwater haven unfolds with time. Remember, a well-crafted Nature Aquarium is more than a decoration; it’s a living tapestry that resonates with the calming whispers of nature, offering a daily dose of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of modern living.

This aquascape design is just the tip of the iceberg. As you delve deeper, you’ll discover a myriad of styles each with its own unique charm and challenges. Happy aquascaping!

2. Dutch Aquascaping

Dutch Aquascape
Dutch Aquascape

Dutch Aquascaping, emanating from the Netherlands, is akin to painting a lively picture but with plants instead of paint. This style is all about creating a visually stunning underwater garden that boasts a rich variety of plant species. Unlike the Nature Aquarium, which seeks to mimic natural landscapes, Dutch Aquascaping is more about showcasing a well-structured, vibrant, and densely planted aquarium.

The Colorful Legacy of Dutch Aquascaping

Dutch Aquascaping has its roots deeply embedded in the horticultural prowess of the Netherlands. This tradition emphasizes the aesthetic appeal of lush, colorful, and well-pruned aquatic plants arranged in distinct terraces or clusters. The result is an enthralling display of colors and textures, creating an aquascape that is both orderly and captivating.

Plant Selection for Dutch Aquascaping

A successful Dutch Aquascape hinges on a diverse selection of healthy, colorful, and vibrant plants. Here are some plant suggestions:

  1. Cryptocoryne wendtii: This plant comes in various color morphs, adding a delightful splash of green or red to your aquascape.
  2. Rotala Rotundifolia: Known for its beautiful red and orange hues, it’s a plant that adds depth and color contrast.
  3. Ludwigia repens: This fast-growing plant sports green and red leaves, making it a stunning choice for creating color contrast.

Nano Fish Selection for Dutch Aquascaping

In Dutch Aquascapes, fish usually take a backseat to plants. However, adding a dash of delicate swimmers can accentuate the beauty of your plant canvas. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Guppy (Poecilia reticulata): Their vivid coloration and graceful swimming make them a delightful addition.
  2. Endler’s Livebearer (Poecilia wingei): Similar to guppies in appearance but with unique color patterns, they complement the vibrant hues of a Dutch Aquascape.
  3. Cardinal Tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodi): Their bright blue and red stripes provide a beautiful contrast against the green foliage.

Creating Your Dutch Masterpiece

Embarking on the Dutch Aquascaping venture invites you to a world where every plant is a stroke of color on your aquatic canvas. Plan your layout meticulously, select a diverse range of plants, and adhere to a regular maintenance routine to ensure your underwater garden thrives. The joy of Dutch Aquascaping lies in watching a barren tank evolve into a bustling, colorful underwater garden over time.

As you nurture your Dutch Aquascape, you’ll discover the joy of tending to a living piece of art. Every pruning session, every new leaf, and every fish adds a new dimension to your underwater masterpiece. With patience and creativity, you’ll have a lush, vibrant aquatic garden that not only enlivens your space but also nurtures a love for the intricate beauty of aquatic flora.

3. Iwagumi Aquascaping

Iwaguni Aquascape

The Iwagumi Aquascape, a Japanese style of aquascaping, epitomizes the beauty of minimalism and adherence to natural aesthetics. This style of aquascaping hinges on simplicity and the subtle art of stone arrangement to create an aquatic layout that’s both serene and balanced. The ethos of Iwagumi Aquascaping mirrors the broader Japanese philosophy of appreciating the innate beauty of nature with minimal human intervention.

The Zen of Iwagumi

The term “Iwagumi” translates to “rock formation,” underscoring the critical role rocks play in this aquascaping style. What is aquascaping without the tranquility and beauty of an Iwagumi layout? The concept revolves around using odd numbers of carefully selected rocks as the principal components of the design. Typically, a central, larger stone known as the “Oyaishi” is accompanied by smaller stones, each with a specific role in maintaining balance and guiding the viewer’s eye through the scape.

Plant Selection for Iwagumi Aquascaping

Plant selection in Iwagumi Aquascaping leans towards simplicity to complement the stone layout. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Eleocharis parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass): This plant creates a lush carpet effect, resembling a well-manicured lawn, bringing a soft contrast to the rigid rock formations.
  2. Hemianthus Callitrichoides (Cuba): Known for its small, round leaves, Cuba creates a dense carpet that adds a touch of green elegance.
  3. Micranthemum ‘Monte Carlo’: With its ability to form beautiful bright green carpets, it’s another excellent choice for Iwagumi Aquascaping.

Nano Fish Selection for Iwagumi Aquascaping

The minimalist nature of Iwagumi Aquascaping offers a vast playground for small, lively fish. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Celestial Pearl Danios (Danio margaritatus): Their small size and vibrant colors complement the simplistic elegance of an Iwagumi setup.
  2. Ember Tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae): Their fiery appearance adds a dash of color against the calming green and grey backdrop.
  3. White Cloud Mountain Minnows (Tanichthys albonubes): Their peaceful demeanor and sleek appearance harmonize with the serene ambiance of Iwagumi Aquascaping.

Crafting a Serene Iwagumi Escape

Embarking on the Iwagumi Aquascaping path is akin to embracing a meditative practice. The meticulous selection and arrangement of rocks, coupled with a simplistic plant selection, beckon a sense of tranquility into your space. What is aquascaping if not a venture into creating a peaceful haven that echoes the essence of natural beauty? As you tend to your Iwagumi aquascape, you’ll find the simplicity and elegance unfolding into a calming, beautiful aquatic retreat, providing a slice of zen in your daily life.

4. Jungle Aquascaping

Jungle Aquascape
Jungle Aquascape

The Jungle Aquascape is a whimsical venture into the lush, untamed greenery reminiscent of a tropical forest. Unlike the structured elegance of Dutch or the serene minimalism of Iwagumi, Jungle Aquascaping celebrates the wild, natural growth of aquatic flora. When one explores the query – what is aquascaping, the diverse nature of Jungle Aquascaping embodies the boundless creativity and vibrant life that defines this art.

The Wilderness Appeal of Jungle Aquascaping

The essence of Jungle Aquascaping is to create a lush, thriving, and somewhat chaotic aquatic environment that mirrors the abundance of a tropical jungle. The layered greenery, varying textures, and a cacophony of colors bring forth a vivacious yet soothing escape right in your living space.

Stone and Plant Selection for Jungle Aquascaping

While plants are the stars of a Jungle Aquascape, incorporating stones can add a unique structural element to the wild foliage.

Stone Suggestions:

  1. Dragon Stone: Known for its rugged appearance and intriguing textures, Dragon Stone complements the wild nature of Jungle Aquascapes.
  2. Seiryu Stone: With its sharp, dramatic edges and dark tones, Seiryu Stones add an element of depth and contrast against the greenery.
  3. Ohko Stone: Also known as Dragon Stone, its craggy surface and warm tones create a natural-looking hardscape amidst a jungle setting.

Plant Suggestions:

  1. Amazon Sword (Echinodorus grisebachii): This robust plant with its tall, broad leaves, adds height and a dense foliage characteristic of a jungle.
  2. Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus): Its ability to grow in various conditions and its lush appearance make it a staple in Jungle Aquascaping.
  3. Anubias: With their broad, dark-green leaves, Anubias species contribute to the dense, varied texture of a jungle layout.

Nano Fish Selection for Jungle Aquascaping

The dense foliage of Jungle Aquascaping provides a haven for a variety of small, agile fish.

  1. Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila): Their iridescent appearance and gentle nature make them a perfect choice for a jungle setup.
  2. Zebra Danios (Danio rerio): Their active swimming will add a dynamic element to the tranquil greenery.
  3. Pygmy Corydoras (Corydoras pygmaeus): These bottom dwellers will love foraging among the dense plantations, adding a sense of layered life within your jungle.

Cultivating Your Personal Jungle Retreat

What is aquascaping without the freedom to cultivate and nurture a slice of wilderness in your abode? Jungle Aquascaping is an open canvas for fostering a vibrant ecosystem that not only mesmerizes the onlooker but also provides a rich habitat for aquatic life. As the thick foliage gently sways with the water current and the fish dart in and out of the shadows, you’ll realize that you’ve not just created an aquarium, but a living, breathing slice of nature.

Through the lens of Jungle Aquascaping, the question, “what is aquascaping” gets answered with a rich tapestry of life, color, and untamed nature. So, as you venture into this wild aspect of aquascaping, embrace the chaos, the growth, and the lush tranquility your personal jungle will unfold.

Immersing in Nature’s Embrace through Aquascaping

As we ventured into the riveting world of aquascaping, we explored its diverse vistas from the structured elegance of Dutch Aquascaping, the minimalist charm of Iwagumi, to the wild, lush allure of Jungle Aquascaping. Each style illustrated a unique facet of this enchanting hobby, revealing the essence of what is aquascaping. It’s about crafting a snippet of nature, nurturing it, and reveling in the tranquility it unfurls in our living spaces.

What is aquascaping but a harmonious meld of creativity and nature’s splendor? It’s a canvas where every plant, stone, and fish contribute to a living tableau, resonating with the soothing whispers of nature. Whether you’re an adept aquascapist or a budding enthusiast, each aquascape is a journey towards creating a serene, natural haven amidst the urban hustle.

The beauty of aquascaping lies in its ability to evolve with every tender care, burgeoning into a lush aquatic garden or a serene stone landscape, portraying the serene beauty and boundless creativity inherent in this artform.

As you delve deeper into the realm of aquascaping, each water garden you cultivate is not just a visual delight, but a nurturing retreat, a learning experience, and a humble ode to nature’s profound beauty. The world of aquascaping beckons with its promise of tranquility, aesthetic gratification, and a deeper communion with the natural world. As we conclude our voyage into the heart of aquascaping, the journey echoes the enchanting whisper of nature, inviting you to explore, nurture, and cherish the peaceful embrace of aquatic artistry.

Chad Latta
Chad Latta

I have over 20 years in the aquarium hobby! My love for writing and passion for helping people have led me to bring you the most effective and up to date information possible, in a way that is easy to understand. Enjoy!