3 Types of Planted Aquariums to Inspire Your Next Tank Build
Did you know that a planted aquarium can be more than just adding aquatic plants into a fish tank? There are even a handful of different layout styles and techniques that can make one planted aquarium really stand out from another. Each style adds that special touch to the aquarium. Let’s take you through three easy-to-build aquascapes.
Iwagumi Style Aquarium
We’ll start with the Iwagumi type of aquascaping. The Japanese term “Iwagumi,” which means “rock formation,” refers to a plant aquarium that has only rocks or stones as the hardscape. This type of aquarium is distinctive and eye-catching because it doesn’t contain any decorations such as driftwood.
Aquarium plants are not the main focal point in an Iwagumi aquarium. The focus should be a group of well-placed stones of varying sizes. Traditionally, only three stones are used in an Iwagumi style aquarium. However, it is acceptable to use as many stones as you like to achieve the desired look. To create an Iwagumi aquascape, you can use a variety of sizes and follow the rule of thirds. Assume the tank is divided in three parts. Place one of the largest stones towards the left or right and leave the remainder open. You can arrange medium-sized stones and smaller stones around your tank in the most pleasing way. A trick many aquascapers use to achieve a dramatic-looking Iwagumi layout is by using a deep substrate bed. It adds height to the substrate and gives it visual depth. The stones will appear more dramatic than in nature by being slopped.
Iwagumi layouts tend to be planted with shorter, carpeting species of plants. However, taller species may be used towards the back of the aquarium to add interest. Plants such as dwarf hairgrass and micranthemum Monte Carlo”, dwarf baby tear, pearl weed and dwarf chain sword can be used in the back and front of the aquarium. You can add dwarf sagittaria and Cryptocoryne-lucens or vallisneria to the back to give the tank some height. An Iwagumi-style aquarium is a wonderful place to keep shrimp and small schooling fish. Consider fish that aren’t too shy and don’t mind lots of open water. The aquarium will be visually interesting if you have enough rasbora species, such as chili rasboras or harlequin rasboras.
Nature or Natural Aquarium
If you’ve heard of any aquascaping style at all, it may be a “nature aquarium” that first comes to mind. The term “nature aquarium” is used liberally in the community and even predates the term “aquascaping” as a household word. The term “nature aquarium” refers to a planted aquarium in which wood, rocks, and other natural materials are combined with plants to create an environment that is similar to nature. This is different from a biotope aquarium (accurate simulation of a natural ecosystem), as the purpose of creating a nature aquarium is to loosely recreate natural sceneries both above and below water.
Anybody can make a nature aquarium. The rules are not rigid and aquascapers can create a natural setting that suits their needs. You should use natural materials to create a nature-inspired aquarium. You can enhance visual appeal by choosing stones and driftwood with complementary colors. You won’t find brightly colored or artificial substrate in a nature aquarium.
You can use any combination of plants to create greenery. So choose your favorite. Placing shorter plants towards the front of the aquarium, medium-height plants in the middle, and tall plants in the back will create a sense of depth. Regular trimming and maintenance is necessary to keep your hardscape looking great. The plants should complement and not overshadow your wood pieces and stones.
Small schooling fish can enhance a nature aquarium’s beauty by adding movement and scale. The details in a nature aquarium landscape look larger than life because they are smaller.
Jungle Style Tank
The principles of the jungle aquarium are similar to those of the nature aquarium. This aquarium is easy to create. This aquarium is designed to look like an underwater jungle. Similar to the nature aquarium, there is no set way to create this type of planted aquarium. It is possible to use any combination of plants. However, the goal is for them to be as dense as possible and still maintain an attractive aquarium. The goal of jungle aquascaping, once the aquarium is established, is to have minimal hardscape visible. The focus is on the plants.
Despite how beautiful it might appear, visual appeal can still be maintained by regular maintenance. Faster growing plants should be trimmed back to match the growth of slower growing plants. It wouldn’t be ideal to have one species take over the whole tank. Fertilizer, both liquid and root feeding, as well as sufficient lighting are essential for this type of aquarium to achieve the densest plant growth possible. Remember to fertilize regularly.
It’s fun to create a jungle aquarium by choosing plants that complement each other with different textures and colors. The possibilities are limitless. For example, planting vallisneria next to water sprite or bacopa will create a visual contrast, as their leaf textures are very different. Using a mix of anubias, java fern, and moss in the middle or midground of the tank creates textural contrast as well. You could also have pearl weed next Cryptocoryne fern, which has different colors and textures.
There are many options for fish. This type of aquarium is ideal for fish. The dense plant growth mimics natural vegetation and creates plenty of dark, comfortable areas for fish to hide. A jungle aquarium should have more colorful fish than the rest.
You can create a planted aquarium in many ways. If you don’t know what to do with your empty aquarium, an Iwagumi or nature aquarium might be a good option. You can also combine different styles to create your own design. The most important part of creating a planted aquarium is to enjoy it, both the process and the final product.
You can find more information about planted aquariums in our library of articles. These articles cover fertilizers, live aquatic plants and other topics.