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Exploring the Art of Aquascaping: Inspiration, Tips, and Techniques for your aquarium

8 08, 2023

Exploring the Art of Aquascaping: Inspiration, Tips, and Techniques for your aquarium | Aquaforest 

Aquascaping tutorial for beginners – styles, tips, tricks, designs 

What is aquascaping?

Underwater garden? Beautiful landscape closed between aquariums walls? You might be shocked, but yes, that's possible. How?
Thanks to the art of creating aquarium arrangement. With the use of live plants and natural elements such as rocks or roots, everyone can have a piece of nature in their home. 

Probably every aquarium hobbyist associates aquascaping to freshwater aquariums. So, does that mean that fans of the marine world have no opportunity to try their hand at this art form? Not at all! But before we get tips and tricks to detail what aquascaping is and how to start a journey with this hobby, let’s talk a little bit about its origin.

Back in history…

So, how did aquascaping even begin?

Because of Japanese aquarist Takashi Amano. He is considered to be the greatest aquascaper at the end of the XX and beginning of the XXI centuries. He was inspired by Japanese gardens and was introducing its rules to aquaria. His arrangements were characterized by asymmetry, appropriate depth, and perspective. Master Amano, also called the “father of modern aquascaping”, was a reputable pioneer of many innovative aquascaping techniques for planting aquarium plants, as well as methods for attaching and constructing compositions using rocks, smaller rocks and wood.

Now let's discuss the basics step by step...

The most popular aquascaping styles in aquarium


Very popular and breathtaking style of arranging aquarium naturally.

Relies on using various types of plants to achieve diversity and color contrast. Plants are placed in a specific way to create 3D structures, giving the impression that the aquarium is full of life. That is why Dutch-style aquariums are called “underwater gardens.”

The Dutch setup requires big precision, patience, and creativity in designing and arranging plants. However, when the aquarium is well-balanced and executed according to the principles, it can become an aesthetic appeal and dynamic environment for healthy plants and fish that amazes with its charm and naturalness.


The natural style of aquascaping is a type of aquascape that aims to create a natural-looking underwater environment. 

It typically involves using a variety of plants, driftwood, rocks, and sand to create a natural habitat that looks as if it could be found in the wild. 

The plants are arranged in a way that mimics a natural growth patterns found in the wild. This creates a sense of depth and perspective, giving the aquarium a natural and organic look. The natural style of aquascaping can be challenging to achieve, but when carried out well, it can be a beautiful and extraordinary addition to any home or office.


Iwagumi plant tank is a minimalist style that focuses on simplicity and harmony. The most important element in Iwagumi aquascaping is the rock. The elements used in Iwagumi layouts are typically of different sizes and shapes, but they must harmonize and correlate with each other. A typical Iwagumi layout consists of at least three stones, including a larger “Father” stone and two or more secondary stones, as long as the total number of stones remains odd. The Iwagumi aquascape style aims to imitate natural landscapes by prioritizing simplicity and open space. The minimalist effect of an Iwagumi style is achieved by using a restricted range of colored plants and stones, and incorporating only a minimal number of flora and fauna in the tank.


The Jungle style aquarium reflects the natural, untamed appearance of the wild, as its name suggests. This style of aquarium does not need frequent trimming of plants, as they are allowed to grow naturally, creating a wild look. This style typically features numerous plant species, and are often arranged in a seemingly random fashion. The focus is on creating a dense and lush jungle-like atmosphere, with a mix of aquatic and terrestrial plants. Tropical aquascapes require less maintenance once they achieve a certain level of balance. Overall, the Jungle style is ideal for those who want to recreate a slice of nature within their own home.

See examples of freshwater aquascaping:

aquascaping 1

aquascaping tank

aquascaping aquarium


Aquascaping is the art of designing the live rocks and corals in a saltwater and reef aquarium. It is a goal to create a visually appealing and natural-looking underwater environment. Reef aquascaping involves arranging live rocks in a way that creates caves, ledges that provide shelter and hiding places for fish.  In addition, the arrangement of corals and lie rocks also helps to create a natural water flow pattern in the aquarium. This is important for the health of the tank inhabitants, as well as for maintaining water quality in the tank. This type requires careful planning and consideration of the types of corals and fish that will be housed in the tank. It is important to choose corals and fish that are compatible with each other and that require similar water parameters. 

Check out some brilliance designs: 

marine aquascaping

saltwater aquascaping



How to start aquascaping?

Once you have a good understanding of what you want to achieve, it’s time to plan your aquascape. Decide on the style, layout, and types of plants and fish you would like to include.  When you have your plan in place, it’s time to gather the necessary equipment. This can include tank, filter, lighting, substrate, and hardscape materials like rocks or driftwood. Make sure to choose equipment that is appropriate for the size of your tank and the needs of the plants and fish you plan to include.  To provide proper conditions in your aquarium, good preparation and adjustment of appropriate parameters will be necessary.


An issue that plays a crucial role in aquascaping is the type of substrate you will use. The best choice is that contain a large amount of organic matter, such as peat, clay or volcanic lava – such as AF Lava Soil or AF Natural Substrate. These products help maintain a well-being environment, support the growth of plant roots, and promote the development of beneficial bacteria and algae.


No natural style aquarium would be complete without aquatic plants. There are thousands of different plants to create a beautiful aquascapes available on the market, so it's critical to familiarize yourself with their requirements before purchasing and adjust them to the aquarium style and your skills. Here is the list of a few plants that are particularly popular: Shinnersia rivularis, Vallisneria gigantea, Eleocharis acicularis, Echinodorus. 


Driftwood is a popular choice in landscape aquariums – it provides a natural look to the arrangement. When choosing wood for water, it's important to make sure it has been properly processed to prevent the release of harmful substances and bacteria into the water.


Rocks are another popular choice in landscape aquariums, as they provide structure and texture. When it comes to placement of rocks, a significant aspect is to properly clean them before adding them to the tank – this will help prevent the spread of bacteria and algae.


Proper lighting is crucial for a successful landscape project. It not only provides the necessary light for plant growth, but also helps create an impressive look. It's also essential to consider the power and size of the lighting when purchasing. 


Filtration is crucial for the health of any aquarium, as it allows for the maintenance of water cleanliness and the removal of pollutants. There are many types of filters available on the market, so it’s important to choose one that is suitable for your tank.


Aquascaping is a form of art that requires continuous dedication and learning. Before beginning your adventure, keep in mind that each style is unique and requires different parameters and careful selection of elements to ensure your ecosystem functions properly.