The Aquatic Gazette

Aquascape | Why & How

In Aquascape Series on July 26, 2011 at 15:20

In our Aquascape Series, we have covered the introduction of aquascaping and the three most popular aquascaping styles of today; the Dutch, Nature Aquarium and Riparium styles. With our last edition of this series, we will now try to argue the case on why almost all aquarists should also be aquascapers.

In our conversations with aquarists who are not aquascapers, the common reason why they have not attempted, or ever consider aquascaping is because of the perceived level of difficulty behind it. In this article, we will prove that aquascaping does not have to be complicated or difficult, and anyone can do it.

click to view Takashi Amano

The primary reason to aquascape is because it does our fauna good. In the wild, freshwater aquatic fauna exist in an environment that has been aquascape by nature, dwelling in an astonishing variety and variation of flora, stones and driftwood.

The majority of fauna we have in our aquariums today are tank bred. And although they have never experienced life in nature, it can be observed that they do prefer an aquascaped aquarium rather than an empty one. Fauna in an aquascaped environment exhibit an interaction with the aquascape and most fauna have been observed to be more comfortable or stable, due to the security the aquascape provides.

Some aquarists do not want to start aquascaping because they do not like to care for plants or that they do not want the extra trouble to care for plants. For such an aquarist, aquascaping is still possible through the use of hardscape only. Hardscape primarily consists of rocks and wood, and an aquascape that only consists of these two elements will still provide an environment of security for your fauna. In fact, some fauna are more suited to a hardscape exclusively environment as compared to a planted one.

click to view ADG 60cm Hardscape film

Aquascaping does not have to be difficult, although it can be. For the aquarists that desires an effective, good-looking aquascape that does not require a high level of technical knowledge, a instant aquascape approach can be easily achieved.

An instant aquascape is one in which flora is bought from the LFS in its grown form and does not need to be planted in substrate. Some examples of such flora include the Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubias Nana and US Fissiden. When purchasing from the LFS, they often come attached to driftwood or rocks and if they don’t, are easily attached with cotton thread or fishing wire.

Using these flora, with a few branches of driftwood, an effective aquascape can be instantly created with reference to nature or the more complex aquascapes.

TAG Betta Tank | Instant Aquascaping

The success of an instant aquascape is therefore not on the flora type, but on your creativity and vision when deciding on the flora’s placement within your aquascape. To achieve a natural expression in your aquascape that will not feel artificial, it is essential to view and learn from nature or famous aquascapers like Takashi Amano. Multiple aquascaping forums and pictures of aquascaped tanks exist, and they are an invaluable resource for a new aquascaper.

Accomplishing a aquascape that is complex and elegant is very possible when just using the above mentioned flora. In fact, we feel that it can be as challenging as normal aquascaping techniques as the type of flora used is very limited. An effective design and vision will be needed to create an aquascape that is complex and well balanced.

click to view ADA Aquascapes

For those that are not interested in creating such an aquascape but would just like some flora for their aquariums, the purchase of flora such as the Java Fern and Anubias Nana will suffice. Purchase them tied to rocks or driftwood and place them in your desired location within the aquarium, it is so easy that a child can do it.

The Java Fern and Anubias Nana are also extremely hardy flora, able to survive in conditions that no other flora can. So you will not need to care for them, other than to carry out the usual aquarium maintenance that is already established for your fauna’s health.

click to view Anubias barteri var. nana
click to view Marimo Ball
click to view Microsorum pteropus | Java Fern

Another advantage of an instant aquascape is its simplicity in care. All flora that are used for an instant aquascape are hardy by nature, and the providence of CO2 or nutrients are not entirely necessary, although they will benefit from any addition.

These flora grow slowly and therefore do not require large amounts of CO2 or nutrients. CO2 that is already present in the water column and nutrients that result from the waste produced by fauna will be sufficient for their survival. Because they grow slowly, lighting is also not much of a concern and whatever lighting you have on your aquarium to view your fauna is usually sufficient. These flora have also been known to survive just based on ambient light, although we do not recommend that. The chance of an algae problem is also marginally lower since lighting levels can be low.

Day 2 of our Corydoras tank that was aquascaped by instant aquascaping

We hope that this article has inspired and encouraged all aquarists with a non-aquascaped aquarium to give aquascaping a shot. Just for your fauna’s sake, it is worth it, as they are now living in a natural environment and not a cold hard cell.

All the pictures in this articles are attached to other individual articles that will prove useful if you are new to aquascaping. Aquascaping is an art, and at times it may be frustrating, but enjoy the ride, because an aquascaped tank is worth it.

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