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? A variety of layout options and techniques can be used to make a planted aquarium stand out. Each style is unique and can add the extra dimension to your 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. Driftwood and other decor are not used in this type of aquarium, which makes it unique and eye-catching.
Aquarium plants are not the main focal point in an Iwagumi aquarium. It should be a group well-placed stones of different sizes that is the focus of an Iwagumi aquarium. Traditionally, only three stones are used in an Iwagumi style aquarium. To achieve the desired look, you can use as many as you wish. Consider following the rule of thirds and using a few different sizes of stones to create an Iwagumi aquascape. The tank can be divided into three parts. Place the largest stone to the right or left “third”, and leave the rest open. You can arrange medium-sized stones and smaller stones around your tank in the most pleasing way. To achieve dramatic Iwagumi layouts, aquascapers often use a deep substrate. By sloping the substrate, it adds height and visual depth, making the stones appear more dramatic as they would in nature.
Iwagumi layouts tend to be planted with shorter, carpeting species of plants. For added interest, taller plants can be placed towards the back of your aquarium. You might consider using plants like dwarf hairgrass, Micranthemum “Monte Carlo”, dwarf baby tears and pearl weed in the aquarium’s front and center. If you want to increase the tank’s height, add dwarf sagittaria or Cryptocorynelucens to the back. Shrimp and small schooling fish are a great addition to an Iwagumi style aquarium. Fish that aren’t shy and won’t mind being in open water are a good choice. Harlequins or chili rasboras, as well as many killifish species such as lampeye killifish, will shoal well in large numbers. This adds to the aquarium’s visual appeal.
Nature or Natural Aquarium
It could be the first time you have heard of aquascaping. 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 than a biotope aquarium (accurate simulation a natural ecosystem), because the purpose of creating a Nature Aquarium is to loosely reproduce natural scenes, both above and beneath water.
Anyone can create a nature aquarium. There are no set rules, and the aquascapers can design a setting in natural settings that appeals to their hearts. To create a nature aquarium, you’ll want to use natural materials. Consider choosing stones and driftwood that complement each other in color as this can add to visual appeal. It doesn’t matter if the substrate is artificial or brightly colored.
You can use any combination of plants to create greenery. So choose your favorite. Place shorter plants at the front, medium-height plants in middle and taller plants in back to create depth. Trim and maintain your plants regularly so that your hardscape still makes a visual impact. 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 jungle style aquarium follows similar principles as the nature aquarium. This aquarium is easy to create. It is important to create an underwater jungle aesthetic. Much like the nature aquarium, there aren’t very many rules for achieving this type of planted aquarium. You can use any combination of plants. The goal is to have an aquarium that looks attractive and dense while still allowing them to grow as many as possible. One of the goals of jungle aquascaping involves minimizing hardscape once the aquarium has started to grow in. The focus is on the plants.
Contrary to how it may look, regular maintenance is still required to maintain visual appeal. To keep pace with slower-growing plants, faster growing plants should be cut back. It is not ideal for one species of plant to dominate the entire aquarium. This type of aquarium requires both liquid fertilizer and root feeding. You will need sufficient lighting to ensure that your plants grow as densely as possible. 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. Planting vallisneria near water sprite, bacopa, or other leaf textures will create a visual difference. Using a mix of anubias, java fern, and moss in the middle or midground of the tank creates textural contrast as well. A pearl weed would also be a good choice next to Cryptocoryne Wendtii. They have different textures and colors.
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. To make your jungle aquarium stand out, you might consider larger or more colorful fish.
There are so many options for creating a planted tank. 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. Enjoy the entire process of creating a plant aquarium.
You can find more information about planted aquariums in our library of articles. These articles cover fertilizers, live aquatic plants and other topics.