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 is unique and can add the extra dimension to your aquarium. Let’s take you through three easy-to-build aquascapes.
Iwagumi Style Aquarium
The first style that we will cover is the Iwagumi style 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.
An Iwagumi-style aquarium’s main focal point is not the aquarium plants. The focus should be a group of well-placed stones of varying sizes. Traditional Iwagumi aquariums only allowed three stones. 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. The tank can be divided into three parts. Place the largest stone to the right or left “third”, and leave the rest open. Place medium-sized stones around the tank in any way that you find most appealing. To achieve dramatic Iwagumi layouts, aquascapers often use a deep substrate. The substrate can be slopped to increase height and visual depth. This makes the stones look more dramatic than they would in natural settings.
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. 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. A great addition to an Iwagumi aquarium are shrimp and small schoolingfish. You should choose fish that are not shy and who don’t mind open water. Rasboras such as harlequin or chili rasboras and many killifish species like lampeye killifish will shoal nicely in large enough numbers, adding to the visual interest of the aquarium.
Nature or Natural Aquarium
You may have heard of any aquascaping style, but it might be a “nature aquarium”. The term “nature aquarium” is widely used in the community. It even predates the term aquascaping as a household term. 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.
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. You should use natural materials to create a nature-inspired aquarium. Consider choosing stones and driftwood that complement each other in color as this can add to visual appeal. The same goes for substrate choice; you won’t find artificial or brightly colored substrate as part of 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. Trim and maintain your plants regularly so that your hardscape still makes a visual impact. Your stones and wood pieces should be complemented by the plants, but not overshadowed.
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 aquarium is based on the same principles as the natural aquarium. It is fairly easy to make this aquarium. It is important to create an underwater jungle aesthetic. This type of aquarium is similar to a nature aquarium. There are no rules. Any combination of plants may be used, and the goal is to grow them as densely as possible while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing 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 is not ideal for one species of plant to dominate the entire aquarium. 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. Fertilize regularly.
Making a jungle aquarium is fun because you can choose plants of different textures and colors that will complement each other. The combinations are endless. You can plant vallisneria alongside water sprite and bacopa to create a visual contrast. Their leaf textures are quite different. Using a mix of anubias, java fern, and moss in the middle or midground of the tank creates textural contrast as well. Another example would be having pearl weed next to Cryptocoryne wendtii, as they display different colors and textures.
Fish have endless possibilities. This aquarium style is great for fish because it mimics nature’s dense plant growth and provides plenty of cover for them. A jungle aquarium should have more colorful fish than the rest.
There are so many options for creating a planted tank. So, if you aren’t sure what to do with that empty aquarium, try an Iwagumi, nature or jungle aquarium – or even combine styles to find your own unique 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.