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 adds that special touch to the aquarium. Let’s take a look at three different types of easy-to-build aquascapes to help inspire your next planted tank.
Iwagumi Style Aquarium
The first style that we will cover is the Iwagumi style of aquascaping. “Iwagumi” is a Japanese word that translates as “rock formation,” and it refers to a planted aquarium which contains only stones or rocks as hardscape. Driftwood and other decor are not used in this type of aquarium, which makes it unique and eye-catching.
The main focal point of an Iwagumi style aquarium is not the aquarium plants. The focus should be a group of well-placed stones of varying sizes. Traditionally, only three stones are used in an Iwagumi style aquarium. To achieve the desired look, you can use as many as you wish. You can create an Iwagumi Aquascape by following the rule to 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. 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. By sloping the substrate, it adds height and visual depth, making the stones appear more dramatic as they would in nature.
Typically, Iwagumi layouts are planted with short, carpeting plant species. 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. Add dwarf sagittaria, Cryptocoryne lucens, or even vallisneria in the back if you’re looking to add some height to the tank. An Iwagumi-style aquarium is a wonderful place to keep shrimp and small schooling fish. 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
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. It doesn’t have too many specific rules and it’s up to the aquascapers to create their own ideas of a setting in nature that appeals to them. Natural materials are best for creating a nature 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.
For greenery, any combination of plants may be used, so choose your favorites. Place shorter plants at the front, medium-height plants in middle and taller plants in back to create depth. Your hardscape should be maintained and trimmed regularly to ensure that it makes an impact. Your stones and wood pieces should be complemented by the plants, but not overshadowed.
Adding small schooling fish in a nature aquarium can really enhance it even further by adding an element of movement, as well as a sense of scale. A nature aquarium landscape that is smaller than life looks larger thanks to the presence of smaller fish.
Jungle Style Tank
The jungle aquarium is based on the same principles as the natural aquarium. Creating this type of aquarium is relatively self-explanatory. The objective is to create an underwater jungle aesthetic. Much like the nature aquarium, there aren’t very many rules for achieving 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. Another goal of jungle aquascaping is for little hardscape to be visible once the aquarium has begun to grow in. The plants are the main focus.
Regular maintenance is necessary to maintain visual appeal, despite how it may appear. Slower-growing plants should be pruned to keep up with their slower growth. It wouldn’t be ideal to have one species take over the whole tank. For this aquarium to have the best plant growth, it is important to use both liquid and root fertilizer. 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. For example, planting vallisneria next to water sprite or bacopa will create a visual contrast, as their leaf textures are very different. Textural contrast can also be created by using a mixture of anubias and java ferns with moss in either the middle or the midground of the tank. 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.
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. Enjoy the entire process of creating a plant aquarium.
Check out our article library for more information about planted aquariums. It includes articles on live aquatic plants, fertilizers and algae control.