Aquascaping Basics


Aquascaping is the artistic arrangement of an aquarium environment to create an aesthetically pleasing outcome. Aquatic plants, rocks, coral reef and driftwood are strategically placed to form an underwater landscape or garden. Fish may or may not be included in the design. Aquascaping has become a valued craft among hobbyists.


The two basic styles of aquascaping are the Dutch style (the creation of a colorful garden) and Japanese or nature style (creating a miniature landscape). Both of these styles are traditionally freshwater systems. Saltwater aquascaping revolves around the making of an imitation coral reef (see Wapedia).


The Dutch aquarium is an older style of aquascaping that dates back to early 20th-century Holland. The nature style was pioneered by Japanese designer Takashi Amano in the 1990s. The Dutch are known for a long history of organized competitions for aquascape designs, and there are many organizations that continue to support the craft today.


Although the aim of aquascaping is to create an aesthetically pleasing environment, it should not be at the expense of the marine life introduced to the aquarium. The environmental needs of fish and other specimens are essential when planning the design of the aquarium.


An overgrowth of algae can quickly spoil the beauty of the aquascape. Floating plants and algae-eating specimens, such as snails, are good for keeping algae at bay.


All items for use in the aquascape design should be sanitized before they are placed in the tank. Also, the tank should be completely "cycled" before adding new items. "Cycling" the tank establishes the proper nitrate level for supporting life.


  • Aquatic Eden: Starting an Iwagumi Aquascape
  • Tropical Fish Information
  • Reef Sources: Biological Filtration

Who Can Help

  • Aquascaping Tips
  • Wapedia: Aquascaping
Keywords: marine life in aquascaping, aquascaping and aquariums, Takashi Amano, Dutch style aquascaping, Japanese style aquascaping

About this Author

Loraine Degraff has been a writer and educator since 1999. She recently began focusing on topics pertaining to health and environmental issues. She is published in "Healthy Life Place" and "Humdinger" and also writes for Suite101. Degraff holds a Master's degree in Communications Design from Pratt Institute.