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An article by Baron Lam
Aquascaping is an art in which an aquarium is decorated with aquatic plants, driftwood and stones in a tasteful way, while also providing a healthy and safe environment for the fish to thrive in. Whencreating an aquascape, there are many factors that need to be considered. My tips for creating a successful aquascape are as follows:
Look for inspiration
Inspiration is everywhere! There are plenty of resources online including photographs and videos of other people’s work that might inspire you, or you may even want to recreate. Aquascaping inspiration can also come from the natural world itself. You can explore mountains, lakes, beaches and other natural spaces: learn from nature, and incorporate what you learn into your aquascapes. You should also learn about basic composition and how to make a scape visually appealing.
The hardscape acts as the backbone of an aquascape. Normally, the hardscape is composed of rocks or wood, grouped together in a manner that grounds the layout and provides support for the plants, the highlight of most aquascapes. I like to create a sketch of what I want my aquascape to look like, and then hunt for materials that mimic my sketch. Starting off with a strong hardscape is key to the creation of an impactful aquascape.
Aquatic plants are beneficial in an aquarium, as they provide natural refuges for the tank’s inhabitants, oxygenate the water, absorb excess nutrients, and to some extent, control algae. Research your plants and choose plant species which complement each other. Be aware of the plants’ growth habits and be sure to start off with healthy plants, to better ensure success. I like touse Tropica plants, as they always arrive healthy and also give clear instructions on the requirements of each plant.
Substrate in your aquarium isn’t just for looks: it also fulfills several important purposes. Most importantly, the substrate in your tank is where a large portion of the beneficial bacteria – the nitrifying species of bacteria responsible for maintaining the efficiency of the nitrogen cycle – reside. Furthermore, the substrate provides a medium in which to root live plants, can help to buffer the water and maintain ideal parameters, and, in some cases, is an important part of aquatic species’ feeding habits.
Choosing the right aquarium light is essential, as the lighting unit employed can increase aquarium plant colouration, influence plant growth rates, and play a role in the presence of algae. I usually stick with reputable brands such as Fluval to provide my plants with suitable light levels and colour spectrum. I have had particularly good success with the new generation of Fluval Bluetooth-controlled LEDs, and have been able to grow every species of plant I’ve tried.
The injection of CO2 into an aquarium ensures that the most important nutrient for plants – carbon – is available to support vigorous, lush, vibrant growth. Although it is not always necessary, CO2 injection boosts plant growth rates up to tenfold, while improving their overall condition and helping to inhibit algae growth. CO2 injection is particularly important for carpeting and coloured plant species, and helps to achieve dense, bushy growth.
Filtration is a keyelement in a healthy planted aquarium, and overall tank cleanliness is one of the fundamentals for an algae-free tank. Set up your filter in a way that ensures good flow, and that organic waste and debris is circulated towards the filter intake in order to keep the tank cleaner and healthier. As a planted tank matures, the filter helps to break down waste and convert it into food for the plants.
Have fun and experiment!
Aquascaping has become a very popular hobby in the recent years. There is a lot to learn, and It can be frustrating at first, but the end result – a beautiful, harmonious aquarium with a striking aquascape and healthy, happy fish – is worth the effort. Experiment with different styles, try different layouts, and most importantly, have fun!
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