How to Style Your Planted Aquarium

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It may surprise you, but crafting a beautiful aquascape for your fish tank can actually be an art.

Aquascaping is most easily defined as using fish, plants, or man-made decorations to create a beautiful little world inside your aquarium.

While many people style their aquariums after underwater areas, like seas or lakes, some attempt to make them look more like mountain or jungle landscapes.


There are many styles to choose from. The best way to figure out which type matches your preferences is to explore the different options and find which aesthetic is most pleasing to you.

Here we offer a few ideas to try out, with some insider tips to make them easier.

Aquascaping: Tips, Tricks, and What to Avoid

If you’ve set up an aquarium before, you may feel like you already know what you are doing. But because planted aquariums tend to have more vegetation than tropical aquariums, they have different challenges.

You will want to consider things like lighting, fertilizers, carbon dioxide and what kind of substrate you use.

If you want a lower maintenance aquarium, think carefully about the amount of plants you want and how much up-keep will be required, since of course a greater number of creatures mean a greater degree of effort.

All with a pay-off, of course, but half the fun of aquascaping is creating a custom-built world for yourself.

Don’t feel the need to over-do it right out the gate. If this is your first aquarium, start simple and work your way up to a more complicated style. There can be lots of beauty in simplicity.

live aquarium plants

Aquascaping Styles to Try

The Dutch Style

The Dutch have many lovely traditions around floral and plant arrangements, and those traditions are what influence the Dutch style of aquascaping.

This style is generally best suited for larger aquariums, so it’s the perfect choice for those with established tanks and a certain degree of experience.

Dutch aquascapes tend to be filled with rows of beautiful plants and they quickly become the focus for this type of design.

If you’ve ever glimpsed a picture of Holland’s landscape, covered in fields upon well-kept fields of gorgeous, colorful tulips, then you’re in the right mindset for this style.

If you want a challenge and enjoy tending to an aquatic garden, it may be the perfect fit for you.

The Nature Style

The Nature style was originally created by Takashi Amano. Amano wrote about freshwater aquascaping and founded his own aqua design company in 1982.

This style draws heavily from the influence of traditional Japanese gardens. The main goal is to create an ecosystem that has qualities that inspire feelings of harmony and tranquility.

This design will also require regular maintenance, but you should aim to keep the plants looking as natural as possible.


The use of stone and wood decorations are a great way to compliment this style.

It is suitable for a variety of aquarium sizes, so if you wish to explore something on a smaller scale, it’s a perfect start.

The Iwagumi Style

This style was also used by the famous Takashi Amano. Iwagumi roughly translates to “rock group” or “rock formation” because this variant focuses on the use of – you guessed it – rocks.

An odd number of stones are arranged in an artful way to create a sense of peace and tranquility.

The rocks can be leveraged to draw the eye to a centerpiece within the aquarium, such as a plan or man-made decoration.

Because rocks are the main ingredient for this design, you do not need a lot of plants, making it a good beginner’s style.

Mosses, short grasses, and smaller plants will fit the bill perfectly.

The Jungle Style

If you are looking for an aquascape style that does not require a lot of effort, this would be excellent. With the jungle style, you can allow plants to grow without regular trimming, until they reach the top of the water.

These kinds of aquascapes often have a wild and dense look to them, which reflects the jungles they were inspired by.

Additionally, when sprinkled with a few eels, they provide great hiding places for the creatures, and hours of visual entertainment for you.

The Walstad Style

The Walstad Method focuses less on aesthetics and more on creating a practical system where fish and plants each balance out the needs of the other.

The main feature is the soil under-layer, which creates a healthy place for plants to grow so they can prevent algae and manage any waste.

Once this system is in place and working well, the aquarium should require minimal water changing and very little maintenance compared to more involved designs.

Create Your Own Aquascaping Style

Aquascaping is a beautiful and complex hobby with instant visual pay-off.

When choosing your design, consider first the maintenance routine that’ll fit your lifestyle, and then as you become more experience and excited about the process, upgrade to more intricate designs.

Who says you have to stick with just one?

Here’s a video showing a step-by-step guide to a style of aquascaping.

What’s your favorite aquascaping style?

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