3 Types of Planted Aquariums to Inspire your Next Tank Build


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 is unique and can add the extra dimension to your 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

We’ll start with the Iwagumi type 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.

The main focal point of an Iwagumi style aquarium is not the aquarium plants. It should be a group well-placed stones of different sizes that is the focus of an Iwagumi aquarium. In an Iwagumi-style aquarium, three stones are usually used. It is possible to use as many stones or as few as you want to create 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. You can arrange medium-sized stones and smaller stones around your tank in the most pleasing way. Many aquascapers use a deep substrate to create dramatic Iwagumi layouts. It adds height to the substrate and gives it visual depth. The stones will appear more dramatic than in nature by being slopped.

Iwagumi layouts tend to be planted with shorter, carpeting species of plants. To add interest, taller species can be planted towards the rear of the aquarium. Plants such as dwarf hairgrass and micranthemum Monte Carlo”, dwarf baby tear, pearl weed and dwarf chain sword can be used in the back and front of the aquarium. You can add dwarf sagittaria and Cryptocoryne-lucens or vallisneria to the back to give the tank some height. A great addition to an Iwagumi aquarium are shrimp and small schoolingfish. Fish that aren’t shy and won’t mind being in open water are a good choice. 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 used liberally in the community and even predates the term “aquascaping” as a household word. The style itself refers to a planted aquarium where wood, rocks and other natural materials are used along with plants to create an environment that mimics a setting in 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.

A nature aquarium can be created by anyone. 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. You won’t find brightly colored or artificial substrate in a nature aquarium.

Any combination of plants can be used to make greenery. 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. Regular trimming and maintenance is necessary to keep your hardscape looking great. The plants should complement and not overshadow your wood pieces and stones.

A nature aquarium can be enhanced by small schooling fish. This adds movement to the tank and gives it a sense scale. The details in a nature aquarium landscape look larger than life because they are smaller.

Jungle Style Tank

The jungle style aquarium follows similar principles as the nature aquarium. Creating this type of aquarium is relatively self-explanatory. This aquarium is designed to look like an underwater jungle. This type of aquarium is similar to a nature aquarium. There are no rules. You can use any combination of plants. The goal is to have an aquarium that looks attractive and dense while still allowing them to grow as many as possible. The goal of jungle aquascaping, once the aquarium is established, is to have minimal hardscape visible. The plants are the main focus.

Despite how beautiful it might appear, visual appeal can still be maintained by regular maintenance. To keep pace with slower-growing plants, faster growing plants should be cut back. 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.

The fun part of creating a jungle aquarium is choosing plants with different textures and colors to complement each other. The possibilities are limitless. Planting vallisneria near water sprite, bacopa, or other leaf textures will create a visual difference. Textural contrast is also created by placing a mixture of anubias, Java Fern, and moss in or near the tank’s middle or midground. You could also have pearl weed next Cryptocoryne fern, which has different colors and textures.

Fish have endless possibilities. This style of aquarium is very well suited for fish, as dense plant growth mimics nature and creates a lot of dark, comfortable places for fish to seek cover. A jungle aquarium should have more colorful fish than the rest.

There are many different ways to create a planted aquarium and the possibilities are truly endless – this is what makes it such an enjoyable project. 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.

For more information on planted aquariums, check out our library of articles that cover live aquatic plants, fertilizers, algae control, and more.