Styles of Aquascaping

Styles of Aquascaping

John Hegstad

Aquascaping is the arrangement of plants, rocks, driftwood, and stones in an aquarium. Often in aquascaping the plants are the primary focus and small fish, like neon tetras, are there to provide scale and a bit of background interest. However, an addition of just a few plants in any aquarium improves the balance of the aquatic environment and lowers the stress within the fish community. Happy plants happy fish. 

When starting a planted tank it's important to consider filtration, CO2 levels for photosynthesis, flooring or substrate, fertilization, lighting and algae control.  An independent aquatics store near you should have the lighting and filter options you need. 

There are quite a few aquascaping styles out there, though 3 seem most popular:

The Dutch style focuses on lots of plants with different types of leaves (broadleaf, narrowleaf, reds and greens, etc.  This style uses terraces to provide layers and has almost no hardscaping.  The example photos below are from aquariumguide.com.

dutch style aquascaping

The Iwagumi style is quite popular these days and works off of the "rule of thirds" using stones. You can have 3 or more stones, but always an odd number and always with one larger stone that should be the focus.  These aquariums provide a simple, open, almost stark landscape and do sometimes use small fish for effect. 

Iwagumi Style aquascaping

In America, the "Jungle" style is also popular, because it is great for large tanks and allows for lots of plants.  Like the name suggests, these tanks are used to reflect rainforest-type jungles.

jungle style aquascaping

One final style worth mentioning is the Walstad style of aquascaping, which is designed to reflect an entirely natural environment. There's no organization or planning to where plants go - it's completely random. In this way it simulates for fish their own natural river or lake environment. 

Walstad aquascaping

If you're inspired to start your own underwater garden or add more plants to your current aquarium, you can check out our entire selection here.