What Is Aquascaping?

Aquascaping involves underwater gardening, which includes techniques of decorating, setting up, and arranging a set of elements such as aquatic plants, driftwood, stones, or rocks so that it becomes aesthetically pleasing to a person’s perception.

Once you set up an aquarium at your home, it turns into your daily conversation and pride.

It will help you parade your creativity and imagination. When you keep fish, it is always more than just growing the fish, and the aquariums are not to display your interests in beauty and the fascinating species type of organisms.

Some aquarists prefer minimal or no decoration of their aquariums, especially those who have tanks for breeding.

However, a vast percentage of fish will not show their true colors and behavior in such bare aquariums that they usually feel exposed.

How to Start Aquascaping

Before you start Aquascaping there are factors that you need to consider. You must have a vast knowledge of Aquascaping.

This activity does not just involve the arrangement of these elements.

Aquascaping needs technical knowledge. The elements you are arranging needs creativity.

You need to ask yourself how creative you are. You need to be good imaginatively.

There are various aspects you need to look when you start Aquascaping;

Principles of in Aquascaping

Plants variety

The vast knowledge of different plants is important. But, you cannot be unique in Aquascaping and use one type of plant.

The ability to blend various types of plants gives you age over others.

Yes, keep it simple but using different varieties of plants. The best thought is to create a theme with various types of plants.

If you do not want a boring Aquascaping, then blend different types of plants.

Imagination can help you mix these types. The various good types of plants you can use are; dwarf baby tears, Rotala green, Christmas moss, needle leaf java fern, Anubias, and many more plants that can blend in well.

Simple setup

Again, you cannot overrule the power of simplicity. We advocate for the blending and mixing of plant varieties. But again, you do not need to overdo it. Too many plant varieties can be boring.

Your arrangement must have a taste. It must have less complexity. Do not blend very many different types of plants.

This becomes boring and people might not identify with your aquarium.


It is also very important to establish proportionality. The balance in your arrangement is attractive.

When it comes to elements, let them be planned to balance in the available space.

Your aquarium should be harmonious. No plant takes large spaces than the others. There should be a balance of space and the elements.

Balanced and uniform spaces should be considered.

You can avoid using only one kind of leaf plants. You can mix big and small leaf plants at the same time.

This helps save the spacing for other things.

Patience and persistence

This principle lacks in very many people. Aquascaping requires a lot of patience. Sometimes, you can complete your aquarium but you might not be satisfied with it. This needs reconstruction.

You might do this more than twice. The number of times you arrange does not matter.

Whatever matters is the end product. You should have the persistence to get an attractive end product. Remember, the reason for this arrangement is aesthetic.

Do you want to start Aquascaping? Do you know you need to choose from different styles? You cannot start Aquascaping without choosing a style.

Let us look at the various styles of Aquascaping;

There are four known styles you can use in Aquascaping. These styles are; jungle style, Dutch style, nature aquarium style, and Iwagumi style.

We shall briefly look at the three except the Iwagumi style which we shall discuss broadly in the subsequent piece.

Approaches and Styles of Aquascaping

Jungle style

This is a style that typically resembles the normal jungle. The jungle comprises of various plants that are untamed. It is made of scattered vegetation with less planned growth and arrangement.

As we know, the plants in the jungle are densely populated. They resemble plantation that has no care and maintenance.

You should bring out that thought perfectly.

This is not the hardest style to set up. However, the style always comes out attractive and real.

It is said to apply best for very many setups and for a very long time.


This is the oldest style in Aquascaping. It is named Dutch due to past use in the Netherlands.

This style brings out the arrangement of aquatic plants. This brings out the hard sense culture of aquatic plants in all varieties.

This means that Dutch Aquascaping does not involve hard materials. It does not involve rocks or stones.

It simply involves various types of aquatic plants. So this needs great knowledge about different types of aquatic plants.

This style strictly considers the color of these plants. It also needs different types of aquatic plants in terms of height.

You can also use the different texture of these aquatic plants to arrange. The commonly used method of arrangement is terracing.

Nature aquarium style

This is a unique style said to have come from China. This style is made to bring out the natural look of nature.

This style brings out the natural nature of the ground, soil, roots, rocks, plantation, and even plantation roots.

Talk about landscapes! This style shows the image of the natural world. This involves the forests, mountains, hills, and even valleys.

You can combine the rocks, stones, wood with aquatic plantation. So in simple terms, this is a combination of aquatic plants and hardscape materials.

Perspective Creation in Aquascaping

Sometimes the most crucial question in Aquascaping is, where will you place your aquarium?

Will you place it in the middle of the room or somewhere else? This is very important because of the background set up. The background has a very important part to play in Aquascaping.


A good aquarium must have a perfect background. The background can best be defined by the materials you use. Materials like wood, foliage, cork, or paint are good for this background.

Foreground to background balance

The hardest part of setting up this tank is finding the balance between the three grounds. The foreground, the middle ground, and the background are the major regions of any aquarium.

There are materials perfect for the foreground. These should include plants that grow on the low.

This will help bring out the depth in the tank. The middle ground is good with driftwood and stones.

The middle ground should portray higher grounds like hills. Finally, in the background, you can use wood and sticks.

Natural gravel

What are the plants you want to grow in the aquarium? On which surface do you want them grown?

It is good to choose natural gravel for that purpose. This is what will form the base of your aquarium.

Coloration and size – it is very important to add the perspective of plant color. The plant size can be used to distinguish between the foreground, middle ground, and background.

The foreground can have low lying plants. That can be followed by the middle ground having a middle-high plant.

The background can compose of the highest plants. Try and mix these plants in terms of color, sections of these plants can be different in terms f color.

This creates a contrast and natural look.

What is needed for Aquascaping?

Aquascaping is a demanding activity. You need a lot of materials and elements to create an aquascape.

You should be in a position to provide all these requirements before you can achieve your aquarium.

Aquariums look like simple setups but consume a lot in terms of materials, energy, and time. First, let us look at some of the things you will need in Aquascaping;

Aquascaping tanks

These are clear enclosed areas used to arrange your Aquascaping elements. the size of this enclosure depends on your preference.

There are very many sizes of these tanks. They are made with at least one transparent side.

These transparent sides will display your arrangement. They can also be used to display aquatic animals like fish.

These aquatic animals survive in this aquascape. These aquascape tanks are sold at various prices.

You can acquire one that is affordable.

Aquatic plants

To provide plantation in your aquariums, you will need these aquatic plants. They are aesthetic and grow easily on gravel.

These plants grow well in aquascape tanks and are easy to manage.

As earlier on mentioned, there are various types of aquatic plants. These plants differ in species. Purchase your preferred species and plant them in your desired type of aquarium.

This can only be done with aquariums that need plantation. They do not apply to aquariums that are not meant for plantation.

There are very many types or species of these plants.

For example; java moss, Anubias, crypt wendtii, cryptocorynes, pygmy chain sword, water wisteria, and many more others. You can consult an expert on these plants for more information.

Driftwood and rocks

Plants alone cannot bring out the natural look in aquariums. To achieve the complete aesthetic look of most aquariums, it is good if you introduced the hardscape materials.

These materials are decorative and attractive. They are basically used for decoration.

Majorly, the hardscape materials are used in rock landscapes. There are basic features needed on these materials to qualify them to be used in aquariums.

They are supposed to be beautiful in nature and texture. The hardscape materials generally compose the driftwood and rocks.

There various types of rocks used in Aquascaping namely; dragon stone, black lava, unzan stone, Koke stone, manten stone, Sansui stone, seiryu stone, black pagoda, and many more others.

We have examples of driftwood used in Aquascaping, namely; moorwood, talawa wood, red moorwood, dark iron driftwood, mangrove wood, Mekong wood, and many more others.


Once you have prepared your Aquascaping, light is needed all the time. For aquatic plants to grow and survive, they need a complete supply of light.

You will need to provide a source of this light.

Lighting is needed at the center of this aquarium. This is to enable the light to reach all the sections of the tank.

The plants require it so much that without it, they die easily. The light is considered to be the epitome of the aquarium.

The light enhances the display of the aquarium. Most of these tanks are transparent.

The main aim of building some of them is the display. Without light, nature and landscape view cannot be seen and appreciated.

With the light input on, it is visible during the day and night.

Carbon dioxide supply

Any plant either agricultural or aquatic needs carbon dioxide. These aquatic plants need plenty of carbon dioxide.

This can either be done manually over systematic periods or through carbon dioxide enabled tanks.

The only disadvantage is, the carbon dioxide enabled tanks are quite expensive. The carbon dioxide system can be purchased.

This will help supply the plants with constant carbon dioxide. Keep in mind that these systems are expensive but offer long term solutions.

Water filters

The aquarium might have fish in it. As living things, it is good if certain things like chemicals, excess foods are controlled.

The water filters are meant for such important activities.

The aquarium having water, decomposing plants, might be filtered through. The waste by the fish is another thing that needs water filters.

This is also the same with excessive chemicals in the aquarium.

Artificial fertilizers

What are fertilizers for? Any strong plant would need a boost in minerals. Aquatic plants are part of that norm too.

They need these artificial fertilizers for growing strong and healthy.

These fertilizers work well with the help of light and carbon dioxide. The supply depends on the type of plants in the aquarium.

They come in two. You can have micronutrients and macronutrients.

Make sure that your aquarium receives the proper amounts of these fertilizers. These will enable healthy plants that are attractive and aesthetic for display.

The substrate

Generally, plants have two important ways of survival. They do manufacture their food through the leaves.

The roots are very essential too. Where do these aquatic plants direct their roots?

A good substrate is needed for roots to enable them to feed. Therefore, a good substrate is very important when it comes to aquariums.

This is the main determinant of plant development. Good substrate ensures the good size of the plants, proper coloration, and stronghold.

What is Iwagumi Aquascaping?

As mentioned earlier, this is one of the styles and approaches of Aquascaping. It is believed to be challenging than most of the other styles.

It is an old-style that was initially introduced by Takashi Amano.

The style just like the Takashi is full of Japanese culture. It is simple and represents beauty and culture.

It is a very simple style that brings out an amazing display. Let us look at this style at length and see what it entails.

Features and structure of Iwagumi style

Iwagumi comes from the Japanese language and can simply mean rock formation. Therefore, the main and common feature is rocks.

Stones and rocks play an important part in this formation.

If you need to work on such a style, you need the different types of rocks above mentioned. These rocks and stones are arranged to form diffident patterns.

Iwagumi design is simply defined by aquatic rocks.

In the arrangement, the basic structure is made of rocks and stones. This means that the design depends on how you arrange these stones.

The landscape and physiology are brought out due to the existence of these rocks.

Traditionally, the main structure of the Iwagumi was made of three stones or rocks.

This style was traditionally known as Sanzon Iwagumi. There must be one big stone. The other two that compliment the big one are two small ones.

How simple can you achieve an attractive design? Normally, it is very hard for you to achieve a good structure with just three stones.

This means that you need a lot of exposure and technical knowhow to arrange those stones.

It is not just a matter of placing those stones inside the Aquascaping tank; it is finding the best combination of them.

The stones have to bring out the harmony and unity among the three stones.

These stones should display a relational arrangement. They should show the supposed design that is relatable. The spacing between them is crucial. You should make sure that they blend well with the other elements in the aquarium.

Other techniques and structures of the Iwagumi Aquascaping

Well, do not be conservative and only depend on the three stone layouts. The Sanson Iwagumi style should not limit your potential.

You can feel free and explore many more stones than just three.

The only rule that you have to follow is the odd number rule. The stones should be in an odd number like 3,5,7,9 and so on.

This enables you not to work proportionally. The arrangement is not supposed to achieve symmetry.

The basic principle of this arrangement is not the balance of these stones. The landscape is asymmetrical.

That is the whole point of this arrangement. There exist popular stones used for this style like Seiryu Seki and Maten.

You are not limited to specific types of stones. You can use your preferred type of stone.

This is as long as you manage to bring out that style. The only important thing is that you use rocks or stones with the same color or texture.

The difference in these stones or rocks should only be the size and contour.

What are the names given to the stones in the Iwagumi layout?

The stones or rocks found in this style have names. This does not consider the number of stones in your arrangement. Let us look at these names;


This name refers to the biggest stone in the arrangement. This should also be the most attractive stone of them all.

All the other stones are arranged concerning the Oyaishi.

In size, if the stones are in Sanzon style, it will take the majority two thirds. This can do by the use of the golden ratio theory.

Mostly, they tilt it towards where the water is flowing. This symbolizes the river stone’s nature of the flow.


This forms part of the secondary stone. Like we said earlier, it should have the same color and texture of the Oyaishi. The placement should be on the left or right of the Oyaishi. The size also should come second to the Oyaishi.

This stone is used to compliment the Oyaishi. It also creates tension that is vital in the aquarium.

This creates some kind of balance. Having big stones alone does not bring out the natural escapement in the aquarium.


This is always the third stone in the arrangement. It is mostly placed on the opposite of the Fukuishi.

It is also placed just next to the Oyaishi and performs a similar function as the Fukuishi.

This stone is also used to dilute and compliment the strength of the first one. It brings out the balance of nature in escarpments.

This size portrays the imbalance or asymmetry in the aquarium.


This is the stone that follows the Soeishi in size. It is the fourth in line. It is nicknamed the sacrificial stone.

The reason for this nickname is to show the effect it suffers.

Mostly, it is hidden or partly seen in the aquarium. It is supposed to be under the rest of them. Most times, it is covered by flora.

The major function of this stone is the company. It is meant to bring a sense of brotherhood with the rest of the stones.

Plant Cover in the Iwagumi Aquascaping

This style does not support a lot of plants. Although there are several that can go well in such setups. This fact is governed by the fact that the stones are the major feature.

There is no other element that should surpass the existence of these rocks. The plantation cover should be minimal.

The spacing should also be considered. Iwagumi comprises of open space which should also stand out. This works against most plant covers.

There are plants like dwarf hair grass. These are low laying kind of plants that do not grow in height.

Therefore, they cannot overshadow the rocks however small they might be.

There are other popular low laying plants like; Pogostemon Helferi and the Riccia fluitans that grown on stones.

Others include Vallisneria nana and Rotala species.

Fish in the Iwagumi Aquascaping

This is the best style for rearing fish. The simplicity of this style brings out the best display of fish.

Add your fish in this style and see the best aquatic movement of fish. This is because of the clear nature of the Iwagumi Aquascaping.

Some of the best fish species to fit in this style include; cardinal tetras, rummy nose tetras, and harlequin rasboras.

These species of fish are calm and composed. They behave in a cool manner and can enjoy the spacious nature of the Iwagumi Aquascaping.

They also move together and create a harmonious movement that brings out the beauty in nature.

Challenges of the Iwagumi style

Apart from the Iwagumi style being simple and attractive, it has some challenges. This comes mostly in maintenance.

The plants grown in this style have a difficult way of growing. That is, they have many and dense roots.

This implies that the substrate should be perfect and of good quality. The plants are compact.

This makes the level of water filtration so hard. This might prove to be a problem for many people in terms of maintaining it.

This style needs an n expert in aquatic plants. The maintenance of these kinds of plants is fragile and technical.

The ability to form algae in these plants is also tricky. It needs somebody who knows how to play around with the lighting of the aquarium to control algae spread.

Are planted tanks hard to maintain?

Planted tanks are also referred to as planted aquariums. They are majorly handled at home.

They are meant for freshwater fish. You can also use it to harbor aquatic plants. These aquariums are found in homes and need special attention directly from you.

Can we look at the various maintenance needs of these home aquariums?

Let us determine whether they are cheap or hard to maintain;

Affordability of the aquatic life

You can easily find the best fish and plants you need. Your needs should dictate the type you want.

Go for affordable types that will not strain your financial capability. The size of the aquarium is also adjustable.

The size of the planted tank has to be of your preference. Remember, large and tall tanks need a lot of plants and fish. It is good if you can afford it.

If you cannot afford it, then go for a smaller one that is easy to maintain.

The lighting maintenance

These planted tanks need enough lighting. The light intensity matters a lot.

The required level lays between 6500 and 800 Kelvin. In terms of energy, this is very high.

Moreover, the intensity of this light entirely depends on the type of plants.

Large planted tanks require an expensive light source. Small planted aquariums need simple lighting budgets.

That means you need to evaluate your finances and determine which ones to go for.

The aquatic plants have different lighting needs. We have those that need low lighting intensity hence low energy budgets.

We also have those that need medium level lighting intensity and the ones that need very high lighting intensity. Where do you fall?

Choice of the substrate quality

The substrate also depends on the type of plant. Deep-rooted ones need a different type than shallow-rooted ones.

This depends on the type of you can afford. Although substrates are not very expensive and can easily be found.

Some plants need iron filled substrates. The cost of adding iron in these substrates should be considered when choosing such plants.

Minerals too are needed for these kinds of plants. Consider all that before you choose the type to put in your planted tank.

You have the option of using sand. This is if you cannot afford expensive gravel and substrates.

Fine gravel is also a cheap way to provide your plants with the substrate. The only challenge comes when you will have to induce the missing minerals and nutrients.

Water composition

It is important to accord your planted tanks with suitable water. The best water composition includes a PH level of 6 to 8.

This means you will need to measure your normal water Ph levels. If it is high then something needs to be done.

The simple way of making this water usable is by reverse osmosis. You can also use deionized water.

You can also add minerals and buffers in this to make it completely perfect for aquatic support.

Nutrients and fertilizers

The presence of iron in aquatic plants is needed. Magnesium and potassium are other minerals highly needed in this aquatic life.

Lack of them can reduce the quality and life span of your aquatic life in the planted tanks. Make sure they are supplied with those minerals.

There is a need for micro and macronutrients. Can you afford all that?

That is maintenance and it comes with the cost. Some plants feed naturally through heir leaves and roots.

These are the best when it comes to maintenance costs.

Some plants need fertilizer tablets and they come with a cost. Kindly put that in mind while setting up these planted tanks.

Other demands by the planted aquariums include; the provision of carbon dioxide which is costly.

The selection and purchase of the aquarium are quite expensive. It needs a plan and organization.

Materials are also needed to set up all the features and structures. This in turn might cost a lot.

The fish needed in a planted aquarium might also be needed and cost quite a fortune.

The fish types entirely depend on the size of the planted tanks.

Setting up a planted aquarium might start small but end up a big adventure.

For you to set up a planted tank you need to brace yourself with a maintenance cost, energy, and resources.

If you can afford all these elements, it looks like an easy task if you have passion in planted tanks, it might seem normal and usual.

If you are new and have never experienced such, it might look hard and hectic to maintain planted tanks.

Keep your planted tanks clean and safe daily. This can be time and energy-consuming.

Regular pruning of these plants needs expertise and technicality.

Changing the water frequently, light balance, and trimming of plants are some of the constant activities needed.

Maintaining the nutrient levels and carbon dioxide levels might prove hectic to many people. This makes maintaining a planted tank a challenging thing.

How much does Aquascaping cost?

Let us breakdown the cost of setting up this aquascape regarding what is needed. The values shall include ranges of the available prices in the market.

Planted Aquarium prices – the prices of aquariums depends on the prices in the market.

It also depends on the brand of the aquarium you want to use. These aquariums range from the cheapest 45 USD to 2500 USD the expensive ones.

  1. Planted Aquariums filters – filters are very important when it comes to aquatic life. The maintenance of the aquatic life depends on it. Filter the chemicals, waste, and minerals from your planted tanks with it. Good filters range from 105USD to 340 USD
  2. Planted Aquarium heaters – sometimes the heat level in these waters can reduce extremely. The controlled warmth of the water can be maintained using these heaters. They range from 50USD to 100USD.
  3. Planted tanks light units – lighting as you know is a basic need in planted tanks. You will need one according to the size of the aquarium. We have low lighting units to the intense lighting unit. They range from 110 USD to 1000 USD.
  4. Carbon dioxide systems – they come in parts and it is very hard to determine the price of a full set unit. Let us look at the probable prices of individual parts.
  5. 2kg carbon dioxide cylinder – 115USD
  6. Regulator – 60USD
  7. Valve – 40USD
  8. Diffuser – 80USD
  9. Counter – 20USD
  10. Tubing – 10USD
  11. Sand and gravel – sand and gravel is very essential for aquatic plants. They range in type and prices too. The cost has no much difference according to types but ranges from 20USD to 40USD for 7 to 10 kilograms.
  12. Rocks and wood – the aquascape hardscape comes with different prices depending on the rocks or wood type.
  13. Rocks – 7USD to 200USD per kilogram
  14. Wood – 5USD to hundreds of USD

The rest of the elements like fish differ with the type. We have over 200 types of fish and over 100 types of aquatic plant types.

The choice will depend on your preference. Other accessories might be needed when starting and during Aquascaping.

All these expenses must be factored in the cost of Aquascaping.

Saltwater Aquarium Aquascaping

Nowadays, Aquascaping has become popular among people. It involves a lot of components.

These components involve plants, stones, and rocks. They are arranged decently just under the seas and many water bodies.

Remember, these components are arranged within an aquarium.

The design in which you arrange them matters a lot. Aquascaping includes caving and driftwoods.

It must be attractive and pleasing for other people to see. It must appear effectively so that other people admire, that is, aesthetically.

Is Aquascaping simple like any other gardening? Well, Aquascaping is not as simple as any other gardening.

It involves a display that should bring out creativity. Ho well, can you bring out the imagination of deep seas and their environment?

With Aquascaping, you should bring out the true image of underwaters. The physiology and ecology should be present.

It is quite a tricky affair that needs to bring out the design and not just the aquarium alone.

How to Aquascape the Saltwater Aquarium

There are several types of saltwater aquariums that you should know before you start to aquascape your saltwater tank.

Fish only

It is the most basic and cheapest type of aquarium you can set up. Consider the requirements of your fish except for the corals. Though it is essential, they are not easy to set up. They require live rocks which introduces beneficial bacterial to the tank.

Fish only aquariums require frequent cleaning and more water changes to maintain high water quality.

Reef aquariums

The most attractive ecosystem in our oceans is the coral reefs. If you would consider keeping corals in your aquarium, you should know that they do have their own unique needs; they can be kept alone or with other fish.

Some examples of the saltwater fish aqua are the angelfish, clownfish, mandarin fish, sand sifting gobies, gobies, tangs, and green Chromis. Remove them from the tank if they react because of renegades.

The reef aquarium can be challenging for beginners. It is hard to maintain the lighting and water quality and also to monitor parameters regularly.

Live rock with fish only

Lives rocks keep the aquarium clean and hold bacterial populations that break down ammonia and nitrates into less toxic nitrate. It is costly to get these rocks, but an aquarium with live rocks is very advantageous.

Change of lighting is, however, needed for any photosynthetic organisms growing in it.

In the case of any creative development, you will need to have enough reliable knowledge resources and rely heavily on your imagination.

You should be able to obtain the perfect balance between your creativity and the scientific view, which seems hard to achieve.

The process of Aquascaping a saltwater aquarium may appear to be challenging to accomplish.

Still, if you follow some simple principles as indicated below, then you will manage to come up with a fascinating aquarium craft.

  • Simplicity
  • Variety
  • Proportion
  • Persistence

The overall design of your tank critically defines the outcome of your aquascape. Unique talent required of balancing rocks with a vision of creating tunnels or platforms for your fish to hide and corals to live there.

The canvas of the finished piece of your tank should mainly be the rock. When designing your saltwater aquarium, you should put special consideration into the type of fish, corals, and materials you use as discussed below

Live rocks for the saltwater aquarium

Most fish enjoy hiding in caves and crevices in rock structures. Rock layout in your aquarium will determine how it appears. Put particular thought while placing each piece of rock.

There are two excellent choices you can choose from while you are buying; the Marco rock or real reef rock.

The two types don’t require destroying the natural reef of the ocean and are natural, realistic alternatives. Real reef rock is safer than the living reef rocks, which might have hitchhikers from the sea that might harm your fish.

Aquarium sand bed

Substrates are required by few fish, especially those that bury themselves in the sand. However, sand or gravel is the most preferred option for many people.

There are several factors that you should keep in mind when choosing your aquarium’s substrate.

There are two types of sands and gravel; soluble and insoluble. The crushed limestone will dissolve, raising the hardness and PH, as well as cause an increase in the buffering capacity of water.

You can, however, use insoluble quartz or granite, which are inert and used in any system.

Fine sand can result in the development of low-oxygen zones that can be dangerous, and the coarse gravel will trap uneaten food and other wastes in large spaces; small fish can get entrapped.

Gravels in many aquariums get sealed with exposy, which eliminates the dust generally associated with gravels and ensures that it is inert, and no chemical leached into the water.

There is the usage of such a substrate in the saltwater aquarium.

You should also know that a few species of sand prefer sand, such as the sand shifting fish. In general medium grain, gravel is best for your aquarium.

Saltwater Rocks

Non-soluble rocks do not alter the water chemistry, and they include quartz, shale, and slate. There are several types of fish that enjoy hiding in caves and crevices in rock structures.

Coral rocks, limestone, and lava are all soluble rocks that dissolve in water and raise the PH and hardness. They can work in freshwater systems.

Before stacking rocks into your aquarium, think about its shape and design first.

At the center, a beautiful open space should be where the fish can gather and swim. Water will also be allowed to flow through the tank to remove waste into the filtration system.


Driftwood will leach substances in water just like some rocks, but in this case, they lower the PH and soften it. Some species of fish require the wood in their diet and will graze off the driftwood.


They can either be live or artificial plants. Fish like to eat plants, and most would find the artificial plants an inferior substitute.

On the other hand, living plants will remove some waste from the water, but dead leaves add to the bio-load. Herbivorous fish will prefer to live plants.

Artificial plants don’t grow or reproduce either, but they do change your aquascaped over time as the live plants will.

Guide To Set Up A Saltwater Tank

Similar to setting up a freshwater tank, the saltwater aquarium can also use the same procedure. Let’s look at how we can achieve this;

Get to plan your tank

For the whole process to go smoothly, you will need to plan out your ideal setup. Choose which type of aquarium you will need before you sort anything out because it will influence the rest of the tank.

Outline all the requirements required, which will help your aquarium take shape.

When you choose an aquarium, you should also consider the tank’s shape. The best forms are the ones that follow a smooth curve.

There are three styles available, the concave layout, which offers the impression of open space in the center.

This convex shape is very nice aesthetically and can be obtained with rocks to make a looking mountainscape, and finally, we have a triangular setup that creates very balanced visuals.

Do not feel constrained to the basic shapes, let your creativity and experiment come up with new ideas of forms that you would prefer rather than the three types available.

Tank preparation

When you get your tank, it will need cleaning; this is after you know what you need. Do not use household cleaning products or soap to clean it; instead, use a piece of wet cloth to wipe away the particles and dirt.

If you get a used tank, remove any waste; use vinegar to clean the inside and outside.

Check for leaks; also, you should add water and leave it for a while to confirm any signs of escape.

Position your tank before filling it with water.

Put it in an area that you are comfortable with because it will be much heavier after filling it with water—the placement surface where the tank should be strong enough to hold its weight.

Addition of the substrate

Substrate comes from the shop covered in dust particles; hence it will need to be rinsed before adding it to the tank to keep your water clear.

The addition of the substrate depends on which type of fish species you have; some will require crushed corals while others require soft sand.

Add small amounts to a bucket and run water through it then mix it until the water runs clear while using your hand.

Take the substrate, place a thin layer along the bottom of the tank so that it does not scratch when you pour the rest. It should be 1-2 inches at the bottom of the tank.

Addition of water

There is a need for a little preparation for water. You can buy water that has undergone reverse osmosis, or you can manually use treatments to achieve this water.

Mix aquarium salt in the water, the packet indicates how much you should use. When adding water, place the dish on the substrate, and water is poured into it, preventing the substrate from being disturbed.

Equipment installation

Saltwater aquariums need a heater and filter mostly with additional types of equipment such as lights, UV sterilizers, air stones, protein skimmers, and automatic feeds.

You can also choose an original design consisting of rocks, driftwood, and coral to put in the tank but rinse every item before you place it on the substrate to remove any dirt.


This stage aims to build up bacterial cultures that will act as biological filtration. It should be after you entirely set the tank.

There will be the conversion of ammonia to nitrates in a single conversion and nitrates to nitrates in another transformation. The importance of this process is due to the ammonia vapor and nitrate being toxic to the fish.

Nitrates are highly toxic, which requires you to change the water and keep levels after a while.

Test water regularly to avoid the spike of ammonia and nitrate levels. The cycle ends when they reach 0ppm and do 50 percent water changes to reduce nitrate build up.

Add live rocks that have already developed cultures of bacteria in the tank, and they should be light rocks with a lot of interior gaps hence a greater surface area for bacterial growth.

The cycling process should take 6-8 weeks, and if you would like to speed is up, raise the temperature and oxygen levels or add filter media from an already established tank.

Finally, add fish

There is an addition of fish at this stage, you should not put too many at once, or you will risk starting the nitrogen cycle again. Add a few of them over the following weeks or months without a hurry.

Changes in water conditions make fish sensitive, so after purchase, you will need to acclimatize them to the water in your tank. Here are a few steps to do this;

  • Aquarium lights will get switched off.
  • Float the bag containing the purchased fish on the water for 15 minutes
  • Cut the bag open and roll down the top while it still floats.
  • Every 4-5 minutes, add the aquarium water in the bag until full.
  • Pour half of the water that is the bag in a bucket.
  • Add again waiter into the bag every 4-5 minutes until it is full.
  • Take a net and use it to transfer the fish to the aquarium.

Aquarium maintenance

The successful process of an aquascape depends on the things you do after you have set up your tank; it is not just enough to build an aquascaped that looks amazing.

Regular pruning, correct balancing of light, plant trimming, C02, and nutrients are some of the things that will be required to do and check after setting up your tank.

You should also keep it clean and safe for the plants and fish for them to survive.

Brackish Aquarium Aquascaping

Brackish aquariums are half marine and half freshwater. They are home to some of the most unique and stunning fish in the hobby.

Advancements in equipment and better comprehension of the brackish biotope have informed the rising popularity of brackish aquarium. You can enjoy the beautiful nature of coastal mangroves and estuaries in your home.

Despite their mystique nature, these types of aquariums are effortless to maintain as their inhabitants are conditioned to thrive even with moderate fluctuations in water parameters.

Within a brackish habitat, salinity is a variant based on the tide as well as the amount of fresh water that enters from rivers. The rate of evaporation also plays a role in determining salinity.

Water clarity ranges from murky to clear. Water conditions can be anywhere between 70 degrees F and 86 degrees F.

Inhabitants of Brackish Aquarium

Not every fish species can adjust to the ever-changing nature of brackish aquarium conditions. The ones that do are not only effortless to feed and active but also hardy.

Setting up and/or maintaining this kind of aquarium for fish should not be challenging.

All you need to set up a brackish aquarium is the same as a freshwater one. The only difference is the fact that it requires the addition of seal salt.

On top of that, ongoing testing is necessary to maintain certain gravity within a suitable range.

Some of the most popular fish that you can keep n a brackish aquarium include:

  • Figure 8 Puffer – This fish species boasts a unique personality, appearance, and coloration.
  • Archerfish – They bring with them a triangular and distinctive silver body with the ability to effortlessly split water at insects on top of the water.
  • Green scat – The gradual transformation from brackish to saltwater maximizes the dazzling coloration of this fish species as they mature.
  • Mono argentus – These are silver and diamond-shaped. They feature two black stripes at their front half. They grow to be very large.
  • Black sailfin molly – They are among the most peaceful brackish fish species.


Of great importance to note is the fact that maintaining the hardiest of plants inside a brackish aquarium can be challenging. Because most brackish water fish species are herbivorous, they are fond of making a meal of their habitat

Planting plants that are friendly to a freshwater aquarium is a good step towards achieving success with your brackish aquarium. Once the plants are grown, you can then raise the salinity over several weeks.

A refractometer or hydrometer can be handy when it comes to measuring the specific gravity changes. Experts recommend synthetic marine salt due to its purity and consistency.

The following are some of the common brackish water plants:

  • Water sprite – These plants are not only highly decorative but also offer a great contrast to other lacy leaves.
  • Java fern – Attractive and hardy, these plants grow to be 8 inches tall. They feature creeping and green rhizomes that you can tie to driftwood and rocks.
  • Hornwort – These plants are layered and sturdy. They bring with them hair-like foliage that helps clarify and oxygenate the water.
  • Anubias – These are lush green plants that attach themselves to the substrate, driftwood, and rocks.
  • Anacharis – They feature branching stems in bunches of whorled and linear leaves.

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