Aquascaping refers to the landscape created in aquariums or water-filled tanks in an awe-inspiring manner. It shows the talent and knowledge a hobbyist has about water-bodies. Through the type of substrate that is used, the kind of plants that go in it, aquatic animals that thrive in it and the ornamental aspects related to aquascaping.
What really goes into good aquascaping?
1.Keep it simple
If you are thinking about a natural aquarium to begin with, use plants that can thrive without much effort like ferns, mosses or vallisneria for an easier start. Cryptocorynes are also suggested by experts.
Add plants that require less lighting like Anubias or Cryptocorynes. With these, you could use lighting at 2 watts or less per gallon of water. The substrate forms the main source of nutrition for these plants. So, getting the right substrate is very important.
2. The right substrate
There are different kinds of readily available commercial substrates to suit the varied needs of aquatic plants and fish. If you are a beginner, use these so that the habitat for the fish and the plants helps them thrive.
There are also many DIY options available on the internet you could experiment with once you get familiar with and feel more confident about aquascaping.
Designing the substrate plays a major role in aquascaping. Instead of laying the substrate at a single level, you might make it shallower at one level with more pebbles and make it deeper with finer sand particles as you go to the other end of the tank. This helps in ecologically designing your aquatic plants as well.
Some plants like Vallisneria prefer to grow in deep water where there is no risk of being exposed to the air whereas some others like cryptocorynes are shallow water plants which spend some time of the year above water. The kind of stones and sand particles you use also influence the behaviour of the fish too.
Many fish tone down their colors in a lighter hued substrate. So a darker substrate with slate rocks and volcanic sand which add a blackish or brownish color is preferred.
And, if you are planning to put rocks in your aquarium, visualize a real life structure where you first find big rocks near the cliff, with large cobbles towards the water body and then the pebbles near the lake or the river. This will help develop a natural environment for the living organisms from in the aquarium.
Since, some fish dig into the substrate, a more logical approach would be to fill the base with gravel or sand for soft cushioning to about one inch so that the rocks or any other substance kept for aquascaping do not harm the base of the aquarium when the fish dig the substrate. Sand or gravel should be added around the rocks as packing to add stability to them. A pebble layer above this ensures that the fish do not dig deep into the tank.
Though they sit spotlessly for a while, the rocks gather algae and moss over a period of time. Don’t bother with the algae-eating fish here, since this adds to the aesthetic beauty of aquascaping.
3. Aquarium filters
These filters remove both physical and soluble chemical waste products from the aquarium and maintain the nitrogen cycle in the aquarium.
Dead and decaying plants, uneaten food particles, excreta all add to build up ammonia in the aquarium which is toxic for aquatic life. So, powerful filters must be preferred over other kinds of filters for an aquarium.
4. Choice of Fish
There are fish which swim close to the surface of water like Danios and Rasporas; fish that swim in the middle like Bleeding heart tetra or Goldfish; and a few more like Corydoras which swim at the bottom of the tank.
When fish are bought, accommodate them at various levels so that it doesn’t lead to clutter and forms a beautiful community. With lesser fights for food and for space, the fish stay healthier too.
Fish that are similar in size, in eating habits and are more co-habitant are preferred for a long lasting community.
Last, but not the least, choose fish that suit your aquarium and not the other way round.