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a Planted Aquarium

thering of plants, beautiful stones and driftwood is no longer the only

dern aquarist. We aquascape these days, and not only that the very
uascaping has become a valued art. It has been made so by the big man
akashi Amano, who first introduced the world to natural underwater
ooked like dreamscapes.

ature Aquaria in the style of Amano, or not, there is much we can learn from this artistic mans approach.

rium is often misunderstood. It is not the aim of the Nature Aquarium to reproduce nature biotopes of special
create an underwater landscape that bewitches the viewer and is derived from landscapes seen in real nature.

mpting to copy this style for the first time, realised immediately that you cannot really copy anything that has to

simply because you cannot ever fully copy the infinite feedback loops that nature possesses. Nature is open to
our aquariums are closed systems.

et up an aquascape by thinking of a landscape you saw and really liked whether this may be just an

s in the mountains, a little clearing in a forest, or a romantic river bank on which you once kissed somebody

nd is set on fire, it is as if magic happens: You automatically know which plants to use, or which rocks to collect.
where to place your rocks or driftwood, and you somehow just seem to know how to create some free space
depth of field in your tank.

s: How difficult is it to create an aquarium that looks like those awardyou see in books or on the internet?
more difficult to have a beautiful planted aquarium, or even a Nature Aquarium, than it is to have a normal

ul selection of plants and accessories that makes the difference and the discipline to effect and maintain it.
I must add a disclaimer:

with aquascaping a planted tank, I cannot go into the technical aspects of keeping and maintaining a planted

search that separately. You need to know all about the perfect lighting for plants, as they will not grow if you do

hting. You also need to know more about the correct soil to, as well as fertilising, as fish poop alone does not

lements and minerals for plants to thrive. And lastly you need to know about CO2 dosing, as this is a main

g a thriving planted tank. I have recently heard that there is a new bottled product on the market that lets you

ng to use a doser, but have not had any feedback on its success. That having been said, lets continue.

have the confidence to begin, or doubt your inherent artistic abilities,

or you. It is meant to be your guide. Follow the guidelines and you will
ve your goal you will soon become an experienced aquascaping artist!

need to understand that plants AND fishes are equally important in your aquarium, and that by

conditions for your plants to grow, you actually are doing the same for your fishes. When your
they need to grow well, they simultaneously provide the best conditions for your fishes, as plants use up wastes

s in the water that may cause Nitrate levels to spike, and in return produce oxygen which is indispensable to the

that whenever you start a new set-up, your tank needs to cycle before you put in any fish. Granted, there are

ic potions these days, that will allow you to almost instantly create an aquarium and you can use them even

d but some cycling is really better, because it saves you all those problems you are likely to encounter while

s to balance itself, potion or not. So ask yourself: Is instant really the best thing for you?


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the master of planted tanks, works in exactly the way I encourage you to work, and in the rare instance when he

filled tank, he will not even touch a single plant or rock before the tank he is going to work in is fully cycled!

you will embrace cycling. With my method, planting is the last task of your aquascaping process, because you

he main part of designing and creating the aquascape well before and outside of your tank! What is more,

g the frustration of waiting aimlessly through the cycling process, you will actually be able to look at a tank full

inning to settle and grow in well on its way to becoming a stunning aquarium, and in the meantime will be

rything runs perfectly, well before you introduce fish.

ose of you who may like the gardening aspect of aquascaping better than the fish-keeping and therefore choose
with no fish at all. With the advent of small tanks, called nano-tanks, many aquarists have chosen to create

es, instead of just one aquarium, perfecting their technique to almost cult status. Some keep shrimp in them,

estock out, and some use this method specifically to display the beauty of the rocks they found. This style is

n the Orient, as it suits both the Oriental mindset and their acute constraint of living spaces.These tanks are
of Nature, and they are truly beautiful. More about them later.

y to aquascaping. What will your underwater landscape look like? What is the mood you want to create
or vivacious and bursting with life? Have you been captured by landscapes in nature? Have you taken a

a picture in your mind? Have you looked at pictures of prize-winning aquariums and found something inspiring

u found one element in one tank attractive and another element in a second, and would like to combine the two

ique aquarium?

How big does you aquarium need to be to accommodate both the fish you will keep, as well as the scenery in

hem? You need to pay attention to this, long before you venture out to look at plants and accessories. The adult

nt to keep, as well as the number of species, if you are creating a community tank, will determine how much

he knock-on effect is that tank-ware like filters and lights are determined by the size of the tank, as well as the

l put in. The pro tip here is always to go for a bigger tank if you want to keep many species, or large fish, unless

aints. It is much, much easier to create and maintain water stability in a bigger tank. On the other hand, if you

ecies, or just one specific small species of fish, you may well want to consider a nano-tank or several nano

y can be stunning, and although they need more frequent water changes and top-ups, they require much less

at decision has been made, we can begin our planning phase.


erhaps not think so at first, hardscaping, which can be a style in itself, is also the very spine of most planted

bout rocks and driftwood here the bones that give your aquascape structure and impact. Hardscape elements

nd a feeling of permanence, they define fish territories, and provide cover. Rocks and wood can also help you

In addition, they help mask the line where the substrate meets the rear glass, which should never show.

t a matter of finding some pretty rocks or driftwood pieces you need to understand what to look for, and how

focal point in your tank. So, I urge you to read the article on hardscaping, which actually involves aquascaping

erial whatsoever. It is titled Between a rock and a hard place Hardscaping your aquarium and

or in the Aquascaping drop-down menu. The point of reading this article is that it gives you an in-depth
we find our materials and then go about composing our aquascape. It would be silly of me to repeat this
already available right here, at a single click of your mouse. I will however repeat the most important tenet of


he rule of thirds. While slightly different from the Golden Ratio, which was first discovered and realised by the

s been used in all art forms for thousands of years, it is a derivative of the Golden Ratio. Not only is it held that


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l of organic life, and occurs over and over in nature but it is a foolproof method we can use to design and
order that is aesthetically pleasing, be it knick-knacks on a coffee table, books in a shelf, or rocks and

s us the guidelines on how to place elements with in a design as a way to control where a viewers eyes will travel

e. The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced

wo equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines

acing and arranging elements with the rule of thirds in mind will create a more interesting design and that a

rough the intersections of the grid, thus creating a design that has more energy and tension.

out an aquascape, one of the most important aspects is how and where you want to draw the viewers gaze. In

is what the aquascape is all about. The primary goal of an aquascape is to be pleasing, relaxing, and interesting

er. To do so, you need to set a sort of anchor for the mind. That anchor is called the focal point. It is the

aze of the viewer first, and from where they can then explore the rest of the tank. We use the rule of thirds to

e the focal point and all secondary points of interest.

on of the focal point is to draw attention. You have to make it stand out in some way. There are a few simple

bout a focal point. The most important is that you should always have some sort of focal point in every

g any does the same as having too many: the viewers eyes are left wandering back and forth, stressed and

aquarium there should be only one main focal point. Having more than one focal point in a small tank leaves

omfortable and stressed, looking back and forth from focal point to focal point. In larger tanks, however, you

han one focal point, and even then one of those should still be the main attraction, while the other points of

ubordinate to it. We use the rule of thirds to do this.

four lines two horizontal and two vertical running through a square of white paper, splitting it into nine

ver the lines cross, is considered a a golden focus point, or sweet spot for whatever you want to arrange on it.

emonstrate this.

dely encountered among the best works of famous artists and photographers. In fact, several books and articles

his technique. But how do we translate this for the purpose of decorating our aquariums?

ere are four lines two horizontal and two vertical running through the front of your tank, splitting it into

Wherever the lines cross we find the sweet spots providing us with a possibility we can consider for placing

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e main stones or wood shapes in our aquascape.

e method across the top of our tank, we immediately have a layout diagram for the tank floor, telling us exactly

al point structure/s on the sweet spots, of course!

kes sense to you, it becomes easier to understand that just as we used the same front-of-the-tank rule of thirds

e top and the front of the tank, we can now also translate the idea further.
thirds on the front of our tank to plan the height of our main feature or focal point and then determine how

dary and possibly a third accent complimentary feature/s or focal point/s should be.

even further into our over-all plan and choose, for example, to fill about 1/3 of our tank space with our two or

gether with plants, while leaving 2/3 of our space as negative or swimming space or vice versa. There are

ber of combinations to play with, and all can help you achieve stunning results.

nd the concept of the rule of thirds, it becomes much easier to see how the backbone of hardscaped rocks are

ting, and how the rule of thirds has been used several times over in the same tank, when we look at the


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re done, think again! The correct placement of our main elements is halfway there, but not enough to give us a

o create perspective

r a feeling of depth, can be one of the greatest challenges in an aquarium, as tanks usually do not have enough

ck to give a true sense of perspective. However, we can achieve the illusion of depth, or perspective, by how

nts of our scape again using the Rule of Thirds, looking down onto our layout from the top of the tank, as we

the diagram above.

ost common mistake aquarists make when positioning hardscape elements, is to place their stones or wood in a

ht line from left to right. This results in a flat, two-dimensional image. The second most common mistake is to

pe element in the tank, if it is a larger, rectangular tank.

this, look at the diagram again, as if looking down into your tank. You can see where the suggested sweet spots

agine your layout as a whole consisting of several images, or slices, layered one after the other from

f the tank, each with a small gap in between, so that each image is slightly further away from the front of the

ng a sandwich, layer by layer, from the front to the back of your tank) This means that wherever you place

nd later your plants, as long as they are in different layers or slices, they will span a variety of points across the


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hardscape and plants can share the same slice, or point of depth, the key is to create more slices that just the

ocal point. For example, begin at the front of the tank, where the slice and what it contains should be lowest, in
higher, in the next even higher, until you reach the back of the tank, where they will finally be the highest. But

le. You may not want to have the highest point at the back of the tank, but rather on one of the sweet spots,

ce for your fish towards the back of the tank. Thinking in layers is just like the rule of thirds simply a guide to
of perspective within the aquarium. The images below demonstrate this principle, and the impact it has,

te interesting to know that these aquascapes have been done in small tanks the lower one in just a 25 litre

iant example of layering from front to back to achieve perspective. See how the low front
but then leads the eye to the highest focal point at the back left, resting only briefly on the
m height planting, which so artfully helps adding to the overall illusion of scene depth.

brilliant aquascape depth illusion! The arrangement draws us in almost urging us to


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climb to the very back back to see what lies beyond.

ting the illusion of depth, one of the most spectacular aquascapes is the one below all illusion, but very, very

een created by Cliff Hui of China, an aquascaper that has become famous for the detail he pays to his creations.

amount of attention that has been given to making this illusion seem true, by leading the eye towards the

orizon and note how a certain amount of unordered wildness helps add to the feeling of the depth.

e the focal point is close to the front, while a patch leads us toward the infinite horizon.

w the rule of thirds comes into play: one third of this scape is filled with attention grabbing
s, two thirds contains very little, creating that wonderful illusion of depth and airiness!

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ricks you can consider to help you create depth. Consider creating different levels. You could plan, for example,

e, so that the foreground is much lower than the background. Or, slope from left and right, creating a valley in

ne, slopes are a great tool for adding depth.

d therefore seldom chosen, you could consider simulating depth by placing larger items toward the front, and

he back. If this is skilfully done, the scape gives the effect of depth because as everything gets smaller it, it seems

ack distance. In this case you must also consider the leave sizes of your plants! Various sizes of Anubias can be
effect. In the image below, driftwood was used to create a forest feel. The tree trunks in the front were heavily

d appear larger than those seen further back. This gives the viewer the illusion of being drawn in to wander

n you see how the rule of thirds was used for the placement of the trees?

foreground layer fairly shallow not in substrate depth, but in terms of front to back depth. Having a huge

s the mid-ground and background, and takes away space from transitioning between them. Finally, when you

n your hardscape elements, you will have to make sure that once planted, there will be clear lines for the eye to

ack. For this you need to pay special attention to ensure that the foreground naturally transitions to the midthere to the background.

ow, we can see clearly how the eye, as well as the imagination is being led.


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are a rebel, you may want to break all the rules! Can your tank be a success without following rules slavishly?

an innate sense of design, as the tank below demonstrates.

shed where the bones of your future aquascape are going to be positioned, and how high they should be, it

to judge what rocks, or wood you will need for your hardscaping and you can begin hunting in earnest for the

about the plants you will need. That comes a little later after we have done a dry run outside of your tank.


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or your rock or wood, ponder upon this: It is much more important to use different sizes of the same type of

take just one very beautiful piece. One single stone in a tank always looks artificial. So does a single piece of

kly tell you to place at least two, and preferably more. In fact, for some bizarre reason arrangements always look
up of uneven numbers, irrespective of whether they are rock, or flowers, or fruit in a bowl.

ck (if really big enough) will be the main focal point. If you cannot find a piece that is big or important enough,

or two or three pieces with matching strata or grain that you can glue together to give you more bulk.

ld be smaller, but still of the same kind, because it becomes the harmonious complimentary counterpoint for

o look for a third piece or a grouping of pieces even smaller, and perhaps a little flatter that the secondary focal

ok good when placed closer to the front of the tank, almost like a little accent to echo the other pieces. Not only

rrange three distinct points into a rough triangle, it will become a major part of the trick we call leading the eye.

icles on the internet at this stage throw composition possibilities at you, talking of U-shaped, triangular and

I will not do that, because it is like painting with numbers and I do not want you to create yet another same-old-

here are too many of them around. Where is the fun and personal creativity in that? Consider my method

y goal is to pull the hidden creativity you have to the foreground and let you scape a perfectly individual

idence, because if you follow the basic rules, it is really impossible to aquascape a mediocre or


n you have all you hardscaping elements collected, you should be ready to begin constructing your structural

e aquarium. Follow the instructions I have given in the Hardscaping article. You can click here or

g drop-down menu above. Mimic your tank floor and back wall with cardboard, or Styrofoam, cut to the

your actual tank. Use a table on which to do this, as it gives you a better visual point of view. Mark out your rule

oor and decide on your sweet spots.

gin constructing the bones of your aquascape and experimenting with various possibilities. But before you do,

alanced is Unbalanced. While we in the aquarium hobby always strive for balance in our systems, this

arameters. In aquascaping balance or symmetry is not natural. Nature makes it abundantly clear that

and that it is beautiful. Dont space the elements in your aquatic environment evenly. Use your rule of thirds

oup elements, use uneven numbers 1, 3, 5, or 7.

e a story. I once wanted to create a woodland effect in my garden, with bulb plants popping up and creeping out

nstead of calculating where I would plant the bulbs it never looked natural to me, whatever I tried I simply

ulbs out of the bag on to the lawn, letting them fall where they wanted. That is where I planted them! The effect,

to bloom was not only stunning, but very, very natural. You may want to try that with your individual rocks, to

fall; at the very least the fall will disclose the balance of the individual rocks!

ather pursue harmony or if this makes it easier to understand, tell a story. This is really a worthy quality to

ur goal is a bio-typical slice of real habitat, or some other-worldly vision, the arrangement you create can and

t telling a complete story, or making a discernible statement.

Begin by placing your main element. Is it high enough or do you need to elevate it with a base? Remember, this

. It is supposed to draw your attention, and it should in 90% of cases actually dwarf your future inhabitants.

d be hidden by your substrate. In fact, rocks effectively look more natural if they are bedded in the substrate. So

eep the height of your substrate levels in mind. When you are done, place your second focal point, more-or-less

mplimentary sweet spot you chose. Check for height. You want something around 1/3rd lower that your main

st the height with a base if necessary. Now see if you want to place a third, even lower element towards the front


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oughly a skewed triangle with the other two? Do so now. Check height and keep future levels in mind. Then

urther before you have not looked the arrangement in its totality. You should already get a feeling of harmony.

ntion to how much of the upwards space of your aquarium you used: I am referring here to the space

the future water surface of your aquarium! Many tanks miss the mark because that space has not been used to
create an aquascape that leaves your tank only half filled! It will look and feel unbalanced and stingy.

er particular point here, and it is this: If you have placed your stones properly in your aquascape

est of the scape, as if by magic, will lay itself out for you. You will know it the second this happens for

ment you attain a harmony and balance in your placement, everything else is drawn towards and wants to

lanced harmony.
demonstrate what happens when you set your stones correctly! The Rockwork in this nano-tank is absolutely

n aside, while the second image shows the aquascape planted, it is also clear that some growing and pruning
all-in-all, the plants nestle between and against the rocks in a very natural way.

k yourself: Do I want to tilt my rocks? (If you do, you need to stick to this same tilt throughout!) Do I want

d terraces make my scape more interesting, or more dynamic? Will I have to shore up substrate when I get to

ur substrate will look best with my arrangement? (After all a black substrate would seem discordant with pale
to do with the back wall of my aquarium? Paint it? What colour? Which plants will work best? Where will my

r all, It would be silly to plant a tall sword plant next to my main focal point if its stone is supposed to simulate
show off my plants best? Do my eyes get led from front to back in a natural way? If not, how will I change my
foreground hardscape element/s be tall enough once my carpeting plants take off? What else do I need to add


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ent better? Or, do I actually need to take something away to make it better?

e able to see the sense in my method of building the scape structure outside of the tank. What if

astic change, or find a new or additional piece? How can you choose a substrate, or the size of your substrate, or

ground, before you know for certain what you are going to do?

nside an already established, or filled aquarium you would not only be dripping water all over the place, you

rying with frustration! And the more you stress, the more mistakes will you make! You can avoid all of this
patient and doing things the right way! If you already have an aquarium and wish to re-scape, do yourself a

y re-home your fish in a spare tank, together with your heaters and filters with their filter medium, so that you

a alive. Empty and clean your tank, and then begin to work as you really should!
Simply back off, observe, and do what needs to be done to rectify things if they were not right. Get what you

eces together if needs be. Think about how you will hide, or disguise your tank-ware once you actually start to


. We have help at the tips of our fingers, in the form or Amanos principles. I am not asking you to act upon

east not yet. All I want is for you to read and absorb the ideas because some of them will stand out, or inspire

vitably lead you towards decisions you may not even have considered before.

mano says about Principles:

s in odd numbers.

nts look best in the mid to back centre of a tank, with heavier leaved plants toward the edges.

n the middle as they have a heavy, dark, feel.

d or dark green) look best toward back edges, with light coloured leaves toward the centre.

and hardscape (rocks and wood) to provide good contrast of light and dark areas.

sand provides good contrast to plants.

e used, use multiple sizes, mixing large and small rocks, as in nature.

uld generally be rounded.

entions with rocks. Allow plants to obscure them to some extent, sometimes maybe even completely.

th unplanted sand in front is a good alternative to the traditional Nature Aquarium style of all foreground

ground plants.

ayout alternative is a slope up from near the middle up to the two back corners.

at he says about Technique:

ad to attach Java moss to wood, or lava rocks.

is great for edge work, blending an open sandy area into a planted area.

with moss, or large moss rocks, as something for background to grow over and cast shadows for good dark/light

onto moss covered rocks using a plastic ties, and trim off almost all roots, for rocked Anubias.

ias can be set right on sand, or moved around as desired. But initially face it slightly forward to hide its roots.

upward toward the light.

g crypts (underwater heating) only in places with deep substrate.

s in even lengths with graduated height sets, descending from high to low, as the sets move toward the front or

r 3 at a time, in the same hole.

uld not be trimmed for 3 months.

ming, let stem plants grow to the top, and then trim to halfway point.

moss make great foreground plants as they take no trimming.

g and/or wires that come into, or out of, the tank on the side makes it less visible to straight on viewing due to a

om side reflections.

strate with separate sand vs. soil areas can be accommodated by placing cardboard in the tanks where you want

etween the two, and slowly filling in both sides until full. After adjusting any slope you might want in the sand or

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sure that both sides are at the same height where they touch either side of the cardboard, the cardboard can be

rate from front to back works better if something like drift wood is placed in the middle of the slope to keep

oving forward. Moss rocks also make a nice barrier if placed to serve the same purpose.

of separated soil and sand is used, driftwood and/or rocks can be placed on the line between the two to cover or

on point.
up from the back bottom looks great! And it will light any ripples on the surface from an angle beneath,

mple landscape, use mossed pebbles around big central rocks.

d group of interwoven driftwood branches looks wonderful when it fills in. It will look almost solid, and if done
a sloping look from lower front to upper back, possibly also sloping low and toward the middle, and up toward

ly reels. In just this short read I have found several points that are literally making me drool to start a new

as given you ideas too!

ys to treat your tank background. In Nature Aquariums you seldom see tank backgrounds. This only works if

y modern, streamlined tank-ware sold by Amano outlets. For most of us, a background is a necessity. Some

s wood, some paint the background and some use self adhesive foliage scenes (not my first choice!). Yet there is

ctually makes a tank look very deep. It is attained by using an adhesive film with a frosted effect (that looks like

utside of the aquarium back wall. This is a decorative material (registered brand DC Fix) and can be found at

ls for home improvement.

ground treatment you choose, you need to give your tank a background if it is not an Amano style tank, except

uarium that is visible from both sides, or one that will stand in the middle of the room. In every other case it is

all with all the hoses and cables shining through the glass. If you paint, blue and black are the best colours, as

wonderful contrast and yet, somehow also causes it to disappear, making it easy for any viewer to concentrate on


all the adjustments and completed your hardscape on your table, and you have chosen and bought the substrate

ative and soil) and all glues, putties and silicone stick-togethers have had 48 hours to properly cure, you are
actual aquarium. It is time to get your plants too, and that should now be an easy task, because the visual

t-of-tank scape would have given you a very good idea of what you will need.

only difference between scaping a hardscape and creating a planted tank. For a planted tank you usually

bstrate into the aquarium first. The only time you must deviate from this course is if you are using large

em to be partially embedded into the substrate or if you need to place your rocks as barrier, to keep different

m collapsing forward!
have plants grow in this medium, it needs to be a substrate specifically designed for planted tanks. At

in creating some levels, by shoring up. If you have not done so before, you now need to begin to transfer your

to your aquarium, focal point by focal point, placing them in the tank exactly as they had been arranged on the


have a large aquarium and wish to transfer any heavy rocks into your tank, you should rather opt for the bare-

d. The bottom of your tank should be clean and you should have cut pieces of Styrofoam sheeting, or egg-crate

vy rocks, to cushion them from the glass. It is not the weight of the stones that crack aquarium floors, but the

ncentrated on a few sand grains. This does not pertain to drift wood, unless you have a very large and heavy

rate filling and shoring follows after the rock placement. One useful method is by placing hidden plastic pieces

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keep the soil from sliding forward, as in the riverbank aquascape demonstration below.

s time to plant. Note that we still have no water in the tank! Instead you will have an ordinary garden
with this mist the plants and the substrate from time to time.

ting itself , I could scarcely give you better advice than that given by Amano. The man is after all the master of

ew to preparing purchased plants for planting in a aquarium, you may want to watch this video beforehand,

clear how to go about it, but also gives you the courage to do it:


it is best to begin at or around your main focal point. Always look to nature to see how grass grows around

grows around roots. Nature is the perfect teacher. Emulate that! Decide whether you want to emphasise the

t. Then do the low growers, then the mid-growers and right at the end the high plants.

ely. It is more expensive at first, but oh, so gratifying in the long run!

specially good way to add form to your aquascape. Many small leaved species, such as micranthemum

umbrosum, mayaca sellowiana, or rotala indica to just name a few, can easily be trimmed to a desired shape.
have to plant these species quite densely. Take two to three stems and use tweezers to place them in one hole.

side this, and so on. The more densely you plant in the beginning, the faster the tank will grow in. This is

onsidering that in the initial stage, when it becomes to cut the tops, you will be able to replant the cuttings

ms while you leave the rooted parts of the parent plants in the substrate. Propagation is where you begin saving
parts will bud new shoots within short time!

with different leave sizes and/or colours. This helps you create more depth and texture and adds to the natural

ank is, the smaller must the leaves of your plants be, as that helps to create the illusion that your tank is larger

tand our and can help you with contrast but do be aware they can inadvertently become yet another

act the eye from that special focal point you so carefully chose. As Amano points out, their darker, heavier feel

ed to the back or edges of your scape.

, it is time to fill your tank. There is a special way to do this: Scrunch up several sheets of newspaper and place

planting until it is completely covered. Wet the newspaper down with the garden spray. Next place a large sheet

d dry-cleaners place over coats and dresses) over the newspaper and ensure all of the surface area is covered.

k with a hose ensuring that the flow falls very gently onto the central part of the plastic sheet. When the tank is

ve the plastic sheeting, and then the newspaper. You will be surprised at just how effective this can be, leaving

and aqua scape just as you intended. What is more, you will have almost perfectly clear water!

r tank. Do not add fishes yet. You need some time for your plants to adjust, take root and settle into their new

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ou also need to let your water gradually move into its own balance. Over-hasty dosing with chemicals and
lead to wildly fluctuating water parameters when you add fish too soon.

ought into your tank via you plants a chance to work. Watch your tank carefully over this time, in case there is a

his is usually caused by too much light (or if you added fish anyway, a sudden nitrate spike). The easiest, and in

t natural way to stop algae in its tracks is to temporarily add floating plants to the tank lots of them. Floating

k and deprives the algae of the bright light they need to flourish, and they will also sop up the nitrates, if you

move them again once your tank has stabilised. But for the time being, do it in such a way that you do not filter

e plants below, as you still want enough light for your plants to photosynthesise.

e comes to add fish, do so slowly. To keep the beauty of your aquascape intact, you must choose your fish

ully. Nature Aquarium adherents usually choose schools of small fishes like tetras or rasboras, because these

ar much bigger. Think of your tank size and of proportion. Do not choose species that dig, or species that will

ur aquascape. Do a lot of research about this!

if you do not want hardscaping in your plated tank?

bove, I am left with explaining to those of you who do not wish to have any hardscape in your tanks, that plants
the same design principles. In your case, you would create your focal points with groupings of suitable plants,

ls and placement planes change, just as they do with hardscape elements. You need to be very careful though,

to lose your way and end up with an incorrectly planted Dutch style tank. On the other hand, if you do want to

nk, you need to research the rules of Dutch style aquascaping, as they differ significantly from other planted

can see the difference between a panted tank and a Dutch planted tank below.

t the end of this article.


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atience in reading through all of this article. We are almost done. I know I have given you a lot of material to

s all in one place and you do not have to scrabble around on the internet. For that reason I have decided to add a

lustrated step-by-step section, as taught by one of todays most creative and influential aquascapers, Oliver

word there, about maintenance, and of course the answer to my puzzle above.

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