Aquascaping Styles-Make an Advanced Aquascape

If you ask me what’s an aquascaping style, I will simply answer that this is the visual expression of your creative and artistic nature to establish a natural look in your house.

The more you research about your aquascape, the more you think, the more unique aquascaping will be created by your hand. However, I am here to support you in this fact.

Some popular aquascaping styles are Nature aquascaping style, Dutch aquascaping style, Iwagumi aquascaping style, and biotope aquascaping style. Here I will describe them so that you can pick one as your choice.

Nature Aquascaping Style

Let’s talk about the natural aquascaping style first. If you visit my house anytime, you will clearly understand how much I love this type of aquascaping.

To make it clear, I can shortly say that a nature aquarium is a reflection of the terrestrial natural beauty under the sea consisting of driftwood, rocks, plants, and fish. 

A nature aquarium is always beautiful if you can manage it by following the general rules of aquascaping like the golden rule and all. Here you have to introduce rocks and driftwoods.

There are three shapes of nature aquascaping-

Convex Shape

The triangle shape indicates that the driftwood and rocks are placed on two sides and the below portion is blank in such a way that a convex shape is formed.

Concave Shape

The elements of the convex aquascaping are also the same as the convex but there the arrangement of the driftwood and the plants form a concave shape.

Triangle Shape

Here, again the same elements are repeated but they are formed in a triangle shape.

These three shapes are mainly part of simple nature aquascaping. But if you want the beautiful look from advanced aquascaping, you have to maintain the golden rule, rule of thirds, etc. strictly. I have already described these rules in my previous article.

After applying the rules properly, you will find that the whole aquascaping has formed an extraordinary look that will be an advanced aquascaping. 

But to make it more attractive and eye-catching, you can follow some more techniques. For example, the rocks and driftwoods you are using can be of different types and sizes. 

As a result, whenever you place these materials in different portions along with plants, they will visually connect and will form an attractive look.

The depth of the aquarium should also be large to get a natural vibe like the underwater life. Thus you can bring up nature aquascaping.

For this purpose, you can work on different themes like-

  • Mountain range theme
  • Hillside and Valley theme
  • Island theme
  • Rainforest theme 

The nature aquascape is the most beautiful but the toughest aquascaping to maintain. Hence, if you build up that, you have to provide enough time to select elements, create, and maintain it.

Dutch Style Aquascaping 

Next, let’s turn to Dutch-style aquascaping. To make a Dutch-style aquascaping, you have to only focus on the plants. People making such aquascapes add little or no driftwood and rocks to this aquascaping. 

There is a thumb rule that you have to add 1 plant species per 10 cm in the tank. Also, all the species should be different from each other and no one can match with another. 

Well, this is a pretty strict rule, and finding such a huge amount of plant species is tough work. From that point, you can skip the rule but to make it a Dutch aquascape, you have to maintain the basics at least.

The plant species have to be of different size, texture, color, and varieties. You should be very choosy in the case of color contrast, size variation, selection of suitable variety, etc. 

As you are not adding any rock or driftwood, the whole aquascaping is dependent on the plant species. Hence, you should maintain it and place the plants in an aesthetic way that can express your taste.

Let me suggest some plant species that you can use for your dutch style aquascaping-

  • Shorter plants
    • Hygrophila araguaia 
    • Alternanthera spp.
    • Eriocaulon sp.
  • Mid-sized plants
    • Ludwigia varieties 
    • Bacopa varieties 
    • Rotala macrandra varieties 
  • Larger plants
    • Limnophila varieties 
    • Cuba
    • Ludwigia varieties 
    • Pogostemon stellatus

In this aquascaping, you have to be conscious about the fast-growing plants as they may easily fill up the whole tank. Trimming, fertilizing the plants, and creating a perfect environment for the plants are mandatory to manage this aquascape. 

Iwagumi Style Aquascaping 

Are you interested in Japan and its traditional look? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then Iwagumi-style aquascape will be your favorite. 

This style is derived in Japan and it consists of the rocks that introduce Japanese nature. The main focal point is the rock in this style.

In Iwagumi-style aquascaping, the rocks are placed to highlight the traditional geography. There is no limitation in rock selection. But you have to maintain four basic rock patterns. Let me describe this-


This is the primary rock in this aquascaping style and it is placed in the center or the focal point. It comprises ⅔ of the total height of the tank that attracts the human eye.


This acts as a secondary rock. The rock is placed beside the Oyaishi rock on the right or the left. It creates a balancing situation for the aquascaping facilitating Oyaishi rock.


This rock is also one type of secondary rock that is placed with Fukuishi following the Oyaishi. It also works as Fukuishi.


The final one is called ‘Sacrificial Rock’ as it remains almost covered by the plants. The other small stones are also added according to it and the plant species also grow according to this rock. Hence, it creates a combination in the whole aquascaping. That’s why it is considered an important rock.

Along with these, you can add any type of rocks and stones you like. But remember, this is a simple and natural-looking aquascape, so you can’t add anything that may seem to be over-luxurious. 

At the same time, you have to be conscious about the plant and fish species before introducing them. The plants should be of such type that create a grassy appearance.

Any fast-growing or stem plants are restricted to add in it. There should be a carpet-like appearance with the small plants. Plants like Cuba can be added for this purpose. 

Besides, the fish species should also be small and look natural. Extremely colorful or variable fish do not need to be introduced. 

All over, you have to maintain a simple and natural-looking rocky aquascaping that will represent the Japanese traditional vibe.

Biotope Aquascaping 

The final one is biotope aquascaping. Biotope aquascape is a natural wild-type aquascape that you can consider a part of nature aquascaping. 

But the difference lies in the matter that nature aquascaping contains plants and fish along with rocks and driftwood, but biotope aquascaping consists of plants and fish as their main point of interest.

To establish this type of aquascaping, you need not maintain any hard and fast rules except the general rule of aquascaping. You can introduce any type of variety but that must be organized properly. 

The aquascaping materials should be of different colors and varieties which will enrich the properties of your aquascaping. If you want, you can add driftwood and rocks to this aquascape. 

But that must not be at a huge level that viewers first focus on those materials. The variability and combination of plants and animals are the main focal points in this case.

The other materials will be added as supporting to them to create a wild-type appearance that looks natural, not artificial. 

Maintenance of Aquascaping Styles 

Maintenance of an aquascaping style is not so easy. Especially, if you have a Nature aquascape or an Iwagumi aquascaping style, it is more difficult to maintain than others. 

The most natural and simple aquascaping needs the most care. Whatever, there are some basic points of aquascaping maintenance. These are explained here-

  • Change the water of the aquascaping regularly so that it cannot be contaminated by pathogens or other unwanted materials.
  • Trim the plants when needed. This is mandatory to maintain the style.
  • Clean the aquascaping materials regularly.
  • Use fertilizers regularly and timely for the plants and food for the fish. 
  • Keep the substrate and the rocks and driftwood clean from unwanted materials.
  • Clean the glass of the tank properly. 
  • Collect the organic wastes regularly and remove them from your tank.


Which aquascaping style is the most beautiful style among them?

Among them, the nature aquascaping style is the most beautiful and natural aquascaping style as it contains all the elements of aquascaping in a balanced way.

Which aquascaping style is difficult to maintain? 

It’s Iwagumi aquascaping style. As you have to hold the traditional Japanese look and the proper balance of rocks and plants, it will need more maintenance to hold the simple look.

Can I mix two or more aquascaping styles?

Yeah, you can! But you will need a huge tank for this purpose. Besides, the establishment and the maintenance will be hectic work for you if you mix two styles. If you cannot balance things, it will look horrible.

Final Words

Hence, we are at the final point of our discussion. Every aquascaping style is distinct from one another. But they are connected as the elements are almost the same in all the cases.

Therefore, if you make a general aquascape, you only need to consider the basic rules of aquascaping. 

But if you want to make an advanced one, you have to decorate the elements in such a way that viewers can instantly identify the theme or the style.

If you can make such type of aquascape, then you can consider yourself as an expert one. However, in the case of getting more detailed information, you can ask me or check my previous articles on the website about aquascaping. 

Howard Parker

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