A planted aquarium is a miniature garden in a glass box. It brings greenery in our drawing room. Greenery brings joy and happiness in our life. Peoples who belief in Fengshui and Vastu, “A planted aquarium is combination of all the five elements.” Planted aquarium substrate and rocks represents Earth element, Water is already in aquarium, Driftwoods and plants represent wood element, Light and Fishes of aquarium represent Fire element, Metals are present in some aquarium equipments and substrate, rocks etc.
In planted aquariums, an aquarist keeps natural aquatic plants. Different materials like as Rocks, Pebbles, woods are used to create a replica of natural scenes. Live aquatic plants bring life in the arrangement of hardscape materials. After using all of these materials together, fishkeeping becomes an art. This art of arranging plants, rocks, and woods in artistic manner is called Aquascaping. Now days, aquascaping is very popular form of aquarium keeping around the world.
Before starting a planted aquarium, we have to learn some basic rules of aquascaping. These rules help us in setting up the composition and design of planted aquariums. These rules are used to create perspective in the planted aquarium layout. Most of the aquascapers apply these rules to create sense of depth in aquascapes. Sometimes these rules are broken or bended in some great layouts.
Golden Ratio: Golden Ratio rule have the most important role in aquascaping. This ancient rule was used by Greeks in their architecture, paintings and other artworks. Aquascapers also using Golden Ratio in their layouts. This rule split the layout in two parts in ratio of 1:1.618.
How to calculate Golden Ratio?
Suppose there is an aquarium with length of 90 cm. Divide the length 90 cm by 1.618. The result will be 55.62 cm.
This point should be used to position the main rock, wood, red/big leaf plants to create the focal area of the layout.
Rule of Thirds: The Rules of Thirds splits layout in nine equal parts. This rule is use to find the most eye catching area of the aquascape. Draw two horizontal lines and two vertical lines at equal distance in aquarium. The intersecting lines create most prominent spots of the aquascape. Select any of the four spots to create the focal point of the aquascape.
Planted Aquarium Essentials
Some basic requirements to grow aquatic plants are follows:
- Substrate: Soil is essential to grow plants. Most of the aquatic plant love to anchor themselves with substrate. It also helps in developing root system. One of the biggest myths is that the substrate provides essential nutrients to aquatic plants. It is not true. Majority of aquatic plants absorb nutrients direct from water through leaves.
- Hardscape Material: Rocks and woods are essential components of aquascaping. Intelligent use of Rocks and woods brings the depth and perspective to the layout. Woods also affect pH level of aquarium water. Ensure that rocks should not affect water chemistry.
- Lighting: Every plant needs light for growth. Plant produces their food through the process of photosynthesis. Suitable and proper lighting equipments grows the plants while improper light boasts the growth of algae. Always consider the color temperature of light before buying lighting equipments. A color temperature between 55000 K to 65000 K is full spectrum range of light and most plants require it. Brightness of light is also very important for particular plant. Some plant requires low light while other requires high light. A Low tech planted aquarium can be run in 10-20 Lumens per liter of water. An aquarium with medium light requirement can be run in 20-40 Lumens per liter of water. A high tech planted aquarium need 40+ Lumens per liter.
- Carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide is life-line of plants. Carbon dioxide plays vital role to complete the process of photosynthesis. Growth rate of plants depends on amount of available Carbon dioxide. Aquatic plant consumes Carbon dioxide and produce Oxygen. To inject additional Carbon dioxide use pressurized, DIY, Electronic Carbon or liquid source of Carbon. Some plants are also able to get Carbon from Carbonate hardness (KH).
- Fertilizers: Aquatic plant gets required nutrients direct from water. So they need macro (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) and micro (Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Boron, Molybdenum, Zinc etc.) fertilizers in liquid form.
Dutch Style: One of the oldest styles of aquascaping. Dutch style aquascapes are created using different leaf-structure, different colored plants. There is no place of woods or rocks. Consider following points in setting up a dutch style aquascape.
- Make streets or group of plants. Fill an area of 10-15 cm by a single type of plant.
- Do not repeat a plant means put one type of plant at once only.
- Do not put same leaf structure plant next to each other. Never use two red plants, two same looking plants side by side. Make streets, groups of plants with different colored, different leaf-shape plants.
- Slightly increase the height of plants from front to back.
Iwagumi Style : Iwagumi aquascaping style is based on Rock Placement and Formation and. Aquascaper creates a balance between the Rock position, design, open space, and plants. Odd number of rocks are used with specific importance of each rock in overall design. Every rock is known with a name as follows:
- The biggest rock in the hardscape is known as “Oyaishi” and use as a the focal point.
- The second biggest rock is known as “Fukuishi”. It is use in the left or right of the “Oyaishi” to create balance.
- The third biggest rock is known as “Soeishi” is use to increase the beauty and balance of the first and second rock.
- The fourth rock is known as “Suteishi” is used to maintain balance between the overall design of scape. This can repeat in the scape to improve the overall impact of hardscape.
Jungle Style: The Jungle style aquascaping based on wild and uncontrolled appearance of plants. The hardscape material does not appear due to growth of plants.
Nature Style: The Nature style of Aquascaping has been introduced by Great Aquascaoer “Takashi Amano” in the decade of 1990s. This aquascaping style is based on natural sceneries. The Rocks, driftwoods are used to create the illusion of natural terrestrial scene in aquarium. Aquascapers create mountains, Forests, waterfalls in aquarium. A limited number of plants are used in this style. The Golden Ratio rule is implemented to create the focal point. Rocks and woods are arranged to create the depth in the scape.