Week 10 – Student’s Choice! – Aquascaping

A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers at work put me up to aquascaping. Aquascaping is when you build an aquarium and the main purpose is to try and create a picture with it. At first, this seemed weird to me because usually you would think about an aquarium and would want to get some cool looking fish as a pet.

The most important thing regarding aquascaping is using your imagination. As soon as i realized this and was able to appreciate the idea and concept, i made the choice to start making a tank. I’ve bought most of the supplies besides the actual plants. There are quite a few things needed for the tank. You want to create a environment where your landscape can thrive.

Because aquascaping is an art, there are certain styles when you create your tank. There are two distinct styles that are easily distinguishable from each other, this is the Dutch Style and Japanese style.

The Dutch aquarium employs a lush arrangement in which multiple types of plants having diverse leaf colors, sizes, and textures are displayed much as terrestrial plants are shown in a flower garden. This style was developed in the Netherlands starting in the 1930s, as freshwater aquarium equipment became commercially available.

Dutch style aquascape
Dutch style aquascape

The style that i want to emulate with my tank is contrast to Dutch style. The Japanese style of doing aquascaping is creating a more realistic living landscape, for example creating rock formations to imitate and suggest rocky mountains. One specific style is Iwagumi style. Iwagumi style is a specific subtype of the nature style. The Iwagumi (岩組) term itself comes from the Japanese “rock formation” and refers to a layout where stones play a leading role. In the Iwagumi style, each stone has a name and a specific role. Rocks provide the bony structure of the aquascape and the typical geometry employs a design with three main stones, with one larger stone and two other smaller stones, although additional rocks can also be used

Iwagumi style aquascape, with the Oyaishi stone at the right
Iwagumi style aquascape, with the Oyaishi stone at the right

Currently, this mini project of mine is in the works. Everything is almost ready, I have all the supplies besides the actual plants, which I’m saving for last as I’m not sure which plants i will need, i don’t want to rush things and buy plants that i may think twice about too easily. I’m exercising my patience in this regard. After planting, which will be done next week, it’ll take a couple months for the plants to grow!

My plan is to implement a Iwagumi style aquarium, except using driftwood instead. I am using the idea of having three different pieces of driftwood. One large piece and two smaller ones to complement the big one. I spent a good thirty minutes at the aquarium store where they sold driftwood pieces. I was surprised because i was buying pieces of wood for about 10 to 15 dollars a piece. I bought three pieces, each one larger than the other.

I made sure to choose pieces that i thought would go well together. I considered them good pieces if the grain of the wood was very straight and the ends were jagged. When i imagine laying the driftwood in the tank, i want to have the straight, jagged pieces of driftwood to be at an acute angle maybe 5 to 15 degrees and have them reaching across and up in my tank. From there, i want to plant really small plants to emulate grass for the floor.

Right now, I am waiting for the driftwood to finish curing. It needs to either be boiled for an hour OR be soaked in water for a week.(I don’t have a large pot for the wood and I’m not in a big rush to get it started) The reason for doing this is because when you put the driftwood in water, it will turn the water brown. In a way, I’m steeping the wood like tea, i want to get all the cloudy water out of the way so that when i lay the driftwood and i’m ready to plant, i won’t have to deal with as much murky water.

the largest driftwood piece i bought
the largest driftwood piece i bought
Here, this is when i changed the water for the first time for soaking the wood, its mostly clear right now
This is the first time soaking the wood, you can see how discolored the water becomes, which i don't want
This is the first time soaking the wood, you can see how discolored the water becomes, which i don’t want
My friend Phong’s first time trying aquascaping, this is 2 months after planting.

My friend and coworker that showed me a picture of his tank when he first started aquascaping. He mentions how there is too much going on, which he doesn’t really want. It reminds me of the Dutch style. He told me how he doesn’t want to go for that, but since it’s his first time he was experimenting a lot and was being indecisive. I understand that and I have a feeling i might do the same thing too. Next week, once the wood is clean, I’ll begin laying out the driftwood on top of sand, and then begin planting. After planting, it will take another couple months to actually grow!


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