November 29, 2020

Top 12 tips for Planted aquarium aquascaping for beginners- Part 1

Aquascaping| Planted aquarium| Community fish tank| Shrimp and java moss| aquarium plants| Carbon dioxide setup for Planted aquarium| Betta, Molly, and Tetra fish  

Planted aquarium or Aquascaping is probably the most amazing aspect of fish keeping among the hobbyists. Aquascaping an aquarium while taking inspiration from nature-rivers and oceans brings out a feeling of ecstasy and optimism all around, and watching those amazing planted aquariums having colourful fishes in a green ecosystem is a treat to the eyes. However, it takes a lot of attention and care to maintain such beautiful aquascapes in aquariums whether it be a small or a big one. 


Planted community fish tank 

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Every beginner hobbyist is in the dilemma of how to get started with aquascaping as there are numerous aspects to be taken care of. So here are a few important tips and hacks that could help a beginner to his first steps towards aquascaping.

Tank size

It is often said in the aquarium world that the bigger is better. But in the case of aquascaping, the bigger the aquarium, the more will be care and attention required and more will be the cost factor as these don’t come cheap when it comes to initial setup and long-term maintenance. So one needs to be very clear about the size of the tank while choosing as aquascapes can be done in aquariums as small as five gallons and as big as a few thousand gallons. 

The cost factor is significant as tank size would determine the quantity of substrate and the number of plants required for aquascaping as these determine the major part of the initial setup cost of the aquarium. 

Also Read- Top 12 tips for Planted aquarium aquascaping for beginners- Part 2

Type of Setup (with or without CO2)

Carbon dioxide is the key factor when it comes to aquascaping as it the primary constituent required for the growth of the plants and to carry out photosynthesis efficiently. In aquascaping, the setups that require an external supply of carbon dioxide to the system for plant growth are called high tech systems whereas those which do not require an additional supply of Carbon dioxide are known as Low tech systems as these are easy and less bulky to maintain. 

The high-tech systems have aquascaping that needs a regular supply of CO2 in water which makes the system bulkier as there will be an additional system of cylinders for CO2 supply. However, the results are quite profound in the case of high-tech systems as the plant growth and its quality is better.

Inspiration for aquascaping

Mother nature gives the best learning and inspiration to a hobbyist when it comes to the type of setup one needs. This typically depends on the observation and perception of nature like the ecosystems of rivers, lakes, and oceans which gives us a clear picture of how plants and fishes co-exist, and replicating those systems to a miniature level in our aquarium aquascapes will give us the finest results.


Artificial ecosystem

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So one has to be very clear of the aquascape setup(positioning and type of rocks or stones used) well before as these setups once did cannot be disturbed and change every often.   

Choosing the type of substrate

This is the most important step in the journey of aquascaping as the substrate will support the plants and vegetation from the roots and the very sustenance of the aquascape depends on the substrate and soil used. Now, this step can be a tricky one but if one understands the basics, it can be done easily. 

While aquascaping, the bottom-most layer of the substrate has to be a coarse one such as river sand or small gravel which will support the entire setup from the base. 

Above this layer comes the soil which will provide essential nutrients and help the plants to grow. The choice of a substrate can be broadly classified into a single or two-layer substrate and multi-layer substrate system. 

The former includes the use of single or two substrates such as sand or Gravel while the latter involves the use of multi-layers of a different substrate to mimic the natural environment. Some most commonly used substrates are-

  1. ADA Aquasoil Amazonia 
  2. Seachem Fluorite 
  3. Caribsea Eco-complete 
  4. Mr Aqua Aquarium soil substrate 
  5. Hermit Habitat Terrarium Substrate

Type of plants 

Choice of plants will be of the utmost importance as it will determine the appearance of your aquascaping once it is complete and the essence of a planted aquarium is the type of plants and fishes in it. Now basically the selection of plants can be based on the type of initial setup of the aquarium which is either high tech(with external CO2 supply) or low tech (without CO2 ). 


Shrimp on Java Moss

Image Source-  Google | Image by -Depositphotos 

While all the plants mostly thrive in a high-tech aquarium, but for a low tech aquarium, one has to look for some specific options according to the aquascape being done as all aquatic plants cannot thrive in a low tech aquarium. For high-tech setups, one has a wide variety of aquatic plants options but for low tech, some of the most popular ones are – Anubias Species, Java fern, Marsilea species, Water wisteria, Java moss, Pearlweed, Sword plants, and Dwarf Sagittaria. 



Proper lightning too is very much required for a planted aquarium as the plants need to carry out the process of Photosynthesis needed for their survival and light plays an important role in the process. Although sunlight is the best source for a Planted aquarium, this would not be feasible in all situations as most of the tank will be placed indoors and may be away from windows and direct sunlight. 

So to fulfill the light requirement various LEDs and UV lights are available in the market which can be used for the purpose based on the size of Aquascaping and tank. Furthermore, it is recommended to use a conventional white light instead of a colourful one and also should be used for around 6-8 hours a day only as excess use of it may cause the growth of unwanted algae which would hinder the penetration of light.

Also Read- Top 12 tips for Planted aquarium aquascaping for beginners- Part 2

Aquascaping| Planted aquarium| Community fish tank| Shrimp and java moss| aquarium plants| Carbon dioxide setup for Planted aquarium| Betta, Molly, and Tetra fish  

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