The underwater world is a foreign, mesmerizing place. Plants ebb and flow in the water, fish meander through reefs, and colors take on an unusual appeal.
Underwater landscapes, called aquascapes, can captivate and distract. Peaceful water features are a wonderful addition to any house, office, or backyard.
Aquascape is an art and science that creates functional and breathtaking underwater environments. It is essentially gardening and landscaping underwater. It is a trendy field that involves tending to the aquatic plants and the environments of aquariums and water features.
Like gardening, there are no real rules. The most common styles of aquascaping are the Dutch and Japanese styles. The Dutch style creates aquascapes much like a picturesque garden. They utilize colors, textures, sizes, and aesthetics. The alternative is the Japanese style, which uses stones, driftwoods, and mosses to create natural underwater environments. Pick a style or mix and match styles to see what fits your taste.
Many of the same principles that apply to traditional gardening also apply to aquascaping. The biggest differences are the amount of maintenance. Aquatic plant maintenance can be challenging. Aquariums and ponds need to have a balanced environment. Filtration, carbon dioxide levels, substrates, fertilization, lighting, and algae control are all factors in a healthy aquascape. The best of the best, master both traditional gardening and aquascaping, thereby producing paludariums, which are ideal habitats that are above and below water. This is especially important for amphibians.
Design plays a large factor in aquascape’s visual appeal. The best way to find what works is to practice. The more you design the better you become. Over time you will learn to set a focal point, contrast colors, round rock edges, place certain plants in certain places, and use the aquascape to complement any fish, snails, or shrimp that live in the aquatic habitat. Different things will work for different types of aquascapes. The two main types of aquascapes are aquariums and water features.
Aquariums are self-contained underwater worlds. They can range from a few gallons to several thousand gallons. They are popular in homes and offices because they offer a glimpse into a peaceful, green world. They are easy to design and easy to change over time. A more exciting niche is designing underwater aquascapes for large aquariums that house wildlife like turtles, sharks, or sea otters. These aquascapes, called biotopes, must be designed to accurately mimic the natural biological habitat of the animals.
Water features include ponds and waterfalls that appear at office complexes, parks, or family estates. Many of these features are not natural. They can be built from scratch. This means that the entire aquascape is designed. Rocks, plants, and fish are hand selected to create the ideal aquascape. One company, Aquascape Inc. has excelled at this process and has even created a Certified Aquascape Contractor certification and apprenticeship program.
Another big decision in aquascapes is whether to use fresh or salt water. Fresh water is easier to manage, while salt water is a true challenge. It is harder to grow ornamental plants in salt water and the main focus tends to be on reef life. It is equally appealing to view, but much more time consuming.
Creating aquascapes is a satisfying process. It can also be a fun job. Aquascapers, or aquarists, work for large aquariums or contracting firms. Many learn the trade through owning and aquascaping their personal aquariums. Others may have a background in marine biology or landscape design. The best way to get recognized is to enter contests like the annual one sponsored by the Aquatic Gardeners Association or the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest.
Aquascapes are an exciting spin off from traditional gardening. If you’ve always been drawn to water and the plants that grow beneath, then jump into aquascaping and see if you have what it takes to excel in this fascinating plant related job.