Hopefully you've landed on this page because you are developing a passion for the aquascaping hobby. We couldn't find much information out there on techniques for improving existing tanks or how you can improve your aquascaping skills, so we've put together this list of 10 things that we recommend you consider.
Take a photo of your aquascape and review it. All the aquascapes we see online are photographs, and the vast majority are taken from the front of the tank. So why not do the same for your own creation to create an easy comparison. Do you like what you see? What could you do to improve it? Try and view it objectively like any other photo you would see online rather than your own tank.
Ensure the room is pitch black and the tank lights on max for your photograph to avoid reflections and allow the camera to take a crisp image.
Watch aquascape critiques such as these ones at The Aquascaping Podcast YouTube Channel and see what you can learn from the professionals rating and discussing amateurs work. These aquascapers are often part of competition judging panels or will have been judged by them, against many hundreds of entrants, so they really know what to look for to improve an aquascape. Whether or not you have made any of the same mistakes they highlight, these critiques should teach you to look at your own aquascape from a new perspective.
Invite others to critique your aquascape by posting a photo of it on an aquascaping forum like UKAPS.org (link here to a great example) and be ready to receive positive feedback, well thought out constructive comments or ideas to help improve the aquascapes from other forum members perspectives, links to resources to help you etc. We generally find that posts such as the ones seen on specialist sites get really great responses due to the passion of the forum members. Give us at ScapeEasy a mention while you're there too if you like!
Watching timelapse videos or step by step guides of aquascapes as they are being built by professional aquascapers, for example those by George Farmer on YouTube are a great way to see how these stunning aquascapes are built. There are often hints for what to avoid and tips for how to make things easier or more successful for you at home. This can give you new ideas and techniques you can use in your own tank (and they are often very relaxing to watch, as they are often set to music).5.
Create a virtual scrapbook of photos of aquascapes you really like. You can simply dump photos or screenshots from the web into a folder to refer back to them later on. Then when you get the time, analyse what it is you like about each one and how you think that look has been achieved. You can now apply what you have learnt to your own aquascapes. Don't forget to look at the detail in the photos... sometimes the smallest changes can make the biggest differences!6.
Look for professional aquascapes that have planting and hardscape layout diagrams available for them (the Tropica website's Inspiration section has loads which only use Easy plants) so you can see how the aquascape in question has actually been created. These act like instruction manuals for the aquascape in question so offer a great learning opportunity about both laying out aquascapes and planting them so they look natural.
We all know this old addage is very much true. But how can you practice aquascaping? One way is by drawing aquascape ideas like we recommended in the easy layouts article. This way you are freed from the restrictions of what hardscape materials you have available to you to practise with. You are also practising from the same view point that we view aquariums from online that inspire us - right in front. We draw ours electronically so we can easily modify them later on.8.
Build yourself a scaping box. If you already have some spare hardscape or want to practice actually laying out potential hardscape, build yourself a scaping box from an old cardboard box, by removing the top and front sections of the box. Then paint it white on the inside or line the sides and back with white paper. Then get practising your hardscape layouts to your heart's content! Try to do this at a height you might realistically view an aquascape from. We spent ages lying on the floor before we twigged onto that one!
Consider creating a small no-tech aquascape. These tanks are much easier to rescape time and time again and will show you what variety you can achieve even if you largely use the same hardscape and plants. They are also very inexpensive to put together and run, not requiring and filtration or heating, just something that will hold water! James Wong has put some inspirational ones together and is a bit of a pioneer for this approach. This is one of the best ways to practise planting layouts as well as hardscape.
Beyond this there is of course a plethora of great web content out there you may find of interest too... Joining an online forum dedicated to aquascaping such as the UK Aquatic Plant Society gives you a chance to chat to experienced aquascapers. You might also wish to consider subscribing to a podcast series like (the aptly named) The Aquascaping Podcast, and YouTube channels like George Farmer and Aquarium Gardens (well worth a visit in real life too). Finally, Instagram is a great tool for a very visual hobby and is quite popular among hobbyists. It also gives you an opportunity to share images of your own work should you wish.
Happy scaping! We hope you like our recommendations, if you have any more suggestions or any questions we'd love to hear them, please leave us a comment below.