Keeping fish used to be a very simple hobby, however like most things the concept has developed into a more complex, design centred past time, for those so inclined.
Aquascaping takes the focus on to the habitat. It is the combination of plants, wood, rocks and more to create a mini world within the tank. Creating a micro biosphere within the tank takes a lot of dedication to develop the various structures it contains. Plants need tending to retain their natural beauty and rocks are placed just so to create the right look.
Fish keeping centres more on fish. Creating the conditions that are perfect for them to thrive requires research and regular maintenance to make sure that the water is exactly right. Some fish, especially more exotic species can require delicate feeding and care to survive.
So is there an argument for one over the other?
Aquascapers believe that creating the natural habitat of fish, such as Cichlids, encourages the most natural behaviour and as such enriches the lives of fish. Of course, this also means we can see them in all their natural glory. This type of aquascaping is a biotope, as it replicates the biological environment.
In fact, some aquascape enthusiasts believe that fish should only be kept in as natural an environment as possible, and not to do so deprives them of their natural breeding and development opportunities.
Aquascaping can be as natural and wild or as structured and developed as you like. A natural river bed of stones and grasses looks beautiful as does a very cultivated underwater woodland scene.
Those interested in the hobby can take their designs to shows and competitions all over the world.
There are several ‘styles’, including:
- Dutch style which combines lush, dense planting with colours and textures.
- Natural or Japanese style mimics a natural, minimalist, natural landscape. This generally involves rocks placed strategically.
- Jungle or wild style, as the name suggests is more of a haphazard look. However like all aspects of aquascaping this takes a lot of thought to place the components in just the right place to create an untamed wilderness.
Of course many people keep fish for years without the need for strategically placed rocks and plants, so some fish keepers will argue that it is not necessary to go to such lengths.
As long as the water is well maintained and tested regularly for ammonia, phosphates and other unwelcome elements, fish can survive well. Of course the right lighting is vital too for certain types of fish as is good filtration and heating.
So really, isn’t aquascaping just one step further? The addition of rocks, plants and wood will enhance the beauty of the aquarium and if this in turn enriches the lives of fish and other organisms that can only be a good thing.
Both types of hobby require a great deal of maintenance. Regular water tests and changes are vital to maintain the right conditions for a healthy aquarium. Plants and fish alike need the right amount of food, light and oxygen to thrive and this must be monitored for the best results. Using a good aquatics retailer such as Swell UK will mean you have the right kit for every eventuality.
Like most hobbies, how far it goes depends upon the time, effort and cost that the hobbyist can and wants to dedicate to it. There is really no right or wrong way to keep fish or plant stunning aquascapes, as long as the live stock is well taken care of and thrives.