What are some very creative aquarium designs

5 patent recipes for your aquascape layout

Not every aquarist is and doesn't have to be super creative. Even if you are very creative - these 5 patent recipes are a good starting point for your individually designed aquascape.

Even the professionals often rely on these basic designs. When I look at photos from prestigious competitions like the IAPLC, I often see precisely these patent remedies again. The differences then arise from the stones and woods used. Different planting can also make the same basic layout look completely different.

I have freely chosen the names for these furnishing examples to describe the individual layouts. Here are the 5 magic recipes:

1. "Triangle"

The triangle is always an excellent choice when it comes to good layouts. The straight baseline gives the aquascape a solid impression, while the diagonal lines create tension and guide the viewer's gaze.

The triangle is created by the combination of substrate and hardscape.

How is the triangle created? It's not that you need a single, triangular stone or triangular piece of wood for this layout. This effect also describes the gestalt law of closeness. The shape of the triangle is created by the entirety of your hardscape. Stones, roots and woods are arranged in such a way that they are perceived as a triangle together.

When setting up the hardscape, check again and again with a look through the front window whether the desired shape is clearly recognizable.

With the Aquascape "Triangle" layout, it is basically irrelevant where the tip of the triangle is placed. Try a few variations. The use of the golden ratio has proven to be particularly effective.

Rule of thirds or the golden section. I have positioned the tip of the triangle on the right-hand side in this furnishing example in the golden ratio. The main stone is best placed in the golden ratio.

2. "V"

The "V" design is based on the effect of diagonals. The V is made up of two diagonals and leads the view from the side above into the center of the aquarium. The point where these diagonals meet is the clear focus point of the layout.

The larger rock formation on the left and the smaller one on the right are both about a third wide. The middle third is largely free and can be designed with smaller plants.

Instead of using the hardscape, you can also emphasize the focal point with a special plant.

3. "Centered"

A centered design usually exudes a greater calm than layouts that use the golden ratio. The challenge here is not to let this calm appear boring. This is possible, for example, by using interesting materials. Brightly colored stones create a good contrast and attract attention.

The softscape, i.e. the plants, can also contribute to the tension in the overall impression through colors and shapes.

4. "Forest wilderness"

The furnishing example "forest wilderness" is designed a little more densely, nevertheless it does not appear restless. On the contrary - the long root, which extends through the entire aquarium, looks almost graceful.

5. "The valley"

The valley is a downright "classic" motif in aquascaping. There are significantly raised stone structures on the left and right. Note how the size of the aquarium tank is in relation to the individual stones. Too often beginners do not dare to use really large hardscape parts. In doing so, you will achieve a significantly better effect. Find out more about sizes in aquascaping here.

The large "mountains" on your side create a contrast to the flat landscape in the valley. This gives the layout an exciting depth effect. In the valley it is a good idea to let a “lawn” grow. Alternatively, you can use gravel or sand of a different color here.


These were my 5 patent recipes for a successful aquascape. These suggestions are a starting point and do not need to be strictly followed. Feel free to let your own ideas flow in. Once you've chosen your hardscape, the shape of a particular root may give you a new idea. That's great!

When it comes to creating an aquarium, I always feel that I take stones and roots in my hand, twist and turn and all of a sudden a new idea arises. Simply from a very specific shape or the interaction of the individual parts. For these things it is impossible to develop a magic formula or to give specific tips except: "Take a close look at the individual parts and shapes, try them out until you find a setup that you are happy with".

Influence of the plants on the shape

When setting up, consider where you will be planting which plants. If you plant very tall plants on the sides, the triangle may no longer be seen as clearly. The aquatic plants in the aquarium should support your layout. Therefore, a rough plan for hard- and softscape is very advisable. Regularly pruning the plants is also an important step in maintaining the clear shape of any aquascape.

The plants in the aquascape should be arranged in such a way that they support your aquarium design.

If you want to collect more ideas for your aquascape, I recommend this book by Star Aquascaper Oliver Knott to you. He gives some great examples here of what is possible with simple means. The book shows you sketches by Oliver Knott and the resulting aquarium. The great photos by Chris Lukhaup are a highlight in themselves.

Have fun setting up your aquarium! Also, check out my extensive aquarium setup guide, where I give tons of useful tips.

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