There are four major types of aquascaping styles, each of them having particular characteristics and unique features: the Dutch Aquarium, Iwagumi style, the Nature Aqurium and the less difficult Jungle style. Below is a short description of these four main styles.
The Dutch Aquarium
Popularized in the 1930’s in the Nederlands, with the marketing of the first aquarium equipment, this aquascaping style is entirely focused on the culture and arrangement of aquatic plants.
The Dutch style does not involve the use of driftwood or any hardscape materials (rocks and stones). The main focus is placed on the height, colour and texture of a wide variety of aquatic plants. The basic technique of construction is the terracing approach.
It may look easy to accomplish, but the truth is aquascapers need to possess a great quantity of knowledge regarding different plants in order to create an aesthetically pleasing Dutch style aquascape.
The Iwagumi – A Japanese Zen Style
Iwagumi is all about calmness and a zen feeling. Inspired from the Japanese gardening style, this type of aquascape looks easy to create at a first glance.
As opposed to the Dutch style, which only makes use of plants, the implementation of the Iwagumi aquascaping style is based on the design of an arrangement of rocks (hardscape), their positioning being particularly careful. Only 1 to 3 species of aquatic plants are used.
The use of low-growing plants is very common in order to enhance their natural beauty and their disposal.
The typical setup for an Iwagumi aquascape involves the use of three main stones. The larger one is called the big Buddha. Two smaller stones (attending stones) are added afterwards, to complete the design.
In order to create a sense of unity and harmony to the tank, it is important to use stones that have the same color and texture.
The Nature Aquarium Style
This aquascaping style was introduced by Japanese Takashi Amano in the 1990’s and it is characterized by a very natural look and feel.
Opposed to the Iwagumi style, the Nature Aquarium is all about creating interesting visual contrasts, tension and complexity.
The Nature Aquarium style aims to create a scape that resembles a landscape or image from the natural world. Most common Nature Aquarium aquascapes depict underwater versions of rainforests, mountains, hillsides, beaches or valleys.
By far the best aquascapers employing the Nature Aquarium style are the ones from Asia and Brazil.
Both hardscape material (driftwood, rocks) and plants play an important role in the quest for balance in the aquarium.