Aquarium Hardscape: The Strong Bones of A Well-Structured Aquascape Layout

Create an underwater world by pairing any desirable aquarium hardscape with a touch of creativity. Sometimes, establishing a highly satisfying aquascape layout is quite challenging. Therefore, maximize your imagination to plan the perspective, depth, and color setting.

Here, we provide essential information about how to choose the best aquarium hardscape materials and create an astonishing layout design based on your passion. Then, you can realize a natural-look environment in your aquatic glass tank.

How to Arrange Hardscape Aquarium

hardscape aquarium
Source : https://lh3.googleusercontent.com

Hardscape means any decoration such as rocks, gravels, and tree roots instead of aquarium plants. Those basic elements are combined to create a perfect aquascape layout. They can be authentic materials from the ocean or human-made.

Aquarium Decoration Tips

aquarium hardscape
Source : https://pbs.twimg.com/

Aquariums are limited media that need some decorations to create a mirage of a big underwater space. To obtain a real aquatic environment is by filling up with fish population and hardscape design.

To make the tank look larger, opting for a group of tiny fish. Small species will give a great illusion in the narrow container. Thus, avoid choosing large aquatic animals to combine with the aquarium hardscape.

Consider choosing the hardscape, aquatic animals, and plants to establish attractive decorations. For example, opt for some materials to complete a classic look to your tank. Also, a large number of fish in the same type will be more impressive than various species.

Aquarium Hardscape Rocks

Aquarium Hardscape Rocks
Source : https://cdn.shopify.com

Let’s rock your tank with a huge collection of aquatic stones. Each variety offers a different color, size, and texture.

In the rocks, fish can have a safe place to breed and hide as feeling like a home. Besides safety and visual appeal, they will affect the amount of hardness and water pH.

Freshwater Aquarium Hardscape Rocks

aquarium hardscape materials
source : https://i.redd.it

There are safe and unsafe rocks for freshwater fish. Softer water that contains lower pH is preferable to create a comfortable environment. To prevent the water from being hard, do not choose stones with high calcium.

Several safe aquarium hardscape stones are shale, quartz, slate, basalt, and lava rocks. Various choices are available to suit any aquascape design.

High salt rocks such as marble, dolomite, and limestone are unsafe stones for freshwater tanks. Additionally, corals and shells should be avoided since those elements are perfect for higher hardness and pH.

Saltwater Hardscape Rocks

aquarium hardscape ideas
Source : https://www.reef2reef.com

Saltwater fish requires higher calcium, pH, and hardness water conditions. The best rocks that suit the needs are real reef rock and petrified coral.

The real reef rocks have red and purple colors. They contain preloaded bacteria without creepy-crawlies. However, those beautiful stones are not from the sea. Each piece serves a different appearance.

Moreover, live rocks are also safe aquarium hardscape stones for saltwater containers. The fish can thrive among those skeletons of dead corals in a confined environment. They also come with beneficial bacteria.

On the other hand, dead live rocks or dried reef stones do not provide many benefits, since the bacteria will not exist anymore.

They have an unattractive appearance with a bone-white dead look. However, you can use them as the last options because real reefs are still the best for all.

The Best Aquarium Hardscape Rocks

Seiryu Stones

Seiryu Stones
Source : https://i.pinimg.com

One of the best hardscape for a freshwater tank is Seiryu Stones. These all-natural rocks have vivid blue and gray hues with white veins stripes. They offer a realistic view of Japanese-themed aquascape layouts.

The stunning stones that feature sharp edges and deep cuts can instantly sink in the tank. However, the pH level of the freshwater will increase if you apply more Seiryu rocks. Put aquarium driftwood to neutralize the effect.

Dragon Stone Rocks

Dragon Stone Rocks
Source : https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

This versatile dragon rock turns your tank into a haven for the little aquatic animals. It imitates the ocean floor and river bed to make the fish feel at home. A school can swim together through the nooks, crannies, and hiding areas of the stone.

Dragon rocks also provide a sheltered area from intense light and a place for dwelling and breeding to the miniature ecosystem.

The natural holes and hollows are formed through erosion. Although the stones have a dusty looking, they exude aesthetic appeal to the aquarium.

Fire Glass Black Lava Rocks

Fire Glass Black Lava Rocks
Source : https://i.pinimg.com

Add life to your aquarium hardscape with this natural black lava. The color comes from the erosion of melted volcanic magma. It develops an exotic theme to the aquarium.

Also, this fire glass stone provides oceanic and tropical habitats to the tank. Although the lava rock does not have a shiny and clean look, it can capture the eyes of bystanders.

Artificial Granite Stones

Artificial Granite Stones
Source : https://cf.shopee.sg

This stone is a replica of granite from a solid resin material that gives visual interest to the tank. The human-made rock has safe, stackable, and sturdy features. It is the best aquarium hardscape for both saltwater and freshwater containers.

Additionally, the large holes of the stone give breeding place, resting spots, hide-away, and dwelling areas for the fish. Put back the natural ocean life habitat in your tank by adding the natural-looking rocks.

Aquarium Hardscape Materials

Aquarium Hardscape Materials
Source : https://odinaquatics.com

You need hardscape materials to build a foundation of the layout. They include rocks, stones, gravels, and woods. Combine those basic elements based on the styles you desire.

Aquascaping Woods

Aquascaping Woods
Source : https://plantedaquarium-chicago.com

Aquarium wood will create a stunning layout. To establish a mature feel in your tank, you can combine this eye-catching piece with aquatic plants such as Mircrosorum, Anubias, and mosses. There is a wide range of types to build a classic nature aquarium.

Aquascaping woods such as Manzanita, Bogwood, Redmoor, and bonsai tree driftwood are perfect for any aquarium design. They require soaking to be drenched before sinking. Therefore, sitting the branches in the water until they douse before putting into the fish tank.

Aquascaping Gravels

Aquascaping Gravels
Source : https://www.bigalspets.com

Gravels or sands will make an open beach area or become a cap of the nutrient substrate. Various colors and grain sizes are available to fit your aquascape needs.

Sands bring a natural bright white color for the planted aquatic tank. They enhance a river bed atmosphere without affecting the water quality.

Meanwhile, fine gravels are the ideal base layers for placing aquascape materials. The grain size is about 1 to 2 millimeters.

Steps to Arrange Aquarium Hardscape Supplies

Steps to Arrange Aquarium Hardscape Supplies
Source : https://dlgdxii3fgupk.cloudfront.net

Here is an easy way to arrange the supplies for aquascape designs. The first step is creating a base layer with fertilizing substrate and additives to improve bacterial life. Secondly, attach aquarium hardscape wood and stone to give a natural-looking view.

Then, spread the sands or gravels to get a compact foreground. After that, prepare the aquatic plants. Add small groups of mosses to the wood and stones.

The last step after planting is filling the tank with water. Do not forget to set up the light. Finally, a pleasant aquarium is ready for your tiny friends.

Aquarium Hardscape Ideas

Dutch-Style Aquarium

hardscape aquarium design
Source : https://aquascapinglove.com

This Dutch-style evokes the liveliness of aquatic species through various contrasting colors and shapes. The short shrubs that cover the foreground elaborate to mid-height.

Besides, the colorful plants on the hardscape evoke a sense of perspective on the layout.

Brazilian-Style Aquascape

Brazilian-Style Aquascape
Source : https://i.pinimg.com

Adding compact stem plants will give a touch of color to the Brazillian-style aquarium.  They also make the horizon line more alive by adding a sense of motion.

Moreover, the rocks resemble a rugged mountainside that enhances a naturalistic view.

Nature Aquarium Style

Nature Aquarium Style
Source : https://aquascapinglove.com

The impressive rock ridges create an effect on the horizon in the distance. To achieve this idea, putting the stone sides tall to the front tank and use a steep slope. Some great details include the rooted Anubias on the foreground.

Layout Guides for Aquarium Hardscape Design

There are some rules of guidance to build aquascapes. The basic hardscape design that will maximize the beauty of a tank is creating a perspective. The golden ratio offers a perfect balance of object arrangement in an aquarium.

Simplify the golden ratio into the rule of thirds. Thus, you can compose a dimensional layout from one angle like the front side of the tank.

Mark the position where the prominent aquarium hardscape will be placed. Define the height at 1/3 or 2/3 of the container.

Furthermore, plan the height of aquatic plants and other aquarium hardscape materials in the same way. You can choose the focal points at 1/3 of height and 2/3 negative area. Careful planting and placing the supplies with the golden ratios will provide a deep sense of perspective.

On the other hand, there are three popular layouts to design the hardscape. If you apply the rule of thirds, the negative space will be in the center of the tank. Add higher plants on the left and right sides to form a U-shape.

The triangle layout is another way to design an aquarium that locates in the corner of a room. Start planting from both corner sides of the tank. To decrease the height, use lower aquatic plants as they move away from the wall.

Moreover, the island is a perfect layout for a large planted aquarium. Put the planting and hardscape in the center of the tank. The height of the middle part is reducing to the lower of the edges to create the perspective.

To conclude, aquarium hardscape has a role in establishing a fabulous tank. The aquascape materials such as rocks, gravels, and tree roots become the strong bones to build a miniature of the natural ocean life ecosystem.

Leave a Comment