Aquascaping: A Beginner’s Guide

The patience and commitment requirements of fishkeeping and aquarium maintenance mean that taking the next step of aquascaping can be daunting to say the least. Never fear, there are a few key tips which will ensure your struggle is minimised while your enjoyment is maximised!


Carefully considering and creating a landscape in your aquarium is art, and every artist needs their tools – whether they be paint brushes, easels or aquascaping tools! A collected tool set such as this 6 piece assortment will be a great starting point. If you do not already own an aquarium, there will also be the initial set up too – with the aquarium itself, substrate, filter and filter media etc. If you’re an absolute beginner, take a look at our previous guides for getting started here!


Don’t be daunted by the prospect of having to maintain a diverse garden in your tank! Less is more when it comes to displaying aqua flora. Start with one or two select plant species; when interspersed between rocks and an eye-catching feature they can create an impressive vista.

If you’re looking at accommodating tropical fish, they like the option to hide when they feel threatened, so try to provide plants, rocks and features which give shelter. 

You could even supplement your foliage with artificial plants too – which are perfect for beginners who may be concerned about balancing the correct water content and possibly requiring specialist lighting.

Composition & scale

Choosing objects in your tank which create a sense of scale can produce stunning results. Try complementing a few choice larger rocks with a fine top layer of gravel. If you choose to utilise a prominent feature, it’s a safe bet to place it slightly to one side of your aquarium. Many aquascapes utilise the “Golden Ratio” where the focal point is at 1:1.62 (about a third into the “frame”). Symmetry is generally disregarded in aquascaping, so the golden ratio is a good starting point, but there really are no rules. Be as creative as you like! 

As you progress, you might begin to hone your attention to detail, but at least to start: don’t be shy, and don’t put too much pressure on your creation! You’ll be thrilled with your creativity regardless of any expectations. Simply taking the first step is all it takes, and that can be the hardest bit.


If you choose to dig deeper into the world of aquascaping, try looking at inspiration not only from existing creations, but from nature. Look for inspiring views in nature (either above or below water) to replicate on a smaller scale in your tank. 

Take a look at some of our previous Aquarium of the Month finalists below for inspiration, and visit our aquatics and marine section to prepare for your new Aquascape!

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