Aquascape designs rely on various factors to create stunning visual effects and landscapes. One of the important things to consider when starting a new project is height. Different plants can be planted on different height levels.
Once you understand how your tank can influence the height of your plants, you will be ready to learn how to choose the best tank format to reach your final goal and grow your plants at the height you desire.
Plant height can also be manipulated actively by using different types of substrate and techniques to use more vertical space in your tank. As you know, different plants are made to grow on different heights. You will learn how to grow plants on different height layers properly to keep them growing effectively.
Choosing the right tank for an aquascape aquarium
Aquascaping is a very rich hobby; aquascapers are very creative persons and always find new and exciting ways to exploit designs. This results in the growing demand for more and more different tank types with varying sizes and heights.
Even though most standard aquarium tanks prioritize height over width to give fish more vertical space to move, more and more aquariums that have more width than height are getting popular right now. After all, a tank that has less vertical room but more horizontal space will offer you a bigger space to express your creativity and create a stunning landscape.
More width can also allow you to arrange the design into multiple layouts to create different visual effects and make better use of focal points and the rule of thirds. As your tank is the most crucial and starting point of your aquascape project, you need to choose it very carefully.
It needs to respect the recommended size to be a good tank, your tank’s width should at least be half of its length for you to be able to create good visual effects, remember that more is even better as it will give you even more room to play with.
Height shouldn’t be neglected as it’s a vital criterion as well; an optimal tank height should always be at least half the length of the tank. This will allow you to best use vertical space, provide enough space for your fish to roam around, and create vertical layers for different plants that grow best at different heights.
Cubic Tank or Panoramic Tank?
Even though most aquariums prioritize height, you can find plenty of aquascape tanks that put more focus on width. Panoramic tanks make use of the panorama format. This format will make it easier to create stunning landscapes inside the tank because of its much lower height to its width.
Panorama tanks are best used to grow small carpeting plants. The goal of this tank is to best use width and let the vertical space free. Making good use of low height plants and hardscape to create pleasing visual effects is the key to mastering this tank.
At the opposite of the panoramic tank, comes the cubic tank. These tanks are extremely popular right now and for good reasons. A cubic tank will have much more height and vertical space than a panoramic or standard tank.
The increased height will allow you to use the vertical space fully and create vertical layouts where you can grow different plants that reach different sizes. This tank is very good for growing tall stem plants. Cubic tanks can look more exotic than their panoramic counterpart as they are way more compact and look smaller.
Cubic tanks have the advantage of having a unique look and can fit in very small places due to their compactness compared to more standard tanks. Nanocubes can be used and fit extremely well in any environment such as a desk, a nightstand, or a living room and will, despite their smaller size, capture attention easily thanks to their tall stem plants.
Choosing the best height for your plants
The height you will use for your plants will depend on many factors like their type and final form. In this article, you will learn how the size and height of your tank can influence the height at which you will plant your plant.
Manipulating height with the substrate
To create a successful aquascape design and great landscape, you must be able to effectively use height. Many new aquascapers fail to understand how crucial good use of vertical space is.
The total amount of vertical space is dependent on the tank you’re using, but other than that, you can also manipulate it by using different types of substrates or creating illusions by using hardscape in a certain way.
The main objectives of aquascape are both to create a stunning landscape and a 3D landscape by using focal points and visual illusions. Height plays a capital role in creating this. One of the key points to creating a 3D landscape is making good use of height and substrate.
Indeed an evenly spread out substrate will most likely negate any 3D aspect of your design as it will create a flat and 2D feeling. The 3D aspect can only be created by balancing height and creating disparities in the design. Using the substrate to create different height layers will allow you to use different plants that benefit from growing at different heights.
A lot of aquascapes, when trying to manipulate height by using a substrate, resort to simply mounding it. While this solution might appear to be very simple, it’s also quite ineffective and shouldn’t be used.
This method has many downsides, and you will need to monitor your substrate constantly as, over the long term, your fish activity and the activity of bottom dwellers like shrimps will cause erosion to happen to the mound and might threaten to make it collapse.
If you plan on having a lot of unplanted space like in an Iwagumi tank, for example, then your design will especially be vulnerable to erosion if using this method. If you still want to follow this method, then you will most likely need to arrange the substrate properly with a sand flattener once a week, which will make for a more maintenance-heavy tank.
However, if you’re using plenty of low height plants and plants that have roots, then they will most likely root themselves to the substrate and will protect it from any erosion even if there’s heavy shrimp activity in the area.
Planting on different height layers
As you’re probably aware, most aquascapers divide their tank into different layers. Tanks are commonly divided into the foreground, middle ground, and background layouts.
This layout system is good for beginners as it’s very simplistic, and you can use it to effectively represent where you want each piece of your design to be. However, this design has the major flaw of being way too simplistic to create a real depth visual effect.
This mainly comes from the fact that this layout system only uses horizontal space and has no concern for vertical space. Creating many layers and using verticality will allow for stronger visual effects and depth.
Creating many layers and using verticality can seem hard at first, but it depends on simply following basic rules. Your layouts must be arranged in a way that they rise towards the back. You can create this visual effect by gradually adding height close to the background you are.
Keep in mind that the transition must be smooth and not too abrupt, or it might make it feel unnatural and forced. You can make use of fast and high growing stem plants that can later be trimmed to match the height you desire for each layout.
Whatever you do, you must try not to make your layout items symmetrical and aligned as symmetry and alignment is nearly never found in nature and will create a very forced and unnatural feeling. Each subsequent layer should add a bit more of elevation and an item that can be visible from the foreground.
You should now have a pretty good understanding of what the best height to plant in aquascape aquarium is. Keep in mind that many factors will influence the best height to plant your plant and that each plant type is different and can be used in many ways depending on your design and layout.
As you’ve learned you can influence plant height indirectly by choosing a certain aquarium format such as panoramic for lower height and cubic for higher height. There are of course ways to actively impact plat height such as using a different substrate to create a thicker base for your layout or using different vertical layouts to impact plant height by creating visual effects and illusions.
Keep in mind that your aquarium style will dramatically impact your plant height as well. Going for a Dutch or Iwagumi tank, for example, will usually mean relying on low height and carpeting plants mainly, whereas other styles like pond style aquariums will make use of many different plants and will combine both low and high height. Of course, you can always influence plant height with trimming.