Aquascaping Designs – Taiwanese Aquascaping Style
Now that you already determined the ideal location and dimensions of your tank, it is time to think about your planted aquarium style. This article will discuss the different aquascaping designs to unleash the inner artist in you, specifically, the Taiwanese Aquascaping style.
Aquascaping is the art of arranging aquatic plants, driftwood, rocks, stones, and even the substrate in an aesthetically pleasing and natural manner.
You probably searched on the internet and was overwhelmed by tons of aquascaping images and still cannot decide. So in this article: the main characteristics, what tank to use, light, substrate, if you need CO2, what filter, fertilizer, hardscape, what fish and plants will be discussed to help you in your decisions.
Table of Contents
What Tank to Use?
What Light to Use?
Do I Need to Inject CO2?
Do I Need to Dose Fertilizers?
Why is it so important to know the different aquascaping designs?
These are no strict rules, and there is nothing that will hinder you from getting out of a particular design’s theme and combining it with other styles.
However, you’ll probably can create a much more appealing result if you are following a particular style.
So without further ado, here are the most common styles/designs you’ll see in planted aquariums.
This style is characterized by many different assortments of plants and leaf types. Carefully planning and designing a multitude of textures, shapes, and plants’ colors is the main focus. It is much like the terrestrial plants that are displayed in flower gardens. It commonly employs raised layers, or terraces, known as “Dutch streets” that taper towards the rear to convey the perspective of depth.
Aquascaped by Jay-R Huelar Philippines
This style re-creates various terrestrial landscapes like hills, valleys, mountains, rain forests, even a half-submerged ecosystem. This design has limitless potential for beauty and creativity. The Nature aquascape or Ryoboku Style encompasses the same core principles of Japanese gardening techniques.
Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines
It is a style that is characterized by its daring stone formations, elegance, simplicity of open space with carpeting plants only, and dedication to conveying a natural and tranquil setting. The style features a series of stones arranged according to the Golden Ratio, or Rule of Thirds. There should always be an odd number of stones to prevent the layout from balancing.
Aquascaped by Monnette Arañas Philippines
The Jungle Style encompasses the wild, untamed look. It is the complete opposite of the Dutch style, more organized and looks like a conventional tulips garden. The Jungle style overlaps with the core elements of the Nature Style except that the Jungle Style has little to no visible hardscape and limited open space due to the overgrown plants. The plants are even allowed to reach the surface and beyond.
Aquascaped by Franco Chester Pongco Philippines
The Hardscape Diorama Style is still a subset of the Nature Style. The only differences are emphasizing using a lot of hardscapes and building complex nature-like structures such as forest, caves, bonsai trees, canyons, or even fantasy worlds. Dynamic skills should be mainly displayed here to create an illusion of depth, scale, and proportions.
Aquascaped by Michael Yap Philippines
A Paludarium is a type of vivarium that contains water and land in the same environment or encasement. The design can simulate natural habitats such as rainforests, jungles, streams, riverbanks, and bogs. In a Paludarium, part of the aquarium is underwater, and part is above water.
Aquascaped by Yuno Cyan Philippines
The Taiwanese Style of Aquascaping combines the elements of Nature, Iwagumi, or Dutch styles, but the most bizarre feature is using figurines, toys, etc. in the tank to create a sense of life. The style isn’t prevalent anymore, but there are still many hobbyists quite fascinated by this style.
Aquascaped by Ian Garrido Philippines
The biotope style seeks to perfectly imitate a particular aquatic habitat at a specific geographic location. From the fish to plants, the rocks, substrate, driftwood, water current, and even the water and current parameters of a certain aquatic habitat must be the basis of trying to recreate the natural environment, and not necessarily convey like a garden-like display.
Aquascaped by Lao Ricci Philippines
The Walstad Method choose to grow plants using very minimum technology as possible. This approach, which is sometimes called “The Natural Planted Tank” and is made popular by Diana Walstad, suggested using soil as a cheap replacement to the aquasoil or aquarium gravel, sometimes with no filtration, no CO2 injection, and limited lighting.
Aquascaped by Mark Ivan Suarez Philippines
The Taiwanese Style of Aquascaping combines the elements of Nature, Iwagumi, or Dutch styles, but the most bizarre feature is using figurines, toys, etc. in the tank to create a sense of life. Just make sure that the ‘object’ you will use will not leak any harmful substances in the water column outright and as time goes by.
Taiwanese Style Tie Fighter Star Wars Black Edition 7 Gallons Low-Tech Aquascaped by Jody T. Dela Cruz Philippines
The style isn’t very common anymore, but there are still a lot of hobbyists quite fascinated by the style, including me. I even want to try this as well in the future.
The core elements you learned from Dutch, Nature, or Iwagumi styles can be applied here, and you can even combine the styles. You also can base your design in one style, like for example, a Nature aquascape, and then place your figurines or toys in them.
Taiwanese Style with Buddha Figurine Aquascaped by Doi Suason Philippines
You may visualize this as a forest, or you are in the mountains trekking, and then you saw an old World War II plane on the branches of a tree high above (I can’t find any example of this so, please forgive the small car below), rotting, and nature taking-over it. That is the main theme of the Taiwanese Style, a foreign object in a natural ecosystem.
The illusion of depth, scale, and proportion is still at play here by carefully selecting the size of your hardscapes that will blend with the size of your foreign object that you want to showcase.
Taiwanese Style Toy Car Aquascaped by Stoffer Samudio Philippines
What Tank to Use?
The recommended tanks in Nature, Dutch, or Iwagumi style can be used in the Taiwanese style. 10, 15, to 20 gallons long is ideal with more depth than height. Nano tanks can also be effectively used, especially if the foreign object you are using is small.
Taiwanese Style Tie Fighter-Star Wars 2.5 Gallons Low-Tech Aquascaped by Jody T. Dela Cruz Philippines
What Light to Use?
It depends on the plants that you are using. For example, on the right, the hobbyist only used a lot of Bucephalandra sp., a hardy plant. So a low to medium lighting can be used.
If your design contains carpeting and colored (red) plants and uses a long tank with less height, a decent LED light containing white, red, and blue LEDs will work.
However, I will still suggest using a dimmer every time so that you can adjust the light lower when algae start to show off their fangs.
If you know electronics and building skills, you can even DIY/experiment with your light fixture with LED bulbs, high powered LED beads. Some had success with LED floodlights, even 5730, 5630, 5050, and 3528 LED strips. I personally DIYed a 5630 LED strips lighting fixture, with warm white, cool white, red and blue LEDs, and a generic 3rd party dimmer.
Whichever route you choose for your planted aquarium lighting, the most important thing is you should be able to control/adjust the intensity (which can be done with 3rd party dimmers for LEDs, or if dimmers are not possible, you should be able to adjust the height of your lighting fixture.
Aquasoil is still the best for your plants. For epiphyte plants like Anubias, mosses, and Java Ferns, you can tie or stick them on the hardscapes. You can also use inert sand or crushed lava rocks for aesthetic purposes or finer details.
You can also use regular potting or gardening soil topped with a thin layer of inert black, beige, or white sand for your plants to save cost on aqua soils. However, you may want to uproot your plants sometime in the future, and this will create a mess of flying debris and gunks when using soil, even if it is topped with sand. Please keep that in mind.
Do I Need to Inject CO2?
If your design has some of the core elements of a Dutch-style [demanding and colored (red) plants] and the lush carpeting plants of an Iwagumi style, you need to inject CO2.
If you are just showcasing undemanding plants from Nature or Jungle style, you don’t need to inject CO2. However, if you want to achieve the Jungle canopy effect faster, injecting CO2 is still feasible.
An appropriate size Canister or HOB filter should provide the needed filtration, water surface agitation, good flow to distribute the nutrients and dissolved CO2 (if you are injecting CO2) in the water column across the whole tank. Mini submersible pumps can be deployed to aid with the distribution and providing water current.
Aim for 5x to 10x the water turnover rate. For example, if you have 15 gallons long tank, you should choose a filter that turns over the water at 75 (x5) to 150 gallons per hour (gph) (x10).
Do I Need to Dose Fertilizers?
Dosing fertilizers still depends on the plants that you used. Dose leaner or not at all for undemanding plants and if you are using aquasoil or gardening soil I described above in the Substrate section.
Otherwise, dose fertilizers combined with the balance of good lighting and CO2 if you want to achieve the Jungle effect, or Iwagumi’s lush carpet and the beauty of Dutch’s red plants faster.
You can insert Osmocote capsules/beads (a slow-release fertilizer) deep into the substrate to fertilize the substrate. Most carpeting plants benefit from this to spread faster and get thicker. This also works on your hungry stem plants by inserting beads of Osmocote near the plants’ roots.
Even aqua soils deplete its nutrients over time, and you can insert Osmocote into your substrate every 6 months.
The amount of rocks and driftwood that can be used depends on your design and the tank’s size. Please also note that the larger the tank is, the hardscape materials and even the substrate (aquasoil) can easily sky-rocket in cost, even much higher than the tank, plus the equipment.
It is much better to concentrate your efforts, time, and money in small to medium-sized tanks concerning hardscapes than a larger tank that looks half-bare or half-scaped.
Taiwanese Style Abandoned Gundam Robot 2.5 Gallons Low-Tech Aquascaped by Jody T. Dela Cruz Philippines
Shoaling/schooling fish with strong coloring is recommended. Cardinal/Neon Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, Rummy nose tetras, Ember Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras are recommended. Aim for only 1-2 different species each of schooling fish with at least 6 individuals.
Taiwanese Style Toy Soldiers Aquascaped by Stoffer Samudio Philippines
The Taiwanese Style of Aquascaping was once trendy among the aquascaping community, but it has fallen out of style in recent years. Nonetheless, there are still a lot of hobbyists enchanted about it.
It combines the elements of Nature, Iwagumi, or Dutch styles, but the most bizarre feature is using figurines, toys, etc. in the tank to create a sense of life.
I hope you enjoyed this article and if ever you have additional questions or want to share your experiences with the Taiwanese Aquascaping Style, please leave a comment below.
Next, we will be discussing the Biotope Aquariums.