Taiwanese Aquascaping Style

by Apr 16, 202014 comments

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

Taiwanese Style
What Tank to Use?
What Light to Use?
What Substrate?
Do I Need to Inject CO2?
Filtration
Do I Need to Dose Fertilizers?
Hardscape
What Fish?
Plants Selection
Conclusion
Closing Remarks

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.

Dutch Style showing Dutch Streets 8 ft x 18 in x 13 in High-Tech Aquascaped by Jay-r Huelar Philippines

Dutch Style

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

Nature Style 12x12x10 in Low Tech Aquascaped by Fritz Rabaya Philippines

Nature Style

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

Iwagumi Style Aquascaped by Monnette Arañas Philippines

Iwagumi Style

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

Jungle Style Aquascaped by Franco Chester Pongco Philippines

Jungle Style

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

Hardscape Diorama Style Aquascaped by Michael Yap Philippines

Hardscape Diorama Style

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

Paludarium by Yuno Cyan Philippines

Paludariums

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

My Riparium in its Full Glory Before Trimming

Ripariums

A Riparium is a type of Vivarium that typically depicts an environment where water meets land (riverbanks, streambanks, the shoreline of marshes and swamps or lakes), but it does have minimal to no land parts, unlike a Paludarium (which provides significant land parts). In other words, you are replicating the shallow parts of these natural bodies of water.

Taiwanese Style with Lego Crab Aquascaped by Ian Garrido Philippines

Taiwanese Style - You Are Here

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

Biotope B3 Class of the Rio Negro Region Aquascaped by Lao Ricci Philippines

Biotopes

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

Walstad Tank No Filter Since Day 2 Aquascaped by Mark Ivan Suarez Philippines

The Walstad Method

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

Taiwanese Style

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 Resized

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 Buddha Figurine Aquascaped by Doi Suason Philippines

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

Taiwanese Style Toy Car Aquascaped by Stoffer Samudio Philippines

Taiwanese Style Railway Aquascaped by Emerson Manansala Philippines

Taiwanese Style Railway Aquascaped by Emerson Manansala 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

Taiwanese Style Tie Fighter-Star Wars 2.5 Gallons Low-Tech Aquascaped by Jody T. Dela Cruz Philippines

Taiwanese Style Aquascaped by Juan Wan Philippines

Taiwanese Style Aquascaped by Juan Wan 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 for planted aquariums 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.

Taiwanese Style with Lego Crab Aquascaped by Ian Garrido Philippines

Taiwanese Style with Lego Crab Low-Tech Aquascaped by Ian Garrido Philippines

What Substrate?

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.

Taiwanese Style Groot and Lion Figurines Aquascaped by Ronnie Faisst Philippines Resized

Taiwanese Style Groot and Lion Figurines Aquascaped by Ronnie Faisst Philippines

Taiwanese Style Buddha Figurine Aquascaped by Jacubex Odnil Philippines

Taiwanese Style Buddha Figurine Aquascaped by Jacubex Odnil Philippines

Filtration

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). The different types of filtration, types of filters that we can use in our planted aquariums, and considerations of what to look for in a planted aquarium filter are all discussed here.

Taiwanese Style Hardscaping by Alexis Gomez Philippines

Taiwanese Style Hardscaping Star Wars Theme by Alexis Gomez Philippines

Taiwanese Style Aquascaped by Jerson Ledesma Philippines

Taiwanese Style Aquascaped by Jerson Ledesma Philippines

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 soil depletes its nutrients over time, and you can insert Osmocote into your substrate every 6 months.

Taiwanese Style Buddha Figurine Aquascaped by Jerome Sinag Philippines

Taiwanese Style Buddha Figurine Aquascaped by Jerome Sinag Philippines

Taiwanese Style Skull Figurine Aquascaped by Marcky Bevic Rivera Philippines

Taiwanese Style Skull Figurine Aquascaped by Marcky Bevic Rivera Philippines

Hardscape

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 Resized

Taiwanese Style Abandoned Gundam Robot 2.5 Gallons Low-Tech Aquascaped by Jody T. Dela Cruz Philippines

What Fish?

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.

You can also keep snails such as Nerite Snails and Shrimps, such as Amano or Red Cherry Shrimps. These invertebrates are compatible with the fish species I mentioned above.

Taiwanese Style Toy Soldiers Aquascaped by Stoffer Samudio Philippines

Taiwanese Style Toy Soldiers Aquascaped by Stoffer Samudio Philippines

Taiwanese Style Making the Hardscape with a Sunken Ship by Alfred Repani Estrella Philippines

Taiwanese Style Making the Hardscape with a Sunken Ship by Alfred Repani Estrella Philippines

Taiwanese Style Monk Figurine Aquascaped by Jeremy Navarro Philippines

Taiwanese Style Monk Figurine Aquascaped by Jeremy Navarro Philippines

Conclusion:

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.

Want to Explore More?

Using a Trickle Filter Aquascaped by Jei Joaquin Philippines

Trickle Filters – Types of Planted Aquarium Filters

The trickle filter concept is to expose the water to as much air as possible, providing more dissolved oxygen. This will make your biological filtration very efficient and far better than other filters. If you can remember, your biological filtration’s efficiency in converting harmful substances (Ammonia and Nitrites) in your water into a less harmful form (Nitrate) depends on the amount of their food and oxygen in the water.

Water Parameter pH

pH – The Planted Aquarium Water Parameters

pH is the measure of the acidity and basicity of your water. The range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 as neutral. pH lower than 7 indicate acidity, and pH greater than 7 indicate basic or alkaline water. Like the Richter scale used to measure earthquakes, the pH scale is logarithmic, so a pH of 5.5 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 6.5.

DIY Table Stand with Metal Support by Omar Krishnan Jusico Afuang Philippines

Where to Place a Planted Aquarium at Home

Planted aquariums require less work to maintain (once you find the balance of everything) but need more work to set up for the first time. So we need to plan for it properly. Most importantly, we need to consider the ideal location of the tank at our home. So in this article, I will walk you through all the considerations on deciding where to place a planted aquarium at home. 

Pearl Gourami

The Planted Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

Why discuss this too early? Because it is easy for a beginner to get too excited to set up their first planted tank, set up the filter and lighting, begin aquascaping, planting, filling it with water, putting the fish in, etc., then meet the consequences.

New Tank Syndrome – this usually happens when you put fish/fishes, snails, shrimps in almost immediately after setting up your tank, harming the fish/es, snails, or shrimps and can even result in their untimely demise.

Water Drop on Grass After a Rain

Safe Water Sources for Planted Aquariums

How does Osmosis relate to the quality of water we used? It turns out, faunas and plants don’t only need pure H2O molecules. They also need salts (carbonates), minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron), etc. Present in the water but also not too much.

Closing Remarks

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.

14 Comments

  1. Norman

    Aquariums are really amazing and as for me, I have always been impressed at how these are constructed. This is a great investment by bringing nature indoors. What you have shared will help so many people that would want to have one of these amazing aquariums. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hi Norman,

      Thank you for your interest and appreciation about the article. I hope in some way or two, I was able to help you in your decision to start your very own planted aquarium at home.

      Reply
  2. Michael Gravette

    I really like the lush, jungle style.  But, I have a few questions.

    Will the fish eat the plants and are there certain fish that are better than others to have in a jungle type aquarium?

    I understand why you need to add C02 for the plants, but won’t that hurt the fish?

    I would like to do this, but I’m a little concerned about the maintenance involved.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Michael,

      Thank you for commenting and being interested in this article. The fish I recommend will not eat the plants, you may see them nipping the plants but it is actually the biofilm they are eating not the plant.

      CO2 is only on during lights on and the ideal CO2 concentration also depend on how intense is your light and how many plants you have and if you have very demanding plants. CO2 concentration in the water is measured by parts per million (ppm). 30 ppm for a well planted aquarium is just about ideal, while keeping the fish alive and not gasping for air in the water line. 

      I only have undemanding plants and some demanding plants but no ‘very’ demanding plants on lights and CO2. So I just keep my CO2 injection at 2 bubbles per second (bps) lights at 80%. CO2 is on for 8 hours only, one hour before light turns on and CO2 off one hour before lights turn off. My drop checker won’t turn green so I guess it is under 30 ppm (it turns green if i have it set at 3 bps but I don’t want to trim everyday or every other day), but every plants I have are still thriving. 

      But the most important thing is your CO2 concentration should be consistent during photo period. If it is 15 ppm, it should stay 15 ppm for the whole 8 hours. This is to avoid certain algae that loves you when your CO2 is fluctuating. 

      Anyway, CO2 injection will be covered in depth in one of the future articles coming soon.

      Reply
  3. Ragul

    This text is amazingly structured and easy to read! I really enjoyed reading about Aquascaping design. My favourite one was the Taiwanese style! It is really beautiful. Amazing written article and the styles were impressive! 

      Amazing work on the review and good job! Keep working just like this and you will succeed! 

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Thank you Ragul for the compliment. PLease watch out for more articles coming soon.

      Reply
  4. Kirkman

    There is always a feeling with each design that is mad and followed with the aquarium.

    The taiwanese aquascaping style is probably not my most favorite of the various styles but i love the simplicity and the fact that there is a meaning to it. a friend of mine would love this so much i should share this article with him

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hi Kirkman thanks for your interest and appreciation on the article. I hope your friend will like it as well.

      Reply
  5. Smoochi

    This is a great piece of work, creating this superb article. the taiwanese aquascaping design is one with true definition of what the aquatic life can be in taiwan. the extra representation is nice.

    the selection of fish is nice but i would need to review the fishes. i do not know two of them. thank you for this article.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hi Smoochi thanks for coming back! If you have some questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Please come back for more articles coming soon!

      Reply
  6. Daniella

    Hi there,

    Great article, I really loved the reading.

    I bought a tiny aquarium for my daughter because she loves fishes but it is too small and now I am looking for a bigger one so I can buy more fishes. Even though Taiwanese aquariums have fallen out of style, I think they are beautiful. I am going for it. I’ll check these aquariums with my daughter. I do have some questions, though. How many fishes can live inside this type of aquarium? Also, can every sort of fishes live together? I mean, will they get along together? I am not really familiar with fishes:) Oh, my last question. If I buy them online, will I be able to purchase pieces if need to?

    Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hi Daniella thank you for your question. The examples I mentioned are nano schooling fish species, they can be put into a community tank, they are peaceful and will not cause problems to other fish and plants. But in order for them to school you need at least 6 individuals. But the number of fish you can place in a tank depends on the size of your aquarium, if it is planted or not, what kind of filter you are using, and the adult size of the actual fish you want.

      The one inch per gallon rule leaves plenty of room for error.

      But to just give you a quick example, if you have a 10 to 15 gallons planted aquarium, you can put 6 cardinal tetras with no issues. or 6 ember tetras……..i will not suggest both which equals to 12. But if your tank is heavily planted and your filtration and filter medias can keep up with the bio-load, there should be no issues. 

      If you can take a look at my tank at the home page its a 35 gallons high standard tank. There are a lot of fish, i couldn’t keep count, but it is heavily planted, platties and mollies are spawning wildly they are all small fish (fish won’t breed if they are not happy and if the environment is not conducive to mating). For now my canister filter is coping up but I plan to give the platties juveniles to other hoobyists after the quarantine. 

      We will tackle more about on fishes and stocking in depth in an upcoming article coming soon.

       

      Reply
  7. Jerry

    Great article and interesting read.

    I didn’t know that there were actually styles to these sort of tanks. While I personally don’t own any, I’ve had friends and family who have had aquariums like these and I always thought that they were beautiful and somewhat therapeutic.

    Reply
    • Lemuel Sacop

      Thank you for the appreciation Jerry. Please watch out for more articles coming soon.

      Reply

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