Theories and Tips on Aquascaping & Fish Keeping

Under Construction
There is already an abundance of fish keeping knowledge available online and in stacks of books available at libraries and book stores.  It would be silly for me to reiterate that knowledge here.  What I am attempting to do with this page is offer my own insights, theories, and tips that I have learned for anyone interested in the aquarium hobby.  This is by no means a comprehensive "how to care for your fish" resource.

Enjoying Yourself
Fish keeping and aquascaping should be relaxing and enjoyable, however, it becomes very labor intensive if you allow it to run amok.  The laundry list of chores that go along with maintaining a tank by way of water changes, scrubbing algae off of plants and glass, checking PH and Ammonia levels, and monitoring the health of fish sounds like a miserable obligation to many outside the aquarium hobby.  I once thought the very same thing.  Now I look forward to spending time with my fish and I enjoy time spent on water changes and maintenance and a rewarding cup of coffee while watching them swim when the work is done.

The trick to enjoying yourself in the aquarium hobby is to pair knowledge gained through research and experience with a little bit of experimentation and artistic license so that your aquarium is personalized, unique, satisfying, and of low demand.  Phrased differently, you should own your tank, your tank should not own you.

Functional Tank Design
Before your tank can be beautiful, it must first be functional.  That means it is easy to access, it is simple to clean, and it keeps your fish and plants healthy.
1.  The best laid plans can be ruined with a single water change because the substrate of your tank is not fixed in place.  Water changes often shift the substrate around and ruin your aquascape.  Provide a flat rock or flat piece of driftwood (approximately 5" minimum in any direction) as a landing pad to absorb the shock of water flowing into your tank during a water change.  This will prevent substrate from blowing around, clouding the water, letting plants float away, and generally creating more work.

2. Nooks and crannies are hard to reach, especially when there is driftwood blocking them from every angle.  Consider how to create easier access to these areas and position filtration as close to them as possible to aid in removing waste.

Beautiful Aquascaping "Rules" I Have Enjoyed Breaking
  1. "Tall plants in the back, short plants in the front."  Sound advice for the majority of your tank, but sometimes a greater sense of depth is achieved simply by placing one or two tall yet "spindly" plants in the foreground.  This allows you to see fish swimming behind them, around them, and through them.

  2.  "The substrate must be (fill in the blank) inches thick."  Okay, this is half true.  If you want a healthy tank with lush plant growth you must provide a substrate that is deep enough to allow root growth for healthy plants.