What is a Dutch Style Tank?

What is a Dutch Style Tank?

The Dutch style tank is one of two of the most popular Aquascape styles being used around the world. It is one of the oldest techniques in underwater landscaping wherein the focus of the design is on the arrangement and growth of aquatic flora. What makes it different from Nature Style Aquascape is that the design does not imitate a particular environment or a natural scenery.

dutch style tank

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The main attraction in a Dutch landscape are the underwater plants. The aquascaper must be able to select the right plants, combine them and organize these so that the end result is pleasing to the eyes.  There is an extensive amount of learning and research required in order to have at least the basic knowledge in gardening. This is essential for the maintenance and growth of the underwater plants.

Distinct Style of Dutch Style Tanks

What is distinct about a Dutch Style tank is the abundant amount of plant life in its design. A variety of plant species is put together which comprises around 70% of the entire scheme.  There is very minimal use for large rocks or driftwood in this style. The contrasts in their texture and color of the aqua flora are the highlight of each masterpiece. The plant species should be chosen carefully so their different characteristics will produce a tasteful combination that is exceptional.

Since this aquascape style doesn’t follow a particular form, it does have a distinct appearance. The technique called terracing is applied to this style. In this technique, the plants are positioned in such a way that it creates levels. The shorter plants are lined up in front. In center and back section of the tank, the plants are arranged gradually to create visual layers. Plants of contrasting colors are typically placed in a group to create a focal point in the design. The entire layout of the plants should look organized whether it is being viewed from the top or from a frontal view.

Ideal Plants to Use in Dutch Style Tanks

dutch style tank

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The Dutch Style technique requires specific plants to create the tiered look. Therefore, the plant species must be carefully selected to create this kind of visual.

The Saurus Cernuus and Lobelia Cardinalis are species that are short and grow very close to the bottom of the tank. These are ideal to use if you want to make a pathway or an illusion of depth in your design.

Limnophila Aquatica and Hygrophilia Corymbosa are plants that are perfect for borders by placing them on the sides or in the corners of the tank. These are outstanding because of their large stems that grow very quickly. They contribute to the creating the size and shape of your overall layout. These will need extra pruning, though.

The Cryptocoryne are the tiny, basic plants typically used to fill in the background of the seascape.

Tiger Lotus, Rotala, Ammania, and Alternanthera are big and colourful plants that provide the contrasting hues in an underwater scenery. They create the interesting focal point that really catches the eye.

What is an Aquascaper?

What is an Aquascaper?

Some people would call an aquascaper a hobbyist whose forte is creating attractive landscapes inside an aquarium. An aquascaper would call himself an artist with a unique kind of medium. His medium? The water tank.

An aquascape is more than just your typical design for an aquarium. The usual elements are there: fish, water, rocks, sand, stone, driftwood and aquatic plants. What sets it apart from the others is how all of these elements are put together to create an awesome scenery or a seascape. If you stretch your imagination enough, it is like seeing the Amazon Rainforest inside the confines of an Aquarium. The design might even look like a scene from a movie like the Hobbit, the lush hillside of Middle Earth. Some seascapes have the underwater plants laid out in a fancy mix of colors and textures. Only a skilled aquascaper can create unique designs.

What Does an Aquascaper Do?


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There are notable craftsmen and die-hard hobbyists that call themselves aquascapers. These are highly skilled artists with knowledge on horticulture and basic architecture. This famous artwork requires the skill in both worlds. Aside from knowing how to plant the right water flora, they should also be capable of providing for its upkeep and maintenance. A lot of analysis and measurements are made during the actual planning of the layout. There is also a Rule of Thirds that aquascapers need to follow. What could have started as a hobby became so intense for some that these hobbyists decided to professionalize aquascaping. Today there is a growing number of Aquascapers who design elegant aquascapes for interiors of hotels, shopping malls, and elite homes.

Simply put, an aquascaper is the artist that uses nature as their inspiration, using a vast variety of materials in creating a work of underwater art.

Aquascaping is the term they use to make a seascape or an underwater landscaping. The concept of their designs come from natural scenery or an ecosystem that they see on land. The design is executed by utilizing the materials used to decorate an aquarium.

Art and the Aquascaper

The aquascaper uses the aquarium as his medium for his art. Their artwork comes in a variety of sizes. The artist has to plan and plot his design to fit into the aquarium of his choice. It could be a Nano tank measuring 45” x 45” x 14” or the smallest which is a miniature 2.2 cm by 2.2 cm or any dimension in between.

The execution of the underwater landscape doesn’t stop with just knowing the right kind of plants to use and combine. He will need to use unique gardening skills to plant these correctly and follow up with the proper maintenance. The aquascaper must know the proper lighting to use to provide the illumination needed to sustain the beauty of the plants and enhance the layout. He also must be well-informed about the kind of diffusers, CO2 machines, water fertilizers, and other equipment appropriate to use for the layout. The natural materials he uses are strategically positioned to create an artistic impression of their concept. It may take weeks or months to complete depending on the complexity of the design.

What is Iwagumi?

What is Iwagumi?

Iwagumi is a common term used in aquascaping. It refers to a traditional style of underwater landscaping wherein the only hardscape material used is stone. This gardening technique was introduced by the Japanese. The stones are positioned in the garden in such a way that it provides the structure of the seascape. These stones are combined with shrubbery and sand to create images of a mountainside or the shores of a lake. This landscaping style became a huge influence in aquascaping. The simple and amazing formations became the inspiration of a lot of aquascapers.

iwagumi aquascape

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There is no limit on the number of stones you will want to use in the execution of the Aquascape design but the least number of stones is 3. The arrangement using just 3 stones is called Sanzon Iwagumis. It is said that placing just a few stones into the design imbibe a remarkable and symbolic style while adding more stones makes it look more intricate and complex.

It is better to use an odd number of stones to create a more natural and appealing look. This will prevent the design from being split in the middle. When an even number of stones are used in the design, the tendency is to put an equal number on each side of the scenery. This makes the design look unappealing. By using an odd number of stones, the tendency to make the design look symmetrical is avoided. There is beauty in chaos. Uneven numbers create a pattern of unpredictability.

The Functions of the Rocks Used in Iwagumi


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In Sanzon Iwagumi, there are 3 stones being used. The largest stone is placed in the middle flanked by two smaller stones. It resembles the Buddhist triads. This seascape design is given a very elegant and majestic atmosphere to its viewers.

Each rock has a name and a specific function. These are the Oyaishi, Fukuishi, Soeishi and Suteishi.

The Oyaishi represent the natural flow of water. The main stone is usually the prettiest and the biggest. It should have a height of around two-thirds of the aquarium so it stands out when you plant it upright. Using the Rule of Two-Thirds, the primary stone should have this height to appeal to the naked eye. The stone should also be placed slightly tilted so that it creates a fluid look as if it was going to the water. The positioning of the rock should look as natural as possible.

The second largest stone is called the Fukuishi. It is positioned on either side of the main stone or Oyaishi. This stone must have the texture and type similar to that of the Oyaishi.

Soeishi, the tertiary stone must be planted beside the Oyaishi, on the opposite side of the Fukuishi. The role of this stone is to complement the appearance of the main stone by highlighting it. By acting as its accessory, the powerful vibe of the Oyaishi is emphasized.

Finally, the Suteishi or the sacrificial stone. It looks like a random stone strewn down on the sand bottom that will be eventually be covered in time. This stone can be omitted from the design but it does add a subtle effect of being complex and intricate at the same time.