What is Aquascape?
When you first conceived of jarrariums, you probably weren’t focusing on all that science stuff. You don’t really want to think about water parameters and the threat of algae blooms. Instead, you’d rather imagine beautiful landscapes simulated in a confined space. Aquascape, a form of art unique to aquariums, allows you to set aside science for a moment and consider the aesthetic of this ecosystem.
Creating art out of the physical structure of your aquarium is called “aquascaping”. There’s no one way to accomplish it; as long as you are working within the limitations of your system (i.e. light and nutrient capacity), you can have a thriving environment. Instead of detailing the correct method of how to place your rocks and plants, I will briefly describe some of the more popular methods already established in the aquascaping hobby that can be used as inspiration.
There is a significant market for rocks, believe it or not, because of this hobby. People will pay a lot of money to purchase and ship the perfect rock to complete their aquascape.
There is no right or wrong way to aquascape. Each creation is a reflection of the creator’s artistic expression. As with all art, there is infinite room for you to expand on existing styles or to create your own. Additionally, it is important to consider what you want before you start gathering materials so that you can plan appropriately. Once the jar is established, it is difficult to make dramatic changes, not to mention it’s detrimental to the inhabitants.
The most common aquascaping method for the beginning home-ecosystem enthusiast is the Walstad method. Walstad is defined by low-maintenance plants placed completely at random to create a more natural scene. Perhaps you’ve planted an aquarium before with plants scattered throughout the tank at random – you’ve created a Walstad tank. The nice thing about this method is that it is perhaps the most subjective to the creator: there really are no rules. The downside to this is that, as your plants begin to grow, the tank can become a bit crowded and the beauty of your scaping can become lost in a jungle of various stems and leaves.
In the same vein, we have the Nature method. The concept is similar enough to the Walstad: you are trying to recreate a natural environment within the confines of your jar. The difference in this form of aquascape is that your placing of plants is more deliberate. For example, if someone was going to create a nature jarrarium, they would consider the height of the plants and place them in a position where they won’t obstruct the rest of the aquascape. This form of aquascape excels at showing off your prowess at growing plants by ensuring that they are visible and complementary to one another.
So you’re digging the natural-looking element, but what about taking it a step further? Biotope aquascaping strives to recreate a specific natural aquatic environment. Let’s say you want to make a jarrarium that simulates the environment of the Amazon river. Your placement of plants and decorations is still subject to your own taste, but you must choose specific kinds of plants and animals that are indigenous to your desired biotope tank. You’ll pick Amazon Sword plants and native snails. A particularly ambitious person might even research the sorts of rocks found in the Amazon river and utilize those in the creation.
The last method we will consider is the Iwagumi Method. Instead of being defined by the plants and animals found in the jar or tank, this method is characterized by the large stones that accompany it. This has also earned it the colloquial title of the “hardscape.” Iwagumi is one of the most distinctive styles of aquascaping as it creates a surreal environment that often plays with our perception of scale. A common way of setting up these jars is to place a large stone as the centerpiece, and then a carpet of low-lying plants to create the image of a mountain in the forest. Although this method can create striking scenes, it is one of the more difficult to maintain because of the constant pruning and attention to placement that the plants require.
That’s certainly a lot to tackle, but once you’ve given it some thought, ponder this: Balancing Chemicals in your Jarrarium.