Aquarium decorating, also known as aquascaping, is the design and arranging of aquatic plants, rocks, or driftwood within an aquarium; basically, gardening under water.
James Findley is a professional aquascaper who uses an aquarium as a playground to create intricate mini worlds. Designing an aquascape for an aquarium can be challenging. Although the goal is to create an artful underwater landscape, the technical aspects of tank maintenance and requirements of aquatic plants also need to be considered.
“You get attached to every scape that you planted,” says James. He goes on to compare aquascaping to painting: “An artist has to understand what happens when he puts his paint onto a canvas… If you understand what’s gonna happen when you put plants into substrates and add CO2 & light, no more or less, we’re just artists with plants.”
Inspiration can come from both underwater locations and natural scenes, such as mountains, jungles, deserts, waterfalls, etc. There are numerous aquascape styles, including the garden-like Dutch style and the Japanese-inspired nature style. James, unlike some, prefers working with a shallower aquarium. This allows him to experiment with plant growth above the surface, placing the aquatic hardscape outside of traditional parameters.
Typically, an aquascape houses fish as well as plants; aquascapes can be created with plants only, or with rockwork and no plants. Watch the video below to see James in action, creating his amazing underwater landscapes.