Iwagumi Aquarium Aquascaping


Now this is an aquascaping idea worth looking into – The Iwagumi aquscape! Main characteristics of Iwagumi is the beautiful simplicity in making the natural setting and the brave stone formations. The limited number of plants used and the usage of stones for designing this style make the Iwagumi aquascaping style one of the most difficult to make. This style follows a certain layout that requires having a good balance between the hardscape, space, and scale between all design aspects.

Key Parts of Iwagumi Aquascaping

The Japanese word ‘Iwagumi’ can be translated as ‘Formation of Rocks’. This refers to rock formations, their architecture and placement in the different parts of the design. In essence, the stones used in this aquascaping style are part of the complete structure of the design. Iwagumi aquascaping requires using three stones, you are able to use more stones as long as you only use an odd number!

The key to making this attractive aquascaping style is to use odd numbers. In this style, using odd number of stones is required in order to prevent the aquascape from looking symmetrical. Creating balance and perfect symmetry in a natural environment is not common and that is usually an evidence of human touch. Besides this, Iwagumi style also use plants and fish, but much since the main point of this aquascaping idea is to create simplicity that will reflect tranquility.

The Layout and Design of the Iwagumi Style

In this style each of the stones used are known by names and they have different roles in the design.

Oyaishi is the biggest stone that is usually most visually appealing. It is used as a focal point as it dominates the aquascape. This large stone is usually angled with the water flow in order to imitate a real river stone.

The Fukuishi is the second stone in size after Oyaishi and it is similar to the main stone by the color, tone, and gradient. Fukuishi stone is usually placed right or left to the main stone and it serves as a balancing stone in the aquascape.

Soeishi is the third biggest stone in the aquascape, and its main purpose is to emphasize the beauty of the other stones. The smallest stone in the setting is called Suteishi, which is often covered by the plant life and the flora in the aquarium. Suteishi does not stand alone in the aquarium, but it does a good job in providing good balance in the overall design.

Plants for Iwagumi Aquariums

The plants used in this style are usually very limited because the main point is to create simplicity between the plants and rock formations. That gives many aquascapers liberty to use the benefits that come from the open space. Most popular plants used in the Iwagumi style include:

  • Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis)
  • Glossostigma elatinoides
  • Hemianthus callitrichoides.

Fish for Iwagumi Aquariums

When it comes to fish, they should also complement the sense of harmony and minimalism in the layout. Adding fish species should bring calmness into your aquarium. Most commonly used fish in the Iwagumi style include Rummy nose tetras, Cardinal tetras, and Harlequin rasboras. Using individualistic fish species should be avoided because they can create an imbalance and ruin the harmony in the aquascape.

Characteristics of Iwagumi Aquascaping Style

At first it may seem that this style is much easier to make in comparison to other aquascaping styles, but this style is not easy to maintain. The limited variety of plants used makes it hard to reach good growth process. Heavy root feeders are most common plants used in Iwagumi style and these make the system difficult to maintain. Additionally, the aquascape in the Iwagumi style is prone to forming algae during the cultivation process, which may be another problem for many aquascapers.

Final Thoughts

In general, the Iwagumi style is very popular and attractive aquascaping style today, and it elevates the aquascaping into a form of art. It is elegant and very beautiful style, and despite the long process for completing it, the final result will bring joy and satisfaction to the effort put forth. In addition to that, the minimalistic design gives access to many people to start with it much quickly in comparison to other aquascaping styles that require using more resources. This style is also more diverse than other styles and gives the aquascaper a chance to experiment and try new styles.

By following the Japanese principles of discipline, spirituality, and simplicity, the Iwagumi aquascaping style is very rewarding and pleasant. Although it requires some time before it gets finished, the final result is amazing.

Iwagumi Aquascaping Ideas and Inspiration


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