Mini aquascaping? You can think of it as underwater gardening-growing and caring for aquatic plants, creating stunning mini tanks, and just letting nature grow in your living room.
You can use rocks, stones, or driftwood to accent your tank. But that's not all. You can also add fascinating species of marine life and turn your mini aquascape into a living, moving piece of art.
Read this article for some inspiring mini aquascaping ideas. Create your own bonsai aquascapes, rock-and-moss tanks, Japanese-style aquariums, and more. They will add a spotlight to your space like nothing else.
We have a step-by-step guide to help you get started on your own mini aquascaping journey. Plus, there are some easy-to-use aquascaping kits you can check out.
Let’s get started!
What Is Mini Aquascaping?
In the simplest of words, mini aquascaping is the craft of growing plants in a small tank. You can arrange sand, stones, and rocks alongside to create unique landscapes.
Aquascaping is a great way to reconnect with nature, especially if you live in the midst of a concrete jungle, away from the countryside. It will also help you bring a piece of nature indoors.
Since these tanks are mini, you don’t even have to worry about where you can place them. Keep them atop your kitchen table or use your mini aquarium as a table centerpiece.
Mini aquascapes can create an oasis of calm around you and improve your mental wellbeing. Not many reasons for you to not create your mini aquascape ASAP.
21 Mini Aquascaping Ideas
Mini aquascaping is a diverse art form. You can create varied landscapes using plants, sand, rocks, and fish.
Take a look at these mini aquascaping ideas you can get inspired from.
1. Bonsai Aquascape Mini Idea
Bonsais, or miniature trees, can bring a sense of peace to any space. But did you know you can also grow bonsais in your aquariums?
Well, yes. Just take a tiny, water-loving bonsai variety and submerge its roots in water rather than in soil.
Tip: Don’t immerse the entire bonsai in water. The leaves will not be able to breathe and your plant may die.
2. Fluval Edge Bonsai Mini Aquascape
Fluval edge aquariums look ultra-modern. They are compact, all-glass tanks offering a 360-degree view. That means you will be able to see and enjoy your aquascape no matter which angle you place it in.
Grow bonsais and other aquatic plants in it. Accent it with stones, driftwood, and fish and your tank will surely be the eye-magnet in your house.
3. Iwagumi Mini Aquascape
Create an Iwagumi mini aquascape using three stones—a large headstone and two smaller ones. Keep only ground cover or grassy plants in your arrangement to give the impression of a rocky landscape.
4. Nano Bonsai Aquascape
Bonsais aren’t easy to grow. Underwater, they’re even trickier and often end up dying. But don’t be disheartened if you really want to feature a bonsai in your aquarium.
Consider adding a faux bonsai that would give the illusion of a tiny tree growing underwater. You can also use a dead bonsai trunk combined with some light moss.
5. Small Bonsai Driftwood Aquascaping
Driftwood can also be used to make a bonsai doppelganger. Simply stick it in the substrate and top it with aquatic plants like baby tears and java moss.
Your arrangement will look absolutely magical. Besides, no one will be able to tell it’s not a real bonsai in your tank.
6. Mini Bending Nano Aquascape
How about a tank with curved, seamless edges? The design looks both modern and elegant. Plus, you can use it to hold your mini aquascape.
Add rocks to your arrangement and allow moss to grow over them. This will give your aquascape a natural feel. Light up the background using LEDs to create the illusion of depth.
7. Mini Complete Tank Aquascape
Want to create a complete aquascape in a mini tank? You will need the right aquatic plants coupled with some rocks, sand, and plant substrate.
For a dramatic design, add a piece of driftwood. It will make your aquascape look unbelievably natural.
Tip: Make sure you boil the driftwood beforehand so as to not face an algae outbreak later on.
8. Mini Ultimate Betta Aquascape
Let’s set up an eye-catching betta fish tank! Betta are brilliantly-colored fish with glorious fins. You’ll need to create an ideal tank for them to flourish.
Choose your aquarium no less than 5 gallons. This will ensure plenty of space for your fish to swim. Fill it with floating plants, growing the taller ones at the back and the smaller ones in front.
9. Nano Tank Aquascape
Don’t have enough space for a large tank? Well, create a nano one to house all your plants.
Simply fill your aquarium with a mineral-rich substrate and grow a layer of carpeting plants. Add rocks, pebbles, and a piece of driftwood to create an eye-catching aquascape.
10. Small Tank Aquascape Idea
Here’s another small aquascaping idea for you—a rocky tank. The design is both simple and elegant.
You’ll only need to add a layer of white sand in your aquarium and place some textured rock in it. Then add a couple of plants for greenery and your small tank aquascape is ready.
11. DIY Small Aquascaping
You can create a DIY aquascape within a glass jar. It’s fairly simple. This one's called a jarrarium.
Use an old and useless jar and clean it thoroughly. Next, add a layer of substrate to it and cover it with pebbles.
Grow one or two aquatic plants in it. You can also keep a small fish in your DIY aquascape.
Tip: Make sure to regularly change the water in your glass jar. It’s small, so it will need more care.
12. Floating Leaf Aquascaping
Imagine tiny plants floating in your tank. Delightful, right? But floating plants don’t just look great, they are rather modest and undemanding. Plus, they also help improve the ecological balance in the aquarium.
You can consider growing plants like floating crystalwort, frogbit, hornwort, fairy moss, etc.
13. Low Budget Aquascaping
Mini aquascaping doesn’t have to be super expensive. You can create a stunning tank on a fairly low budget, too.
Use an old tank for the purpose. Or convert a glass container into an aquarium. Layer it with white sand and place dark-colored rocks to make them look like a lone island in the middle of an ocean.
Tip: Add some moss on top and your arrangement will look like a piece of nature growing in your living room.
14. Minimalist Aquascaping Idea
You can also go minimalist with your mini aquascaping project. It will complement your home decor and demand very little maintenance.
Place a thin layer of substrate in your tank and cover it with sand. Then grow aquatic plants like hornwort, java fern, duckweed, and dwarf baby tears in it.
Use rocks to complete the setup, and your minimalist design is ready.
15. Simple Aquascaping Idea
Keep your aquascape simple yet eye-catching. How? Just mix and match aquascaping elements like plants, sand, gravel, rocks, and driftwood.
Make unique and striking arrangements to showcase your creativity. Aim for simplicity and don’t add too much emphasis on any one element.
16. Basic Rock Aquascaping
Do you want to break free from the conventional and demanding tanks? Give your mini aquascaping project a rocky twist.
You can use lava rock, quartzite, slate, shale, granite, and sandstone for this purpose. These rocks are safe for aquariums. Arrange them randomly in your tank for a natural appearance.
17. Rocky Iwagumi Aquascaping Style
Iwagumi mini aquascaping requires rock, rocks, and more rocks.
In it, an odd number of rocks is the key. Create an asymmetrical architecture using the rocks, but make your arrangement look balanced and tranquil.
Tip: Limit your usage of plants and fish in this style.
18. Lava Rock Aquascaping
Lava rock is a popular hardscaping element in mini aquascaping projects. It has a rough texture and is perfect for growing mosses on top if you want to go for a greener effect.
Else, you can simply stack your rocks one upon the another and leave them be.
Idea: Lava rocks are aquarium-safe, too. Use them in planted tanks, freshwater, and saltwater aquariums without worrying about the pH changes in your tank.
19. Red Rock Aquascape
Red rock aquascape has the natural red Sado Akadama stone at its heart. But you can use the more available red lava rock for the project, too.
Create a substrate layer and place your large red rock in the center to be the main focus. Build the rest of the layout using plants, stones, and wood around the main rock.
20. Seiryu Stone Mini Aquascaping
Seiryu is the king of stones when it comes to mini aquascaping. It has striking bluish-grey scales all over it. And its rugged surface looks almost like a rocky mountain.
You can place Seiryu stones in your tank to create a dramatic contrast with the greens of the plants and the punchy colors of the fish.
Tip: Seiryu stones can be a bit troublesome since they leach calcium carbonate. The simplest solution is to regularly change the water in your tank.
21. Aquascaping Mini Landschaft
For a Landschaft-style mini aquascape, you will need sedimentary rocks. These rocks have deep crevices and pores on their surfaces and are pleasing to look at.
Add different layers of sand, gravel, and pebbles to your tank. Then place the sedimentary rocks in a cliff-like manner. The more natural it looks, the better!
How to Get Started with Mini Aquascaping
Mini aquascaping focuses on plants rather than fish. Keep your arrangement natural, steer clear of artificial elements, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a fabulous aquascape.
To help you get started, here's an easy, step-by-step guide.
Step 1 – Pick Your Style
The first step is to choose a mini aquascaping style you like the best. For something simple and low-maintenance, create a lava rock aquascape.
You can also set your creativity free to build your dream tank.
Step 2 – Prepare Your Aquarium
Next, pick a tank that can contain your aquascaping style. Clean it with water or vinegar so it’s ready to be planted.
Tip: Don’t pick a very small aquarium else you’ll need to change its water every other day.
Step 3 – Add the Materials
Several different combinations of materials can be added to the tank, depending on the type of style you’re aiming for.
Add a layer of substrate, sand, and hardscape elements like driftwood, large rocks, pebbles, etc.
Idea: You can also give your tank a natural-looking background using 3D stickers.
Step 4 – Choose The Right Plants
Aquatic plants will add life to your mini aquascape. But don’t overwhelm your tank with just too many plants—keep the layout simple.
Plant dwarf hair grass, Christmas moss, java fern, and more in your tank. Make sure the arrangement looks natural.
Step 5 – Maintain Your Tank
Once your mini aquascape has been set up, give it time to establish itself. In the meanwhile, keep it looking good. Prune your plants, feed your fish (if you have any), change the water regularly, and fight algal outbreaks.
Stay consistent and be patient with your tank. In no time it will turn into a beautiful piece of green art you’ll be more than proud of.
Mini Aquascaping Kits
Mini aquascaping kits are perfect for you to get started on these underwater gardens. These kits are easy to set up and can save you a lot of time and effort.
Most kits come with plants, filters, LED lights, planting substrate, pumps, and decorative items like stones, pebbles, or driftwood.
You can opt for a kit that best suits your space and needs and create your very own aquatic paradise. Check out the following bestselling kits you can order online.
Mini Aquascaping Commonly Asked Questions
Mini aquascaping is a fairly new way to showcase your love for plants indoors. But it can prove to be a bit more complex if it’s your first try.
Worry not. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. They will surely come in handy while designing your own mini planted aquarium.
What is needed for aquascaping?
To start your own mini aquascaping journey, you will need plants, rocks, wood, gravel, a couple of fish, and of course a tank to hold your green piece of art.
How do you make a small planted aquarium?
For starters, you will need a clean tank. Layer it with a rich substrate, sand and some rocks if needed. Then grow a selection of aquatic plants like moneywort, hornwort, and fern in it.
You may add decorative items like driftwood, seashells, etc to your tank. For a complete step-by-step guide, check out our mini aquascaping guide.
What is the best small aquarium?
The best small aquarium would be one that is compact enough to fit atop your desk and big enough to hold a tiny ecosystem life without causing conflicts.
We've featured some good options to consider in our section on mini aquascaping kits.
Aquascape Your Way to Peace
Embark on your mini aquascaping journey and you will start feeling refreshed, both physically and mentally. That’s because aquascaping is not only a fancy hobby, it is also healthy.
Growing and caring for tiny aquatic plants will make you feel like an important caregiver—your plants will surely die without you.
Tending to your mini aquascape will also help put your mind at ease and relieve stress. What’s more, aquascaping can teach your kids the value of patience and responsibility.
Certain studies have also shown a link between aquascaping and improved mood, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Mini aquascaping will enrich your world in more ways than you do know. So start aquascaping your way to health and let us know how it goes!
Got more questions? Ask us below and we’ll be happy to help.
Till then, happy mini aquascaping!