Understanding the basic setup of an Iwagumi Aquarium

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The term ‘Iwagumi’ was used to refer to a Japanese Gardening technique where ‘stones’ would be used as a ‘skeleton’ of the composition. It is a technique where stones, soil and plants are used to recreate miniature landscapes. Iwagumi in terms of aquariums is the same concept but under water.

Composition of Iwagumi Aquarium

An Iwagumi is a composition with an odd number of stones where a focal point is created with a large stone and the golden ratio is maintained. Nature is almost never symmetrical or balanced in the way that humans would want them to be. A striking example of Nature’s beauty can be accomplished by using an odd number of stones with an asymmetrical layout.

In the Iwagumi style, each rock plays a specific role and also has a unique name. Below are the four kinds of rock an Iwagumi tank could have:

Oyaishi: The Oyaishi or the largest stone in the layout is also the most aesthetically pleasing of all in the layout. It is recommended that the height of this stone be at least 2/3rd the height of the aquarium so that it dominates the aquascape.

This stone is tilted so as to represent the flow of water in a particular direction. This is your focal point of the aquascape.

Fukuishi: The Fukuishi, is the second largest stone of the aquascape. This stone is placed next to the primary focal point i.e. The Oyaishi.

This stone is supposed to be of the same type, texture and colour as that of the Oyaishi.

Soeishi: The Soeishi is the third largest stone of the aquascape and it mainly accentuates the strength and beauty of the Oyaishi. Placed next to the Primary and the secondary stone it plays an important role in the flow of the aquascape.

Suteishi: The Suteishi is also known as the sacrificial stone as it’s often covered by the plant growth over time. The Suteishi plays a role in the complexity of the Iwagumi aquascape. The Suteshi┬áis the smallest stone used in the setup.

Recommended Plants/Fauna

An Iwagumi generally comprises of a tall but delicate background plant and a carpet plant for the foreground. However, you can skip out on the background plant and it’ll make a great Iwagumi nonetheless.

Foreground Plants:

Carpeting plants like Glossostigma, Monte Carlo, HC Cuba, Dwarf Hairgrass etc are best picks for the foreground.

Background Plants:

Background plants with include taller hair grass like Eleocharis Vivipara, some Rotala sp,

Recommended fauna:

The Iwagumi is generally an aquarium set to mimic a miniature landscape, but the choice of fish and fauna plays an important factor. Schooling species of fish like small tetras, rasboras etc not only bring colour but gives a very satisfying feeling while viewing.

Shrimp will not only help with algae but also will bring colour to your underwater garden.
An Iwagumi is a beautiful way to bring nature to your home. The joy of watching fish move in unison through the aquascape is just unimaginable. With due course of time, your layout will require maintenance which must be performed regularly and diligently so as to keep your aquascape spot on.

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