Creating Depth and Perspectve in an Aquascape

I am going explain the principle of perspective, a very important consideration to take into account when aquascaping an aquarium. For the purposes of demonstrating these principles I have used photos of my own aquaria. There are a number of ways to give your aquascape perspective.· I will explain how to create depth and perspective· effectively.

Substrate Positioning

Before you even begin to aquascape the aquarium, you can create a sense of depth and perspective using only the substrate. By sloping the substrate towards the back of the aquarium, you immediately give the impression that the tank is deeper than it really is.

Sand paths through the “centre” of the tank are popular, and can greatly increase the perspective of the aquascape. The path should start out wide at the front of the aquarium, and get progressively narrower the further back it goes. This gives the impression of the path disappearing into the distance. An excellent example can be found in Peter Kirwan’s iwagumi feature in the April 2008 issue.

Choose the Right Plants

Small leaved plants are very effective at making an aquascape seem larger than it really is.· In the past, I have had several people say my aquascapes always appear larger then they are. They assume my tank was 60cm or even larger. In actually the dimensions of the tank are mere 40cm (25l).

The trick is to use variety of small leaf plants that take up very little retail space in your aquascape. Place them in small groups.· As these aquatic plants· grow they will form a very dense and lush bush, without making the scape appear heavy or overly done.· Plants such as Xmas Moss, Riccia, and Mayacca are excellent species to use because of their fine leave structures.

Fish to Fit Your Scape

The use of small fish such as Microrasboras (Boraras spp.) can really finish off a small aquarium. A school of 10 in a 25 litre aquarium can look impressive, and are well suited to the smaller aquaria.

In larger tanks, say 60 litres plus, schools of Tetras or Rasboras can have a similar effect. Larger fish such as Discus are best only kept for large aquaria, as they can force the aquarium appear smaller and can seem overpowering to a degree, distracting attention from the all-important aquascape.


The way you photograph your aquarium can greatly influence its appearance or perspective. The pictures of my newly set up tank both show the same aquascape, at the same point in time. The only difference is, the latter has been shot at a much wider focal length. This increases the aquascape’s apparent perspective in the photograph.

Notice how the aquascape in the wider photo (bottom) appears to shrink into the distance, whereas the other photo (top) seems flat, and two-dimensional.

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