Don’t beat your aquascape with the ugly stick!

Art PennomAquascaping, BlogLeave a Comment

cinder block DIY stand

What your aquascape sits in is just as important as the aquascape itself.

There is no excuse for wrapping an aquascape in an ugly setup. I know times are tough, people, but it’s better to postpone setting up your beautiful aquarium until you have the time or money to house it in a modern and pleasing arrangement. Don’t beat your aquascape with the ugly stick!

The past is the past, lets move on

The aquarium hobby has come a long way in the United States. Modern aquarium husbandry and technology allows us to keep our aquariums in tip top shape with great flexibility and relative ease.  Aquascaping, in particular, has gone from the exclusive realm of experts to almost commonplace.  Truly, anyone can build a beautiful aquascape if they put their mind to it and learn from the great body of knowledge that’s out there for free.

Unfortunately, I think we’ve gotten stuck in focusing on what’s in the aquarium and don’t pay much attention to what’s outside of it.  Are we missing the forest for the trees?

In the past, almost everyone had a plain, vanilla wood stand with a wood canopy top.  That’s all that was available. Heck, we could stain it or paint it and it was passable. Although, I know of plenty of aquarist who were forced to take down their aquariums or move them from the living area because it didn’t “fit with the decor.”  Sound familiar?

That’s the past, folks! Lets get past it. Leave ugly in the past and start focusing on the beauty that can be outside of your aquarium.  A beautifully designed aquarium stand and lighting setup can complement, and even, enhance an aquascape. I’d say it can even make a mediocre aquascape look better than it really is. An ugly, eyesore of a setup can make even the most brilliant aquascapes look like your first 10 gallon tank.

Here are just a few examples that I pulled from the Internet. I’m sure there’s many more in homes all over the world.

Cinder block aquarium stand

The frame is just as important as the painting

With the availability of information today, you can easily build a beautiful, eye-pleasing setup for your aquascape at a fraction of what it would cost you retail. For those of you that can afford to purchase a modern setup from a retail establishment, you have many, many more options today. I would recommend looking at Aqua Design Amano or Elos products that are both available in the US.

Bear in mind, however, that a beautiful setup does not mean expensive. It can, of course, but it doesn’t have to.  What it means is that you put as much thought and creativity into your setup so that it fits into the overall design of the location and complements your aquascape. The setup can be very simple and inexpensive such as this simple tabletop setup:

Tabletop setup

Also, don’t think that it must be a minimalist setup.  Today, many aquarists believe that they have to setup a minimalist, zen-like setup in order to be modern. That is simply not true.  I’ll be writing a future post on this topic where the question I ask is whether a planted aquarium must be natural. The answer is, it doesn’t. Instead, focus on what will look good in the location you have chosen and how it can complement the aquascape you have or will be doing.

Aqua Design Amano is focused on what I call a minimalist, zen-like design as you can see from the picture below. However, this may not look good in a living room with a more traditional design incorporating big plush sofas and area rugs.

Aqua Design Amano's minimalist design

Elos, an Italian manufacturer, also tends to have more minimalistic, simple and clean designs.  I like them a lot and will be a doing a future post on the company and its products soon.  Here’s an example of one of their new lighting systems.  The idea, I think, is to minimize distractions away from the aquascape itself.  The light seems to melt into the background and let your eye land where it should, on the beautiful aquascape.

Beautiful Elos minimalist design

And, here is a beautifully designed aquarium setup from our friends at Aquarium Design Group.  Please focus on how well this aquascape fits into the overall decor of the area in which it is in.  In fact, in their fantastic book, The Inspired Aquarium, they mention how even the aquascape itself depicts the natural area that the house is located. Truly inspiring!

Aquarium Design Group design


In the end, what is beautiful is up to you. No one can tell you what you should think looks good. My only words of wisdom to you are that you should put as much thought into what’s outside your aquarium as you do with what’s in it.  Take some time with it and make it look good. Don’t get stuck in the past and don’t go cheap.  You will be spending a lot of time and effort building your aquascape. It’s a piece of art that you’re creating. Treat it as such.

Wrought iron aquarium stand

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