Freshwater Aquarium Design Ideas

This aquarium has a restaurant theme.
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Aquascaping is the science and art of planning the layout of an aquarium. You have almost infinite possibilities when designing your aquarium. Several tried-and-true aquarium styles can provide a great starting point for your design ideas. Of course, it's important not to forget to make the design your own.

Theme Tanks

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Theme tanks are aquariums designed around a common theme. You can pick almost anything as a theme. It can be a simple idea, like an aquarium where every fish and decoration is the same color. You could build a tank around a cartoon character; many pet shops sell licensed aquarium ornaments. Roman, Greek or Aztec ruins could provide the theme for your aquarium since, again, many pet shops feature ceramic ornaments on this theme. You have many options for theme tanks.


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A biotype aquarium is a fish tank that features only organisms from a specific area. A biotype can be as specific as a single lake, or as broad as a continent. The Amazon River and the African Great Lakes are popular regions for biotype aquariums. Most biotype aquariums feature aquascaping that resembles the river or lake in question. For example, a biotype aquarium modeled after the African Great Lakes would feature mostly rockwork -- artfully arranged -- while an Amazon tank would feature dense vegetation, rocks and driftwood.

Dutch Style

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The Dutch-style aquarium features plants as the main focus. These aquariums put great emphasis on arranging plant life, similar to land-based horticulture. A Dutch-style aquarium typically features only plants for decoration, no rocks or driftwood. These aquariums require careful planning and great attention to detail. Dutch-style aquariums may not even have fish in them; fish are considered an afterthought in this type of tank.

Amano Aquariums

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The Amano-style aquarium is named after Takashi Amano, a bit of a celebrity in the aquarium hobby. However, Amano prefers to call this style of aquarium the "Nature Aquarium." Amano-style aquariums are descended from the Dutch-style aquarium, with heavy emphasis on plant life. However, unlike Dutch aquariums, Amano aquariums do not try to look organized and planned. Instead, they try to look like a real riverbed, and often feature rocks and driftwood as points of interest. It takes great pains to pull off the effortless look of these aquariums.

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