The Ultimate Guide to Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

The Ultimate Guide to Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

Finding a hobby doesn’t have to be entirely selfish, you have the opportunity to help life grow with this simple guide to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners.

While these words may sound like gibberish now, they’re actually just a way to describe a particular type of tank. And, no not a fish tank, a tank where you can grow plants!

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we love bringing you hobbies that can benefit you and your environment through green growth. So, here’s a new way to spend your time without having to leave your home, spend a fortune or take your attention away from the Netflix marathon we all know you’ve started.

To give you more of an insight into your experience requirements; you need none. There are those who naturally have a green thumb, those who learn to grow their own green thumb with time and those who have an off-brown and slightly decaying thumb despite any and all attempts. But, this guide to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners will have you using aquarium landscaping and hydroponic systems to grow plants of any calibre.

In order to get you to your green thumb glory, we’ll be covering these areas:

  1. Why Should You Consider Growing Your Own Habitat?
  2. A Brief Introduction to the World of Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners
  3. What are the Historical Stories Behind the Two Hobbies?
  4. Getting Started with Aquascaping and The Tools You’ll Need 
  5. The Types of Aquascaping and Aquarium Landscaping You Could Incorporate
  6. Moving onto the Basics and Tools of Hydroponic Systems
  7. What are the Types of Hydroponic Systems to be Used?
  8. Choosing Your Yield in the Guide to Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

Before we continue, there’s one more thing we should probably touch on: aquascaping and hydroponics are different to aquaponics. However, with some tinkering and the addition of some fish, you can create an aquaponic system. The difference being that aquaponics uses a larger system to create a circular economy of nutrients while hydroponics focuses entirely on the plants.

Why Should You Consider Growing Your Own Habitat?

Why Should You Consider Growing Your Own Habitat

We’ll begin this section by mentioning that hydroponics for beginners and aquascaping for beginners is an indoor hobby. Meaning that it is the best hobby for the green-thumbed enthusiasts to take-up when stuck in an apartment or home without access to a private garden. Plus, allotments can be quite costly while sometimes being located far from home. 

The reason it is an indoor hobby is because it involves using large tanks with water and tubes: it’s nice and basic. 

But, that’s not the only benefit to having an indoor growth-space. Using aquarium landscaping and hydroponic systems can be beneficial in so many ways from your mental health to increasing your botanical capabilities of saving money. Here’s some other positives you can reap after reading this ultimate guide to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners:

  • You are in control
  • You can have a personal sanctuary
  • You choose which plants to grow
  • You can have your favourite fruits and vegetables on tap
  • You’re able to sell your harvest
  • Local farmer’s markets can use your expertise through consultancy
  • Growing plants increases your home’s fresh oxygen
  • You’ll always be important in an apocalypse
  • It can be relaxing
  • Growing particular plants can help your home smell nice
  • It is a good hobby to teach kids and new generations
  • It will save you money on fruits and vegetables
  • Home grown food always tastes better
  • Growing plants can help prevent Alzheimer’s 
  • Studies prove that houseplants improve concentration
  • You’ll increase your productivity
  • Your home will become more beautiful
  • It’ll be improving the environment
  • Having house plants can increase good sleep
  • Production increases 5 times with hydroponic systems
  • There’s no need to the consumption of pesticides or weed control

A Brief Introduction to the World of Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

A Brief Introduction to the World of Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

While these two hobbies may seem like singular past times, they actually factor into one-another very well. And, using aquarium landscaping mixed with hydroponic systems can increase your productivity and stress-relieving experiences. 

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we’re going talk you through the processes and how they can work together to build a sustainable and beautiful organic habitat in your home. 

If we begin with aquascaping, it is the act of having a small and artistic habitat of stones, pebbles, greens and light in a tank of water. Like having a zen garden, you are able to choose the size of your garden and the greenery you want to put in it.

From modelling a Japanese garden to a traditional English garden, you can create whatever aquascape you wish. However, there are a few factors that need to be taken into consideration first. And these will vary depending on your habitat:

  1. Fertilisation
  2. Degree of light
  3. Introduction of fish
  4. Control of algae
  5. Monitoring of carbon dioxide
  6. Photosynthesis
  7. Goal of aquascape
  8. Level of maintenance desired

After you have considered these factors, you can choose your greenery to suit your needs bearing in mind that carpeting plants such as Dwarf Hairgrass are popular substrates for their minimal maintenance requirements.

As well as this, the addition of fish can significantly change your nutrients and measurements, meaning it is not always recommended. However, if you do choose to add fish into your aquarium landscape, you may well be taking-on the aquaponic hobby.

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How To Grow Fresh Herbs Indoors - ULTIMATE Beginners Guide

Once you have developed your aquascaping skills, you can think about the hydroponics. Hydroponic systems are used as a way to increase plant growth in a specific and controlled environment that doesn’t include soil.

The idea is to use nutrients from the plants in your aquascaping for beginners’ tank to feed your chosen plants on a separate level though a pump. You’ll also need to add extra nutrients to optimise your plant growth, but these will vary depending on which foods you’re wanting to eat!

What are the Historical Stories Behind the Two Hobbies?

What are the Historical Stories Behind the Two Hobbies

The history and timeline of these two hobbies are brief. However here at The Hobby Kraze, we strive to bring you interesting information about your newfound hobbies. 

If we begin with the story behind aquarium keeping, we have to look towards the Sumerians and Egyptians who would keep ponds of fish and aquatic life as a hobby. Using selective breeding, these fish farmers were able to create aqua ponds with all degrees of success. It was from here that other cultures such as the Chinese would begin to raise fish life such as Carp using inhouse waterscapes. 

Through time, these hobbyists that would breed fish for food would begin to breed smaller freshwater aquatic life such as Goldfish. A hobby replicated and bleeding into other countries like Japan.

While it continued to grow across the planet, and as Goldfish keeping reached England in the 1700s, it wouldn’t be until a century later that aquarium keeping became an established hobby. This is because the 19th Century led way for the understanding of the relationships between oxygen, animals, freshwater, plants and water-nutrients.

It is from this point where historians can see a clear branching effect for hobbyists to begin focusing on either the aquascaping for beginners, hydroponics for beginners or aquaponic systems. 

Following the path of aquarium landscaping, it was the French who would first begin to look at the aesthetics of aquarium landscaping. When the Goldfish trend would hit the French country in the 18th Century, there became a sudden demand for extravagant ceramic bowls with transparent sections.

Here, the Goldfish keepers would look into their tanks for calmness, relaxation and admiration. Much like the hobbyists of today’s aquascaping for beginners, but without the fish. 

Then, if we follow the road of hydroponic systems, it was really around 100-years ago where a scientist named William Frederick Gericke would coin the idea. Working at the University of California at the time, he came up with the idea that natural land-plants could be grown and kept using a water tank and nutrients rather than soil. 

Naturally, Gericke’s friends and colleagues would be sceptical until he grew a 25-foot tall tomato plant just from water and nutrient selection in hydroponic systems. 

Since then, unending research and usage of Gericke’s hydroponic systems have been in action to understand how it could benefit a growing population. And, so far the success of growth running alongside reduced water and pesticide usage has caused a great success for the cultivation of may plants year-round. 

And, now through modern technologies, accessibilities and with the help of this ultimate guide to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners, the future of in-house framing with added beauty is here. 

Getting Started with Aquascaping and The Tools You’ll Need

Getting Started with Aquascaping and The Tools You’ll Need

One of the many benefits to entering the hobby world of aquascaping for beginners and aquarium landscaping is the vast amounts of special, monetary and visual freedom you have. While you’ll need to be able to exit your home for the initial batch of supplies, you’re able to stay in and watch the beauty transform there-after. 

There are really four aspects of hobby to take into consideration when you start aquascaping for beginners and these are:


When thinking about your theme, try to incorporate as much variety that could resemble your vision as possible. For example, instead of using one type of moss for the carpet of your tank and incorporating a statement plant, too. 

Using variety in your aquarium landscape can help to keep your tank as interesting as possible while also allowing you to enjoy the landscaping process for a longer period.


That said, it is important that you keep to your vision and theme. Often when people take up aquascaping for beginners, they can incorporate too much, too soon and make a mess of their tank. To avoid potential over-flow and decay of your plants, we recommend starting small and slowing adding new components and aquatic life to your fish tank. 

Not only for the aesthetic reasons, but it also allows you to slowly get used to your water-gardening skills at a pace to benefit the growth of your plants.


Harmony is key for your aquarium landscape. Don’t worry, the team here at the Hobby Kraze have a useful tip. There is a concept named the ‘rule of thirds’ that relies on the ‘focus point’ to help you coordinate your landscaping hobby.

The rule of thirds involves looking at a ‘scene’. Then, if you can envision this scene to be divided into 9 segments. Using this theory allows you to control where the viewer looks.

See also
21 Plants for Closed and Open Terrariums & How to Care for Them 

If you imagine the lines that separate each segment have four intersections in the middle of your screen, each of these segments should guide the gaze to the others. And, each of the four gazes should offer a different and interesting view in proportion to the whole scene.


You will need patience and persistence throughout your aquascaping journey. Not every plant will grow the way you want it to and not every rock will sit where you placed it. Knowing that your indoor aquarium landscaping and gardening is akin to constructing a ship in a bottle is key to being able to appreciate your scenery, enjoy the process and admire the beauty that comes afterwards. 

Not only this, but be prepared to want to chance things all the time. You may be happy with your landscape one day and want a whole new theme the next. But, this can be all part of the fun. However, one thing to keep in mind is how the nutrients of your aquascaping tank could affect your plants when you come to add-in the hydroponics aspect of this hobby.

When you have come to peace with each of the four aspects to aquascaping, you can start your shopping list. And, here at The Hobby Kraze, we like to keep things simple and make it easy for you to begin your hobbies.

Meaning, you should always think about the minimal number of supplies needed to help you enjoy your aquarium landscaping hobby. Then, when you’re ready, you can reach back into your wallet and begin to introduce new forms of aquatic life including exotic plants and fish.

Check out the ultimate guides to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners’ checklist for your aquarium landscaping journey:

  • A Tank
  • Fresh Water
  • A Filtration System
  • Oxygen
  • Nutrients
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Chemical Water Filters
  • Substrate
  • Hardscape Materials (such as; wood, rock and pebble)
  • Zen Garden Rake
  • A Soft-Bristled Brush
  • Plants
  • Lighting
  • Electricity

The Types of Aquascaping and Aquarium Landscaping You Could Incorporate

The Types of Aquascaping and Aquarium Landscaping You Could Incorporate

Aquascaping for beginners requires to you be able to tell the difference between the most common and most popular types of Aquascaping styles. There are so many different angles from which aquarium landscaping could be approached, but here are the main 7:

1. Taiwanese Style

The Taiwanese style of aquarium landscaping was once a very popular route, however, with other trends in aquascaping for beginners, it has lost its widespread usage. This tank traditionally incorporates terraces at differing heights and figurines or objects like houses that would bring the scene to life.

2. Dutch Style

The most commonly used aquarium landscaping tank style in 2020 is the Dutch tank. It is very simplistic and can be very colourful depending on the organisms and aquatic life you choose to introduce. As the best tank style offered in aquascaping for beginners, you’ll often see defined segments with tall terraces that look like Dutch streets. And, they often don’t feature any expensive components such as driftwood or rock formations.

3. Jungle Style

A popular style incorporated into larger fish tanks; the name might be self-explanatory. However, the premise is to use plants such as Microsorum Pteropus and Aponogeton Boevinianus to emulate a jungle. The Jungle style of aquarium landscaping is often quite large and dark, so a top tip would be to invest in good key lighting to view the most of your scene.

4. The Nature Aquarium

With sub-categories like the mountain styles and island styles, the Nature Aquarium offers you the chance to recreate some of your favourite existing landscapes from around the planet. For example; the secret waterfall in the Brecon Beacons after exploring it with The Ultimate Guide to Hiking for Beginners. And, you can use whatever floats your boat, too. The Nature Aquariums have been known to win various awards over the years for design and beauty.

5. Iwagumi Style

Riding alongside the Dutch style in terms of popularity, the Iwagumi style was made popular by Takashi Amano, A.K.A the father of modern aquascaping. It expresses beauty through the rule of thirds and balancing. For example, there should always be an odd number of stones and rocks to balance the tank and secure a natural scene.

Then, it will always have at least three rocks whereby one is the ‘father’ and the remaining are secondaries. As well as this, the Iwagumi style likes to imitate natural landscapes by using minimalist design and singular colours. Finally, in the replica sense, powder-substrate is commonly used to implicate scale.

6. Biotape Style

This style of aquarium landscaping seeks to replicate the natural scenery in open water and coral reef locations. While providing researchers the opportunity to study the aquatic life and organisms in controlled conditions, the Biotape tank can be a good choice for aquascaping for beginners due to its minimal maintenance requirements.

7. The Create Your Own Adventure Aquarium Landscape

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we bring you hobbies for you to enjoy in your own way. And, in terms of aquascaping for beginners and the hobby of aquarium landscaping, the ‘create your own’ style of aquarium gardening can bring you the most joy, freedom and relaxation.

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23 Inspiring Aquascape Ideas That Will get You Going!

This can be especially true as you start your journey and get used to the skills needed to create landscapes. So, why not experiment and create your own landscapes under water. We’d love to see the results!

Moving onto the Basics and Tools of Hydroponic Systems

Moving onto the Basics and Tools of Hydroponic Systems

As this is the ultimate guide to aquascaping and hydroponics, we couldn’t simply leave you after explaining the aquarium landscaping processes. When it comes to hydroponics, you’ll need to have your water tank readily active and ready to grow plants.

The first thing to think about with your hydroponic systems is the placement. While your aquascaping tank could survive in most environments with the right filter, lighting and temperature, you need your hydroponic system to be placed somewhere you will see it every day. This is because gardening takes every-day maintenance and care.

Then, you’ll need to consider which types of hydroponic growing you’ll like to go ahead with as this will determine your nutrients and your yield. The idea is to use a tank of water filled with necessary nutrients and control the flow of this solution into a plant pot without the use of soil or pesticides. 

The hobby of hydroponics for beginners can vary from simplistic to complicated. With the easiest end of the spectrum being the classic school-time experiment of piercing a potato with a toothpick, placing it in water and watching the roots grow. The most difficult side would be modern farming for organic markets.

Look at the tools needed to create the perfect hydroponic systems in your hydroponics for beginners’ adventure:

  • A Tank
  • Water
  • Tubes
  • A Filter
  • Nutrients
  • An Aquaponic System or Aquarium Landscaping
  • A UV Light
  • Stagnant Air Location
  • Drip Buckets
  • Plants
  • Plant Pots
  • Humidity
  • Time
  • Patience
  • Plant Pot Stabilising Rocks

What are the Types of Hydroponic Systems to be Used?

What are the Types of Hydroponic Systems to be Used

Just before you fill your shopping cart, you’ll need to have decided which hydroponic system you’ll be using. As this will determine which exact tools you’ll need. And, here at The Hobby Kraze, we like to make things simple, so we’ve included a list of the most popular and simple hydroponic systems out there for you to choose from.

Much like with the aquascaping for beginners’ styles, there are 7 types of system used in hydroponics for beginners. And, it must be noted that not every system will suit your needs for budget, space or maintenance. But, there is always an option for you:

7. Flood and Drain System

Also known as the ‘Ebb and Flow’ system, this method is very popular among home gardeners making it a viable solution for your hydroponics for beginners’ journey. Due to the space required for this system, it is recommended that you don’t try to grow large or many plants. Perhaps stick to simple plants such as carrots, turnips and fruit bushes.

The reason for this is that the plants are placed within a tray made of a grow medium such as perlite or rockwool. Then, the growth bed is flooded with the water-nutrient solution by a timer-operated system. This system floods and stops repeatedly over a period of time. 

2. Wick Hydroponics for Beginners

As the only hydroponic system that doesn’t require the use of electricity, it is the most simple and affordable of the 7 systems. Your plants are placed within an absorbent substance such as vermiculite or perlite and a nylon wick is trailed around the roots and into the water-nutrient solution.

While this is an affordable system, it must be noted that a wick does not carry an even distribution of nutrients, nor can it carry large amounts, meaning it is not good for large plants or large systems. It is a better solution for a small in-house hobbyist like yourself.

3. Nutrient Film Technique

Often referred to by its abbreviation; NFT, the system involves a large body of water or reservoir. And, so while it is not one of the hydroponic systems likely to be used in hydroponics for beginners, it is useful to understand how it operates in case your hobby scales into a business. You’ll have your plants placed into net pots and a body of water.

This body of water will be fed with nutrients through a sloping channel. And, because this is a highly scalable system, it is commonly used by commercial growers and home farmers. However, it must be noted that bodies of water large enough to require outside space, exposes your plants to pests and the need for pesticides and treatment.

4. Deep Water Culture

This hydroponic system allows for your plants to be submerged directly into the water-nutrient solution. Meaning it is a very good system to allow for the necessary amount of nutrients to be absorbed by the plant culture.

This can allow for very large plants to grow quickly. However, the oxygen needed for the roots to breathe is pumped into the water through the use of a diffuser or air stone. As well as this, in order to stabilise the growth of the planet, they’ll need to be supported by net pots within the tanks. 

See also
19 Best Water Plants for Indoors and Outdoors - For Your Green Thumb!

5. Drip Irrigation

This hydroponic system is a great option for hydroponics for beginners because of the allowance for change. This system is flexible to control the amount of water-nutrient system that is drip-fed to the plants based on the types of plant you want to use.

And, if you change your mind on your yield (something done by many beginners), you don’t have to change your hydroponic system. The drip irrigation system works by having tubular pumps feeding your water-nutrient solution directly to the plant’s base. This tubular system has a drip emitter at the end, which acts as the control for flow, meaning you can increase or decrease the amount of flow where necessary.

6. Aquaponics

This system is also referred to as a circular economy for hydroponic systems. And, it is where your ultimate guide to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners can come in handy. When you choose to have a tank with aquarium landscaping, you can add fish.

When you add fish to your habitat, they are eating the plants, and secreting nutrients that are vital for your other plants to grow. So, adding fish to your tank, and using a pump nozzle from the other hydroponic systems listed, you can create a circulatory system that doesn’t require the constant re-addition of fresh nutrients (which the other hydroponic systems do).

7. Aeroponics

This system can be quite difficult for beginners of hydroponics to use. This is because it requires your plants to be suspended in the air with misters positioned directly below. These misters will spray your water-nutrient solution from a tank situated underneath to create a highly effective growing system.

Excess fluid then drips off the plant and into the tanks. However, due to the nature of the mist nozzles, the build and care can be quite high maintenance with clogs occurring frequently. So, here at The Hobby Kraze, we recommend avoiding this type of hydroponic system until you are settled into your newfound hobby.

As this is the ultimate guide to aquascaping and hydroponics, we want to be able to give you the best solution to make the most out of this hybrid-hobby. And, with that, it would be the use of the aquaponics system. Simply adding fish into your habitat of landscapes, organisms and plants can provide you with a wealth of nutrient-rich water. And, this can be used with any breed of fish (chosen simply by preference) and any species of plant.

Choosing Your Yield in the Guide to Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

Choosing Your Yield in the Guide to Aquascaping and Hydroponics for Beginners

And, now we move onto the fun part. Deciding which plants you want to grow. From strawberry plants to turnip gardens, the world is your oyster (another organism you can include in your aquascaping for beginners’ tank). 

In fact, here is a list of plant’s you could choose from to begin growing in your new aquascaping and hydroponics project:

  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Cress
  • Peppers
  • Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans
  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Blackberries
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Celery
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Arrowhead Vine
  • Spider Plant
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Leopard Lily
  • Female Dragon
  • Peace Lily
  • Bok Choy
  • Kale
  • Lotus
  • Blueberry
  • Raspberry

Now you know all the tools of the trade and you’re set to begin you growing and gardening adventure with water, the team here at The Hobby Kraze couldn’t leave without giving you some of our Top Tips in the guide to aquascaping and hydroponics for beginners. To improve the uptake of nutrients of your plants, give humic acid a go.

Added to water, this soluble powder can increase the amount of nutrients your plants will feed on, especially when used in conjunction to aquarium landscaping with seaweed. Here’s some of our other useful tips:

  • Make lighting your utmost priority
  • Understand your nutrient solution
  • Make sure your water is freshwater
  • Never ignore regular plant maintenance
  • Respect the growing environment of temperature
  • Don’t overplant 
  • Don’t use too many species in one place
  • Never use regular fertilisers 

You need to be able to enjoy your hobby with aquascaping for beginners and hydroponics for beginners. And, if you believe that you want to incorporate fish into the tank for a circulatory economy of nutrients through the aquaponics system, you should give that a go, too. 


And, with that, we can draw a close to our ultimate guide to aquascaping and hydroponics. We wish you luck with your journey of growth and can’t wait to see what new agriculture will sprout. Share your aquascaping and hydroponics journey with The Hobby Kraze on our social media!
Or, if you’re feeling frisky, check out our range of other ultimate guides to find which hobby can be enjoyed by you, your family and your friends! Hint: we recommend some other at-home favourites such as The Ultimate Guide to Sewing for Beginners and the Ultimate Guide to Rock Tumbling for Beginners.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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