Doing a layout, or planting a tank is a very personal thing. It’s an artistic thing. So I’m not gonna teach you how to do it. I’m just gonna give you some ideas, some basic rules that you can deviate from. You don’t have to follow these rules. What I’m gonna show you here is my own personal preference. I’m gonna do it in front of the camera, I’m gonna really rush it, for you guys, to see different setups. I’m not gonna show you a tank, which is fully filled up with water. So if you guys would like to see that, check out our other videos. Welcome to the beautiful world of aquascaping! Guys, I’m so tired after producing the last two videos in the last two weeks, for the 10th year Anniversary of Green Aqua, with the Dave Chow workshop and the stand-up comedy and all, I hope that you liked it. Today we’re doing something else, as I told you. We’re gonna scape this aquarium, but you’re gonna get a lot of inspiration from me, you’re gonna get a lot of knowledge about the very, very important process of building a Nature Aquarium. Without further ado, let’s start working! ♪ Cause you’re human ♪ ♪ Sometimes it’s gonna hurt baby ♪ ♪ Just let your tears fall down ♪ Okay, so how do you start the layout process? You start by studying. What do you need to study? You need to study the Nature. You need to study other aquariums. Or you need to study science-fiction movies, as I did. To come up with some crazy ideas for your tank. Ultimately, what’s the most important is that you should like your creation process, you should like the idea and you should be very happy about it, then it should just fulfill you. ♪ No need to worry about tomorrow, baby ♪ ♪ Cause you got time to figure it out ♪ We will start by introducing the soil in the aquarium. What happens, if you want to have some sand in the foreground, or you wanna have some path, that leads through the middle of the aquarium. In small aquariums, I would not really recommend – for beginners especially – to have a path in the middle, [CORRECTION: This is Sándor Mátrai’s “Mythical Craddle” HAC 2nd place tank.] because that would be a lot more difficult to maintain. ADA Aqua Soil Light is what I have here. I’m gonna introduce it in the tank. ♪ Sometimes its gonna hurt baby ♪ You get the soil as much towards the background, as possible, to form… A hill. I’m gonna show you how. Check this out! So it starts from the bottom and it will go up. When you look at the aquarium, everything would be nice and leant against your eyesight. So you’re gonna have a better perspective from the front. See what happens? So actually what happens is that the substrate can go from 4 centimeters in the back to almost zero, in just this much. So actually if you wanna make terraces, you can raise the substrate more towards the back. ♪ Cause you’ve got time to figure it out ♪ We’ve raised the substrate quite a lot, towards the back, with this technology. Usually, my preference is now, after watching Filipe’s workshop – and if you guys didn’t see that, check that video out, link in the description. He puts in the sand as the last step of this whole process. So actually I think that he’s right. Golden ratio is probably here. It’s small divided by… The big divided by small is the same amount, like the big… …to the whole aquarium. I’m not gonna tell you the mathematical formula of the… Yes, I’m gonna tell you, I’m gonna Google it! Golden ratio, right? In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio, if their ratio is the same, as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. Happy now? So basically you can have a central composition, or you can have a composition, that has the main thing in the golden ratio. What can be the main thing? The main thing can be a big rock. So now, this one is in golden ratio, right? This would be the main stone. This would be something, that would actually attract the eye. It’s gonna be the main thing in the aquarium. What’s the problem with this stone? The problem with this stone is that it’s too small. So, this can not be the main stone in the aquarium. So basically, you got the golden ratio at this point, here. And another one here. Right? Can you see that? Yes, you can! Okay! This would be “A”, right here. This would be the first point of the triangle. The tip. Then I’m gonna draw a “B” here. Then I’m gonna connect the two. And I’m gonna draw a “C” here. It’s much better, than using a pen! I’m gonna connect these three. So right now, you can see the triangle composition. Right? “A”, “B”, “C”. Actually, this one is in golden ratio. I’m just gonna do it with random rocks now, to be able to show you, how this whole thing works. I’m gonna introduce this rock in the back. It needs some more substrate probably, so I’m gonna introduce some more substrate as well. So what we… Ooh! So actually, now you don’t have any scratches on the glass. Now you have the main rock in golden ratio. So “A”, “B”, “C”. This is… quite a nice triangle right here. Okay, so what’s the next problem? The next problem is that these two rocks are not divided from each other. Say hello to YouTube! [laughter] Alright! Okay, so I’m gonna brush off all the remains of the soil. Now you’re gonna actually see, that there’s a dividing line between these two rocks there. The first problem is this, here. So this rock goes right next to the glass here. The second problem is also this rock here. It’s also built too close to the glass. Blackish sand in the foreground. See? It works perfectly! You can see the soil there. If you put the sand flattener to the glass, push it down and then release it. You can see that I’m actually getting rid of everything. Would you like to add like a path in the middle? No problem, you can add it on the top! The less sand you add in the front, the more space you’re gonna have upwards. Right here, just add the path here. Like that. Generally the gray colored stones will leach a lot of Calcium and Magnesium in your water and it will make the water harder. You can also hoard your stones from your local forests, rivers or mountains, but please be aware, that besides leaching Calcium and Magnesium into the water, thus hardening the water, it can also leach all kinds of other nasty stuff into it, like Silicates. If you have Silicates, you’re gonna have a lot of algae. You can hammer these and you can actually manufacture smaller pieces. So I’m just gonna add this here for you guys, to see what happens, if you add more rocks to the layout. I can add pebbles in the front. When you add some detail to it. All the stones are leading you eye from left to right, because this is the long part of the scape. And this one is going in the opposite direction, which is not very natural. You’ll have to go the opposite way around. Right, so let’s see, how this whole thing looks in close-up now. I’m really afraid. Okay, so you can actually see, that the layout has been done quite nicely. We can start planting on the right side and on the left side of the aquarium as well. And we can just take plants up to this little valley over there. You can see that I left some space behind it, for some other plants, that could be planted in the background. This here is the Iwagumi style. This line right here is golden ratio. I’m gonna start to introduce wood now, into this aquarium, to make it even more detailed. I’m gonna start using the wood as a continuation of the rocks here. I don’t think that this is a good idea, adding the wood like this, into an original Iwagumi scape. So if I were too start a scape, which has wood and rocks combined, I would do it together. I would suggest you to have as much hardscape as you can, because that will determine the whole mood of the aquarium and plants will grow anyway. Okay, we’re ready! Let’s get rid of this! If you push the particles of sand against the glass and you move your sand flattener vertically, you’re gonna scratch the glass. So be careful what you do there! Japanese scent! This is how Amazonia Powder looks like, when it’s dried out a little bit. You can still use it though. I’m gonna find something here, which suits my purpose. If you don’t know what you’re doing and you just started aquascaping, it would be better, to just find one piece of wood, that you like. And use that piece of wood as hardscape. This would work in the center, but it’s a dull composition. Every line will move the eyesight from the main trunk towards the tips, the ends of these branches here. This should be in the golden ratio, on the right side. Obviously you need to weigh this down. What I almost forgot… If you want to introduce some wood into your aquarium, it’s generally a good idea, to tie the moss onto the wood, just before you place it in the aquarium, because you have much more space to work with, when you’re outside. So you can actually see, that I added two rocks here. Smaller rocks are taking the composition from here, to there. It’s a nice triangle. This one is a triangle. Can you see that? You can see, that the middle of the trunk is in golden ratio, the lower golden ratio of the tank. You will start looking at that point first. There! That is the first point, there. And then, your eye is gonna wander together with the branches of this, to these rocks. Right? And then you’re gonna discover, that there’s another rock here. If you wouldn’t have these rocks here… Just imagine! I’m gonna take these out. What would you see? You would just see this! And the plants around it. Would it be enough? No! Cause you don’t want to spend time looking at a picture, like this. It’s too empty! I’m doing that again. What is the path doing there? As a hardscape element, it’s leading your eyesight from the golden ratio – because you’re gonna start looking at this one. It will lead your eye from here all the way to the back, up here. I’m putting the big rock in the front here. And then, I’m just keeping the small rock in the back, in the middle. Just to show it to you. You already have a lot of depth! If you’re not using rocks at all, you can start from zero, then move up to 12-13 centimeters. This obviously wouldn’t stay like this, if you would be filling it up with water. So you need to create terraces with stones. This is a central composition, with a V-shape. You can glue them together. I removed the rocks from both sides, in order to accentuate the V-shape. Obviously, the rocks could be positioned in a better way. But you have a nice plateau in the center. You can have foreground plants here, to add some perspective. You can have foregrounds there as well. You can have mosses in-between the rocks. If you don’t want to glue any mosses onto the rocks, what you can do actually is to just push the moss in the cracks of the rocks. Like the Riccardia moss for example, if you have CO2 injection. If you are a beginner, just get one wood. It’s less expensive, you can fill up the space more, by just using one wood. Put it somewhere in the middle , or in the golden ratio, as I explained to you in this video. You see? I added this and it already made a huge difference. And if I start adding more… I cannot stop! Hardscaping is like a lego game! You will start loving it, you see? Right guys, so I think we’re ready with the most creative process of aquascaping – the layout design. I didn’t put any light on the aquarium, We only have the light that’s coming on me. but if I would use a TwinStar light – which is made for nano tanks – You can already see, that the aquarium started to come alive. So I really hope that you liked this video! If you did so, please subscribe, if you didn’t do so yet! Hit the like button, or hit the bell button, to get notified of our future uploads! Until next week, bye!


  1. How about a vid with all the rocks that can be used in creating an aquascape, not only the common ones. Great vid btw

  2. oh that quality education right there! thanks for sharing your knowledge! loving the informative vids bro!

  3. Brilliant tutorial with in depth explainations, love the hardscapes layouts in this video! I must admit I screamed a little in the inside when you take apart such gorgeous hardscape to move on to the next one, hahaha

  4. Some of your earlier videos you seemed more nervous and it felt a bit forced but as you've gone on you seem so at ease and more natural in front of the camera and its informative as ever. Been nice to see the growth.

  5. Can I put ADA AMAZONIA LIGHT in a tank with fish in it?I have a small HOB and lava rocks and I don’t want to remove the fish from the tank.

  6. Bro that sci-fi scape you did is fucking amazing me you are now ahead of George..incredible man much love from australia

  7. Any tips from anyone about keeping substrate mounded like this? Is it best to just shove some rocks underneath to stop it levelling back out? Have seen TGM using some of that perforated plastic stuff before to place between rocks and stop it from moving down to the front

  8. WOW WOW WOW What a great video. It is so practical for those of us who are in the research and learn phase of beginning aquascaping. Being a visual learner, the use of the Golden Ratio graphic is huge !!!!! Thank you so much for doing this. You have a gift for teaching.

  9. How to become my favourite channel in more or less.. 10 videos since I discovered you? lol You guys are amazing

  10. Thanks for this very helpful video. Awesome as always and the tips are just cool.
    Balázs azt hiszem páját tévesztettél, tanárnak kellett volna menned. 😃 szuper volt a video sok jo ötletel, köszi. 🙏👌👍

  11. Watching these videos even though my snake definitely does not need water in her terrarium. It's very useful for the aesthetic component though!

  12. It's strange, even before know the golden ratio, my eyes naturally set scapes up in this way as it's the way we see nature without even thinking about it. Great video guys 🙂

  13. Great video… It would be great to share the idea between how the hardscape disappears with a mature planted tank. My last few scapes have started great then the plants take over and the beautiful and expensive hardscape is all but gone. Does anyone else struggle with this?

  14. I've noticed in the last few videos the sound has been very level. Meaning the volume of people talking and the volume of music in between has been the same loudness. This is excellent! In a lot of your older videos, the cuts with music were much louder than people talking. I was always turning the volume up and down constantly to hear people talking, then turning the volume down as to not get blown away by super loud music. Good job on the editing! It does get noticed!

  15. Amazing tutorial! Thanks for this video! I'm going to build an aquarium next month, and I'm going to use these tips <3

  16. Finally, something about the essence of the GR! I enjoyed it so much, that may I suggest making another video. This was simply too short, as I could watch it for an hour or so.

  17. Nice video 👍 I think what’s most hopeful for beginners is the materials you are using. Take your time and choose the right pieces. Anyone can create a professional incredible aquascape when they simply have the right pieces in front of them / very simple when you have unlimited access to rocks, plants and wood.

  18. Is this rules apply to a sqare tank like 45x45x45?
    Is it better put one big rock in the middle as the main than two apart on the side?

  19. Beautiful thanks for doing such important video for beginners, Did you do an Aquarium with a tunnel shape (plants covering the tunnel) ?

  20. @4:30 In fine art composition we call this the rule of thirds. The triangle design plays with perspective to add depth to the minimal space. This can be found in Renaissance paintings, ref. "School of Athens".

  21. 5:56 i knew this would happen, after i have seen the light fall into the aquarium in the other video. he seems to be the trainee of green aqua 😅😜 xD

  22. Great tutorial Balazs. I'm new to aquascaping and this type of videos from someone with a lot of experience are really helpful. Now I need to think how to achieve the golden ratio with one lava rock and one piece of moor wood. Greetings from Guatemala

  23. Love this video for a beginner like me. Just 2 cents: don't use styrofoam with marker pen as they make squeaky sound which hurts some people's ears including mine 🙂

  24. The best knowledge video from you which I love. BTW, is Triangle Composition a concept in Golden Ratio as well? I want to know why the main rock really matters there. I want to know more comprehensively about it. I wish you could tell us also about how much plants to put related to the ratio because I heard about rule of thirds is also playing there.

  25. I like the way he switched from being really happy to just plain dull serious when he was talking about finding inspiration for the tanks 😂👌🏽

  26. The golden ratio is a lie, there is no evidence to support that humans like designs that consider the golden ratio.

  27. Is there a way, like say hard boil or macerate/soak found stones to be able to introduce them in the aquarium? Or is that too tricky?

  28. @ Green Agua.
    Besides my scaping is cube schaped aquariums which goes pretty well imho, but does this formulea also count for for other shaped aquariums ?
    In my case a new round Aquarium with a flat backside (like a circle cutted in two)..

  29. Sir I am from India.. I dont get a good aquarium… I am a great fan of yours.. Please provide me a good small size fish tank… Thank you..

  30. I love aqua scapping but the cost from my pet shop is not being fair. It’s so expensive here. He is so talented and make me understand so easily.

  31. OMG, get rid of the styrofoam! Besides for that, I loved your video I'm curious though, if using paths… How do you properly clean the gravel to keep the paths in place?

  32. Really good explanation. Feels like a real class to a beginners like me.. very easy to understand for a fast learners. But for me i need to watch it twice😅. Thanks Guys for making this video.🤗

  33. I needed this video. And the part about mixing rocks and wood was a nice bonus. Aquascaping is turning out to be more complicated than I expected.

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