Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Aquascaping Answers: Negative Space as a Focal Point

Each week in Aquascaping Answers, I do my best answering your aquascaping and aquascaping related questions. Just leave your question in the comments section!

Since I was away for the holidays the past two weeks, we only have one question this week, but it's a good one:

Can negative space be an effective focal point in an aquascape? What about driftwood - not the plants attached to the driftwood, but the driftwood itself (e.g., if you had an interestingly knarled piece)?

Yes, negative space can be a focal point in an aquascape, but it is difficult to do correctly. This is due to the fact the the focal point must stand out in some way and be different than its surroundings. So in order for negative space to be an effective focal point, the space must be surrounded by plants and hardscape. One way of doing this is creating a "trail" type aquascape, where there is a small trail through a dense thicket of plants. Here, the open space of the trail can be the focal point.

Driftwood can also be used as a focal point. Again, it's more difficult to do, but in this past year's ADA Aquatic Plant Layout contest, the fourth place aquascape does it well (see the picture above). You can tell the aquascaper went to great lengths to make sure the driftwood wasn't too overwhelming with moss and the use of light. Often, using driftwood as a focal point is done when recreating a scene similar to a submerged forest or a dense jungle.

Ask a question about aquascaping, keeping aquatic plants, plant-friendly fish, lighting, CO2, fertilizing, or any other aquarium plant related question in the comments to this post, and I'll answer them in next week's edition.


  1. When you're working with CO2 setups with proper fertilizer dosing, can you eliminate algae? When I see pictures, I never even seen specs of green dust algae on the glass. Is this because of the good tank balance or are people putting their best foot forward and cleaning up the tank prior to photo shoots?

  2. Could you post some more info on stocking Planted Tanks? Like, not reccomended fish/algae eaters, but posty what bio-load of fish Planted tank are good with?


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