Beginner's Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia

Basic Equipment and Guide To Start Your First Aquascape

Aqua Shack - Beginner's Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia Mountainscape

Look so nice to see and look so hard to do. This is the myth that is attached to the Art of Aquascape. 
But the truth is, Aquascape is a time-consuming and rewarding project that will get you addicted to do more and more and get your creative juice running and make more complicated but beautiful Aquascape. That is how the myth of Aquascape being hard to do comes from. 

This article will be progressively updated to try and guide anyone who wants to start Aquascape in Malaysia with reference to products available in Malaysia (Beginner’s Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia). Let’s begin!

What is Aquascape?
Aquascape, in my opinion, is an Underwater Landscape inside an Aquarium Tank. It is the concept of arranging and selecting plants, rocks, and woods to look very nice from someone’s point of view; and the Fish brings the Aquascape to Life. 

How Hard is Aquascape?
Aquascape is actually easy to start and easy to maintain if you understand the concept of taking care of an Aquatic Plant. Aquascape (in the basic setup) requires: 
– Aquarium Tank
– Substrate (in other words, soil for your plant to sit and grow)
– Aquatic Plants
– Rock / Driftwood / Stone
– Light
– Fish
– Aquarium Filter

Additionally, you may need a Carbon Dioxide System (CO2 System) depending on the type of plant and can also be used to speed up aquatic plant growth. 

As you gain more experience and confidence, naturally you will start adding more decorations to your Aquarium such as Underwater Waterfall Equipment.

How to Start Aquascape?
This Article is suitable for anyone who wants to start Aquascape in the most basic (beginner level) form and being budget-friendly. Before we begin, let’s understand the basics of two matters: Aquarium 101 and Aquatic Plant 101

Aquarium 101

Aqua Shack - Beginner's Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia - Discus in Aquascape Tank

For those who never owned an Aquarium, you can read further here: Basic Aquarium 101 

Aquascape containing Live Fish requires basic Aquarium care and needs like a standard Aquarium. In a very simple and brief explanation, below are the key points to summarize Aquarium 101 care and maintenance

Water Quality
Water Quality is very important for both Fish and Aquatic Plants which requires your monitoring of basic parameters including Ph Level, Ammonia Level, Nitrite Level, and Nitrate Level.
If the Ph Level of your Aquarium is too low or too high, your fish can get sick and your plant may not be able to grow. The same situation for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Level. 
Ideally, a balanced Aquarium would be at Ph Level 7, Ammonia 0 ppm, Nitrite 0 ppm, and Nitrate 0 to 10 ppm.
Basic Water Test Kit is recommended and available on Shopee | Lazada

Chlorine is the killer of your Fish and Aquatic Plants. Why? It is a chemical used to kill parasites, bacteria, and viruses in your tap water. Therefore, we need to remove Chlorine to protect your Fish and your Aquatic Plants by adding Water Conditioner (Anti-Chlorine) to make the tap water safe to use. A method to check if there is Chlorine in your Aquarium and Tap Water is by using Chlorine Tester, a video guide available here: Youtube Chlorine Tester Video 

My recommendation of Chlorine Tester is available on Shopee | Lazada 

For a list of Water Conditioner (Anti-Chlorine), you can read my review on different Water Conditioner available in Malaysia here: Anti-Chlorine Review Part 1 and Anti-Chlorine Review Part 2 

As for Water Conditioner for Aquascape, I would recommend any of the three suitable to your budget:
Aquanice H2O Protection Water Conditioner (recommended in a budget) : Shopee | Lazada
Tension Gon by mydilab : Shopee | Lazada (Guide on how to use: Tension Gon
Seachem Prime : Shopee | Lazada

Water Change
A very basic but important requirement to keep your Aquarium, Fish, and Aquatic Plant in high standard and disease-free. Your Fish and your Aquatic Plant require fresh water as frequently as possible as new water promotes growth, biological function, and coloration. Water Change will also help with reducing the risk of fish disease, removing discoloration (yellow water from aging/old water and driftwood), and odor from water. 
For new Aquascape owners, the general rule of Water Change (depending on aquarium size, type & quantity of fish, and type & quantity of plants) I would recommend is 10 to 30% water change.

Aquatic Plant 101

Aqua Shack - Beginner's Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia Photosynthesis
Aqua Shack - Beginner's Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia Photosynthesis Equation

The concept of how an Aquatic Plant grows underwater is similar to a plant grow on land. It is called Photosynthesis Process 
Like all plant (without going into too much detail), requires Water, Carbon Dioxide, and Light to grow. This is why some Aquascape setup uses CO2 tank to insert Carbon Dioxide into the tank.  

So, if your aquatic plant doesn’t have enough Light or Carbon Dioxide, your plant won’t be able to grow properly. 

Some Aquatic Plant (Anubias is my favorite maintenance-free Aquatic Plant) are very easy to take care of and do not need Carbon Dioxide to grow. Why? 
The alternative source is Nitrate which comes from Fish Waste and Food Waste in the Aquarium Tank. Plants like Anubias can survive from just Light and Fish Waste which is why most Aquascape Tank you see does not have CO2 Tank but instead have a number of Fish to give the source of nutrient to their Aquatic Plant. It is easier to maintain for a beginner and you don’t need to refill your CO2 tank as some areas of Malaysia may be difficult or not convenient to refill. 

For Aquatic Plant in Basic Aquascape, you require Soil for the plant to grow, Fish for their fish waste, added Plant Nutrient (in other words, Fertilizer to boost color and boost growth), a Good Water Parameter, and a Good Light specifically for Aquascape that helps your Aquatic Plant to grow.

That is what you need to know about Aquatic Plant 101, it is very simple; give enough light and nutrient, your plant grow, not enough light and nutrient, your plant die. 

How to Setup Aquascape Tank

Aqua Shack - Beginner's Guide to Aquascape in Malaysia - Aqua Shack Aquascape Tank Mini Puffer
My Personal Aquascape Setup with 2x Anubias Pant and Dwarf Puffer Fish

Aquascape Setup can be very basic especially for beginners. It can be as simple as 1 to 2 aquatic plants with a rock or driftwood decorated to make the aquarium look nice to YOU. It is a very subjective concept and design that it is best to see Aquascape as a way for you to design how you want it to look FOR YOU. Personally not a hardcore Aquascape person, but personally set up a number of Aquascape Tank personally and mostly as Jungle Style for my Cichlid Fish.

My most recent Aquascape set up as per the photo above is 2x Anubias Plant being tied to driftwood, 2 layers of Substrate (self-made Anaerobic Environment using loose gravel at the bottom and white small stone on top), 2 pieces of Large Coral (to increase and maintain Ph Level), a number of Mechanical Nano Bacteria Ball (For Aerobic Environment), Hanging Filter (to create water current and suck fish waste), White LED Light (as my tank is close to sunlight, I don’t use Aquascape Light), and a number of Dwarf Puffer Fish. The reason why I did this setup is that I wanted a maintenance-free Aquascape and Zero Water Change Setup; hence the Anaerobic Environment but I will talk more on this in the next article. 

In this article, I will share with you a Beginner Level Aquascape Setup Guide with recommended products available on Shopee on a budget and look nicer than my Aquascape. 

I would recommend for you to read further on one of the best articles for detailed Aquascape Setup on the ADA (Aqua Design Amano) website:

1. Choose Aquarium Size and Location

30 x 30 x 30cm Crystal Clear Aquarium Tank (1FT)
A good size for a Beginner would be a 30 x 30 x 30cm (1ft) Aquarium. You can easily find equipment for a 1ft Aquarium especially filters and background stickers.
For Aquascape, it is preferred to use a Crystal Clear Aquarium which is essentially a special glass and normally thicker than a normal aquarium to enhance the color of your Aquascape and more sharp “image”.

Since it is a glass aquarium, you will need to use a base to protect the glass from any potential crack by using a standard polyfoam or a Aquarium Base Mat.

Find a location in your home to place the aquarium, depending on where you place it, you may consider using a Background Sticker to cover the back or side of the Aquarium to give a white/black background.

30 x 30 x 30cm Aquarium : Shopee 

Black Base Mat : Shopee 

*It is recommended to buy Aquarium Tank from your local Aquarium Store to reduce the risk of damage Aquarium from shipping.

2. Substrate (Aquarium Soil)

FIRST – Add Substrate to the Tank
You will need Aquarium Soil for your plant to grow and for a 30 x 30 x 30cm Tank, 2 to 3 KG would be enough depending on your Aquascape design. There is no harm in getting a 5KG bag as you may need them in the future.

5KG Aquarium Soil : Shopee 

1KG Aquarium Soil : Shopee 

SECOND – Flattening the Soil (Raking)
It is recommended to get the basic tool of Aquascaping which is the Shovel, Scissors, and Tweezer. It will help a lot in saving time and be more precise in plating your Aquatic Plant. Use a Flat Shovel to flatten the soil evenly.

Aquascape Tool Kit (Shovel, Scissor, Tweezer) : Shopee 

2. Rock and Driftwood

There are a number of Rock types and shapes you can choose from and the same goes for Driftwood. Just search on the internet or your local store and you will find different shapes, sizes, and colors to suit your preference. The common Rock that can be found would be the Seiryu and Ohko Rock.

Seiryu Rock : Shopee 

Ohko Rock : Shopee 

Driftwood : Shopee 

Bonsai Driftwood : Shopee 

Choose your preferred decoration and place them in the tank. Reflatten the soil when complete

3. Planting

The best is to go to your Local Aquarium Shop that has Aquascape Plants and ask them what do they have in stock that requires no CO2 and they will be happy to assist and recommend.
*Different plant requires its CO2 and nutrients, ask the seller for detail of plant before purchase*

Recommended Seller for Aquatic Plants: Shopee 

First, wet the soil before planting for convenience and to give some water to your plant while you are decorating. 
Then, plant your aquatic plants following your preferred location and design. Spray some water to the plant to keep it moist.

3. Filter

For this setup, I would use a Hanging Filter to create a slow water current and at the same time to filter out the fish waste and keep the aquarium looking good.

Dophin H200 Hanging Filter : Shopee 

Place the Filter at your preferred location 

4. Add Water

Are you done with the decoration and planting? Ready to add water? 

Add Water slowly to avoid damage to soil and aim for the driftwood or rock to full. Add Water Conditioner when finish.

Aquanice H2O Protection Water Conditioner : Shopee 

Add some water to the hanging filter and turn on when ready.

5. Install Light

This is the key for your plant to grow. Not enough Light and the plant will not grow efficiently, Easy Aqua Pro LED T30 is the most ideal and budget-friendly LED Light for Aquascape and for plants that are low maintenance and do not require CO2.

Easy Aqua Pro LED T30 : Shopee 

Place the Light on top of the Tank and turn it on. On average, 8 hours a day is sufficient for the plant.

6. Fertilizer

All in One Fertilizer is ideal for a Beginner and low maintenance plant that does not require CO2. The Fluval is a well-known brand and has a basic all-in-one Liquid Fertilizer. 
Add initially to start the nutrient growth and continue to add weekly

Fluval Plant Gro+ : Shopee 

Once you understand the concept of Fertilizer and different plants requires a different level of Nutrients, you can start exploring different liquid Nutrients which includes:
– Potassium
– Iron
– Nitrogen
– Mineral
and more


Congratulation! You have completed Your First Aquascape Aquarium!

From here, I would recommend waiting at least 3 days before adding a few Fish to start the Bacteria Cycle and slowly add more Fish progressively. 

Below are some tools that you can buy to improve the maintenance of your Aquascape Tank

Water Temperature Thermometer : Shopee 

Mini Siphon for Water Change : Shopee 

This Article will continue updating based on inputs provided by readers like you. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to message me on Facebook.

Want to see?

Too much? Need to see an example?
Here is a video made by Aquarium Info to visualize essentially what I talked about above. The only difference is, she used seeds instead of the grown plants which she incubates before adding water. 
Follow Aquarium Info:

We hope you enjoyed what we wrote and we wish you on a happy journey to owning a pet fish! It will be a rewarding feeling when you get it right the first time!

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