Home DIY How to Create an Aquascape with a Waterfall

How to Create an Aquascape with a Waterfall

How to create an aquascape

If you’re the do-it-yourself sort, this is just the sort of thing you will enjoy doing: you can create an aquascape – a unique water arrangement – with a waterfall and other interesting arrangements within a fish tank! It is an innovative and interesting décor idea: something of a conversation starter for your home.

An aquascape is the creation of artful settings underwater, using rocks, aquatic plants, driftwood, cave work and so on. It is, in effect, underwater gardening! The underwater landscape that you create should also take care of other elements such as filtration, permitting photosynthesis underwater, fertilization, maintaining CO2 balance, algae control and proper lighting. Aquascaping is a popular hobby enjoyed by many all over the world.

An aquascape can also feature a waterfall which is more than just a décor feature in your home. Indoor waterfalls are known to have several benefits. The sound of water is soothing and could help to lower stress. Even the sight of cascading water can be soothing and enjoyable. Plus it is something that visitors to your home will admire…so much more interesting than a simple fish tank! The ‘waterfall’ in your fish tank is not really a waterfall; it is actually a sand-fall but more about that later:

General tips for creating an interesting aquascape

Creating interesting aquascapes.

If you’re doing this for the first time, it will take some trial and error to get it right, so it makes sense to keep it simple to begin with. Pick a fish tank that is large enough to accommodate all the elements of the aquascape you plan to create and leave enough place over for the fish as well.

Choose a variety of rock element to create a natural-looking underwater landscape: larger rocks, pebbles, gravel and then sand. However, you must remember not to go overboard and crowd the tank with too much of this. It is advisable to create a slope with these different elements so that waste slides down and is easy to siphon out or remove with a net. You can also add some other elements such as empty snail shells and some driftwood to the arrangement to make it visually more interesting and to have it resemble a natural setting.

Choose the underwater foliage with care: bamboo canes can be used (they will emerge up and out of the water) or underwater ferns can add attractive elements to your aquascape. You could also consider using plastic foliage; it doesn’t do much for the natural environment of your aquascape, but can look quite attractive.

If you’re using real plants, be sure to place your tank in a place where it receives adequate light to permit photosynthesis. You could also place artificial lights above your tank to create interesting areas of light and shadow inside.

The filtration, pH balance and oxygenation are other aspects to take care of; your local aquarium shop will be able to advise you on this depending upon the size of your tank, and the elements you include in your aquascape.

The vitally important aspect here is the type of fish you introduce into your aquascape: they should be suitable for the climate of the place you are in, the quality of water in your tank (fresh or salted) and for the sort of aquascape you create. Some fish need pristine, clear water and cannot survive with extensive aquascaping. Others are very aggressive and wouldn’t let your aquascape arrangement last long. Still others are omnivorous and can very well nibble away at the plants in your arrangement. Also, the species of fish should be compatible with each other. You don’t want one to be predator and the other to be prey!

How to create a waterfall within your aquascape

Now while you may be quite content to create a traditional aquascape with some of the tips listed above, you could take your aquascape to the next level by adding a ‘waterfall’ to it. You would be quite right in questioning how it is possible to create an underwater waterfall; it would hardly be visible right? Quite correct! That underwater waterfall is actually created with sand to give the impression of a waterfall.


This YouTube video offers you instructions on creating a fish tank backdrop as well as details on the apparatus and way to create the sand fall. Since you already have the sand feature in your fish tank, you can use that to create this interesting feature. The video tells you how to use PVC piping to create the passage for the sand to flow through. It also shows you how to guide the sand into a proper flow to prevent it from going all over the place and making all the water murky and blurry.

This video of a rather extraordinary aquascape including the waterfall feature, created in a 500-gallon fish tank will probably offer up some more inspiration. You can be very innovative and creative with the kind of aquascape of your choice. Some trial and error may go into creating the perfect setup. Do also take the advice and the guidance of your local aquarium shop; at least to begin with.