We love to talk about all sorts of cool aquascaping ideas and concepts here at Tannin. In fact, we thrive on them!
One of our favorite concepts is the "hardscape." It's a beautiful way to create surprisingly dynamic environments- and we've seen more and more of them all the time! Essentially, a hardscape can be over-simply defined as an aquascape that uses rocks, wood, or other materials besides plants (like "aquatic botanicals", cough, cough!)It's not like this is some new and exotic trendy concept. If you've ever done an African Cichlid tank filled with just rocks, you've done a hardscape.
I've played with hardscapes for some time now, and I really enjoy them. The interplay between rocks, wood,and botanicals can be endlessly fascinating- like every bit as entrancing as a planted tank, really.
The key, like so many things in aquascaping- is balance. Achieving a balance between elements in a scape is essential, challenging, and endlessly fascinating...And it emphasizes the importance of selecting materials that somehow work together, as if part of some organic "whole."
And use of other materials, such as seed pods, branches, etc., adds to the overall effect to produce surprisingly dynamic and vibrant underwater scenes.
Many botanicals can blend harmoniously and logically into the melange of rocks and wood to form near-perfect representations of nature in the aquarium.
(So, not entirely "hard", but with strong hardscape, even a lightly planted tank comes to life. Design and pic by Jeffrey Senske of Aquarium Design Group)
You can use various botanicals, wood, and rock to create textural and color contrasts and integrations which offer balance and flow, creating a surprising sense of calmness- or energy, depending on your goals.
And the sky is the limit in selecting what kinds of materials you want to use in your hardscape- and how you want to use them. Nature offers these materials to us with no real hard and fast "rules"- only guidelines as to where they belong..but no judgement is involved...The materials will simply "thell" you- the aquascaper- the artist- when they are in the correct balance, proportion, and position in your composition.
It just...works. It's worked that way for millions of years in nature- and will for millions more.
It's not really that "hard", is it?
Enjoy...and Stay Wet.