Too much of a good thing? In some cases, yeah...

Can you really have too much of a good thing?

Or,  do you subscribe to the  Billy Idol philosophy that "Too much is never enough..."?

Well, let's quantify this...We're talking about aquascaping. Specifically, the use of rocks, wood, aquatic botanicals. They all look awesome in an aquascape, but it's quite easy to over do it, isn't it?

And by "overdo", I don't mean the impact of so many botanicals on the physical environment, to the point where your tank is so black with tannins that you can't see the back...I'm talking about too much in the context of  the design element- no open, or "negative" space in the the point where it becomes a relentless expanse of...stuff.

I think it's entirely possible to overdo it and just make an aquascape too busy. Unless you're trying to replicate a zone in a stream or creek that is covered in rocks, leaf litter, and driftwood, it's never a bad thing to "edit."

I did this recently when I set up my home office tank. It was a South American-Inspired 'scape; not designed to be entirely biopic, but rather, 'a blackwater hardscape with South American inspiration!" I wanted to incorporate elements of the dynamic leaf litter/streambed environment, while still keeping some artistic elements, such as ratio and negative space.

Jeff Senske's masterful 'scape with Tannin aquatic botanicals created a dynamic aquatic environment, while still showing restraint...

I started with a ton of botanicals strewn all over the bottom, nestled under some nice Manzanita pieces. It looked cool- if I were trying to replicate a busy leaf litter biotope...which I wasn't. I had to swallow my pride and "edit" a bit. I removed a lot of the "incongruous" botanicals that didn't seem as though they'd naturally accumulate where they were placed.

Any you know what? The impact of having some negative space in there was far, far greater than when I had tons of botanicals in there! Each and every botanical had a far greater impact when it wasn't virtually covered by others.

It's a trick we see in planted tanks, too...and reef aquariums, for that matter...

Try it next time your 'scape just doesn't feel "right."

"Respect the white space..."

Less IS more.

Think about it.

Stay creative. Stay excited.

And stay wet!


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


Leave a comment