Are you ready to dive into the mesmerizing world of aquascaping? Whether you're a seasoned enthusiast or a curious beginner, setting up a captivating underwater landscape is an art form that anyone can master. In this article, we'll walk you through the process of creating a stunning low-tech aquarium, offering tips and insights along the way.

Step 1: Hardscape Construction

The foundation of any captivating aquascape lies in its hardscape – the arrangement of rocks, driftwood, and other elements that form the backbone of the underwater landscape. A trick as you plan your hardscape is to use zip ties to secure your wood to an egg crate grid divider for aquariums which will be buried under the substrate. This ensures stability and prevents floating, a common issue when filling the aquarium.

In this video, Mark aims for a triangular layout, with the main piece of wood slightly off-center to the right. This creates a dynamic visual flow, drawing the viewer's eye across the aquarium. 

Step 2: Fine-Tuning the Composition

With the basic structure in place, Mark focuses on refining the composition. He adds additional pieces of driftwood to continue the natural lines and enhance the triangular shape. By paying attention to detail and experimenting with different arrangements, he achieves a harmonious balance between wood and stone.

Step 3: Adding Substrate and Details

Next, it's time to add substrate to the aquarium. Mark opts for sand with a warm orange hue, complementing the tones of the Dragon Stone and driftwood. He carefully spreads the sand using a paintbrush, ensuring it fills in all the nooks and crannies between the rocks and wood.

To add texture and visual interest, Mark crushes up additional Dragon Stone to create smaller pieces. These finer details add depth and complexity to the hardscape, enhancing its natural appearance.

Step 4: Introducing Aquatic Plants

Now comes the greenery! Mark selects low-maintenance plants that thrive in low-tech setups, meaning they require minimal light and no CO2 injection. Trident Fern and Anubias petite are among his favorites, as they can be easily attached to wood and stone without the need for planting in soil.

With a delicate touch, Mark strategically places the plants throughout the aquarium, filling in gaps and adding pops of vibrant greenery. The result is a lush underwater garden that's both visually stunning and easy to maintain.


Creating a breathtaking low-tech aquarium is a rewarding journey that combines artistry with science. By following Mark's expert tips and techniques, you can transform your aquarium into a captivating underwater oasis. So, roll up your sleeves, unleash your creativity, and dive into the wonderful world of aquascaping!