The Iwagumi Style ​Planted Tank

The Iwagumi layout, invented by Takashi Amano, is for many aquascaping fanatics one off the most beautiful planted tank styles out there. At first glance the Iwagumi looks simplistic and minimal, but it’s actually one of the most difficult aquascaping layout styles to accomplish.

Planted Tank: Iwagumi layout inspiration

The term Iwagumi means “Rock formation” in Japanese. It’s no wonder that the rocks play an essential role in the Iwagumi layout. This layout style makes use of three main stones. One large stone and two smaller supporting stones. The way these stones are laid out is very important as this gives the iwagumi planted tank the right impact we all love.

The hardest part of forming the hardscape is creating the perfect balance between all stones. Not having this balance will throw off the whole scape, missing the peaceful harmony and unity characterized by the Iwagumi layout.

Each stone in the Iwagumi layout has a name and a specific role:

  • Oyaishi:
    The primary stone. This stone is placed in the focal point of the aquascape, therefore it should be the most beautiful stone of them all. It should take up 2/3 of your aquarium height, which is the perfect ratio for the human eye.
  • Fukuishi:
    The secondary stone. The color and texture of this stone should resemble the Oyaishi. Being the second largest stone in the hardscape his main purpose it to balance out the primary stone and to create tension.
  • Soeishi:
    The third type of stone. Place this stone next to the Oyaishi, along with the Fukuishi, accentuating the strength of the first one.
  • Suteishi:
    The smallest stone. This rock will most likely get covered with plants, but it’s still an important one in the formation. It’s task is to compliment the entire rock formation by assisting all other stones in creating a sense of togetherness.

Iwagumi planted tank rock formation

What are the difficulties of an Iwagumi aquascape layout?

Choosing the correct plants is crucial for creating an Iwagumi layout. Plants used in this aquascaping layout style are heavy root feeders which makes it important to select the right substrate.

Another difficulty is the fact this aquascape becomes prone to algae formation, even in the early stages of you aquarium.

The popular plants used in the Iwagumi layout, like Dwarf hairgrass (Eleocharis acicularis), Glossostigma elatinoides and Hemianthus callitrichoides ‘Cuba’ are low plants which require a lot of lighting and pressurized CO2. Not providing these two will again cause algae formation, so think about this when setting up your aquarium equipment.

Some examples of Iwagumi layouts

Planted Tank: Iwagumi layout inspiration

Planted Tank: Iwagumi layout inspiration

Planted Tank: Iwagumi layout inspiration

Planted Tank: Iwagumi layout inspiration

View more Iwagumi aquascapes

  • aquascaping
  • beginners
  • iwagumi
  • planted tank
  • takashi amano

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