How to create dutch style aquarium setup?

Dutch aquariums also known as herbal aquariums, are very popular among aquarists. You can make and run them with your own hands, but for this, you need to know which plants to plant, how to prepare the soil and water, and other nuances.

What is Dutch Aquarium?

A dutch aquarium is a reservoir with an abundance of various plants. It is inhabited by shrimps, molluscs, fish, and other small representatives of the aquatic fauna. However, the main inhabitants are plants, and all the conditions are primarily created for them.

In such aquariums, lamps with a phosphor with special spectral characteristics are used and a constant supply of carbon dioxide is organized.

Dutch Aquarium shapes and sizes

For novice aquarists, tanks in the shape of a rectangular parallelepiped are more suitable.

There are still round options, but caring for them requires experience.

It is recommended to take tanks no more than 60 cm high, otherwise, it will be difficult to care for the plants.

The standard length of the dutch tank is 120-150 cm and the width is 40-80 cm.

dutch aquascape rules For setup

Plants, like representatives of the fauna, are demanding to create optimal conditions for successful growth.

Therefore, when creating a dutch aquarium, you should properly organize the lighting and supply of carbon dioxide, maintain the composition and temperature of the water.


A dutch aquarium should be equipped with lamps with a predominance of red and blue light spectra. The first is responsible for the growth and development of flora. These lamps should be installed at the back of the tank and in the center.

Blue light fixtures are placed at the front wall of the aquarium – they are needed by flowering plants. In addition, fluorescent lamps must be used.


In Dutch aquariums, it is recommended to heat the water up to + 24… + 25 ° C.

The higher the liquid temperature, the lower the gas solubility. At + 24 ° C, the water contains a lot of carbon dioxide during the day (for photosynthesis) and oxygen at night (for breathing).

The first helps plants accumulate nutrients in their bodies, and the second helps to oxidize harmful nitrogenous compounds (ammonium and ammonia).

Therefore, if the water temperature rises above + 25 ° C, the solubility of gases will decrease and harmful substances will begin to accumulate in the aquarium.

The required temperature level of the liquid in the Dutch Aqquraium is maintained using a thermostat.

The device heats the water up to the set value and then turns it off. When the water starts to cool, the thermostat automatically turns on.


The growth of plants in a dutch aquarium is greatly influenced by the acidity (pH) and hardness of the water. The first indicator reflects the content of carbonic acid, which is partially formed when CO2 dissolves. The more of this gas in the water, the lower the acidity. A pH of 6-7 is suitable for most plants.

There are 2 types of hardness:

  • Carbonate. Shows the amount of calcium and magnesium carbonates dissolved in water. The optimum level is 3-6 °.
  • General. Shows the content of calcium and magnesium ions. The optimal indicator is 4 °.

The following requirements are imposed on the soil for aquarium plants:

  1. Looseness so that air and water can circulate between soil particles.
  2. Chemical inertness, that is, the soil should not release substances into the water or bind existing ones.
  3. Buffering – the ability to maintain the required level of acidity.
  4. Nutritional value, or the content of the required supply of micro- and macroelements.


Most often, aquarium plants get sick due to a lack of potassium, nitrogen, manganese, calcium, and iron. To compensate for the lack of these elements, special fertilizers for aquarium plants should be added to the Dutch Aquarium.

The drugs are of the following types:

Tablet. They are placed in the ground closer to the roots of the weakest plants. The dosage can be found in the manufacturer’s instructions. Tablet fertilizers have the following effect:

  • restore the iron content in water and plants, promote their rapid growth;
  • suppress the vital activity of algae;
  • restore soil microflora.

Rod-shaped. The dosage depends on the volume of the tank: for 1 liter of water, take 1 g of sticks and mix with the soil.

Fertilizer restores iron content, provides a nutrient medium for a long time.

At the same time, it does not harm fish and other inhabitants of the aquarium.

  • In the form of balls. Enrich soil and water with iron and other nutrients. The dosage depends on the amount of flora. Take 1 or 2 balls and buried in the ground. The procedure is repeated after a year.
  • Liquid. Suitable for all types of aquatic plants. Liquid fertilizers contain not only iron, but also potassium, iodine, manganese and other elements. The dosage can be found in the instructions.

Dutch Aquarium Filtration

The circulation of water by filters is important for plants for the following reasons:

  1. Improves carbon dioxide consumption.
  2. Eliminates stagnant water zones among densely growing plants. This ensures the proper intake of micronutrients.
  3. Cleans water from suspended particles.

For a Dutch aquarium, experts recommend the use of external filtering equipment, since it does not block the lighting for the plants and does not spoil the design.

Before installing the device, you must study the step-by-step instructions provided by the manufacturer.

How To Create Dutch Style Aquarium Setup?

The process of starting a dutch aquarium from scratch begins with planning.

It is necessary to take a sheet of paper and determine the placement of tall and low plants, decorative elements, etc. on it.

You can consult the designers.

Special lava is used as a substrate, which is sold in pet stores.

Layers of nutritious and decorative soil are placed on top of it.

how to create dutch style aquarium setup


The composition of the aquarium before it is filled with water is called a hardscape. This is the process of laying stones, driftwood, and other decorative elements when decorating a Dutch Aquarium relief. There should be no hint of artificiality in the hardscape: the designer arranges decorative elements according to natural rules and laws.

It is recommended to stand the water for the aquarium for at least a day to remove all impurities and warm it to room temperature.


Before pouring water into the aquarium, you need to place a plate in the tank so that the water jet does not destroy the soil and substrate. After pouring, bacterial preparations can be added to the water to ensure a healthy bio balance.


When planting flora, you should adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Place long-stemmed plants on the background and middle background, and undersized plants on the front.
  • Before planting, remove rotten leaves and prune the roots, leaving only 2-3 cm.
  • Plant low-growing plants in wet soil, and then fill the tank with water a few centimeters, after which you can proceed to planting flora with long stems.
  • Plant plants with red pigment in the most illuminated areas.

Intsalling Dutch Aquarium

When setting up a Dutch aquarium, professionals recommend following these rules:

  1. The reservoir is placed out of direct sunlight. This place should be away from doors and aisles.
  2. The aquarium should not be located in the immediate vicinity of heating devices.
  3. The dutch aquarium is placed on a special aquarium cabinet.

Dutch Aquarium Care Rules

Caring for the aquarium after planting the flora is as follows:

  • Periodic addition of fertilizer.
  • Replace 20-50% of the water every week.
  • Control of the level of carbon dioxide content.
dutch aquarium care rules

After planting the plants, it is not recommended to light them too often. In the first week, daylight hours can be 5 hours, in the second week – 6 hours, in the third – 8 hours, etc.

How many fishes should be in Dutch aquarium?

There is no exact formula by which to calculate how many fish to put into an aquarium.

The population density depends on many factors: the level of filtration, the frequency of water changes, etc., but one of the most important is the size of the fish.

Some examples of calculations are presented in the table below.

Size (body length)RepresentativesCheck-in features
Up to 4 cmNeons, cardinals, rasbora, Endler’s guppiesFor 1 liter of water – 1 fish. Aquarium volume – more than 10 liters
4 to 6 cmPecilia, hasmania, rhodostomus, minors, thorns, guppies, barbs.For 1.5 liters of water – 1 fish. Tank volume – more than 20 l
Up to 20 cmMestizos, scalars, goldfish, gourami, rainbow fish, zebrafishFor 100 liters of water – 1 pair of fish. The larger the volume of the reservoir, the denser the settlement. Aquarium volume – more than 200 l
Up to 30 cmCichlids, ctenopomas, piranhasThe volume of the tank is more than 250 liters, then it can hold up to 5 fish

Plant selection for Dutch Aquarium

The green tone of the aquarium is given by:

  • Ceratopteris
  • hygrophilous
  • bacopa

Alternateria and Ludwigia have reddish and brick hues. These are plants with long stems.

Suitable as undersized:

  • echinodorus
  • cryptocorynes

The ground is lined with Javanese moss (Vesicularia dubayana).

If you need to shade the aquarium, use a floating plant:

  • limnobium (Limnobium laevigatum)
  • fern salvinia (Salvinia obloitgifolia)

Among the fast-growing plant species, the most popular are:

  • Boivin’s aponogeton (A. boivinianus)
  • ulvate (A. ulvaceus)
  • curly (A. crispus)

Dutch Aquarium Design and Decoration

There are the following directions in the design of Dutch aquariums:

  • Pseudomore. This is an imitation of the seabed there are many colorful fish, sea corals and beautiful shells. Use lamps that emit blue wavelengths.
  • Unforced dutch aquarium. Living plants, driftwood and stones are used as decorative elements. The aquarium is densely populated with small colorful fish. Sometimes the dutch aquarium is decorated with jellyfish made of silicone.
  • Subject. Its distinctive feature is the use of artificial elements – ships, ceramics, etc.

There are also aquarium photomurals that are glued to the back of the tank from the outside. Such a decorative element creates the illusion of a continuation of an artificial reservoir and brings a sense of volume and depth to the image.

Leave a Comment