There is no aquascape without decorative materials. Stones and driftwood are commonly called "hardscape". This name applies to all the materials in an aquarium that do not change their form when submersed. Nice pieces of driftwood and rocks are essential for an aquascape. Without them, it would be very hard to make a natural-looking layout. Driftwood comes in very different shapes and colors and offers the aquascaper much leeway for layouting, and there are so many different rocks that help you create the perfect aquascape.
The hardscape forms the basis, or the framework, for the plants, which are planted later on in the creating process, and as a rule it should never be under-dimensioned to prevent the growing plants from totally covering it later on.
There are rocks that influence water hardness, and there are rocks that don't. Carbonate rocks potentially harden the water. The more texture such a rock has, the higher is its influence on the carbonate hardness and the total hardness of the water. Ryuoh or Seiryu stones, also called mini landscape, have a relatively strong influence. You can tackle this problem with relatively large water changes and active soil substrates. Then there's no need to be worried about possible negative influences for your aquascape. Godzilla stone (also known as Seegebirge) and Black Pagoda do not harden the water significantly. Ohko stones (also called Dragon stones) are entirely neutral, as are lava rocks. Manten, Unzan and Koke stones by ADA (Aqua Design Amano) do not influence the water hardness either.
Driftwood like mangrove, river wood, Talawa Wood, moorwood, Mekong wood or red moorwood do not influence the water hardness negatively either, however, they may give off tannins and humins to the water. These substances may give the water a slight brownish to amber stain. Depending on the amount of wood in the tank, this effect may last a longer or shorter time. You can use Seachem Purigen to remove that stain from the water. However, some aquarium animals even prefer a water with such a slightly brownish tint, as it is rich in tannins and humins. For an aquascape, in which you want optimal plant growth, such a brownish tint would have a somewhat negative effect.
In our shop, all the pieces of driftwood are photographed and sorted according to size, so every aquascaper can find the piece of driftwood that's just right for their design. Red moorwood, moorwood, mangrove, Talawa wood, river wood or other kinds of driftwood: We have just the piece you've been wanting for your layout.
You should always have a well-balanced number of stones in your aquascape. Iwagumi layouts are very popular. These aquascapes are based on the stone compositions of a Japanese garden. The stones are placed according to fixed rules. You always use an uneven number of stones, with a main stone surrounded by smaller pieces.
The stones in such a layout remind the onlooker of mountains and large rock formations.