Let’s begin with triangular compositions. – The launch of the AJ composition study club! –

Editors of Aqua JournalEditors of Aqua Journal

Getting the hang of planted aquarium from triangular compositions

As we, the younger generation of the AJ staff take part in the editorial side, we realized that it was necessary for us to re-learn the three basic compositions essential for Nature Aquarium. We called upon like-minded staff to join us and launched the AJ composition study club with a slogan of providing useful information to readers by deepening our own understanding about compositions. First, we thought about what composition is suitable for small aquariums that are easy for beginners to get started. And we would like to study about triangular compositions that are used most often for ADA’s past aquascapes in small aquariums.

Nature Creation Department
Name: Yasufumi Shibata
Main responsibility: Fishkeeping management
Favorite aquatic plant: Potamogeton
Recent big purchase: Dyson Micro 1.5kg

Nature AD Design Department
Name: Masafumi Takato
Main responsibility: Design
Favorite aquatic plant: Nymphaea sp. ‘Peru Maldonado’
Recent big purchase: Full size digital SLR camera

Research and Development Department
Name: Kyoshiro Kameyama
Main responsibility: Product development
Favorite aquatic plant: Hygrophila balsamica
Recent big purchase: Complete set of comic books by Taiyo Matsumoto


REPORT 01. Three basic compositions

There are three basic compositions in Nature Aquarium, and it becomes easy to create a well-balanced aquascape when paying attention to them.
Triangular Composition
Because a space can be created on either the left or right side, it is a composition that is easy for you to secure space where fish can swim freely.

If you connect the contours of driftwood and aquatic plants, it will become a right triangle.

Concave composition
It is a composition suitable for expressing a sense of perspective with a space in the center. The key point is to divide the balance of the left and right bushes by a ratio of 1:1.168 (about 2:3).

Because a concave composition makes it easy to create a sense of perspective, it is often seen in the IAPLC.

Convex composition
It is a composition with spaces on the left and right and suitable for bringing out the strength of aquatic plants and beautiful clusters of aquatic plants. The key point is to slightly shift the center of gravity from the center.

Because of its simplicity, it might be difficult to choose aquatic plants.


REPORT 02. Compositions that are easy to express flows

Due to the visual effect of compositions, the line of sight is naturally guided towards either the left or right space. Therefore, it is easy to express flows (directions) with triangular compositions.
Synergistic effect with tape type aquatic plants
Tape type aquatic plants match perfectly with expressions of water flows, and you can make flows of water more clearly by using tape type aquatic plants as background aquatic plants or accents in a triangular composition.
Tank size: W180×D60×H60 (cm)

Recommended aquatic plants
Cryptocoryne crispatula var. balansae
Eriocaulon sp.
Blyxa aubertii

The way they flutter on the water surface looks perfect for expressing rapids.

Creating a flow of water with a flow of fish
Compared to convex and concave compositions, it is easier to create a horizontal space in a triangular composition. Therefore, it goes well with fish swimming actively to the left and right, and the way fish swim calmly creates a flow of water unintentionally.
Tank size: W120×D50×H50 (cm)

Recommended tropical fish
Trigonostigma espei
Rhadbalestes smykalai
Barilius bakeri

The flow of fish becomes the flow of water.


REPORT 03. Compositions that are suitable for small aquariums

Triangular compositions allow us to secure space for fish to swim freely even in the limited space, and they are suitable for creating layouts that are not so cramped even in small aquariums.
Compositions that are by far the easiest to arrange
The smaller the size is, the larger the vertical ratio gets. As a result, convex and concave compositions are more difficult to create. If it is a triangular composition, it can be neatly arranged just by being aware of a diagonal line of an aquarium.
Triangular composition
Aquarium Size: W36×D22×H26
Left: Convex composition / Right: Concave composition

If you are not sure about small aquariums, why don’t you give a triangular composition a try first?

Signals for maintenance
High maintenance techniques are required for small aquariums. If it’s a triangular composition, it is easier to perform trimming since the hypotenuse of the composition structure can give us a signal.
Aquarium: DOOA System Aqua 30

It can be said that it is a composition for beginners from the aspect of maintenance.


REPORT 04. Techniques to examine from layouts

There are points that you need to understand in triangular compositions. Master the techniques and improve the level of perfection of your layouts.
The law of perspective in triangular compositions
When viewing an aquarium from directly above, a layout with depth can be created by constructing a structure like drawing a diagonal line. When you think about the composition three-dimensionally, it is better to imagine a horizontal triangular pyramid.
Tank size: W120×D50×H50 (cm)

By placing delicate aquatic plants to the far right, a sense of perspective is emphasized more.

Bird’s-eye view

You can actually see that it is intentionally created with the diagonal line.

Draw an arc with aquatic plants
If the hypotenuse line created with a composition and aquatic plants is too straight, the view will be fragmented, giving an unnatural impression. Control aquatic plants like drawing an arc.
Tank size: W60×D30×H36 (cm)

The line of aquatic plants looks similar to a graph of the y=√x function!

Keep balance by creating clusters
By constructing a structure with clusters, the composition becomes more well-balanced giving contrasts to the space, and a sense of security is given to the layout. Place driftwood pieces rhythmically.
Tank size: W180×D60×H60 (cm)

The clusters are tilted toward the hypotenuse from the center of gravity of the right triangle.



Compositions that are easy to express flows
Fish swimming actively and tape type aquatic plants emphasize flows.

Compositions that are suitable for small aquariums
Triangular compositions are relatively easier to arrange and to perform trimming among three basic compositions.

Understand the following three points.
1. When you would like to create depth, imagine a horizontal triangular pyramid.
2. Draw an arc for the line of aquatic plants
3. A composition will be well-balanced if clusters are created in a structure.

Understand the characteristics of triangular compositions and improve the level of your layouts!