Aquascape Cube Guide

Aquascape cubes are a fascinating blend of art and nature, offering a unique way to bring a piece of the underwater world into your living space. This comprehensive guide aims to provide everything you need to know about aquascape cubes, from types and sizes to setup and maintenance. We’ll also address common questions about cost, fish compatibility, etc. Let’s dive in!

What is an Aquascape Cube?

An aquascape cube is a small, cube-shaped aquarium designed specifically for the art of aquascaping. Aquascaping involves artistically arranging aquatic plants, rocks, driftwood, and other decorative elements to create an aesthetically pleasing underwater landscape.

Aquascape Cube Tank

The aquascape cube tank typically consists of clear glass panels on all six sides, creating a seamless, panoramic view of the aquascape. The small, compact cube design allows precision aquascaping on a miniature scale. These tanks are often rimless, removing obstructive plastic frames and enhancing the clean, modern aesthetic.

Aquascape Cube Aquarium

Aquascape cube aquariums differ from regular fish tanks in a few key ways. Their shape lends itself better to aquascaping than traditional rectangular tanks. The cubic shape provides depth and dimensions for laying out proportional underwater scenes.

Cube tanks also forgo many standard aquarium components like overflow boxes, leaving more space for the aquascape. Their small size, often under 10 gallons, allows hobbyists to create detailed, artistic compositions not possible at larger scales.

Rimless Aquascape Cube

Rimless aquascape cubes take the clean, minimalist look one step further. Without a plastic rim getting in the way, the aquascape seamlessly flows to the tank’s outer edges. This uninterrupted view creates a more immersive experience, like gazing into an underwater world.

Rimless cubes also allow more light into the tank, benefiting live plants in the aquascape. Their stunning modern style makes rimless cubes a gorgeous decorative element for any room.

Types of Aquascape Cubes

Several types of aquascape cubes are out there, each with its own characteristics and best uses.

Nano Cube Aquascape

Nano cube aquascapes are pint-sized, pico aquariums under 3 gallons. Their tiny footprint makes them an accessible introduction to aquascaping for beginners. These nano-scapes allow you to experiment on a small scale before moving onto larger projects.

Their size also means nano cubes can fit anywhere—on a desk, nightstand, or counter. While limited in scope, nano cubes still allow for creative aquascapes like miniature underwater jungles.

Green Cube Aquascape

As the name suggests, green cube aquascapes focus heavily on lush aquatic plants. These planted cubes feature carpets of foreground plants, bushy midground stems, and trailing background vines to create a verdant, botanical haven.

Green cubes take inspiration from Dutch aquascaping styles valorizing thick, vibrant greenery. This type is great for plant enthusiasts looking to show off their aquatic gardening skills.

Cube Aquascape Reef

Cube aquascape reefs transpose miniature coral reefs into aquarium form. These cubes contain live corals, invertebrates like shrimp, and reef-friendly fish instead of freshwater species.

The small size allows hobbyists to artfully arrange corals and rock structures into aquascaped scenes evoking tropical reefs. From soft corals to LPS and SPS varieties, cube reefs make coral keeping and aquascaping accessible.

Iwagumi Aquascape

Iwagumi aquascapes take a minimalist approach influenced by traditional Japanese rock gardens. Built around stone as the main feature, iwagumi aquascape cubes typically utilize only a few rocky elements with clean lines and negative space between.

Accent plants are used sparingly, often as a foreground carpet or background wall. The simplicity of form and elements in iwagumi styles creates a serene, contemplative underwater atmosphere.

Size Matters: Choosing the Right Cube

When selecting an aquascape cube, size is an important factor for both visual impact and practical considerations. Here’s an overview of common aquascape cube sizes:

3 Gallon Cube Aquascape

The 3 gallon cube is a nano-sized option, but still allows for intricate aquascape layouts. The extra depth and footprints over pico cubes provide more room for stone formations, detailed hardscapes, and small foreground plants.

However, the limited water volume makes maintaining stable water parameters tricky. These tiny cubes are best for seasoned aquarists or simple, minimalist designs.

5 Gallon Cube Aquascape

The 5 gallon cube hits a sweet spot between nano and standard sizes. The added depth and area enable more advanced hardscapes with height and open space. Carpets and midground plants have room to fill out naturally.

The small size still demands careful livestock selection and maintenance. But improved volume grants more stability and options versus 3 gallon nanos.

30cm Cube Aquascape

30cm equates to around 12 inches, describing a medium cube size commonly used for aquascaping. At 30x30x30cm, this volume allows for additional hardscape complexity and scale compared to nano cubes.

Plant growth is less restricted, enabling mixed height levels and background accents. The metric sizing provides a consistent view from all angles—key for aquascape composition.

Aquascape 60 Cube

For more advanced aquascapers, the 60 cube (60x60x60cm) offers a larger scale canvas. The increased dimensions allow for dramatic stone structures, unconventional hardscape angles, and a fuller plant palette.

The bigger size demands more demanding maintenance to keep pristine. But in skilled hands, a 60 cube unlocks the full potential for creating jaw-dropping, professional-level aquascape layouts.

What Size Tank is Best for Aquascape?

The “best” aquascape cube size depends on your goals, space, and experience level. Nano cubes under 5 gallons are great starter options, but limit design options. Intermediate 10-20 gallon sizes strike an easier balance for beginners.

For advanced aquascapers, 30 and 60cm cubes allow for meticulously planned, large-scale compositions. Make sure to factor in maintenance duties based on tank volume. Ultimately, go bigger if you have the space and desire for expansive, uninhibited creativity.

Setting Up Your Aquascape Cube

Setting up an aquascape cube involves careful planning and part selection to create the optimal foundation for your underwater layout. Here’s an overview of the setup process:

Aquascape Cube Setup

  • Stand: Choose an aquarium stand specifically sized for your cube tank. Sturdy metal stands in black provide a hidden base.
  • Filtration: Select a nano-optimized canister or hang-on-back filter that won’t clutter your sleek cube.
  • Heater: Use a small, low-wattage heater designed for nano tanks to maintain proper water temperature.
  • Lighting: Opt for an adjustable LED aquarium light to illuminate your aquascape while accommodating plant needs.
  • Hardscape materials: Gather aesthetically pleasing rocks, driftwood, etc. to create your structural layout.
  • Substrate: Choose an aquatic soil or fine gravel tailored to your plant choices.
  • Plants: Select low-light aquatic plants fit for nano tanks and your aquascape goals.

Take your time arranging hardscape and plants to achieve the artistic composition envisioned!

Aquascape Cube Price

As a high-end specialty setup, expect to spend $200-500+ on an aquascape cube depending on size. Rimless tanks, specialized filtration, quality LEDs, and rare hardscape materials contribute to costs. View it as an artistic investment that brings daily joy.

Aquascape Cube Kits: A One-Stop Solution

Complete aquascape cube kits provide a convenient option for those seeking an all-in-one setup. These kits include the tank, lighting, filtration, heater, and other essential components in one bundle for a seamless out-of-box experience.

Waterbox Cube 10 Aquascape

The Waterbox Cube 10 Aquascape kit includes a stunning 10 gallon rimless cube tank made with ultra-clear glass. It has an in-tank filter, LED light bar, and glass cabinet stand. Just add your plants and hardscape!

Waterbox Cube 20 Aquascape

Waterbox also offers a Cube 20 kit with a rimless 20 gallon cube tank and a more powerful canister filter rated for up to 30 gallons. This provides extra filtration capacity for aquascapes with more livestock. Everything still comes neatly packaged together.

Although these all-inclusive kits simplify getting started with aquascape cubes, they limit customization. Individual part selection provides more flexibility but requires separate purchases.

Cost Factor: Is Aquascaping an Expensive Hobby?

Aquascaping’s reputation as a high-end hobby is well earned—these miniature underwater artworks require specialized equipment and materials that add up. Here’s what goes into the cost:

  • Aquarium – Rimless cubes tanks, the ideal choice, range from $100 for smaller nano sizes to over $300 for larger cubes.
  • Hardscape – The centerpiece stones, woods, and decor represent a significant investment. Rare stones like Seiryu rock can cost $5-10 per pound.
  • Plants – Rare aquarium plants are generally visually striking but carry hefty price tags, often $5-20 per pot.
  • Lighting – High-end LED fixtures designed for aquascaping provide key adjustable lighting but run $100+.
  • Filtration – Canister filters for nano tanks cost $100-150 to filter small volumes properly.
  • Fertilizers – Commercial aquarium fertilizers and CO2 systems help plants thrive, adding another $50-100 to costs.
  • Tools – Scissors, tweezers, and other aquascaping tools add up, though cheaper alternatives exist.

While the investment is significant, an artfully crafted aquascape cube creates a living work of art that brings daily inspiration and joy. Approached thoughtfully, aquascaping can be an immensely rewarding hobby despite its premium price point.

Aquascape Cube Ideas and Themes

One of the joys of aquascaping is bringing imaginative themes and ideas to life in miniature aquatic form. Some creative themes to consider:

Nature Cube Aquascape

Naturalistic aquascapes evoke serene aquatic habitats like mountain streams, lakebeds, or coastal terraces. The hardscape forms peaks, plateaus, and boulders, surrounded by foliage like mosses and ferns. Driftwood adds organic touches. Peaceful fish like tetras enhance the natural vibe.

Betta Cube Aquascape

Betta fish dazzle in nano aquascapes tailored to their behaviors. Include resting spots near the surface, delicate plants to explore, and soft lighting. Strategically arranged driftwood and rock hideaways allow these intelligent fish to peek out and interact with their surroundings.

Zen Cube Aquascape

Inspired by Japanese zen gardens, these aquascapes use minimal elements to create soothing focal points for meditation. Weathered stones surrounded by fine white gravel evoke natural harmony. Sparse plants include downoi, marimo moss balls, and bamboo accents. The simplicity clears away clutter and stills the mind.

The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to aquascape cube themes. Let your inner artist shine through!

Fish or No Fish: Can You Aquascape Without Fish?

While fish and other livestock can enhance aquascape cubes with movement and life, they aren’t strictly necessary. Completely fishless aquascaping is possible and even has some advantages:

  • No bioload – Without fish waste, filtration needs are reduced and algae growth curbed.
  • Flexible options – Any plants, even picky ones, can thrive without concerns about fish compatibility.
  • Design freedom – Arrangements don’t need to accommodate livestock space, safety, etc.
  • Lower costs – Saving on fish, foods, and supplements cuts overall spending.
  • Conversation piece – Fishless cubes are an intriguing talking piece about the intersection of art and nature.

The main drawback is the lack of animated life within the underwater scene. Some hobbyists feel completed aquascapes require fish and invertebrates to feel fully realized. But for those focused solely on the creative composition, fishless aquascape cubes offer an engaging alternative.

Maintenance and Safety

To help aquascape cubes thrive safely for years, adhering to proper maintenance and safety is key:


  • Water changes: Small volumes make regular partial water changes essential, initially weekly.
  • Filter cleaning: Clean canister filters monthly to keep hardware operating optimally.
  • Glass cleaning: Wipe down viewing panels weekly to maintain flawless views.
  • Pruning: Trim plants to prevent overgrowth and allow light to reach carpet plants.
  • Dosing: Use fertilizers and supplements tailored to planted Nanos to nourish aquascapes.

Is Aquascape Safe for Fish?

Addressing common safety questions:

  • Yes, if the aquascape cube is cycled, filtered, heated to proper temperatures, and aquascaped with non-toxic materials. Perform regular maintenance to ensure safe water quality.
  • Only add suitable fish species and quantities for the cube’s volume. For example, a betta or other nano fish would thrive in a 5 gallon cube, while goldfish require much larger tanks.

With the right husbandry, aquascape cubes make fascinating miniature habitats for fish and invertebrate inhabitants! But a fishless approach is also perfectly safe for purely decorative aquascapes.


Aquascape Tanks vs. Regular Tanks: What’s the difference?

Aquascape tanks are designed with the specific needs of aquascaping, from cube shapes to rimless models to nano volumes. Regular tanks offer more versatility for fish keeping but lack features catered to the art and hobby of aquascaping.

Cube Aquarium vs. Aquascape Cube: Clearing up confusion

While not all cube aquariums are designed for aquascaping, “aquascape cube” refers specifically to cube-shaped tanks built with aquascaping functionality in mind. All aquascape cubes are cube aquariums, but not all can be considered aquascape cubes.


Aquascape cubes provide a creative outlet to design inspirational underwater art. Their compact size makes aquascaping approachable while allowing for intricate, professional-level designs. This guide covers aquascape cube essentials from layout themes to maintenance best practices. The possibilities are endless for letting your imagination run wild in a miniature aquatic world. Aquascape cubes merge art and science to cultivate beauty that soothes the soul. Let your inner artist flow freely in aquascaping this stunning intersection of nature and design.