Book review Aquascaping; a step-by-step guide to planting, styling, and maintaing beutiful aquariums.

Posted by Ruth McDonald on

  A little while ago I recieved a present in the post. A lovely glossy copy of George Farmers new book. So obviously I had to read it and get George on to the Facebook page to have a chat about the book, aquascaping, and why he started down the path that lead to this book. Check out our conversation here


 George started aquascaping whilst he was still in the RAF, describing himself as a passionate hobbyist. Writing for Practical Fish Keeping and on various places on the internet, George was in a position that he was getting noticed for growing unusual plants and promoting new ways to grow plants. If anyone is in any doubt about his knowledge and skill just head over to YouTube or Instagram to see his style of aquascaping.

 His personal circumstances changed, and he used that as a complete change of direction, leaving the air force to become a full time aquascaper. Working for a variety of big brand names and then making the leap to being his own person, focused on YouTube and other social media.

 On a trip to the states to give a conversation was struck up with a hobbyist who worked for a publishing company. Soon he was approached to write this book, and aquascaping a step by step guide was born.

He still enjoys writing for PFK and relishes that feeling of seeing his work in print and being able to share his hobby with a new audience each time a new article is published.

 Whilst his focus is the plants, but fish are still a crucial element to George. “They’re an essential component part of an aquascape and the welfare of the fish should be paramount. Back in the day I’d do a carpet of plants… and add a shoal of cardinal tetras But it’s not that nice for them with it being so open and bright, so you choose a fish that comes from a shallow fast flowing stream, as that’s a similar environment to where they come from.”  

 I can not agree more, and I think that this aspect of aquascaping should be a crucial part of the hobby as a whole. Using the scape to provide the best environment possible for the tank inhabitants.

 But the usually destructive fish don’t mean that aquascaping is a nonstarter. George explains how larger anubias will take the abuse that some cichlids can give out.

 I have to say at this point we broke off as George gave us a sneak peek of his discus tank, and it is well worth heading over and watching the replay.

 What are the top tips George gives for new keepers? Set your expectations, budget, and time, and then patience. George breaks his aquascaping into 4 areas. Substrate, hardscape, planting, and finally maintenance.

Want to know more, head over and watch the stream. You will get a flavour of the relaxed easy going way George can share his passion and vast knowledge of aquascaping. After that head over to his YouTube channel.

 But back to the book. The subtitle of step by step guide is correct but hides the wealth of information in the book. It’s not till Chapter 8 that choosing your plants appears, giving you a huge amount of information to give you the confidence and information you need to have a solid basis for your new scape.

 Opening this book is a little touch of magic. From the two-page images of Georges own tank, the crisp paper with spot gloss images of other amazing aquascapes, it was as if some of that aquascaping magic escapes along with that new book smell.

 Let’s be clear there is something for everyone here, but someone starting out on their aquascaping journey will be able to dive right in and take gem after gem of knowledge.

 The thing that caught my attention is the addition of 5 step by step aquascapes in the appendices, if you are worried that you won’t be able to start, or complete a scape this is the place to look.

 For those of you who are regulars to Georges channel fear not, an old faithful friend appears in the pages, yes, the red colander has it’s time in the limelight.

 My only reservation is that there is a lot of information here, and it might feel like too much to take in for some people. However, there is solution. Reread each section as you go. Make use of the step by step guides in the appendices and relax. This is a fun hobby, and if you make a mistake, it’s okay, you can fix it.

 Order your copy of Aquascaping; a step by step guide to planting, styling, and maintain and beautiful aquarium here.

Can’t wait for the book to arrive, or just want to buy from amazon? The hard copy is available here, and the Kindle edition here.

 Amazon links are affiliate links and Tropical Fish Keeping UK will receive a tiny amount of advertising revenue. Links to Georges website are not. But I got a lovely signed copy of the book and far too many ideas for tank, especially for someone who was planning on reducing the number of tanks I own.


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