Aquascaping: Tools of the Professional

aquascape fish

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Plants grow, and they grow fast. 

When we take those plants and throw them in a fish tank with high lighting, CO2 and all the fertilizer they could ever want they grow even faster.

That’s great, that’s exactly what we want – happy, healthy, growing plants.

But eventually your plants will need a trim, and you can break out that old pair of scissors you have in your desk drawer, or you could spring for the tools designed specifically for aquascapes.

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But First; A Note:

When you are purchasing any aquascaping tools it is absolutely imperative that whatever you buy is made of stainless steel.

Why? Anything other than stainless steel will rust once you get it wet. And if you put rust into your tank you will poison the water. So make sure to buy stainless and keep your fish safe.


This is probably the most important tool of the trade. I can vouch when I say that you will most likely be using scissors whenever you do tank maintenance. Personally, I always have my hands in the tank snipping away at something. Because you will be using your scissors often it is imperative to: buy comfortable scissors!

Nothing is worse when you have to spend half an hour doing a trimming with scissors that are too small for your fingers. I know this is hard to do when you are purchasing products online, so just take a few minutes to read the reviews and see what people have to say.

Finally, the type of scissor is also an important choice. I recommend purchasing a pair of curved scissors, this allows you to get really low and trim your carpeting plants without sticking your whole arm inside . In addition, the scissors you buy should be sharp – really sharp. Dull scissors will not cut your plants properly which could lead to plant death.

Fabulous Decay, brutally overgrown


Selecting tweezers is easy. We are looking for something long, preferably 11″ or longer and once again stainless steel. It is important that the tweezers be narrow enough so as to prevent disturbance of the substrate when planting. Curved tweezers are also available, but the choice between straight and curved is purely a personal one. I happen to own both and find myself grabbing whatever is closer to me at the time. You can also purchase yourself a 3 pack for a discount.


Forceps are similar but different to tweezers. Tweezers are narrow and thin making them ideal for burying plants deep into substrate. They make little mess in the tank due to their delicate nature. In comparison, forceps are much bulkier – good for maintaining a firm grip while moving thicker items around the tank. I recommend a good pair of forceps if you are often moving debris in your tanks.


Finally, we come to the most unnecessary tool of the trade. Yet, oddly the most satisfying – the spatula. The spatulas sole purpose is to make those wavy hills of sand and substrate as manicured as you could possibly want. The spatula is the most extraneous of the tools, but also the most therapeutic- almost zen like when put to use. If you’re looking for a gift for an aquascaper or you just want to splurge this is the tool to pick up.

Check out the SubstrateSource 11-Inch Stainless Steel Aquarium Aquascaping Kit

Hi I'm Ryan, the owner of Aquathusiast. I've been keeping fish and aquatic plants for several years now. Along the way I've learned a lot. My goal is to take that knowledge and experience and help you, my readers, create the best aquariums and aquascapes possible. Drop us a line at or join us in the forums for a free aquarium consultation.
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