Scenes of lush forests and mountain ranges are normal fodder for paintings. Yet for a growing number of water plant lovers, creating those same scenes underwater in fish tanks is all the rage.
With rocks, wood, lighting and plants similar to ferns, "aquascapers" create underwater scenes ranging from beaches and valleys to scenes of the Wild West, CNN reported.
"For me aquascaping ticks a lot of boxes," Dan Crawford, founder of the UK Aquatic Plant Society, told CNN. "It's relaxing, it's artistic, it's scientific and when done correctly it creates a piece of living art."
The practice was made popular in the mid '90s by the famous Japanese landscape photographer Takashi Amano, who published a series of books titled Nature Aquarium World.
Aquascaping competitions are cropping up all over the world, including the International Planted Aquarium Design Contest in Russia and the International Aquascaping Contest organized by the Aquatic Gardeners Association in Houston, Texas.
"For purposes of competition, most aquascapers of winning caliber create a layout, grow it to peak in a few months, snap the photos for competition, then tear it down and create a new one," Cheryl Rogers, AGA president, told CNN. "This is what they do for fun."
Not everyone, however, has been quick to join the aquascaping craze, in particular Crawford's fellow Westerners, CNN reported.
"It's rare that you'll bump into a fellow aquascaper in the local pub or coffee shop," Crawford told CNN. "Generally we will convene at a chosen Aquatic Shop for a chin wag and a look around then move on to the pub to talk about the latest trends and 'scapers.' "
It takes almost four months to fully grow the aquascape plants. Karen Randall, a judge of several aquascaping competitions, said it requires a great deal of skill- a knowledge of the rule of thirds, how to use colors and texture and areas of negative space, CNN reported.
"In the terrestrial garden, the gardener usually has to think more about the natural terrain he or she has to work with, along with large trees and buildings, and work those into the design," Randall told CNN. "In aquatic gardening, the only thing we start with is four glass walls."