Filipe Oliveira’s bonsai-inspired aquascapes

by | Oct 1, 2014 | Advanced Aquarist | 0 comments

Filipe Oliveira's bonsai-inspired aquascapes

Red Bonsai Treescape, set up September 2014.

Simulating trees for aquascapes is controversial for its artistic merit.  Some people may find these aquascapes kitschy.  The purist of pure nature aquarists may balk at the idea.

But for me, the study of underwater landscapes (aquascapes) and shaping of trees in miniature form (bonsai) are both fundamentally rooted in the same aesthetic concepts: harmony of proportions and flow of lines.  The two disciplines are a natural match.

Filipe is also a masterful landscape photographer, so it’s no surprise that he is able to create aquascapes with wonderfully balanced perspectives. For more information about Filipe’s aquarium projects, visit:


We share four of Filipe’s bonsai-inspired aquascapes.

Red Bonsai Treescape

Aquarium: 150x60x80A
Lighting system: 4x 80w T5
CO2 System: ELOS REA50 with EV2000, Counter and CO2000
Substrate: ELOS AquaUno (Capsules), TerraZero, BottomMineral and Terra BlackMedium

Plants used on the Layout:
– Lilaeopsis mauritiana
– Echinodorus tenellus
– Cryptocoryne wendtii green
– Didiplis diandra (Peplis diandra)
– Pogostemon helferi
– Hydrocotyle verticillata
– Nomaphila siamensis parvifolia

On the top of the Tree:
– Ludwigia sp. ‘Mini Super Red’


‘Use Your Imagination’

This 2012 60 liter aquascape features a live Chinese Elm tree (Ulmus parvifolia) perched atop a powerful rock outcrop.  Chinese elms may not be the best plant so close to water, and truth be told bonsai enthusiasts would regard this particular specimen as a less-than-desirable “S curve” tree.  A formal upright bald cypress is a much better choice for this presentation.  Still, the concept is brilliant and demonstrates what can be achieved by combining the two hobbies.



Tree of Life

One of Filipe’s latest aquascapes (another 60 liter) in the making.  Try to imagine the scene after the tree’s “foilage” grows in.



Syrah planura

This aquascape was Filipe’s winning entry in the AGA 2007 Aquascaping Contest.


  • Leonard Ho

    I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.

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