Aquascaping Tools: The Essentials

Aquascaping Tools: The Essentials

If you’re a serious planted tank aquarist and are looking to get the perfect aquascape, you’ll need the right tools for the job – which don’t include kitchen shears or barbeque tongs! Here we discuss some aquascaping tool essentials and just why you need them, along with some helpful tips for use.


Scissors are generally used for pruning foliage. A wide variety of scissors are used for different applications. You’ll want to make sure that your scissors are designed for aquatic use, and at a minimum you will need a straight and curved pair of medium-length scissors.

Straight Scissors

Straight scissors are ideal for trimming stemmed plants. Straight scissors may make a nicer cut or be easier to use for thicker leaves such as anubias, or for thick-stemmed plants.

Curved Scissors

Curved scissors are ideal for getting around corners or shaping close-cut plants such as moss or ground covers. Many aquarists find that they most often use curved aquascaping scissors as opposed to straight, but that they may not be able to cut through thicker leaves or stems as easily.

Spring Scissors

Spring scissors are ideal for pruning moss and other ground-covering plants, as they spring back automatically for repetitive cuts. They are available in both straight and curved varieties.

Substrate Spatula

A substrate spatula can be used to level out your substrate after siphoning or planting. It is especially ideal for finer substrates or sands, but also works on coarser substrates such as florite.

Substrate spatulas may also be used to untangle intertwined stem plants, or in the planting of crypts and anubias, which are sometimes difficult to plant with tweezers.


Tweezers are essential for precision planting and pruning. You may use either straight or curved tweezers depending upon your needs. Most aquarists recommend having one of each, but if you’re on a budget, the straight-tipped variety may be more versatile.

Straight Tweezers

Straight tweezers may be ideal for stem plants. They can be used for both pruning and planting.

Curved Tweezers

Curved tweezers work well for delicate foreground plants planted in bunches, as more surface area is available to grip bunches of plants. They are also useful when planting very close to hardscape or the wall of your aquarium.


Tongs can be used to plant larger aquatic plants or grab objects in the aquarium. Most tongs come in a longer length such that they can be used in large or deep aquariums. You’ll want to use tongs designed specifically for aquatic use to avoid rusting or the leaching of harmful chemicals into your water.

Algae Razor

Algae razors are designed to remove algae from the surface of your aquarium glass. The sharp razor blade makes quick work of even encrusting algae. The handle can usually be extended for larger or taller tanks, and smaller varieties are available for nano tanks. Periodically you’ll need to replace the blade when it no longer removes algae effectively.

If you have an acrylic tank, you’ll want to be very cautious with razors as they can easily scratch acrylic surfaces, although unlike glass the scratches can be buffed out. You’ll still need to exercise caution to keep from scratching glass aquariums, and absolutely keep razors clear of caulking on the corners to avoid damage to the seal.

Algae Sponge or Pad

You’ll need an algae sponge or pad to remove algae from your aquarium’s sides. A Mag-float is ideal for daily cleaning without having to put your hands in your aquarium. A simple algae pad designed specifically for aquariums can also be used. Do NOT use kitchen sponges as even an unused sponge contains toxic chemicals!


Aquascaping tools are an often-overlooked essential for a planted tank. It’s important to use high-quality tools that are designed specifically for aquatic use to avoid contaminating your water.

Have any tips, tricks or insights on aquascaping tools? Please share them by leaving a comment below!