Review: Hugo Kamishi 80-100cm Rock and Plant Display

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 Both of the Hugo Kamishi aquascaping kits are shown here — the rock kit is standalone from the plant kit. Either will work individually, but we'd recommend you splash out and buy both. Both of the Hugo Kamishi aquascaping kits are shown here — the rock kit is standalone from the plant kit. Either will work individually, but we'd recommend you splash out and buy both.

Nathan Hill plays with a clever new approach to aquascaping for those of us who lack the skills to do it ourselves.


Do you completely suck at aquascaping? You’re not alone. My own efforts involve lots of work for very little gain, and then I just hope that the plants will overgrow everything and compensate. Which they don’t. 

But you might not be able to grow plants and hide things anyway, in which case this Hugo Kamishi bundle, while not exactly the cheapest way to fill a tank, could be your way of saving face if you’ve got all the artistic skills of a blind potato.

The skills required for assembly are those you’d need to put together a child’s puzzle. If you can construct a Hello Kitty face from ten jigsaw pieces, then you can definitely do this and make your tank look the absolute business.

To make things real easy, there’s a pictorial guide included in the package. The artificial rock hardscape comes in seven parts, mainly big pieces but also a couple of small ones, while there are… lots of plants. Forgive me for not counting, but the bags are bulging and I’ve only just scooped them all up and put them back. The pictures should give you an idea. 

Assemble the rock layout according to the annotated pictures that come provided, and then just add the plants as advised, and you have a heaving plastic aquascape (plasquascape?) that outshines a lot of natural efforts. 

Or don’t! You have freedom with this kit to do whatever you like. Hugo gives a few suggestions with the included paperwork, but you could lose days just trying out different combinations of rock and plant. And given the quick play that I had, I think you’d struggle to make any combo look bad. I’d just advise leaving some access to all the decor with a toothbrush, because I worry that a little algae could ruin the effect.

Assembly time is in the region of five to ten minutes, but maintenance may be high. If you get strands of algae in your tank, you might be pulling plants back out and rinsing them off. Still, it might still be quicker than a weekly plant trim. 

The size recommendation is open to some interpretation. The kit is pitched at 80–100cm/32–40in tanks, but I think there’s easily enough to do two 60cm/24in set-ups, and if you don’t like maximalism then you could stretch even to a 150cm/60in tank without it looking too sparse. 

I can’t say at this stage whether the colours will eventually bleach under aquarium lighting (an all too common problem with ornaments), but I can say there are no sharp edges on mine, and there are no visible cracks, splits, deformities, warping or obvious weak spots. 

As construction goes, it’s very good. The only drawback is that some of the rocks have been designed to interlock, and so left exposed in a different configuration you might find yourself looking at a curious notch. A couple of well-placed plants (you’ll easily have enough spare) will sort this out.

Note that the two parts come separately; the rock kit is standalone from the plant kit. Either will work individually, but in seriousness, you are robbing yourself if you don’t go for both. 

Verdict

Hugo Kamishi’s finest hour, maybe, with this piece of kit. Consider it a layout equaliser, because for the first time, I can say without irony that anyone from the most entry level, flying-blind aquarist can have a spectacular layout. It isn’t so cheap, but on some mental maths, it’s still cheaper than the equivalent in real rock and plants, by a long, long way. 

Ease of use: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5
Overall: 4/5
Prices: Hugo Rock Display £89.99, Hugo plant display £69.99.