5 Essentials When It Comes To Decorating An Aquarium or Fish Tank

When it comes to decorating an aquarium, one is easily spoilt for choice with the myriad of aquarium decorations available. Fish tank decorations come in various shapes, sizes, and themes. One of the highlights of people’s day is when they come home and see their vibrant and active fish tank in the room.

An aquarium is a great way to bring some nature into the home and make it a more interesting place to spend time. Watching your colorful fish glide through the water is a delight and a great way to unwind from the day.

Aquarium decorations will add visual interest and a sense of realism to the fish tank. However, it needs to be set up a certain way for a few reasons. In this article, we will go over some of the finer points of aquarium decorating so you can capture all of the essential aspects.

 5 Key Things To Know For Aquarium Decorations

Fish live in tanks with water soluble and petrified wood for a natural touch

From decorative aquarium backgrounds to vibrant aquarium ornaments, the choice is yours. However, here’s a guide to help you navigate through the journey of decorating your aquarium with ease.

#1 The planning stage

Before you can fill up your tank and start putting fish in it, you have to come up with a plan. This involves thinking of a theme for how you want the tank to look. You may want to recreate a crystal-clear lake with the appropriate pieces of wood, rocks, and plants.

Or, you could opt for a tropical reef with coral, caves, and other nooks and crannies. It’s best to have a cohesive vision instead of a mishmash of ideas. Having a cohesive vision will ensure that the final result is visually stunning and harmonious.

It’s important to start thinking about the design from the bottom up. The tank’s base, also known as the substrate, is an essential part of your tank’s design and plays a big role in your fish’s comfort. You have two options for this substrate, sand or gravel.

#2 Choose between sand or gravel

Colorful sand is finer and can give your tank a smooth look. Gravel is coarse and can come in a variety of colors. Choosing which one at the planning stage is important because different fish will thrive in different substrates. For instance, if you plan to have bottom fish, sand is the better option.

Once you have the substrate chosen, plan out the other layers above it. This is when you will want to sketch out how you want things to look. This way, you can visualize the objects that the fish will want to take shelter in and lay close to the bottom, while other elements can be taller and add an aesthetic to the tank.

Including natural floating plants, rocks, and woods not only beautify your aquarium but also keep your fish engaged and happy. Thus, by understanding the vital role water plays in your aquarium, you can curate a decor that meets your fish’s needs and pleases the eye.

#3 Add aquatic plants

Adding aquatic plants to the aquarium will create a living, breathing ecosystem that benefits both the fish and the water quality. Once again, you have a couple of choices to make. You can opt for plastic plants that won’t degrade or be eaten by the fish. Or, you can choose live plants that absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and can help reduce harmful nitrates in the water.

Live plants create a more natural environment and benefit the fish greatly, but they do bring more maintenance requirements to the table. Artificial plants, on the other hand, require minimal care, won’t decay, and can’t introduce pests or diseases into your tank while still giving your fish a place to play and hide.

Taking care of live plants isn’t too tricky, but it does require some attention. Make sure to thread the needle between plants that look good in the tank and will also be beneficial for the fish and easy to take care of.

Make sure that you are considering the position of the plants once you settle on the type. Tall plants should be placed at the rear of the tank so they won’t block the smaller ones. Medium size plants should be placed in front of them, and the shortest in the very front. This gives a pleasant aesthetic to the tank and makes for a harmonious design.

#4 Lighting

Getting the lighting right is essential for a stunning aquarium that is also good for the fish. When you have the right lighting, the aquarium will be the centerpiece of any room you put it in while also allowing the fish to live a normal life.

Aquarium lights can be found in a wide range of colors and intensities, suitable for both fish and plants. The trick is to find the ones that offer the spectrum necessary to keep the plants alive, the fish to thrive, and the look to harmonize with the room and decorations within the tank.

Fluorescent lights are popular with experienced aquarists since they give off a good light spectrum that enhances the colors of the tank without heating the water. Incandescent lights are less popular these days since they do tend to heat the water, which is dangerous for some fish species and plants.

#5 Filtration system

Filtration systems play a crucial role in maintaining the health and cleanliness of an aquarium. They help to remove debris, waste, and harmful substances from the water, ensuring a safe and stable environment for aquatic life. There are various types of filtration systems available, including mechanical, chemical, and biological filters, each serving a different purpose.

Furthermore, thanks to air pumps and filters, maintaining a healthy environment for your fish becomes easier. This can help your fish breathe underwater with ease. However, most fish tanks do demand regular attention and come with their own set of challenges.

A well-balanced fish tank will not only provide your fish with an enhanced life but will also serve as an appealing centerpiece of your home. Fortunately, water treatment products specifically catered to your water fish needs are readily available at affordable prices.

The Role of Water in A Fish Tank Decoration

Do fish like solid objects like a pirate ship or a lava rock

When it comes to fish tank decoration, water plays a crucial role. A stunning tank design can be downplayed if the water isn’t up to par. Just as an aquarium isn’t complete without the right decor, it isn’t whole without the right water quality, either.

Too often, we’re so caught up with selecting the perfect decor, like ornaments and plants, that we underestimate the role of water. In the planning phase, water and aquarium decorations should be given equal importance. One of the things to consider is that each fish species requires a particular water environment.

This is where the role of water becomes vital in aquarium decoration. By observing and understanding the natural water habitats fish thrive in, one can create a more comforting atmosphere for them, adding to the aesthetic value of the well-decorated tank.

Creating an optimal aquatic environment for your water fish does not necessarily mean you should ignore the decor. Along with maintaining water pH and temperature, aquarium decorations are equally vital for your fish’s well-being.

A chewy price shouldn’t dissuade you from investing in your fish’s habitat. These products, along with the right aquarium decor, can aid in transforming your bland fish tank into a spectacular underwater landscape. Just as dusting and vacuuming are part of maintaining your home, routine water tests and changes are part of fish tank decoration.

Other Fish Tank Decoration Tips To Know

When you decorate a fish tank the right way, it will add beauty to the room and also create the ideal environment for fish to thrive in. This makes it both fun to decorate and also a challenge. The challenge lies in setting up the tank in a way that looks nice, allows the fish to thrive, and is easy to maintain, according to Aquanswers.

Another key thing to accomplish when decorating a fish tank is to marry form and function together. Decorations should not only make the tank look nice but should also serve a purpose. There should be a reason for them to be there aside from just purely visual reasons.

Take bubbling elements as an example. They look cool and offer a soothing visual as the bubbles gently rise to the top. It makes the scene appear more natural, as this will often happen in a lake or river. However, those bubbles are also oxygenating the water for the fish to survive.

Bridges, tunnels, and rock caves make for interesting nooks for the fish to hide when they want to rest and also make the tank look like the bottom of the sea. Old glass jars and bottles are a cheap way to provide a fun habitat, and your fish will feel comfortable, which can translate into more natural behavior.

Ideas To Decorate Aquariums With Ornaments and Plants

Decorating your aquarium isn’t just about aesthetics. It also creates an environment that’s better for your fish. The art of decorating a fish tank involves more than just using ornaments and fish tank decorations. It requires aquarium-choosing skills to create an underwater oasis that your aquatic pets will love.

Aquariums are empty canvases just waiting for your creative touch. Aquarium ornaments, when tastefully arranged, can transform your fish tank into an intriguing underwater landscape. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different types of aquarium decoration.

Ideal decoration pieces can be anything from shipwrecks to treasure chests or anything else that you find visually appealing. These aquarium decorations not only add visual flair to your setup but also serve as hiding spots for your fish, giving them a sense of security.

One of the most effective decorating ideas to make your aquariums pretty and functional is to use plants. Incorporate diverse species of plants into your layout. They’re not just visually pleasing but also play a vital role in the aquarium environment.

Plants consume nitrogen, absorb carbon dioxide, and release oxygen, which is beneficial for your fish. Also, some types of fish use plants for hiding, breeding, or even feeding. Moreover, living plants can help to absorb excess nutrients in your fish tank that may otherwise contribute to the growth of algae.

Adding More Than Just Decorations to Your Fish Tanks

Fish tank with a ocean like feel exposed and slow moving rivers

Freshwater aquariums serve as more than just a decoration at home or office. When it comes to adding to your freshwater tank, it’s not just about gathering different types of aquarium decorations or adhering to a specific fish tank design.

Surely, the aesthetic aspect of an aquarium is important, and decorations play a significant role in creating an appealing layout. But it’s also crucial to consider the tank environment for your aquatic friends. Just like how nature provides a conducive environment for fish, decorating a fish tank should be about recreating a similar environment inside the tank.

Instead of just adding a decoration here and there, it should be about creating an authentic and sustainable habitat for the fish. This means plants, rocks, and other natural factors should be a part of your plan when adding to an aquarium.

The correct water level, temperature, and quality can make your decorations come to life and provide a healthier life for your fish. Also, while considering the designs and decorations, care should be taken to avoid any sharp edges or toxic materials that could harm the fish.

There’s an assortment of affordable plastic decorations available in the market, from castles and ships to small caves and plant assortments. They serve as beautiful adornments while also providing the fish with hiding spaces and exploration zones.

Fish Tank vs. Fish Pond: Which One is Better?

When diving into the expansive world of aquatic homes, there’s an ongoing debate that often surfaces: fish tank vs. fish pond, which one is better? This question isn’t so straightforward and often depends on different aspects such as location, resources, and personal preferences. However, we’ll try to provide you with a balanced analysis to make an informed decision.

Aquariums are excellent options for those who want to bring a little aquatic life into their home. They are generally smaller and easier to manage, making them great for beginners. Lighting in most fish tanks can be easily controlled, adding to your aquarium’s visual appeal.

On the other hand, there’s the fish pond. Fish ponds offer a more natural setting, both in terms of aesthetics and freedom for the fish. Shallow ponds can even become a part of your home’s landscape and can accommodate a wider variety of species.


There is a lot to know about keeping fish, but the design and decoration are as important as some of the other aspects. Decorating the tank can be the highlight of the process, and you are free to continuously redecorate over time while keeping these tips in mind.

Try to avoid real shells when adding decorations to your fish tank. Use plastic divers, sunken treasure chests, pirate ships, or lava rocks so that your fish has some hiding places to go for. Boil all of these items prior to introducing them to the tank to help avoid spreading bacteria.

Last Updated on 17/08/2023 by Karen Snow