The Art of Decorating Aquarium

Decorating aquarium, a combination of art and science, can be a lot of fun. Your can choose from a whole range of decorative items – ceramic and plastic ornaments such as treasure chests, shells, mermaids, fishermen, building and air-activated action ornaments, and more unique onces specifically designed to add a touch of creativity.

An undecorated aquarium is boring! Aside from performing an aesthetic role and adding to your personal enjoyment, substratum material, rooks and other decoration are vital components that often determine how successful an aquarium will be.

Also, remember that your fish have to live with these decorative items. They won’t mind them one bit, as long as you take the necessary precautions when selecting what goes into their home:

Decorative ornaments

The development of safe resins have resulted in the availability of a wider range of ornamental products, but you still have to ensure that the products you add to your aquarium, whether man-made or natural, comprise safe, non-toxin materials.


Whatever type of gravel or sand you use, avoid those with sharp, angled or ragged edges that could hurt your fish.

Use fine gravel if your fish are constantly digging around in the substratum to look for food, or while constructing a nest. 

Fish may also take mouthfuls of gravel and twirl it around in their mouths, hoping to find hidden morsels before spitting the particles out.

If the particles are too big or sharp, there is a distinct possibility of the fish hurting its mouth, and getting injured.

Rocks and Driftwood

Rocks and driftwood can provide nooks and crannies for hiding, while other provide smooth, horizontal or vertical spawning surfaces in the open.

The specific requirements of some species of freshwater fish demand the use of particular types of rock. Whenever you are in doubt as to the suitability of the rocks or wood items, leave them out, in case they do eventually affect the desired level of chemical components in the water.

Also, if you intend to introduce “instantly matured” living rocks into your aquarium, ensure that these are in good condition and brought into a well-balanced, established system. Otherwise, some of the organisms living on and in it will not survive long.

Corals and Shells

These natural marine items are best used in saltwater aquarium. Even if they are thoroughly cleaned and coated, these items can still be too sharp to be safe for most freshwater fish.

From a conservation point of view, you can contribute significantly to a reduction in the use of natural corals by augmenting the real thing with authentic-looking synthetic plastic, resin or ceramics-cast equivalents of such corals.


Leave out real plants if your fish are primarily herbivores, as your beautifully planted aquarium will become their own private salad bar, and gradually be reduced to a barren wasteland.

Since you never know what chemicals or toxins such aquarium ornaments harbor, it’s best to buy them from reputable aquarium shops. That way, you will be better assured of your fish’s safety.

I shall leave you with this note on decorating aquarium…


[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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