Decorations for the aquarium

Anyone who has ever had a fish tank, knows that it's easy to become emotionally connected to its inhabitants. As pet parents we want to create a beautiful and beneficial 'home' for our fish. This is the exact reason why we choose from a wide range of fish tank ornaments in the Internet or pet stores. In this article, you are going to select items that will perfectly fit your fish tanks.

The second reason why we purchase aquarium decorations is the fact that such an established fish tank catches viewer's eyes and amazes anyone. Who does not want to show off their piece of hobby? An unusual aquascape can be made in various styles with limitless configurations. Only your imagination is an obstacle. But don't worry if you don't have an idea on how to build up the aquascape, you can pattern yourself on someone's concept from the Internet and nobody will accuse you of abusing the copyright laws because there is not the same aquarium with the same plants, settings or water parameters in the world.

stems over the aquarium

Natural aquarium decorations

The first group of fish tank decorations consists of things like stones, rocks, wood, pretty everything, the nature has created on its own. These are welcome to the fish tank because they recreate the surroundings of the natural habitat. Your fish will surely appreciate such natural places to hide.

a root at the water surface

But there are a few things that you should take into account if you want to purchase fish tank decorations:

Unwanted guests

If you consider buying some staff from the pet store or finding things like cones or coconut shells be aware that these may be inhabited by some harmful microbes or just be dirty. You do not want your fish to have any diseases or to pollute your aquarium water. Always check things that you buy, quarantine them for a few days to avoid introducing intruders into your fish tank.

When you picked out fish tank decorations, you should clean them before adding to the fish tank. And this process should be repeated occasionally, preferably when you clean your aquarium walls and change the water. Algae and debris build up on decorations surface and create unhealthy environment for fish. Remember not to use soap or detergents because once these compounds reach your fish tank, they may poison the livestock. Even a small trace of chemicals can be dangerous for your fish. So if your sponge or bucket was previously used with chemicals, try to find something not contaminated. Instead of that, you can use boiling water to get rid of tough algae growing on your aquarium decorations.

cleaning the aquarium

Moreover, bacteria or parasites are not the only concern that we should take into account. Using ornaments from another aquarium can be risky because if the aquarium has snails, especially pest ones, they lay eggs that are invisible at first sight. Without the quarantine, after a few months you can have tens or hundreds of i.g. Ramshorn snails which multiply like mad and are almost impossible to remove once they reached the fish tank.

the Ramshorn snail

Rocks and wood can change the parameters

Bear in mind that we have two rocks categories. The first one will lower pH and soften the water i.g. sandstone or basalt and the second group will increase pH and harden the water in you aquarium i.g. lace rock.

The same things happen with wood and driftwood. Before adding them to your tanks, let them soak in a bucket of water. This is a durable fish tank decor but it will also decompose over time. During this process, wood release tannin which will turn your water to a dark brown color not to mention the decomposing matter releases toxic compounds and as a result it increases ammonia and nitrate levels that can be lethal to your live plants and animals. Remember to test your water and check levels of toxic compounds.

If you want to read more about ammonia and nitrates, and the overall nitrogen cycle, visit our website here.

By allowing this tannin to be released prior in a bucket you reduce this process. It is also a great method to add some activated carbon to your filter media basket that is quite efficient in clearing the water.

a decorated aquarium

Some rocks and wood can harm animals

While having kids, we hide knives, block the access to a dangerous areas and these relevant steps should also be taken into account while having animals to keep some security.

Try to choose fish tank decorations that will not harm any of our species. Sharp edges on rocks are not safe for our livestock. When they explore their habitat, they can hurt their bellies and that can become lethal to them.

rocks in the aquarium

Artificial fish tank ornaments

In the accessories section of pet stores, you are going to find plenty of options: from large fish tank ornaments to smaller ones. There are even artificial plants that look similar to the natural ones but do not change the water chemistry. People like them because they add color to the tank. They are more colorful than the real ones and easier to keep since they can't die. They are made of various type of materials- silk, resin, silicone- each of them have different price but if you choose high quality brand, they will not be much different from the natural ones.

artificial plants

Manufactured decorations are popular in the freshwater aquarium trade because they are usually sold at reasonable price and easy to come by. There are many advantages of having these:

  1. They are long lasting and can't rot or decompose.

  2. They are easier to clean than live plants.

  3. They are available at various sizes and colors.

  4. Because of such a huge variety of colors and sizes, you can create something fun and eye-catching, depending on your style.

  5. They do not change the water chemistry (only high quality ones).

an aquarium

And how about corals?

The answer sounds absolutely not unless you have a marine tank. Live corals can't survive in freshwater aquariums and will die off in such an environment. In addition to that, the corals will pollute your aquarium while dying. Even dead corals can cause unstable pH and water hardness so it is better to avoid this kind of an ornament in our fish tank. Instead of that you may choose artificial ones that look identically and create a marine aquascape in a freshwater tank.


When you pick out decorations for your tank, consider the size of your tank because it is easy to end up with a crowded aquarium, where the fish can't thrive and feel comfortable.

If you do not know what to select, remember, that is your business. Sometimes store clerks want only to sell to the customer many accessories. Try to understand what suits your needs. Jurassic park theme? Toys theme? Everything is acceptable as long as they are high quality items without harmful plastic that can release toxins into the water. Before buying any product, read the label or visit the website to look for an advice what are the decorations made of.

fish tank decorations