7 ideas to choose the best decoration for your fish aquarium

red fish in an aquarium

Once you have decided to include a fish aquarium as part of your home then the most fun part is trying to decide how to decorate the tank and get it ready for your fish to live in. There are many decorative options and techniques available, from full aqua-scape designs to making your own decorations at home, as long as you keep the fish in mind ultimately.

When choosing fish aquarium decorations it's important to bear in mind a number of different issues, from size of the tank through to the type of materials your decoration is made of and how that will survive under water, so we have come up with seven ideas for choosing the best decoration for aquariums and fish tanks.

Ready? Here goes:

1. Bear in mind the size of your aquarium

When choosing decorative features, you don't want the tank to feel cluttered so if you have smaller aquarium, think less is more and perhaps look for a single feature rather than choosing lots of different decorations. Select one striking item for the centre of the tank, and stick with that to make a really strong visual statement.

If you can't decide what item to choose then why not try thinking of a theme before you start out as this will make it a lot easier to pick and choose the right items for your tank. Underwater kingdoms or mermaids are popular themes, allowing you to select the most relevant decorative features.

If you have had a larger tank then you have more scope to use your imagination and create a whole new underwater world for your fish to live in, as long as all of the elements are kept in proportion and don't dominate the whole tank.

2. Think about the fish you are going to have

It is important to think about the type of fish you are planning to feature in your tank as some of the decorative features will impact on how well they thrive. If you have fish which like to feed off the bottom of the tank then you need to keep the design in that area open and simple, and avoid using rocks and harsh gravel. If you have fish which like to dig up plants, then opt for floating plants. Your fish will ultimately be living in your décor so make it appropriate for their needs.

3. Use a background image

One of the sometimes overlooked decorative elements that can brighten up a fish aquarium is to use a background on the back of the tank. You can use a single colour, or one which matches the style or scene you are trying to create. It can have a really strong impact when done correctly and create a real feeling of depth within the tank.

Think about how the image will be seen - if you are using a lot of plants in the back of the tank, for example, then a dark green image will be virtually impossible to see against the leaves, whereas an orange one would stand out in contrast.

4. Use plants to add colour and structure

Plants should be a fundamental part of your decoration plans and not just a practical addition to your aquarium. Choose different colour variations with red leaves and green leaves, and choose different heights and structures of plant to match the look you are trying to achieve. You can use tall plants at the back of the tank to create structure, or use small plants scattered amidst rocks for a more open theme.

5. Use natural materials from your pet shop

When buying decorations for an aquarium it's always best to buy the items from a pet store so that you know the items are natural and designed specifically to be submerged in water and with fish. If you buy items from general shops, they might contain harmful chemicals or degrade in the water if that wasn't their primary purpose.

If you are not sure whether the materials are suitable or not then make sure you read the label before you buy anything, and always ask the shop assistant if you have any concerns about using a particular item within your tank. The last thing you want is for your display to kill your fish.

6. Make your own decorations

Make sure you only use materials which are designed to be immersed in water before you start but there are special paints you can buy which have been created exactly for that purpose, which means you can create some decorations of your own!

Clean all the items first so you don't contaminate your tank but then the world is your oyster! You can choose items like terracotta pots or plastic toys - you could turn your tank into a battle ground or have animals meeting the fish - this is a great choice if you want to get your children involved in the decorating process.

Again, if you have a theme picked out before you start it will make your life easier and will help the children pick appropriate items rather than wanting to add random toys into the tank. Making your own decorations is great fun and really makes the tank personal to your family - not to mention becoming a talking point for visitors.

7. Decorate the outside of the tank

This is one decoration idea which offers endless choice for the look of your aquarium. Just use permanent marker pens to draw on the outside of the glass - you can create whatever you want to match the inside of your tank, from a tropical island, to a little fisherman, and they will wash off with a cleaner product so you can change it whenever you want.

Another nice way to decorate the outside, and make your fish tank even more of a feature, is to add a frame around the front, like a picture frame. Match it to your décor, as long as it's not a heavy frame which would damage the tank. It's the perfect way to display your decorated aquarium.

Again, the picture frame is something which can be easily removed and changed so you can redecorate the outside of your tank over and over, anytime you want to change the look or the theme.

When it comes to choosing the best way to decorate your fish aquarium, as long as you always keep the health of your fish at the forefront, the only other limit is your imagination. If you choose materials which won't impact the fish or the water quality, then you can choose to decorate your tank however you want to.

Whether you buy ready-made items from your local pet store, or choose to update and decorate your own plastic toys and other feature items, you can chop, change and decorate your fish tank however you want to.

If you decorate the outside of the fish tank as well, you can update the look really easily with a non-permanent doodle to make people chuckle, or with a stunning mock picture frame to really show off your aquarium decoration as the true work of art that it is.