10 Best Fish Tank Decorations to Make Your Aquarium Stand Out

Are you setting up a fish tank but not sure what to put in it? Here’s 10 great suggestions to get you started!

May 6, 2024By Kenny Jarvis
best fish tank decorations

If aquariums were just glass boxes filled with water, they’d be quite boring. Not only that, but they wouldn’t be very simulating for fish, and they’d be likely to get bored or stressed. Tank decorations not only improve the aesthetic but they are important for your aquatic ecosystem.

If you’re wondering what to put in your tank, here are some great suggestions. We’ll walk you through how you can transform your tank while also making it a perfect environment for your fish.

1. Driftwood

fish tank driftwood
Source: AquascapingLove

Driftwood is a popular choice for many aquarium enthusiasts because of how authentic it looks. It creates a natural environment for fish as it takes on the look of submerged trees and roots. It can also provide shelter and aid in the growth of beneficial bacteria.

However, it’s vital to know that you can’t just add any old piece of wood into your tank. Most wood will either have foreign bacteria or chemicals that can leach into the water. You can cure and treat wood at home, but it’s a much safter bet to buy aquarium-safe wood from a store.

2. Rocks and Stones

fish tank rocks
Source: UniversalRocks

Rocks and stones are another natural element you can add to your aquarium, as they help to add texture and depth. You can even get creative and stack your rocks or make a nice little hideout for your aquatic life.

Again, you need to be careful, as the rocks need to be inert so they don't change the water chemistry. Most hard types of rocks are fine, but you'll want to ensure they are fully cleaned without chemicals. If you're unsure, you can always buy them from a fish store.

3. Live Plants

fish tank live plants
Source: Treehugger

Live plants are a great addition to your tank. Not only do they add plenty of visual appeal, but they improve the health of the ecosystem. This is partly because they oxygenate the water while also absorbing excess nutrients.

Plants can also be a refuge for fry and a place to lay eggs if you’re breeding. They can be quite high maintenance but are great for your fish. Many enthusiasts find aquascaping to be a peaceful hobby and one that allows for a lot of creativity.

4. Artificial Plants

fish tank artificial plants
Source: eBay

If you want low maintenance aquarium along with low maintenance fish, artificial plants are a good alternative. You won't have the benefits of oxygenation, but these plants will still help keep your fish calm and happy. You also have the benefit of never needing to care for them, except for cleaning.

Modern artificial plants are lifelike, but you’ll want them to be high quality. Cheap artificial plants are often quite stiff and can harm your fish. If you have small fish, make sure to choose something soft and delicate.

5. Coral

fish tank coral
Source: The Independent

Coral decorations are great for those who want to bring a natural, vibrant color to their aquarium. The texture and shape of the coral can create a stunning focal point. The key thing to note here is whether you are using live coral or dead coral.

Live coral only works in saltwater and can be quite high maintenance. Even dead coral can leach and change the hardness or the pH of the water. If you have a freshwater tank, the safest option is to stick to artificial coral.

6. Caves and Tunnels

fish tank cave
Source: eBay

We've touched on it already, but fish need a place to hide. Even if you have a tank full of friendly fish, they need to feel safe. Placing caves and tunnels in your tank is a surefire way of making that happen by giving them plenty of hiding spots.

Caves and tunnels come in all shapes and sizes and link in with a few of our other decorations. For example, you can use hollow driftwood as a tunnel or create a cave from stacking rocks. You can also buy an ornament that gives them places of refuge.

7. Solid Decorations

solid fish tank decoration
Source: MezzalunaGifts

Solid decorations are usually for our benefit and not for the fish. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as if you have the space, you can get creative with what you put in there. These decorations give you endless possibilities for customizing your aquarium.

For example, you can place in figurines of your favorite characters or use replicas of ancient ruins. There are a couple of points to remember. Firstly, you need to ensure the paint used is aquarium-safe. Secondly, ensure you are giving your fish enough hiding spots before adding purely aesthetic decorations.

8. Hollow Ornaments

hollow fish tank ornament
Source: MezzalunaGifts

Want to customize your tank while also giving your fish a safe environment? If so, there are plenty of great ornaments out there. The best and most common example is a shipwreck that fish can swim in and out of.

But the possibilities are near endless. Other popular options are castles, cars, bridges, and skulls. It’s best for these ornaments to be hollow so your fish can interact with them. This makes it more fun for your fish, but also more fun for you watching them.

9. LED Lighting

led fish tank lighting
Source: The Spruce Pets

While not traditional decorations, you can also play around with the lighting of your tank. Without lighting, your tank can look dark and unappealing. Colored LED lights especially can add some stunning visual effects.

You do need to be careful not to use lights that are too bright or use them for too long. While light is important for the growth and health of live coral and plants, it will also promote algae growth. Also, you need to simulate a natural environment and give your fish time to rest.

10. Substrate

gravel substrate
Source: Underwater Photo Ring

The substrate is what you place at the bottom when you set up your fish tank. It helps to anchor anything you add to the tank and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Just because it’s the base of your tank, substrate doesn’t need to be boring.

Different color sand or gravel can be used to create a natural, yet beautiful, environment. However, as with everything in this list, you want to ensure it’s aquarium safe. For example, low-quality painted gravel can leach chemicals into your aquarium.

Kenny Jarvis
By Kenny Jarvis

Kenny is a passionate animal lover who finds joy in the diverse world of pets. He frequently embarks on zoo adventures with his children, immersing himself in the wonders of nature. At home, Kenny tends to a much-loved aquarium, nurturing a thriving underwater ecosystem. Through his passion for writing, he aims to help fellow animal lovers create happy and healthy environments for their pets.