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Ideas for Fish Tank Decor

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Your fish tank is an eye-catching piece in any room. The types and colors of fish can be living decorations by themselves, but adding stationary pieces to the tank makes the space look intentional and gives the fish hidey-holes and places to rest. Both saltwater and freshwater tanks benefit from well-planned decorations.

Natural Look

Adding natural and organic elements to your tank makes it look more like an environment the fish would inhabit in the wild. In freshwater tanks, this might be driftwood, neutral-colored gravel and live underwater plants -- which might provide a tasty snack or two for your fish. Saltwater tanks can have sand or live rock, live coral and strings of algae. Mix and match colors and textures to add interest to the tank.

Natural-Looking, But Fake

Natural and living elements can be expensive and need to be replaced periodically. If you want a similar look but don't want the maintenance involved, choose realistic-looking fake plants, coral and driftwood. This often gives you more color choices as well. Adding shells can enhance the natural image without adding another living element.


Decorating your tank with a specific theme can help set off other decorations in your room or reflect your personality. To create a themed environment, you must purchase at least some fake or novelty items to help you pull off the look, but you can mix them with live plants or coral, for example. This might include a sunken pirate ship with a separate treasure chest bubbler, fake fish predators such as octopi or sharks hidden among the driftwood, or a children's theme such as cartoon animals. The fish won't care if the decorations are authentic, fun or cheesy, but they'll enjoy swimming through holes in the decorations and hiding behind them.


Adding backgrounds to your fish tank can enhance or replace other decorations. These simple and relatively inexpensive backgrounds often come as large stickers or clings that you attach to the rear glass panel. These can be solid colors, natural scenes such as a reef, or themed scenes such as cartoon pirates digging for treasure. For a more permanent background, you can paint the outside of the rear glass panel a solid color using acrylic paint.