The 8 Best Aquarium Decorations (2020 Reviews) - Artificial vs Natural
Sometimes, the best part of owning an aquarium isn’t buying it or getting any fancy equipment. As is the case with a home, the best part of owning an aquarium is putting personal touches on it to make something unique. Those aquarium decorations for your fish tank can be very satisfying to set up.
Picking out the decor for your aquarium fish tank can be a tough process, simply because there are so many aquarium products to sort through when searching. Rocks, aquarium lights, plants, and other structures; there is a wide variety of things you can choose for your aquarium. You can model your aquarium after your own house or do something completely unexpected and off the wall.
That is why we put together this guide of the best aquarium decorations for your fish tank. We made sure to include a wide variety of fish tank decoration and fish tank ornaments types, so you get the maximum exposure to the different choices available.
Finding Great Aquarium Decorations
Below is a table of our candidates. I stepped out of my comfort zone and looked at both artificial and natural aquarium decorations.
The 8 Best Aquarium Decorations
Let's go into detail about these fish tank decorations. I'll back down pros and cons below.
1. Penn-Plax SpongeBob Aquarium Ornament
Up first on our list is this colorful and durable resin aquarium ornament, based on the popular TV show SpongeBob SquarePants. This aquarium ornament is officially licensed by the creators of the show and can give your aquarium a colorful and fun aesthetic while giving your fish a place to explore and home to stay in.
This fish tank ornament is made from 100% water-safe resin and works for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. The sturdy base can easily be set in a gravel base so you won’t have to worry about it floating away. The resin is easy to clean too; just wipe it down with a warm rage periodically and rinse before returning it to the aquarium.
This SpongeBob aquarium tank ornament measures just 5 inches high so it will fit in even smaller tanks without taking up too much space near the middle and top. The door opening in the middle is large enough for most small-to-medium fish and smaller fish can swim in and out of the porthole windows.
- Durable, water-safe resin
- Sturdy base is easy to set in your aquarium
- Bright, colorful, and stimulating for fish
- Multiple entrances/exits for fish to explore
- Small, not good for bigger fish or larger aquarium tanks
- Some edges can be sharp
2. SLOCME Resin Castle Decoration
Up next is the elaborate and fancy-looking castle fish tank decoration by SLOCME. This castle fixture is made from 100% water-safe resin that is eco-friendly and won’t fade in color over time. The castle measures 8” x 3” x 5.8” (LxWxH) and has several holes, gaps, and nooks for your fish to explore and hide in.
This resin aquarium sculpture is made with great attention to detail. Each brick in the stone wall is etched with precision and the whole setup can add a flair of sophistication to your tank set up. The resin base is thick and sturdy, so you don’t need any special setup to install it.
This fish tank ornament castle can be combined with realistic plant fixtures to make it even more appealing for your fish and viewers. It is small enough that it won’t crowd your tank for space and has enough vertical clearance that it doesn’t obstruct the top of the tank. It makes a nice home for your aquarium fish.
- Cool, elegant design
- Sturdy eco friendly resin material
- Precision etching looks great
- Good for all kinds of aquatic pets
- Some sharp edges near the bottom
- Too small for some fish
3. Underwater Galleries Cichlid Stones
Our next items are these Cichlid Aquarium Stones from Underwater Galleries. These aquarium cichlid stones are made from a natural, treated ceramic material that is a good substitute for real rock. Each stone contains a small hollow chamber that fish can hide in. These stones are designed for Cichlids but can be used for virtually any small fish.
Each ceramic stone is hollow, so they are light and won’t cause any damage to aquarium fixtures or glass. The hollow center provides a safe recess for fish and can be a good solution if you have a few larger aggressive fish. The ceramic material is treated to be water-resistant and cleaning is as easy as periodically wiping down with a warm rag.
These ceramic cichlid stones also have a pre-coating of gravel on the bottom, so they won’t slide around on the bottom of the aquarium tank. This particular offering comes with 3 sets of stones, each containing a small and large stone.
- Durable water-safe ceramic material
- Lightweight and easy to place/move
- Perfect for small fish when you have larger aggressive fish
- Precoated gravel base reduces shifting and slipping
- Won't scratch aquarium glass
- Not all species will take well to them
- Color can fade over time
4. SevenSeaSupply Ohko Dragon Stone Rock
At 4th are these Ohko Dragon Stone Rocks from SevenSeaSupply. These exotic-looking porous rocks are popular in aquariums as well as for terrariums and bonsai tree displays. The Aquarium Rock is pocketed with holes from erosion, giving plenty of nooks and crannies for fish to explore. Each rock is lightweight and can be positioned to make interesting structures.
The Dragon Rocks are a light tan color and reflect a warm dispersion of light that gives your aquarium tank a natural beauty that is hard to emulate with artificial rocks. This particular offer consists of 10 lbs of rocks with a mixture of various sizes. Dragon Stone is real rock, so it eventually will be affected by erosion in your aquarium tank. However, any lost material will not pollute your water or hurt your fish.
The bag of rocks can also be somewhat dusty too, so it’s recommended you rinse them off with non-chlorinated water before putting them into your tank.
- All-natural rock formations
- Grooves and holes for fish to explore
- Easy to place and arrange in your aquarium
- Gorgeous natural tan color
- Will erode over time
- Somewhat expensive
5. Estes Gravel Malaysian Driftwood
Sitting at 5th is this marvelous Malaysian driftwood from Estes. This driftwood has a wonderful natural brown color and helps create a nature-aesthetic in your aquarium tank. These pieces of driftwood are available in large, small, and medium sizes so you are guaranteed to find a version that fits your fish tank.
This driftwood isn’t just for looks either. It will release tannins into the water which lower the pH and make the aquarium more suitable for your fish (and also turn your water a tea brown). Driftwood can also soak up excess calcium deposits which also helps control the pH. The brown color is 100% natural and the wood is not treated with any chemicals.
It is recommended that you thoroughly wash the wood in warm water before placing it in your aquarium tank to remove any excess dust or dirt. Please note that any piece of wood may differ in shape and cut from that which is shown in the product description. If you are looking for an Aquarium Driftwood piece that doesn't leech out many tannins, check out the next product below.
- Beautiful, natural wood
- Release tannins that regulate water pH
- Not treated with any chemicals
- Won't scratch aquarium glass
- Can turn water brown
- Individual pieces differ in shape/cut
6. Pisces AM-GOLD Spiderwood
This gorgeous and unique spider wood from Pisces is the perfect thing to give your aquarium a unique natural look. The beautiful wood is 100% natural and has a vibrant mahogany color when placed in your fish tank. The spindly arms of the wood branch in several directions, so your aquarium fish have plenty of branches to duck in and out of.
This spiderwood not only serves as the centerpieces of your aquarium tank but also low on tannins. This driftwood can also be used in dry terrariums and makes a good fixture for reptiles to enjoy.
Spiderwood is natural wood, so you will need to soak it for about 1 week before it becomes waterlogged and will sink to the bottom of the aquarium tank.
- Unique looking wood is attractive
- Beautiful mahogany color
- Fish can explore the branches
- Releases tannins
- Will change water color slightly
- Must soak for a week before it will sink to the bottom
7. Marimo Moss Balls
These Marimo Moss Balls are a great alternative to traditional plants as an aquarium tank ornament. The moss balls each measure about 2 inches across and do not require any special Planted Tank Light, Aquarium Fertilizer, or CO2 System to flourish. You can keep them in any freshwater aquarium tank. You can even cut them into smaller pieces to propagate your own growths.
These marimo moss balls remove nitrogen and phosphates from the aquarium water and can serve as a food source for grazing aquatic pets like shrimp and snails. The vibrant green color is lush and can make your fish tank look more natural. They go well with rocks, plants, wood, and other natural aquarium tank ornaments.
Each ball can live for up to a few years too, so you don’t have to worry about replacing them over time. These minimal care moss balls are the perfect gift for any aquarium enthusiast.
- Requires no light or fertilizer to grow
- Servers as a food source for some aquatic pets
- Can be cut into pieces for more propagation
- Quality control issues
- Moss fragments can clog tank filters
8. CousDuoBe 21 pcs. Fish Tank Plants
Last but not least is this 21 piece set of artificial fish tank plants. These plants are all made from a soft, durable, and non-toxic plastic that will not lose color from light or water. Each piece of this set has a unique shape/color, and each one has a solid ceramic base that makes it easy to set up and is sturdy.
These artificial plants can provide a natural-looking environment for your fish, and coupled with other fixtures, can give your aquarium the appearance of a vibrant ecosystem. The plastic edges are soft so you don’t have to worry about scratches when your fish swim close. The plastic material also resists algae formation.
Each piece in this set measures between 3”-5” so you don’t have to worry about them taking up too much horizontal or vertical space in the aquarium tank. Keep in mind that your color selection is random, so you may get different colors than another person.
- Bright colors are friendly
- Safe, rounded edges for fish to swim by
- Ceramic base makes them sturdy
- Color assortment is random
- Some dislike the more vibrant colors
Aquarium Decorations Buying Guide
Aquarium fish tank decorations come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and models. When you are shopping for tank ornaments and aquarium decorations, keep the following considerations in mind.
Cramming too many aquarium decorations in a small tank looks ugly and gives your aquatic pets less space to swim around in. Contrary to what a lot of people think, fish need space and stimulation to be healthy and grow properly.
When it comes to aquariums, less is often more. A small fish tank should not need more than 1 or 2 eye-catching decorations. Too much and you overwhelm both viewers and your fish.
Make sure that each sector of your fish tank has enough space and that the aquarium decorations are not concentrated too much in one spot. Ideally, each sector of the fish tank (bottom, middle, and top will have sufficient space so your fish can swim freely.
I recommend keeping a 2:3 ratio of tall to medium height aquarium structures. That means for every two tall structures, you should have about 2 or 3 medium structures to balance out the space. This will keep things uncluttered and provide a structured environment that will make your fish feel more comfortable and at home.
Natural vs Non-natural
Your decorations set the overall look and theme of your fish tank. Do you want your fish tank to have a more natural feel, with plants, wood, and dark gravel? Or would you prefer something a bit more colorful and off the wall?
Fortunately, the choice between natural and non-natural decorations styles has no bearing on the health of your fish. Aquarium fish can function perfectly with both natural and non-natural aquarium decorations, so the choice comes down to personal taste. The only thing that matters for the fish is whether they have enough stimulation.
Natural decorations like wood, plants, and gravel give your aquarium tank a more demure, sophisticated look that mimics the natural habitat of aquatic pets. Bright, non-natural designs, in contrast, can be used to draw viewer attention to specific fixtures or areas of the tank. Or, you could mix elements to make something unique. There are no wrong answers here.
Aquatic plants are usually a great aquarium decoration and can add a level of authenticity to your setup. Not only do plants look cool in the water, but they also give your fish more stimulation as they can swim around in the brush, like they would in their natural habitats.
You can choose between live or artificial plants. Live plants are great as a fish tank decoration because they add oxygen to the water and remove carbon dioxide/ammonia. Live plants can also reduce algae growth because they compete with algae for resources. The main drawback of live plants in an aquarium is that they take more time and effort to maintain.
Artificial plants, on the other hand, are really easy to set up and come in all kinds of shapes and colors. You lose out on the benefit of live plants, but they are much easier to set up, clean, and maintain. You could always opt for a mix of both live and artificial plants for your aquarium fish tank.
One word of caution here: If you buy artificial plants, make sure they are soft and don’t have potentially sharp edges. Fish like to swim up in the leaves of plants and sharp artificial leaves can scratch and damage their scales.
Lighting is also an important part of aquarium decorations. You need to match the lighting of your aquarium fish tank with the kind of conditions your fish would encounter in their natural habitat. Thankfully, LED tech for aquarium lights have made it much easier to change lights to capture seasonal variations in luminosity.
Here is an example of what we mean: Natural sunlight at sea level has about a 5,500K spectrum rating. So, a 5,500K LED lightbulb would be a good choice for shallow water fish. Conversely, a 20,000K lightbulb would be good for mimicking the light spectrum found in deeper waters.
There are also actinic bulbs. Actinic bulbs generate large amounts of blue light, which helps live plants photosynthesize and grow. Many aquarium owners dislike actinic bulbs though because of the glare they can produce.
Also, make sure the bulbs you pick are not too intense (have a high wattage) Really bright lights drain more power and also can stimulate the growth of algae and other unwanted organisms.
Aquarium Decorations FAQ
Can I use any rock in my aquarium?
No, the kind of rock you should use depends on whether you have a saltwater or freshwater tank. For freshwater, the best kinds of rocks to use are shale, slate, basalt, quartz, and igneous (lava) rocks. Avoid rocks with calcium such as limestone, as that can make the water become hard.
Things are a bit trickier with saltwater tanks. The best rocks for saltwater tanks are reef rocks—rocks that mimic the shape, color, and texture of coral reef. Man-made “Real Reef Rock” is a good choice and is not actually taken from the ocean. Dried coral is also good, but some can be put off by its bleached, white appearance.
Regardless of which kind of rocks you pick, make sure you thoroughly clean before placing them.
Is resin safe for fish tanks?
Yes, in general, polymer resin (PR) materials are completely safe for fish tanks. As long as the resin is cured properly, it won’t leech any chemicals or toxins in the water. In fact, many popular best fish tank decorations are made from PR resin. If you want to make your own resin decorations at home, be very careful and make sure it cures completely before putting it in the tank.
On the flip side, you should generally avoid putting plastic decorations in your tank unless they are graded as food safe. Food-safe plastics will be fine in the water. Non-food-safe plastics can degrade and leach toxins in the water. The same holds true for ceramic decorations; only include them if they are “dinnerware” safe.
Can you put any wood in a fish tank?
No, you cannot put just any wood decorations into your fish tank. Wood that is prepared for aquariums is specially treated so it won’t rot in the water. Untreated wood will degrade and alter the chemistry of the tank, potentially causing harm to your fish.
Driftwood, on the other hand, is generally safe to put in your aquarium. If you want to include driftwood aquarium decorations, the best kind to get is a hard wood that won’t decompose as easily.
How can I make aquarium decorations at home?
You can use practically anything as a decoration as long as it's safe for the water and your fish. So yes, you can make aquarium decorations at home easily. This means nothing with paint on it and absolutely nothing that has a chemical coating. Some good materials for making home decorations include clay, ceramics, and safe plastic toys. Make sure to thoroughly clean your home DIY fish tank ornaments before putting them in.
Can you put regular toys in a fish tank?
Sometimes, yes. Regular toys made out of plastics that are non-toxic and kid-safe are generally fine to put in an aquarium. If you are going to put regular toys in your fish tank, avoid painted plastics or anything with adhesive stickers. A great example of aquarium safe toys are Legos. If you are not sure if some plastic is safe, you can always give it a coating of silicone sealing first.
How can I decorate my fish tank?
Any way you want! The only limit to decorations is your creativity. As long as your fish/other pets have enough space in the tank and the materials are safe, there are no hard and fast limits about what you can do and what you can use in your fish tank.
So there you have it, the best fish tank aquarium decorations and fish tank ornaments of 2020. These fish tank decorations are the perfect addition to all kinds of fish tanks and work for any aquarium in any home. No matter which aquarium decorations you choose, you can make something that looks great in your fish tank. The best aquarium decorations for fish tanks not only look good but make your fish feel at home.
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