The 8 Best Aquarium Decorations (2021 Reviews) – Artificial vs Natural

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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. This list will cover exclusively artificial decoration. I will have some real decoration links in the reviews for reference. If you are looking for real aquarium stones, plants, or driftwood, you can check the links below:

In a hurry? I recommend Current USA Manzanita or their Aquascaping bundle line! Use Coupon Code ASD15  At Checkout!

PictureNameFeaturesLink
Editor’s Choice
Current USA Black Manzanita
Current USA Black Manzanita
  • Artificial
  • Life-like
Click For Best PriceBuy On SWA
Best Value
Current USA Seiryu Stones
Current USA Seiryu Stones
  • Artificial
  • Life-like
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Budget Option
Current USA Fountain Grass
Current USA Fountain Grass
  • Artificial
  • Life-like
Click For Best PriceBuy On Amazon
Penn-Plex SpongeBob Aquarium Ornament Penn-Plex SpongeBob Aquarium Ornament
  • Artificial
  • Resin
Buy On ChewyBuy On Amazon
Underwater Galleries Cichlid Stones Underwater Galleries Cichlid Stones
  • Artifical
  • Ceramic
Buy On ChewyBuy On Amazon
SLOCME Aquarium Ornaments Resin Castle Decorations SLOCME Aquarium Ornaments Resin Castle Decorations
  • Artificial
  • Resin
Buy On Amazon
Estes Gravel Malaysian Driftwood Estes Gravel Malaysian Driftwood
  • Natural
  • Driftwood
Buy On Amazon
Marimo Moss Balls Marimo Moss Balls
  • Natural
  • Live Plant
Buy On Amazon
CousDUoBe Aquarium Decorations CousDUoBe Aquarium Decorations
  • Artifical
  • Plastic
Buy On Amazon

The 8 Best Aquarium Decorations (2021 Reviews)

Let’s go into detail about these fish tank decorations. I’ll break down pros and cons below.

1. Current USA Manzanita Wood

Gorgeous and unique, Black Manzanita is the perfect thing to give your aquarium a unique natural look. The beautiful wood is 100% artificial but still has a vibrant color and natural look when placed in your fish tank. The tree like structure gives your aquarium fish have plenty of branches to duck in and out of. 

This Manzanita not only serves as the centerpieces of your aquarium tank but zero tannins being artificial. This driftwood can also be used in dry terrariums and makes a good fixture for reptiles to enjoy. 

Because it is an artificial wood, so you will not need to soak it for a week before it becomes waterlogged and you won’t have to deal with it floating accidentally. It also do not effect your water chemistry so you can use this on aquarium setups that demand higher pH or hardness like African cichlid tanks

Another thing I love about this product is that Current USA makes it easy for you to design a scape with it. They built this line consulting with Aquascapers and they even give you templates and videos. Here is one such video that shows you how easy it is to design like a pro with this driftwood. Check it out below!

I’m tempted to never use driftwood again with setups after seeing these in action. Current USA has done an amazing job at creating artificial pieces that work in planted tanks.

Pros

  • Unique looking wood is attractive
  • Beautiful black color
  • Fish can explore the branches
  • No tannins!
  • Doesn’t affect water chemistry!

Cons

  • Lack of variety

2. Current USA Seiryu Stones

I use to be a huge adovocate of natural stones vs artifical. That was until I was blown away from Current USA’s Seiryu Stones. These artificial rocks have the sae exotic-look porous rocks that are popular in aquariums as well as for terrariums and bonsai tree displays. These rocks are so life-like, you cannot tell the difference between these and the real thing. They have the same look with the added benefit of being lightweight!

And lightweight is a huge deal. You will never have to worry about cracking your aquarium if one of these rocks falls and handling these are super easy. They are pre-washed and ready to go out of the box!

If Seiryu isn’t your fancy, you can also opt for Current’s Ohko stone! These rocks still have the pocketed with holes like the real rocks, 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, something that no other artificial rock offers in the hobby! Did I mention that these rocks do not alter water chemistry?

Did you ever want to have Seiryu stones in an African Cichlid tank? Well, now you can can with these rocks. You can create the aquascape of your dreams without worrying about having the wrong water chemistry. My creatives juices get fired up just thinking of the possiblities!

The only downfall that I can see with these rocks is there isn’t the same variety that you would get with the real rocks. However, lack of variety can be a good thing if you are new as designed with templated pieces makes things very easy – especially with Current’s offering of aquascaping bundles.

Pros

  • Life like rocks
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t change water chemistry

Cons

  • Lack of variety

3. Current USA Fountain Head Grass

Budget Option
Current USA Fountain Grass

Use Coupon Code ASD15  At Checkout!

Current USA offers budget conscious life-like artificial plants that can give you the aquascaper look!

Click For Best Price Buy On Amazon

Let’s be honest here, artificial plants just aren’t very good looking. Most are made of plastic and clearly look fine to the eye or have weird colors that aren’t natural in natural. They tend to cater to the casual aquarist. Where are the artifical plants for the rest of us?

Current USA has the answer for us with their artificial plant line. This Fountain Grass is my favorite of the bunch. It resembles taller plants like Vallisneria, They look great on the background, and they relieve you of the headache of plants like this – which is the trimming!

These plants are affordable, easy to plant, non-toxic, and made in the USA! Can’t get any better than that!

Pros

  • Life-like
  • Easy to maintain
  • Works in aquascapes
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Won’t compete against algae like real plants will
  • Can get pricey if you need a lot

4. Penn-Plax SpongeBob Aquarium Ornament

Budget Option
SpongeBob Aquarium Ornament

Budget Option

A well priced, charming, and very effective shelter space for your pet fish

Buy On Chewy Buy On Amazon

Third 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. 

Pros

  • 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 

Cons

  • Small, not good for bigger fish or larger aquarium tanks
  • Some edges can be sharp

5. Underwater Galleries Cichlid Stones

Underwater Galleries Cichlid Stones

A great decoration for Cichlids and Bettas. Provides private homes for territorial fish

Buy On Amazon

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. 

Pros

  • 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 

Cons

  • Not all species will take well to them
  • Color can fade over time

6. SLOCME Resin Castle Decoration

SLOCME Aquarium Ornaments

Made of water-safe resin. Won't fad over time and looks great in your aquarium

Buy On Amazon

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.

Pros

  • Cool, elegant design
  • Sturdy eco friendly resin material
  • Precision etching looks great
  • Good for all kinds of aquatic pets 

Cons

  • Some sharp edges near the bottom
  • Too small for some fish

7. Estes Gravel Malaysian Driftwood

Estes Gravel Malaysian Driftwood

A budget friendly driftwood that comes in a variety of size ranges

Buy On Amazon

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 spiderwood.

Pros

  • Beautiful, natural wood
  • Release tannins that regulate water pH
  • Not treated with any chemicals
  • Won’t scratch aquarium glass 

Cons

  • Can turn water brown
  • Individual pieces differ in shape/cut

8. Marimo Moss Balls

Marimo Moss Balls

An easy to keep and hardy aquarium plant. They are small and fit in any aquarium setup. Provides good food source and will soak up nutrients

Buy On Amazon

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. 

Pros

  • Requires no light or fertilizer to grow
  • Servers as a food source for some aquatic pets
  • Can be cut into pieces for more propagation 

Cons

  • Quality control issues
  • Moss fragments can clog tank filters

9. CousDuoBe 21 pcs. Fish Tank Plants

CousDUoBe Aquarium Decorations

A budget friendly way to add colorful artificial plants to your aquarium

Buy On Amazon

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. 

Pros

  • Bright colors are friendly
  • Safe, rounded edges for fish to swim by
  • Ceramic base makes them sturdy 

Cons

  • Color assortment is random
  • Some dislike the more vibrant colors

The Best Fish Tank Aquarium Decoration (My recommendation)

Editor’s Choice!
Current USA Black Manzanita
Current USA Black Manzanita
  • Artificial
  • Life-Like
Best Value
Current USA Seiryu Stone
Current USA Seiryu Stone
  • Life-Like
  • Lightweight
Budget Option
Current USA Fountain Grass
Current USA Fountain Grass
  • Life-Like
  • Affordable

For overall best choice, I still feel that Black Manzanita is the best overall as a life-like wood. The Current USA stones are another excellent choice as it is one of the lightest aquarium rocks you can handle and looks great in fish tanks. The fountain grass is an excellent life like artificial plant that is a favorite of mine and provides hiding spots in your fish tank. All 3 are excellent choices.

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. 

Aquarium Size

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. 

Plants

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

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.  

Conclusions

So there you have it, the best fish tank aquarium decorations and fish tank ornaments of 2021. 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.

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, enjoyed your list of best aquarium decor….shopping desperately for a castle, but not a large tank, but every castle I find a review mentions some sharp edges or holes not big enough..since a grandma doesn’t want to hurt the fish, so what are the very best fish safe castle, ship, or swim through rocks that you recommend? Thanks. MP

    Reply
    • Hi Mar. Yes, I am aware that many artificial decorations have sharp or rough edges and the inside is usually not addreseds with many manufacturers. Let me do a bit of research on this. I’m more of a natural decor aquarist so artificial decor is just something I haven’t ventured into much. This article was from a response from someone similar to you asking about artificial decor – yet I still got a lot of natural decor on this list 😅. Stay tuned!

      Reply

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