Fish Tank Ideas – 30+ Inspiring Tanks

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Are you planning a new aquarium? Choosing a design and layout is super fun, but it can also be pretty intimidating if you’ve never done it before. In this post, I’ll show you some excellent fish tank ideas from across the web and share some hints to give you some fish tank inspiration!

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Designing an aquarium is a great chance to let your creativity run wild and create something truly unique. However, drawing some inspiration from other setups can be very helpful.
  • Aquarium decorations are a great way to add some style and personality to your aquarium, but live plants and natural materials like wood are the best choice for nature-style fish tanks.
  • Stick to hardscape and decorations designed specifically for aquariums. Natural decorations like rocks can be used if you clean them carefully, but some natural materials like sea shells and limestone can change your water chemistry.
  • Be sure to include a filtration system if you’re creating a shrimp or fish tank, and a heater if you’re keeping tropical species.
  • Don’t be afraid to think out of the box! Paludariums and emersed planted tanks are excellent aquarium ideas.

Nano Fish Tank Ideas

In the aquarium hobby, small aquariums are usually referred to as nano tanks. How small is small? Well, the definition varies, but you can call anything smaller than about 20 gallons a nano tank.

There are many different nano tank styles, ranging from species-only setups to thriving communities. Continue reading for some nano tank inspiration!

10-gallon Nano Betta Fish Tank Idea

Betta fish are one of the most popular nano fish in the hobby, but we see them in tiny bowls and other containers way too often. This beautiful 10-gallon nano betta fish tank deserves a round of applause1!

The combination of live aquatic plants, driftwood, hardscape, and a little beach area gives this tank a feeling of balance and tranquility. I bet that’s one happy betta.

5-Gallon Betta Setup

You can also go a little smaller for a single betta, although you’ll still need a filtration system and a heater. Maintaining high water quality will also become more challenging, but regular water changes and cleaning will keep your fish happy and healthy.

At 5 gallons, this well-planned fish tank is about the smallest you should go for bettas or other live fish. However, you can make a nano tank look much roomier than it really is by decorating it carefully.

Notice how the dark substrate makes the plants stand out even more? Black sand or gravel can also make fish look brighter and it’s great for some shy fish species that prefer a dark habitat.

Community Aquarium

It is possible to keep multiple nano fish species together in a small tank, but you’ll need to step up to an aquarium in the 15 to 20-gallon range to house your fish safely.

This elegant tank is home to multiple fish species and some beautiful aquatic plants. Most fish that grow to about 2.5 inches or less can be kept in this tank size, although it’s important to research the minimum school size and parameters of each species.

Themed

There are some awesome aquarium decorations out there for setting up a themed fish tank. Check out these fun but contrasting examples from across the web!

Spongebob

Spongebob-themed aquarium decorations can turn a nano tank into a fun and exciting fish tank, especially for the kids. This themed aquarium looks just like a scene from the popular TV show, and those yellow fish fit right in!

Bamboo Forest

Looking for something a little more zen? Check out this peaceful betta tank, complete with its own bamboo forest. This fish tank theme is perfect for your work desk, especially if you have a stressful job.

Planted Aquariums

If you ask me, all freshwater aquariums should include some live plants! Live plants have many benefits for your fish, and they look great too! Let’s take a look at some amazing planted tank eye candy.

Submerged Bonsai

Plants dominate this incredible aquascape, although its creator has chosen to create a scene that looks more like a dry landscape than an underwater scene!

It would take many years to grow an actual bonsai that looks this good, but by cleverly planting a small plant like Anubias barteri var. nana on a great piece of driftwood, you can achieve much faster results.

The addition of carpet plants and that inviting clearing under the ‘tree’ make this peaceful scene really aesthetic. Can you picture a few shrimp or a betta hanging out under the shade of those branches?

Dutch Style

This amazing Dutch style planted fish tank ticks all the right boxes for aquarists who like a lot of color! This orderly aquascaping style requires dedication and a real eye for design, but the results are incredible.

The rimless tank and open-top design add another dimension of viewing pleasure to this tank. Sometimes, plants look the best when viewed from above!

Dutch-style planted tanks are all about the plants, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some movement. The vertical bars on those angelfish really complement this tank!

Emersed Growth

There’s something special about a planted tank with emerging plants. This stunning aquarium is a true underwater paradise, complete with lush vegetation growing out of the water, just as it does in nature.

Many common aquarium plants, including Ludwigia and Rotala, can be grown emersed in a hoodless tank with suspended lighting.

Fish safety is an important consideration when planning an open-top fish tank. Fish are surprisingly good at jumping out of tanks, so it’s a good idea to cover the top with some kind of screen.

Paludariums

Giving your plants the freedom to grow up and out of the water creates a unique look, but you can go even further and create a truly amphibious tank. Paludariums, like this exquisite example, include an underwater section and a land section.

Depending on the size and design of your paludarium, you could house aquatic life like fish, shrimp like red cherry shrimp, or dwarf frogs in the water. The land section is great for frogs, and turtles that like to spend time in and out of the water.

The land section of your paludarium could take the form of an island that sticks out of the water in the center, or you could add a simple shelf, complete with some rocks, soil, and plants.

The Living Wall

A planted wall is another spectacular design, although this limits some of the animals you can keep. This example provides some swimming space for shrimp or nano fish, and plenty of planting space for those awesome tropical plants.

African Cichlids

African cichlid tanks are the ultimate choice for freshwater aquarists who want a large tank that bursts with color and movement. Although you can grow some plants in African cichlid tanks, these setups are usually all about the fish.

Rock Pile

Some fishkeepers house African cichlids in pretty open, bare-bottom fish tanks, but if you ask me, these fish look so much better with some dramatic rocky hardscape!

This tank creates wonderful cichlid habitats and makes a bold statement as a display tank. The white sand contrasts with the round rocks to make this simple but effective tank really pop.

Just make sure you secure round rocks properly if you set up a tank like this, they could easily injure your fish or crack your tank if they come tumbling down.

Rock Walls

When we talk about aquarium hardscape, most people think of arranging and stacking rocks or driftwood on the bottom of the fish tank. However, the back and side walls can be used to create an amazing effect.

You could simply use a life-like stick-on aquarium background, or go this route and create something with real texture!

Angelfish

Angelfish are stunning freshwater cichlids that come from South America. These distinctive fish have a very ‘tall’ body shape, so they need a tank with some real height.

These fish thrive in planted tanks and can be housed with many other peaceful community fish in a big enough aquarium – just avoid tiny tank mates that your angels might see as a tasty snack.

Altum Angel Aquarium

This gorgeous designer fish tank is home to a big group of Altum angelfish, a large species native to the Rio Negro and Orinoco rivers in South America. The dramatic driftwood contrasts against a backlit background to make an aquarium that no one is walking by without stopping to stare!

Aquascapes

Most aquascapes include live plants, but you can also create a stunning scene by arranging hardscape features like rocks and driftwood. Let’s take a look at some interesting aquascapes.

Forest Scapes

This inspiring aquascape looks just like a forest scene from the great outdoors, complete with mountains! This kind of project takes real dedication and a lot of experience, but the results are absolutely amazing.

Iwagumi

This iwagumi masterpiece by George Farmer highlights the simple beauty of this unique aquascape design. Each rock is carefully arranged in the frame to create a simplistic yet bold look, and the dense carpet of plants only adds to its appeal.

This type of fish tank looks best with a small group of schooling fish like neon tetras, which create the effect of a flock of birds flying over the aquascape.

The Nature Aquarium

This jaw-dropping tank is a prime example of a nature aquarium. The style was popularized by the legendary Takashi Amano, a pioneering aquascaper from Japan. The style aims to create a unique natural world, rather than recreating a scene directly from nature.

A variety of different plant types are used in this style, but hardscape features like rocks, roots, and driftwood are equally important in creating different zones and textures in the tank.

Glofish Tanks

Have you ever heard of Glofish? These neon-colored fish were originally genetically modified to identify toxins in water, but today they are very popular in the aquarium hobby for their vibrant colors.

Neon Glow

Glofish come in exotic colors like sunburst orange, electric green, and galactic purple, and they include popular species like corydoras catfish, tetras, danios, and rainbow sharks. These fish really stand out under blue LED lighting, and so do the special glofish gravels, aquarium decorations, and artificial plants.

Nano Glofish Setup

Glofish tanks are a perfect idea for the kid’s room or anyone who loves bright colors! This low-maintenance example shows off the amazing colors you can achieve with the right lighting and some cool glofish tetras.

Goldfish

The goldfish is another freshwater species that looks nothing like their wild ancestors. Hundreds of years of selective breeding have created the amazing variety of fancy goldfish breeds we know today.

Some people still think goldfish can live in little fish bowls, but these fish actually grow surprisingly large, so they need a fish tank of at least 30 gallons for long-term care.

Keeping goldfish is all about the fish. These adorable underwater pets have a long lifespan, and it’s really rewarding to watch them grow and thrive in a healthy fish tank.

The Minimalist

Many aquarists choose to keep their goldfish in open, minimalist tanks like this setup because they are easy to clean and place all the attention on the tank inhabitants. The addition of that long airstone adds another layer of interest to this fish tank while increasing oxygen levels in the water.

Eastern Elegance

This 60-gallon goldfish aquarium still has a low-maintenance design but includes a little more structure, including some great aquarium decorations that reflect the goldfish’s east Asian origins.

60 gallons is a great size for two or three fancy goldfish, and you could even consider some goldfish tank mates in a tank of this size.

Check out my guide to 11 goldfish tank mates for some great goldfish companions!

Nature Style Goldfish Aquarium

Unfortunately, goldfish love to snack on most plants, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a natural home for your fishy friends. Some attractive river stones and soft artificial plants or tough live plants like Java fern and Anubias look great in a goldfish tank.

Big Tank Inspirations

Most of us can only dream of the kinds of tanks in this next section. Oh well, it doesn’t mean we can’t drool over them! Keep reading to learn about some amazing aquariums from across the world.

Outdoor Koi Pond with Glass Front

Don’t have space in your home for a big fish tank? These fish-lovers went ahead and designed a Koi tank/pond hybrid, which combines the best of both worlds!

Large koi are traditionally viewed from above, but this stylish setup allows you to enjoy your fish from every angle.

Kanye West’s Bathtub Aquarium

Stepping back inside, Kanye West’s super-stylish bath-tub tank is a great example of creative aquariums.

This tank helps you feel like you’re swimming in nature, every time you take a bath. The tank is filled with some awesome fancy goldfish.

The Mirage

Now, if money or space isn’t a problem, you might want to go with an aquarium like this beauty from the Mirage in Las Vegas. This mega 20,000-gallon fish tank is home to over 80 species of saltwater fish from tropical waters across the globe.

Atlantis The Palm

Some hotels go one step further, and let their guests view their amazing aquariums from within their suites! The Lost Chambers Aquarium in Atlantis Dubai allows viewers to enjoy sightings of over 60,000 ocean animals in the Ambassador Lagoon, all from their own suite!

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, 25 fantastic fish tank ideas that you can use to design your next aquarium. You could choose a nano-themed aquarium filled with cool decorations, an aesthetic nature aquascape full of aquatic life, or splash out on an impressive celebrity-style installation – the choice is yours!

Which of these 25 fish tank styles do you like the most? Share your view in the comments below!

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