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Aquarium decorations

There is a huge swell of interest in tropical aquariums. It is an interesting and informative hobby and an aquarium is an excellent focal point for any room.

Obviously there are the basic requirements to set up a fish tank – the tank itself, lighting and filtration systems and a heater. But many people do not realise that the ‘decorations’ in your tank can have an important role in the aquarium ecosystem – providing interest and shelter for your fish.


Gravel comes in a huge range of colours and styles. You can get gravel in almost any colour you want – you can even get gravel to match the colour scheme of your room! However, a pale while, or off-white is often a good colour to begin with as it looks like a natural stone.

It’s important to remember that gravel is functional as well as decorative as it has an important role in the filtration system in your tank – especially if you have an under water filtration system.  It also provides a substrate for rooting systems to penetrate.

Choosing the right sort of gravel is important. It is best to choose a gravel that is 4 to 6 millimeters, especially if you have an under gravel filter as this will help with water flow. Shiny marble type stones are not recommend to create a gravel substrate, but you can sprinkle them on top of your grave to give a polished look to your tank!


Rocks add a natural look to your aquarium and provide shelter and interest for your fish. Rocks can also used as a surface for growing some types of aquarium plants such as Java Moss. It’s best to buy rocks from your retailer so that you can be sure that the rocks are suitable for aquarium use. (Some rocks will leach out chemicals that could be toxic to your fish.) If you want to use rocks that you find, make sure you clean them thoroughly before putting them in the tank. It’s also worth checking out what sort of rock they are in case they are toxic.


Bogwood is another type of decoration that provides interest and shelter for your fish, in addition to looking good.  Your local retailer will have a supply – they come in a range of shapes and sizes. It is not a good idea to use wood that you find from your local woods, as it may contain parasites, fungi or chemicals that could harm your fish.

Live plants

Live plants are perhaps one of the most visually rewarding ways you can decorate your tank, while also helping to improve the water quality and providing the fish with a natural cover and spawning area. Growing plants in your aquarium requires an understanding of what aquatic plants need to grow – many need very specific pH ranges, heating ranges, lighting requirements and extra fertilisation. If you do not provide the right conditions, your plants will wilt and turn pale after a couple of weeks.  

Other stuff

If you like a more traditional decorative look for your tropical aquarium, you may want to add in some interesting décor such as sunken treasure chests, underwater divers or greek ruins – although some people would not agree!

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