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How To Make Aquarium Decor | 10-Step Definitive Guide

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Skye Rhodes

Fishes are one of the most loved animals for home keeping pet, and here you can see how to make aquarium decor.

Most people prefer fishes over other pets since they don’t make any noise and are human-friendly animal species.

How often you have paid a visit to someone and have observed a glistening little fish tank that showers aesthetic vibes in the whole room?

Did you feel the urge to want these small guppies in your lounge?

Well, you surely would have felt.

Watching the gleaming fish tank in your dark room with lights off can literally present a breathtaking view.

Aquariums are made of glass, clear plastic, acrylic and such other material.

After all the love you get for these fishes, you finally visit a store and buy your favorite neon tetra with a large 50-gallon aquarium.

Table of Contents

10-Step Definitive Guide On How To Make Aquarium Decor

Here is a 10-step definitive guide on how to make aquarium decoration.

Old Fashioned Aquarium?

Your aquarium decorations doesn’t look like the one you saw.

How to make a diy aquarium decoration?

How to make your aquarium background stand better than others? Can you paint the aquarium background part?

Don’t worry we have got your back.

Today we will go through an in-depth step by step definitive guide on aquarium decor.

The guide not only includes the basic 10 steps but it also provides answers to very common questions you might ask.

However, it must be noted that there are some basic requirements.

Like a water checker, a fish filter, and an air pump that should be present before you go decorating your aquarium.

As it’s useless to decorate your diy aquarium without these basic aquarium decorations.

Let’s now dig into the 10 steps definitive guide on how to make aquarium decor.

Note: While going through these steps you must not sacrifice the comfort zone of these fishes and must take necessary precautions.

Step 1: Add Colorful Sand

Adding sand to the base of the tank is one of the foremost steps towards building an eye-catching diy aquarium and tank decoration.

Building an aquarium from the base is the best way to keep track of the check-list.

Sand is actually the substrate that is placed at the bottom of the fish tank.

Another substrate that is widely used is the gravel substrate (discussed in step 2).

Why Should We Use Sand?

Adding colorful sand to the tank can not only bring charm and attractiveness to add to the tank decoration.

Putting it also helps to showcase the natural look as showering sand on the base of the tank builds a natural habitat, and makes the aquarium safe for fishes.

Therefore, looks like a mini ocean, not only to us but also to the fishes.

According to the fish tank specialists, habitat is an important aspect before the aquarium decorations.

As we cannot manipulate the habitat just for aquarium decorations.

Sand not only adds color to the base but there are other benefits as well.

Adding sand as a substrate has a benefit that as there is less space between sand particles it less frequently needs cleaning.

It is because the plant matter and fish food don’t penetrate the sand particle and remain on top of the sand.

Thus it less frequently requires cleaning as compared to that of gravels because they have fine spaces between them.

Thus, the matter sinks the gravels and it requires efforts to separate matter from it.

Adding sand cannot only make the diy aquarium decorations more attractive but it also has vital importance for creating a natural habitat for the fauna.

Smooth round sand is better for corydoras catfish who can tear up their fins on rougher material.

Step 2: Add Gravels

Adding gravel to the aquarium is the best and by far the most used alternative for sand.

How often we have seen these tiny substrates that attract our eyes and bring a lush view to our aquarium?

These shiny pebbles reflect light when light rays fall on these earthly tiny stones.

Using the it for aquarium decorations, we can use different colors of gravels or a single color.

Especially if one is looking to build a diy aquarium based on the creative theme.

The positive aspect of using gravel is that it is easily available and comes in a lot of variety in shops.

While in terms of sand, it needs an effort because every sand cannot be used for aquarium purposes.

It also comes in a variety of colors so you can customize your tank and make it complement your fish.

Why Should We Use Gravel?

One might think that why should we use this instead of sand for decoration?

Well, gravels are considered a better choice especially if you are building a freshwater aquarium.

The major benefit of using gravel is that due to its gaps it allows water to flow through it.

This flow of water prevents the piling up of bacterias and amoebas in the substrate.

These gravels not only provide beauty to our aquarium decorations, but also contains major and minor elements.

Such as magnesium, potassium, and sulfur that can nourish aquarium plants.

Tip For Buying Gravel

It is suggested by fish tank specialists that whilst buying gravel we shouldn’t buy artificially coated dye gravels.

These gravels may fade their color and end up ruining the whole water.

Step 3: Creating A Theme

Creating a theme is the most important step when it comes to decorating your aquarium.

Creating a theme can be easy if you have already decided and picked up a theme for your aquarium.

However, if you haven’t until now, choosing a theme might take some brainstorming.

The theme is actually dependent on the size of your aquarium and intent for decorating your aquarium.

Once you have decided the size of the aquarium according to the needs it now comes down to your intent.

Intent can really play a handy role when it comes to choosing a theme.

If you are building a diy aquarium for your children or building it for your office waiting room or any other reason the theme varies according to the condition.

Of course, you will not want to model a Barbie or legos or toys theme in your law firm office, it just won’t make sense.

You need to make proper decision as to the theme of the diy aquarium decorations.

Once you have chosen a theme you need to make sure to start working on it by editing the nitty-gritty details of your aquarium.

Like choosing a background, what sand color you must use, what stones you should buy, all these things are dependent on your theme.

But the question here rises on how to set up a theme for your aquarium?

So let’s elaborate on it.

How To Set Up The Theme?

The theme can be set as:

  1. Choosing the right color for the theme
  2. Adding the sand and gravel according to the theme
  3. Adding the right background
  4. Choosing the right fishes, which suits the background and theme
  5. Adding the stone following the theme
  6. Adding characters and accessories to support your theme

Note: It’s not necessary to set a theme for your aquarium, as it just depends on your will.

Step 4: Set Up Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors when it comes to decorating, it sparks and helps the aquarium to glow.

Have you ever seen a sparky aquascape that sparks a glimpse of living?

So fascinating to see right?

Even if it’s complete darkness in the room the sparky aquarium blesses the whole room with its bliss.

Thus setting up lighting is one of the most important factors when it comes to decorating the aquarium.

The lights that you should use to glow your aquascape should be aquarium based.

As you cannot use some random bulb from your storeroom.

So, keep in mind the fact that these bulbs can produce heat and can affect the eco-friendly environment which you have been building for months.

Thus instead of these regular bulbs, you can use LED lights that are specifically used for aquariums.

What Lights To Set Up?

To build a glowy landscape that can perfectly suit your lounge, you need to look for LED lights that suit your nature.

There are many variants of light that come with multi-color.

The color of the light can be either changed manually or can be kept on auto mode.

On auto mode, the led light can change color on its own.

The light also comes with brightness adjustment and can also change according to the timing.

LED light not only helps in decorating your lush aquarium but also provides an artificial ecosystem to the aquarium.

Especially the live plants that you have chosen for your fish tank.

Step 5: Place Plants

Choosing underwater plants for your aquarium decorations can be easy and difficult at the same time.

Easy when you are choosing fake ones and difficult when you are choosing live.

Live plants and algae can provide you multiple benefits at the same time.

They not only convert carbon dioxide into oxygen but also saturates your tank with oxygen which helps in aerating your tank.

Besides the oxygen part, live bushes also give an eco-friendly look for both fishes and observers.

On the other hand, fake ones don’t need any special care or specific substrates and fertilizers, unlike live.

Fake shrubs are also easy to use and are cost-effective.

Coming on the installation process, you could easily be install them in the substrate.

It should also be noticed that plants are installed before pouring water into the aquarium.

And if you are installing aquatic seeds then it’s suggested to wait for some days till they germinate and then move your fishes to the tank.

Types Of Plants

There are basically three types of aquatic plants that vary based on their position and intent of planting.

Foreground Plants

These are placed at the front of the tank, and are generally shorter and grow slowly.

Mid-Ground Plants

These are generally taller and are placed in the middle portion of the tank.

Background Plants

As the name suggests these are installed at the aquarium background and provides a space for fishes to hide.

Which Plant To Use?

Either you should go for artificial or live plants?

Well, it’s suggested for the beginners to use artificial ones before jumping to live ones that require care and time.

Step 6: Place Rocks

Rock in an aquarium is like icebergs in the ocean, without them the diy aquarium decorations might look barren.

However, the rock pieces are one of the underrated decor objects when it comes to aquarium decoration.

These rocks can provide an aesthetic look to your aquarium background and as we know it’s the look that always matters.

One might think that if the gravel materials are used then why should I use these rocks again?

Well, pieces of rock not only provide an oceanic look to your aquascape but also provides a dark area for your fish to chill in.

Floating rocks in an aquarium are also making the headlines these days.

These rock pieces are suspended in the middle of the water with the help of a fishing line.

The fishing line is mostly missed whilst observers thus making them go crazy about it!

Types Of Rocks

So are there any rocks that can be used for an aquarium?

Well, there are many, some of the best rocks to use underwater for a freshwater aquarium are as follows:

  1. Lava rock
  2. Shale
  3. Slate
  4. Quartz

It should be kept in mind that we must wash the rocks and clean any impurities before placing them into the aquarium.

As already discussed the health of our aquarium occupants is the utmost priority.

Which Rocks We Can Use?

Since we are talking about rocks one might think which stones should be used?

Can we use the stones that are placed in our backyard or the old bunker beside our house?

Well, the answer is big no!

We can not use any rock or stones in our aquarium.

As many rocks contain calcium and which can change the PH of the water in the aquarium and can harm your expensive golden fishes.

Step 7: Set Up Background

Adding an aquarium background is the actual step towards the application of the theme to your aquarium.

It is more dependent on the theme you have chosen for your aquarium.

Even if you haven’t chosen a theme and instead of it, you have chosen a color scheme combination.

In either case, background plays a mighty role to give your fish tank the desired look you want.

Installation of the background is easy and the impact is substantial.

Adding a background to your aquarium also helps you to hide and cover all sorts of filter cords that run behind your aquarium.

It can literally bring a polished and promising look to your aquascape.

You can also ignore the aquarium background if you have a better wall background.

Like wallpaper on a wall or want your aquarium background to be transparent and clean.

Which Background Sheet To Prefer?

Before buying any background sheet you must look at the durability, water-resistant ability, and whether it’s easy to apply or not?

It should be easily installed, maybe stuck with a glue and can easily be peeled off when required.

If one is applying a background sheet, you should cut the background paper according to your diy aquarium size.

Then, spray the water, and clean the aquarium before installing the background sheet.

Once you have pasted the sheet now get all the air bubbles out of the sheet with the help of a squeegee.

The 3D background is also popular nowadays, this background not only attracts the observer but can also provide your fishes to play around with.

However, this background requires a large space and cannot be installed in a short aquarium.

Step 8: Install Air Pump

You might be thinking why the air pump comes in decoration, as it is used to aerate the fish tank.

Well, the answer is the air bubble which is generated by these air pumps.

Fish tanks might look incomplete and barren without air bubbles, the air bubbles fill the requirement for the complete promising aquarium.

Besides giving an aquarium decorations promising look air bubbles are also part of the fun for the occupants, as they swim in the fish tank.

The idea behind this is fishes seem to love to play around with the air bubbles rising towards the surface and these bubbles keep them energetic and active.

One common misconception about air bubbles is that air bubbles themselves give oxygen which is not true.

The air bubbles produce water currents and circulate the water, thus providing water a larger area to get more oxygen from the atmosphere.

Thus air pump not only gives an aquarium decorations a promising look but also indirectly supplies oxygen to our baby pet.

On the other hand, many people don’t buy aerators just because they make sound and are noisy.

Still, there are many soundless air pumps available that produce no sound and still works with 100% efficiency.

Step 9: Add Lid

Make sure to add a lid, as adding a lid to the top of your aquarium is more of a protective measure than a decorative measure.

Most people forget to set the lid and end up having filth in the aquarium.

A lidless aquarium can be very dangerous if you are having small kids or even small pet like cats and puppies.

Because they may end up falling inside the aquarium (especially if you are having a large aquarium).

Adding a lid to an aquarium can also protect you from other aspects like heat.

It can help you in maintaining the temperature to equilibrium if you are using a heater in the aquarium.

What Lids To Buy?

There are basically 2 lids that are mostly used by fish tank owners:

  1. Vinyl Corrugated panel
  2. GreenHouse panel

Vinyl corrugated panels can be used as a lid for your aquarium, these panels are flexible, pliable, and are easy to cut.

These lids can easily sit on the upper lip of the tank.

However, these panels have spaces, producing a slight probability of your fish jumping out of the tank.

These spaces also provide a space for evaporating vapors to escape.

Greenhouse paneling is a panel that is suggested by fish tank owners; these panels are double-walled and are very durable and insulating.

These panels fit in the inside groove of the tank and can be used for a 75-125 gallon tank.

The greenhouse panel also stops evaporating vapors from escaping, since there are no spaces for escape.

Step 10: Add Fishes

You did all the steps, from finding the right tank to choosing pebbles and theme for your aquarium.

It’s now time to pat your back for the work and ordeal you have gone through because it finally time to fetch some gold!

Adding fishes to your aquarium decorations is the utmost goal for which you have come this far.

Betta fish, a pair of small goldfish, catfish are some of the choices made for the purpose.

It’s so blissful to enjoy the aesthetic vibe which comes when your fish moves and enjoys her new tiny world.

Going through the air bubble, moving their tails to show tantrums is so fascinating to watch.

After adding fishes to tanks now just give them some time to adapt to their new environment.

After your fishes have adapted and have made your homemade pond come to life, you can now also put plants.

Also, other horticulture outside the tank to follow the theme.

This will not only present an aesthetic and eco-friendly environment but will also supplement your fish tank with fresh oxygen.

P.S These are just tips, not mandatory decor ideas.

Final Thoughts

In the steps above, we discussed every nitty-gritty detail on how to create aquarium decor.

From choosing the right sand and gravel to adding creative theme, like lego toys, and such into the aquarium decorations, we discussed every step in detail.

From all the above steps we also concluded that every step needs a little bit of care and vigilance.

Make sure to take precautionary measures at every step as a little mistake can send our fishes to the valley of death.

Once you have followed the above checklist you can now observe how aesthetically pleasing your diy aquarium decorations look.

We are now sure that you would also be able to showcase a promising and aesthetically cool aquascape to your lounge whenever a visitor visits your house, just like you did!

Good Luck with your fish tank!

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