Clever and Amazing DIY Fish Tank Decorations You Can Make

Posted by on Dec 25, 2021

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When fish owners decorate an aquarium, a certain style of interior decor comes to mind: fluorescent pebbles, plastic plants, and a deep sea diver. Why not create a waterscape that can be more inviting to the inhabitants and entertaining for onlookers? You can grow live plants, sculpt buildings and even build a waterfall. Of course you have to keep in mind what’s safe for the fish. Be sure to read reviews of the best aquarium UV sterilizers, which will keep the water clean and sterile. If you have any questions, ask a veterinarian or ichthyologist. With that caveat in mind, behold some of the impressive things you can place in your underwater lair.

Terracotta Pots

Good ol' terracotta pots make excellent aquarium decor for a number of reasons. You can use them to hold rocks and plants that will have beneficial bacteria. If you drill holes in them big enough for your fish to swim through, they make great caves. They’re also cost effective, often just a dollar or two a pot, depending on the size and quality. You can even use broken pieces from the pots as decor (as long as the edges aren't sharp). One of the many nice things about having potted plants is that you can easily pull them out when you want to redecorate.


If you want a low cost and safe decoration, ceramic figurines can often be found at dollar stores and thrift shops. Some ceramic objects are safer than others, though. Pieces made to dinnerware specs will likely be aquarium safe. Cheaper figurines may leach toxic metals as they dissolve. You can test the object with diluted vinegar. If you’re unsure, You may, put on an extra layer of coating aquarium safe clear sealer such as clear Plasti Dip spray paint. 

Want to build an actual home for you fish? Take inspiration from Gurune Kreatif Poel, who used ceramic tile to model a two-level beachfront-style home with a waterfall for his aquatic friends. Do they need the satellite dish and mist machines? Probably not, but how else are you going to make the jaw drop of every person who visits your fish tank — or is this an aqua-mansion?

Bamboo and Other Plants

Why have plastic plants when you can grow live bamboo? While Regis Aquatics’ video doesn’t have specific instructions about how to cultivate bamboo stalks in your fish tank, you can follow along as the unnamed hands, drop sand, topsoil and, of course, bamboo stocks into the tank (make sure to keep the new growth above water). Accent the landscape with a few rotala indica plants and java fern leaflets. Now you’re not just a fish tank owner, but an underwater horticulturalist.


In the comments for Asu Green’s “Making an Aqua-terrarium with Two Flowing Waterfalls” video, there’s some debate over whether fish can be introduced to the space given how little water there actually is for them. One writer suggests mini fish. Regardless, Green’s waterfalls feature impressive details — like misters — that may be adaptable to other waterscapes. Since there’s no narration or subtitles on the video, you may also want to look at Green’s instagram account (@asu_green11) for more ideas. Be sure to use aquarium safe glue when putting all of the pieces together.


Dried leaves can provide a low-cost way to create a natural floor for the bottom of a fish tank. But you can’t just grab any leaves. DIY Fisherkeeper prefers catappa leaves, also known as Indian Almond tree leaves. 

These leaves, which come from Asian trees, can be had for as little as $10 for 100 on Amazon or eBay. Fish fanatics are very familiar with the positive attributes of catappa leaves, particularly for varietals that originate in blackwater rivers. The leaves leach tannins into the water, which helps lower the pH of the environment. They also have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal capabilities that help protect infections. Keep in mind that the dried leaves disintegrate and need to be replaced every so often.

PVC Tubing

If you’re highly skilled with a compact circular saw, you may be able to turn PVC pipe into cute logs that can decorate a fish tank. Ordinary Fish Keeper shows how he scores the small sections of plastic tubing to look like sections of tree bark. After sanding the exterior, he paints them with coats of black and brown paint to create realistic shading. The final product is definitely impressive. That said, the idea is most appropriate for someone who already has extra PVC tubing, paint and a circular saw. If you don’t have those things, it may make sense to save yourself some time and purchase a similar product made for fish tank.

Clay Architecture

Taylor of Simply Betta is such a devoted fan of Lord of the Rings she designed her own Hobbit Tank with buildings that looked like Bilbo Baggins lives in them. In the above video, she explains she used chopsticks, cardboard and wire to build the framework for the buildings and then covered them Sculpey clay, baked and then painted with appropriate details. She also details how she could have made better use of the materials, so you’ll want to keep her warnings in mind. You don’t have to use these materials to build your own Middle Earth. You could do an Empire State Building, Capitol Building or whatever suits your passion and talent.

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