Fish Tank Aquarium Decorations Beautify Your Tank

Would you like to have an aquarium which will be the envy of everyone? Then you need a Living Color Aquariums custom aquarium.  The team at Living Color Aquariums will work with you on designing the aquarium of your dreams not only by the shape and size of the aquarium but also by the decorations.

Now the most important and toughest question is how do you want your aquarium to look, what design? There are unlimited choices to choose from so you may want to ask a Living Color Aquariums trained professional for assistance.  However, we will be discussing substrate, decorations, and backgrounds to get you started on your new and exciting project.

Since substrate is different between freshwater and marine environments, we will discuss each separately. In freshwater aquariums, you may choose from gravel or sand.  There are many colors and sizes of gravel to choose from.  There are natural colors which resembles what is found in the ocean, rivers, and streams.  Bright colors include yellow, orange, red, rainbow, lavender, and even glow-in-the- dark gravel.  The subtler colors include blue, white, black, green, and turquoise.  These colors may be mixed together for a more unique look to the substrate.

Marine aquariums usually use two types of substrate, sand and rock, they can be live (meaning they have beneficial bacteria present) or base meaning they have no live organics present. These beneficial bacteria assist with cycling the aquarium and controlling the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, as well as aesthetically pleasing look.  However, you just need live sand or live rock, both are not needed.  A good formula is approximately one pound per tank volume is recommended.

Take a deep breath, it may seem overwhelming but just take one step at a time. Now it is time for the fun and exciting part of selecting your decorations for the inside of your aquarium, this is much easier.  Most of the decorations are interchangeable, which means they may be used in both freshwater and marine environments, with a few exceptions.  The interchangeable decorations include, but not limited to, slate, stones, various synthetic plants, artificial corals/reefs, themed aquariums, and real or artificial driftwood.  Below are brief descriptions regarding these interchangeable decorations.

Let us begin with the different color and shapes of slate. Slate is maybe one color or two toned with speckled affect or marble affect.  They are flat or larger chunks with or without holes.  Slate is safe for freshwater and marine environments.  Recommend purchasing slate for aquariums instead of slate designated for gardens; not sure what chemicals may be on the slate designated for gardens.

There are too many stones/rocks to mention all of them so we will mention just three of them: lava, glow-in-the dark, and air stone.  Lava rock is synthetic rock which mimics rocks formed from natural volcanic lava.  Lava rock comes in various sizes, shapes, and colors.  Sizes range from small substrate size to larger decorative sizes.  The colors are usually red, grayish, or black.

For a more unique look, try the glow-in-the dark rocks. Yes, they actually do glow-in-the dark!  Place these rocks in your aquarium under the light.  When the light turns off, the rock will glow.  It is an amazing glow!  These rocks vary in size, from small pebbles to a rock the size of the palm of your hand.

Last but not least of the rocks/stones, the air stones. These stone are usually white or blue and vary in size and shape.  Air stones may be long or short; square, rectangle, or cylinder shaped; or even the size of an aquarium wall.  The air stone may also be a figure (i.e., a clam) made from artificial plastic with an airline tube connected to the internal pump generating bubbles.  The purpose of the air stone is to keep the water moving and the air flowing.

Time to shift from rocks/stones to synthetic plants. There are too many synthetic plants to mention so we will stick to the basics.  Plastic, silk, and Pangea plants.  Plastic plants generally have hard surfaces which could injury the aquatic life, falls apart easily, and not realistic looking.  Silk plants are much softer, durable, and more realistic looking than the plastic plants.  Pangea plants are the most durable and life like plants.  They are so durable the aquatic life should not be able to destroy them.

Along with the plants, you may want to add artificial corals/reefs. There are a large variety of artificial corals and reefs to choose from.  If you cannot find the coral/reef you are looking for, contact Living Color Aquariums.  They make their artificial corals/reefs in-house and will be glad to make it just the way you want it!

There is a totally different option than what was previously mentioned, themed aquariums!! Can you imagine a whole tank filled with your favorite theme!  There are pirate themes, shipwreck themes, beach themes, Sponge Bob themes, Disney themes, and the list goes on and on.  Wow, it can be overwhelming!  Ever been to a Rainforest Café?  Well, Living Color Aquariums made the breath-taking theme aquariums!  If you cannot locate items for your theme, contact Living Color Aquariums and they might be able to build it for you.

The last interchangeable decoration is driftwood. There are two types of driftwood, natural and artificial.  Be careful if you choose to use natural driftwood, need to make sure there are no so-called hitchhikers, unwanted parasites or unwanted sea life.  Also remember to soak the natural driftwood in a bucket of water until all the tannins are removed or your aquarium water will look like tea.   Artificial driftwood is much easier, just rinse really good before placing in aquarium to make sure all the dust and debris are removed.  That simple!

Whew, that was a lot! You may skip the next four paragraphs if you do not have a marine aquarium.  Unfortunately, there are some decorations which may only be used in marine aquariums due to them either being a living organism or have living organisms on them.  A few of these decorations include, but not limited to, live rock and live sand (which were previously mentioned), Tonga branch, base rock, and live reefs formed from corals.

Tonga branch is dry live rock imported from the Kingdom of Tonga. It is shaped like a dense branch of a tree made from long dead calcareous coral skeletons.  The shape creates crevices which allows water to flow freely through it and fish to hide in it.  Over time, the Tonga Branch will grow coralline algae thus changing the color of the branch.

Base rock is a natural aragonite rock with naturally formed holes and crevices and free from pests and algae. The only way algae may grow on the base rock is when the algae travels from live rock or live sand and begins to colonize and reproduce on the rock.

Live coral reefs are formed when live corals secrete calcium carbonate and attach themselves to other coral(s). The largest coral reef, known as the Great Barrier Reef, is 1,600 miles long!  Wow, it must be an amazing sight of beautiful corals.  There are so many types of corals, we will have to go in details in another blog at a later date.  Just imagine, over time you too could have a beautiful live coral reef, just not as big as the Great Barrier Reef.

When choosing your decoration, always remember all fish like places to hide so something with structure is always better.

Hang in there, almost done. Last topic!!  Some people like to use backgrounds to enhance the decorations, hide wires and over-the-back filter, and to provide added security for the fish.  What is a background?  A background is a scenic view made on a continuous roll of vinyl.  There scenes range from a desert scene to an outdoor stream scene.  These backgrounds are easily applied.

  1. Cut a piece a background little longer than the length of the aquarium just in case it was measured incorrectly.
  2. Place on the back of the aquarium to measure properly and verify placement.
  3. Once in the proper place, tape one side of the background to the aquarium using two or three small pieces of scotch tape. Scotch tape is used for easy removal in the future.
  4. Use something like a driver’s license to push and remove any bubbles prior to taping the other side.
  5.  Now you have a background.

Please note, not every aquarium will need a background. Wet/dry systems, sumps, or canister may be used in lieu of over-the-back filter; thus, no wires to hide and no background needed.  All of Living Color Aquariums are built with wet/dry systems for a cleaner transparent look.

Decorations, whether live or artificial, will enhance the look of any aquarium. If Living Color Aquariums does not have the decorations you desire they will create them.  Decorating your tank is only limited by your imagination.

Author: Tessy Weigold

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