Aquarium Decor- Do’s and Don’ts every aquarist should know

Aquarium Decor

When it is about aquarium décor, the sky is the limit. But, with precaution!

An aquarium looks complete when it has a variety of vivid fish, lush green aquatic plants, and beautiful décor items. While it is essential to have compatible fish and plants, there is no such limitation when it comes to décor items. Hobbyists wish to decorate their aquariums with unique products and give them an extraordinary look. However, this urge often leads them to get products that are not suitable for the inhabitants and cause their mortality.

The fishkeeping hobby is not only about keeping fish in the tank. Sooner or later, the hobby turns into maintaining a tank that has fish, aquarium plants, and attractive décor items and looks only one of its kind.

Here is a detailed guideline about aquarium decoration that every aquarist should know.

How to begin?

Once you have set up your tank with the filtration system, have had all the fish and plants, and tested the water quality, the next step is to add the decorative items. It is obvious to get tempted by all the pretty and cute décor items in the aquarium shop or online, but making the tank overcrowded with them is not a good practice. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain an overcrowded tank.

So, how to pick the right aquarium décor items to make the tank look beautiful and easy to maintain too? It’s time to bring out the creative bugs from the inside and make thoughtful decisions for the best results Tour banyuwangi.

Start from the Bottom Up- Choose the Right Substrate 

Choosing the right substrate to cover the bottom of the tank should be the first step. Since there are different types of substrate, there are many options to choose from- gravel, sand, stones, pebbles, and much more. The best part is most of them are available in different colors and textures.

While sometimes the hobbyist can decide the type of gravel he wants, sometimes it is the fish that dictates it. For instance, eels prefer sandy bottoms, and freshwater rays love to have a bottom with sand. Such fish bury themselves inside the sand most of the time, which is not possible when you have gravel or pebbles. Likewise, having a rocky substrate is not suitable for eels that tend to rub their bodies against the rock and harm themselves.

But at the same time, using sand comes with certain downsides, like washing sand gravel is difficult and often ends up in the waste. So, you have to replace it after every wash.

When it comes to the substrate for freshwater tanks, gravel and stones are the two most popular choices. Major benefits of using them as substrate include the following-

  • Create a natural look for the tank
  • Easy to clean
  • A better alternative to other substrates like colored glass pebbles

Colored glass pebbles are also popular due to their pretty look, but they do not provide surface area for good bacteria to colonize. Even though they make the tank look vibrant, using them solely is not a good idea. You can scatter some colored glass pebbles here and there to bring vividness to the tank. Just make sure that you replace or remove them once they start wearing down.

No matter what you are putting in the tank, it should be properly rinsed, including the substrate. Take out all the dust and debris and ensure it is clean and hygienic for the tank’s inhabitants.

Plants: Real or Fake- What will be the best?

Plants, whether real or fake, tend to add lots of colors to the tank. However, when it comes to benefits, real plants score a lot more than fake ones. The major benefit of live aquarium plants is they improve the water environment and give a more natural feel. On the other hand, fake plants are available in diverse colors, including those not available with live plants. At the same time, they do not require maintenance like real plants.

Choosing the fake plants is no brainer. All you need is to check the quality of materials and ensure that it is safe for the tank. On the contrary, selecting real aquarium plants is tricky as some plants can outgrow the tank, and some may remain so small that they become invisible when planted at the back. But, when it comes to advantages, fake plants stand nowhere before the live plants due to the following reasons- nusa penida tour

Live aquarium plants use nitrogen produced by fish’s waste products and decrease its content in the tank.

They use carbon dioxide for respiration and give off oxygen for the use of fish and other inhabitants.

  • Stabilizes the water pH.
  • Give a more natural feel to the aquarium.
  • Fish feel more at home when surrounded by real aquarium plants.

Apart from selection, another thing to consider is the place from where you are getting the live plants. It is essential to buy the plants from a reliable pet store. Getting tissue culture aquarium plants is the wisest decision as it will ensure not getting any pests along with them that may create unnecessary trouble in the tank. For instance, if you end up getting an aquarium plant infested with snails of the same species, be ready to see a lot of snails in your tank that will eat up the leaves.

So, if your fish has a taste for plants or you accidentally got snails, replace the fish and remove the snails. Or else, you can simply add a few fake plants into the tank to give it a natural look.

Adding Decorations- What to Do and What to Avoid

Substrates and plants are not the only decoration you can have. There are plenty of options to explore, and the sky is truly the limit to showing creativity. From rocks and caves to replicas of monuments, there are varieties of an oddity to include. Sunken ships, Stonehenge replicas, corals, and many such décor items are manufactured specifically for the aquariums. They are aquarium safe and do not harm the inhabitants.

You may get tempted to see a lot of things outside or in a free flowing river and think about adding them to the tank. Beware; it could do more harm than help. It is strictly advised to use only those décor items that are labeled ‘aquarium safe’ in the tank. Using random products may deteriorate the water quality and harm the inhabitants by leaching chemicals and disturbing the water parameters.

You should never put products that have sharp edges or are made with concrete, copper, or plastic and coated with paint in a freshwater tank. While concrete will leach chemicals into the water, copper and paint chemicals are considered toxic for the fish. Likewise, products with sharp edges may harm the fish as many fish have the tendency to rub their bodies.

A few things to keep in mind while selecting aquarium decoration items are-

  • How big is the tank’s bottom?
  • How many plants are planted at the bottom?
  • What do you want your tank to look like?

Make sure whatever aquarium decoration you are buying will place easily at the bottom without disturbing others. It is essential to have enough room for sunken ships, replicas, fake corals, and a large treasure chest. Instead of getting overwhelmed with aquarium décor, sometimes going simple by adding just a few pretty pieces is sufficient.

Similarly, do not get tempted to add real driftwood and coral reefs as they can be unsafe and pose harm. Getting anything from rivers and oceans may bring plenty of parasites and diseases into the tank and make the fish sick.

Before putting anything inside the tank, it is essential to make it hygienic by rinsing thoroughly. In the case of driftwood, boiling them in water for some time will ensure the killing of the germs. If you are in doubt about any product, do not think about adding it to the tank. Do not risk the fish’s life just for the sake of making the tank look extraordinary. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Things to avoid adding to the tank

  • Ceramics– Products made with ceramics leach chemicals and heavy metals when added to water. Also, most of them have sharp edges, posing harm to the fish.
  • Wood– Make sure it is purchased from the aquarium store and is labeled as ‘safe for aquariums’ as it is pretreated and made suitable for aquariums. If you are adding natural wood, replace it as soon as you witness the signs of wearing because of natural woods breakdown in water.
  • Rocks– There are certain rocks that leach minerals not suitable for aquarium life.
  • Corals and shells– Made with calcium, corals and shells will add to the calcium content in the water, which is certainly not required in freshwater tanks.
  • Glass– If the glass has any sharp edges or is coated with paint, better not to add it to the tank.
  • Plastics– Plastics is a big no for freshwater tanks. Anything that smells like strong chemicals or plastic should be strictly avoided.

No matter what you are adding, it should not alter the water chemistry and should be safe for the fish. Even though you rinse and wash the aquarium décor items before using them, regular cleaning is also required.

Cleaning Aquarium Decorations 

Except for the live aquarium plants, every other aquarium décor needs cleaning after regular intervals. Therefore, getting equipped with a few cleaning tools is a must if you are an aquarium owner. If not many, you must have tools like scrub brushes, soft-padded scrub pads, bristles, and a gravel wash kit. Do not use rough brushes on acrylic tanks as they may cause scratches and reduce their aesthetics.

Make sure to perform the below cleaning activities to make the tank look beautiful-

Remove algae and gunk by scrubbing.

Algae and gunk develop on the walls of the tank and all over the décor pieces after a certain period. You can use hard or soft bristles to scrub off the algae and gunk. Use bristles with long handles that make scrubbing the interior parts of the tank easy. Soft bristles brush will be good for scrubbing the glass or acrylic walls of the tank, and a hard bristle brush will be suitable for decorative items.

Clean the substrate and change the water 

Once algae and gunk are scrubbed off, the next step is to clean the substrate. At this time, you can change the water as well.

How often gravel cleaning is needed depends upon certain factors-

  • The number of fish in the tank
  • Quantity of leftover food and fish excreta lying on the substrate
  • Number of dropped and nipped leaves on the substrate

Take the gravel wash tube equipped with a flexible hose and dip one end into a bucket. With the help of suction, the acrylic tube and hose will pull out the dirt and grime from the substrate. It will also clean the fish excreta and leftover food particles.

When you have cleaned the gravel completely, change the water and adjust the water parameters as per the requirements of the inhabitants. Regular cleaning keeps the aquarium bright and tanks healthy.

Common queries regarding aquarium decoration 

Is rearranging aquarium décor items every week a good practice?

Although rearranging the décor items gives the aquarium a unique look, doing it every week should be avoided. You can do it every time you wash the substrate and change the water (once a month for normal or every fortnight for crowded tanks).

It is because some fish are shy, looking for hiding places, and some are territorial, looking for their territory to defend. Rearranging the décor pieces every week will pose a negative effect as some fish may find a particular area its territory and want to protect it. If this is the case, you can leave that particular area and rearrange the others.

Can I add rocks after cycling the fish tank?

Adding rocks or any other décor piece into an established tank can be done carefully and with precautions. Properly rinsed and washed rock with hot water is suitable to add to the tank. However, it is advised to wait until you perform water changes and then add anything you wish. If you are introducing a big rock, the place is slowly inside the tank without damaging anything. Do not forget that fish come under stress fast, so try to make the process easy for them.

Can I add shells, corals, and rocks collected from the beach into my tank after washing with antibacterial soap?

It is recommended not to put anything directly from the rivers and beaches into the tank even after washing them. Things cleaned with antibacterial soaps may have residues. If you still want to add, soak them in bleach water and rinse well. Let them dry under the sun. Check the water’s chemistry, including pH, after one hour to make sure that everything is within the suitable range.

Should I wash aquarium décor items bought from the store or online?

Yes. Whether you are getting the décor pieces from a shop, aquarium, or any other place, make sure it is properly washed, rinsed, and dried before putting them inside the tank. You can also splash hot water into them to remove all the dirt and dust.

Can I add metal to my décor pieces to keep them settled down in the bottom?

Most metals start decaying or rusting when kept in water for a long time. If you are using such a type of metal, it is better to avoid it. Some metals also leach chemicals that can be hazardous to the fish. So, if you are using metal only for settling down the décor pieces at the bottom, use rocks instead.

My décor pieces have a strong resin smell. Is this bad?

New products may smell. If you have got the product from the pet store and it reads ‘safe for aquarium use, it probably would be safe. The smell will go away after rinsing it with hot water and letting it dry under the sun.

Can I put natural wood in my tank after washing?

You should not. Wood is a great source of algae development, and it will serve as a place where fish excreta and leftover food will settle down. At the same time, wood will start degrading after some time, making the water cloudy. So, it is better to avoid it. Still, if you want to keep it, ensure to replace it soon to maintain the water parameters and avoid algae growth.

Why my rock inside the aquarium is giving off bubbles?

It is probably because air is trapped inside the tiny spaces on the rock, and as the substrate settles, the gas comes out. There is nothing to worry about if the rock is safe and put after taking all the precautionary measures.

Aquarium Plants
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