Most of us have the experience of walking up to a beautiful aquarium and spending a few minutes fascinated by what we see in it. Some of us would even return to our childhood habits of circling around the aquarium trying to spot every water life, plant, stone, gravel in the aquarium. At the same time, we have also walked past fish tanks that we do not even bother to take a second look. Most would agree that the difference between a fish tank and an aquarium is the decorations.
Perhaps everyone who owns a fish tank would tell you the best part of keeping fishes is the aquascaping. Aquascaping is the process of transforming your fish tank into an attractive underwater aquarium with interesting fishes, live rocks, lush vegetations, and other decorations. So how does one actually go about transforming his or her fish tank into an aquarium?
You can start by choosing a black background for the tank. Black adds depth, and makes a tank look much better than no background or a messy background. Imagine it like photography – would the photo look better if behind it portrays a busy activity area, or would it be more captivating if you were the main focus on a plainer background? A tank with only a black background will stand out naturally.
Begin putting your decorations in your tank! Try sloping the substrate to give the appearance of hills and valleys. It does contribute to a neat look, and is much more interesting to view than if your substrate was flat all across.
Next, you can choose a natural-coloured gravel or sand for the aquarium. This will not only be similar to your fishes’ natural habitat, but it is also much more appealing to the eye than bright coloured sand. Perhaps another way to give an absolute natural look is to put half aquarium-designated sand, and half play sand.
Moreover, you could arrange your large rocks in whatever style you like according to your preference. The more natural looking it is, the better. You can also try to build a few caves as most fishes prefer to have some sort of refuge at times.
How about adding live plants to the aquarium? The aesthetic effect of nature is something that other materials can’t replace. If you decide to go ahead with it, do research a bit about your plants and know what you’ll need to keep them alive. However if you’re not up to keeping live plants, look for tasteful artificial plants. Green and red are usually the colours found in nature, and really look the best. Try to get a good variation in colour darkness/lightness and heights as well!
Put your biggest piece of decoration (whatever is the most eye-catching or that you want as a centerpiece) to the center-left. It looks much better than trying to ‘balance’ your tank evenly out on both sides, or putting a piece in the exact centre. On the other hand, if you have a whole collection of rocks, you may want to design it in a way such that they go from the left/right to the centre. In the midst of decorating, make sure that you leave ample room for the fish to move about and also to hide.
On a simpler note, you could arrange your plants accordingly in the tank for visibility appeal. You want to put the taller plants in the back and shorter plants in front so that you can see to the back of the tank.
Also keep in mind to use fewer varieties of decoration items to make the tank look more natural. Try considering grouping the same type of plants and offset them by grouping the plants with a different colour or texture to create a more appealing space for the fishes as well as the viewers.
In addition to all the aesthetic appealing decorations, there are also mandatory accessories that you need to include with your fish tank. These accessories include the air pumps, filters, and lights. For tropical fishes, you also need to have heaters because they require a warm water environment.
As a rule of thumb, never prioritize aesthetic appeal over the requirements of your fishes. When choosing the accessories for your aquarium, you should always remember that the needs of your fish are of utmost importance above everything else.
The goal is to create a visually appealing underwater world while at the same time keeping the fishes healthy. Having your very own ornate aquarium filled with colourful fishes and other organisms will surely be a source of pride and contentment for fish owners like yourself at the end of the day.
Lyn P. is a professional author. Her articles have been published and quoted by many websites. This article is part of a new compilation called “A Hobby Keeps The Doctor Away!” which centres on fish keeping as a hobby for therapeutic benefits. For tips, inspirations and creative ideas about this hobby, please visit