Decorating Your Fish Tank: Dos and Don'ts

Updated on January 25, 2016
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isharkbait is a marine biologist, aquarist, lover of animals, and an experienced veterinary assistant.

Tips for how to safely decorate your fish tank.
Tips for how to safely decorate your fish tank.

Where to Begin?

You have your perfect tank, complete with all the bells and whistles of filtration. You have your water quality test kit ready. You have a list of fish you would like in your collection. So, how are you going to decorate your aquarium? Believe it or not, this is where a lot of people run into problems. Sometimes they get so excited about all the cute decorations at the pet store that they overcrowd the bottom of the tank. This is no good. Not only will this make doing tank maintenance harder (just think of trying to gravel wash all that), but it also it looks tacky. With that in mind, how do you pick out decorations for your tank? This is the time to be creative, as the sky is truly the limit.

Work From the Bottom up

The first step in decorating your fish tank is choosing which substrate to use to cover the bottom.
The first step in decorating your fish tank is choosing which substrate to use to cover the bottom.

The first thing you want to consider is what kind of substrate to use. There are many different options. Do you want a sandy bottom? What about small gravel, or large? You can even use small stones. Do you want to use glass pebbles? Do you want the tank to be colorful or more natural?

The most important thing to consider when choosing a substrate is your fish. Sometimes the type of fish you want will dictate what kinds of substrate you have to use. If you want fish like eels or knifefish, you need to have a sandy bottom. Eels will spend most of their time on the bottom, and if you have a rocky substrate, they will rub their bodies raw, which is bad for them. If you are considering a freshwater ray, then you need to have a large bottom with sand. They will bury themselves in the sand, which would be nearly impossible for them to do safely in a tank with gravel as the substrate. Sand will also give your tank more of a saltwater feel, which many people desire.

However, sand does have some downsides. If you plan on doing gravel washes, which you should strongly consider, sand can make them more annoying. Since the sand is smaller and lighter than gravel, it tends to travel higher up the tube. It also tends to end up in whatever you are using to collect your waste water. This means that you will need to replace sand more often than you would have to replace gravel.

Gravel and stones are popular choices for freshwater tanks. They create a natural look for the tank and they are easy to clean. They are a better alternative to colored glass pebbles which, however pretty, are not always the best choice for a large fish tank. Glass pebbles aren't necessarily bad for your fish, they simply do not provide as much surface area for good bacteria to colonize. You need good bacteria to keep the nitrogen levels in your tank in check. Glass pebbles over time will break down, as is natural, and gravel will erode as well. However, the glass pebbles will have sharper edges whereas the gravel will just become finer. Glass pebbles are pretty, but they are just for show. It would not be harmful to have a few of them scattered throughout the bottom of the tank, as they will add some color. Just be sure to change them out once they begin to show signs of wearing down.

You need to make sure that everything you put into your tank is properly rinsed—and that includes your substrate. Sometimes you need to rinse it a few times to get all of the dust and debris out.

Plants: Live or Fake?

Fake plants can lend your tank a splash of colors. If you are using live plants, make sure that they are a species that can be fully submerged in water.
Fake plants can lend your tank a splash of colors. If you are using live plants, make sure that they are a species that can be fully submerged in water.

Plants are a very popular decoration in many aquariums. Some people like them because they add color to the tank. Some add them because plants are found in many freshwater environments and can give the tank a more natural feel. If you go to the pet store, you will see a wide array of choices when it comes to aquarium plants.

The vast majority of home aquariums use plastic plants in place of live ones. Why? The plastic plants are often more colorful than real plants, coming in colors that are not found in in nature. They are also easier to maintain since they cannot die. And, like real plants, they offer the fish a place to hide.

However, real plants can offer systems something fake plants cannot: They can help improve the water quality of your tank. How is this? Plants need to use nitrogen and in an aquarium they are able to use the fishes' waste products. This keeps the levels low in the tank, which is a great bonus. Plants also use CO2 (carbon dioxide) for their respiration and give off O2 (oxygen) as a waste product. This is great for home tanks, as carbon dioxide build-up can be toxic and stable oxygen levels not only help your fish breathe, they can help maintain a stable pH level.

Of course, fake plants do have their own advantages: They don't drop leaves or die. Dead leaves and plants decompose, which can cause nitrogen levels in the tank to spike. This spike can stress the fish and, if it is high enough, could potentially lead to death.

Fake plants can be used to add color to fish tanks
Fake plants can be used to add color to fish tanks

Do you prefer live or fake plants in your home aquarium?

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Adding Decorations

What other decorations are safe for your tank.
What other decorations are safe for your tank.

The sky is truly the limit when it comes to adding decorations to fish tanks. You can even get a miniature replica of Bikini Bottom or Stonehenge if that is what you are into. Pet store shelves are lined with fake rocks, corals, and sunken ships, as well as many other oddities. These items have been specifically designed to be in fish tanks. This means that the materials used will not deteriorate when submerged in water for long periods of time.

There are a few things to keep in mind when picking out decorations for your tank. You need to know exactly how big the bottom of your tank is. You also need to keep in mind anything else you might already have. Are you adding plants? How many? The last thing you need to keep in mind is exactly what you want your tank to look like. Many people often go overboard when it comes to picking out decorations for their tank. It can be really easy to do, and let's face it, it's really fun to pick things out for your tank. Just keep in mind how much space you have to work with. Do you really have room for that sunken ship, fake corals, and the giant treasure chest? Sometimes simpler is better. One large piece and a couple of smaller pieces are all you need, especially if you are adding plants.

You might be tempted to add real coral and driftwood. This can be dangerous. You do not want to add any diseases or parasites to your tank. Also disturbing coral reefs is illegal in many places, not to mention extremely frowned upon in the aquarist and diver communities. Since I do not support this practice, I will not discuss it further. But, I will say this: Live coral loses its color once it dies, and wouldn't you rather have fake coral that has a realistic color instead of a white mass in your tank?

Sometimes people are tempted to add things that have not been designed to go in fish tanks. You would be surprised what some people want to use as decoration. Sharp edges, concrete, copper, and plastics that have been painted should not be put in your fish tank. Why? These items will cause problems. Copper is toxic to fish and concrete is going to leach chemicals into your tank. Sharp edges can harm your fish and should always be avoided. Paint can flake off or poison your fish. If you ever put something in your tank and notice that it seems to be flaking or the paint is disappearing, remove it immediately.

When in doubt, do not add it to your tank. It is better to be safe than sorry. After all, do you really want to endanger your fish just for the sake of having costume jewelry in your tank? Always keep in mind that no matter what you add, you want to rinse it thoroughly before it goes in.

Things That Don't Belong in Fish Tanks

Ceramics, wood, rocks, glass, plastics, coins, shells and corals may not be safe decorations for your tank.
Ceramics, wood, rocks, glass, plastics, coins, shells and corals may not be safe decorations for your tank.
  • Ceramics (if you cannot eat off it, don't put it into your tank; they can leach chemicals and heavy metals)
  • Wood (unless it was purchased at a pet store and has been pretreated)
  • Rocks (some rocks have minerals that you do not want in your tank)
  • Shells and corals (in freshwater systems, they will add calcium that the system does not need)
  • Some glass (glass is safe unless it has sharp edges or has been painted)
  • Plastics (general rule of thumb is if it smells like plastic, it doesn't go in a fish tank)

Cleaning Your Decorations

All decorations will need cleaning at some point. Here's how.
All decorations will need cleaning at some point. Here's how.

No matter what you use for decorations, except for live plants, you are going to need to clean it at some point. You are going to need some basic tools to clean your tank and decorations. Scrub brushes with bristles, soft pad scrub pads, and a gravel wash kit are a few of the items that I would recommend. Be sure to get items that go with your tank, and keep in mind that acrylic scratches much more easily than glass, so never use a rough brush or pad on an acrylic tank.

Scrub the algae off of the sides of the tank.
Scrub the algae off of the sides of the tank.

The first thing you want to do is scrub off any algae or gunk from your decorations and the walls of the tank. The hard bristled brush is good for scrubbing the decorations and the soft pads, especially with the long handles, are good for the walls. Once you have scrubbed the algae, it is time for the water change. Cleaning the substrate is easy, and you remove your water at the same time. Two birds with one stone, what is better than that? A gravel wash tube is typically an acrylic tube with a flexible hose that goes into a bucket. The acrylic tube and hose use suction to shake up the gravel and pull dirty water, detritus, and poop through the hose and into the bucket.

You can change your water and clean your substrate at the same time.
You can change your water and clean your substrate at the same time.

How often you should clean your gravel depends on several factors. How many fish do you have? Do you often overfeed your fish? Do you have live plants that lose leaves? Even if your tank has excellent water quality, you should consider doing small gravel washes weekly to remove the excess food, poop, and detritus.

Cleaning the decorations in your tank keeps them bright and the tank healthier. It is also very satisfying to see all the gunk that you remove from the gravel of your tank.

How to Gravel Wash

Methods Behind Gravel Washing

Backgrounds

Many hobbyists opt to have a background on their tank. There are many different options for backgrounds. They come in different colors and patterns. Really, there are no wrong choices, so you can do whatever your heart desires. If you want a plain blue background, go for it. If you want a sunken ship in your background, have at it. If you want a picture of the castle at Disneyland, knock yourself out. If you don't want a background, you don't need to have one. Some people just don't like the look of the wall behind the back being visible from the front of the tank. It is really a matter of personal choice. Personally, it doesn't bother me to see the wall behind my tank, but when I do use backgrounds I make sure that I hide the tape well. I can't stand being able to see the tape; I feel it makes my beautiful tank look tacky.

On a side note: I have never seen the Disneyland castle as a background option at a pet store. But, if you happen to have a picture (and if you don't, the Internet is a lovely place), you can simple have a picture printed to the correct size and laminated. Why laminated? Think about it. At some point, no matter how careful you are, you are going to get water on the background.

Questions & Answers

  • My wife likes to rearrange the layout of our aquarium every week. It seems to make one of our African Cichlids a little more aggressive. Is it ok for her to keep doing this, or should we leave the stuff alone?

    Changing the layout of your aquarium is a good way of adding enrichment. I did it all the time when I worked at an aquarium. For some species of fish, a place to hide is important. For some fish they want a territory to defend. If it is having a negative effect, I'd see if the fish seems to be protecting a particular area or decoration. If that seems to be the case, I'd leave that area alone and rearrange other decorations.

  • Is furnished wood designed for decorating houses acceptable for aquariums?

    For the outside yes. Wood will eventually degrade in water for prolonged periods of time.

  • Is there a home test to see if decorative rocks are ok in fish tanks?

    I don't know of any such test. I'd say most rocks should be relatively safe as long as they aren't painted.

  • Are Legos safe as fish tank decor?

    I don't see why not. Legos don't really have any issues with being in the water. I'd try it. If you notice they get soft spots or start to discolor, I'd remove them.

© 2013 Alex

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    • profile image

      Lisa12367 

      7 days ago

      Hey just wondering are fishbowl bead safe to put in a fish tank or just in slime. Because I keep watching slime videos and they do fishbowl bead slime and I keep thinking are they safe for the fish tank. I only have a little tank and I am getting five new fish because my other ones died and I want some new decorations?

    • profile image

      Oli 

      2 weeks ago

      Hi, I've recently got a 20 L fish tank ( #ImmaMetricAustralian), which is the first fish tank I've had exclusively for me. I've had 13 long years past experience, as my family have always had at least one fishy friend swimming around. I'm going for a coastal theme, and have put in some aquarium sand and started cycling with water that was taken from a tank that has been cycling for a few weeks and is ready for fish, other than the fact that there's nothing in it.

      Getting to the point (: , I was wondering whether I should replace the sand with sand coloured pebbles now, or gradually add pebbles as i do water changes and gravel cleans. Could you give me some advice?

      Sorry about the narrative

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      4 weeks ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @jeremy yes there are glow in the dark decorations you can use in your fish tank. When you go to the pet store these will most likely be with their glow fish products. Some items you may need a black light to get the glow effect.

      @ed it is possible it could be from the metal. Some fish are very susceptible to metals. At the aquarium it was a big deal if pennies were thrown in the touch tanks, even though there isn’t much copper in them anymore. Once upon a time people didn’t know that metals where bad and used copper fittings when plumping public arquariums and didn’t know why thei collections kept dying. Tragic, but now when you go to an aquarium if you look behind the scenes all the plumbing is plastic.

    • profile image

      ed south 

      5 weeks ago

      placed a pirate boat on my tank and in a week 6 fishes died. bought it from a pet store. placed magnet on the sais/posts and it stuck. think the iron is culprit?

    • profile image

      Lori Ann Lojewski O'Malley 

      7 weeks ago

      I bought this beautiful ship for my 110 Gal. freash water tank with in A week the paint is fading and I have now lost 7 fish! I took the ship out and got another large replacement shit, man it is just not the same! I love that 1st one so much! Is their anything I can use to seal that ship and make it safe again for my tank. They are made by Penn Plax for fish tank's.

    • profile image

      Jeremy Shawn 

      3 months ago

      Hello, are glow in the dark decorations safe In a reef tank?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      4 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      Sometimes pumps, even on the lowest setting, can cause too much of a current for fish with long tails. Especially when they are in smaller aquariums. If he is the only fish in the tank and you stay up to date on your water changes you may not even need the pump at all. As for the suction cups and zip ties: the suction cups are fine for in tank use. The zip ties are a little trickier. You want to make sure you have them as short as you can and that the are not too sharp. Anything in the tank with sharp edges can cut your fish or rips his fins.

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      Amber 

      4 months ago

      Hi! I recently purchased a betta from the pet store. He is very active and does not seem scared of ne thing. I noticed he had stress stripes tho so ive been testing his water and checking the temperature like clockwork. One day i forgot and left the pump off after feeding him and it was off for a good 4-5 hours. I noticed that his stress marks disappeared tho. So i am assuming that the pump is whats stressing him out. Only problem is, its already at its lowest setting, and i cant just leave it off. Ive been looking up ways to resolve this and found that it helps to put something in front of it, to sort of disperse the water, so it doesnt make such a strong current (even tho it doesnt really make much current even now). The object i bought is made of silicone and stainless steel. I was planning on attaching it to either side of the wall with suction cups and zip ties. Are these safe to be in the tank with my betta?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      5 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      If you really wanted to spend the money on diamonds yes, you could put them in your tank. Though, it would most likely look unnatural and gaudy.

    • profile image

      Carter K. 

      5 months ago

      Can I put diamonds in my fish tank instead of rocks, or Pebbles?

    • profile image

      Chinobandzzz 

      6 months ago

      Can i put gambling dice in my tank?

    • profile image

      Sheila Thompson 

      6 months ago

      Colorful rocks peel & paint comes off does It hurt tropical fish??? It seems the fish eats the paint that's floating In the water & they stop moving alot just laying around....

    • profile image

      Lynnhankins1@gmail.com 

      6 months ago

      Is it ok to change my fish's decorations every once in awhile.. Will it put stress on fishie. I get bored seeing the same decoratios, but fishie is first and I want him to be happy.

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      Levi 

      7 months ago

      Danielle, if you have a male betta you can't get any other betta fish. They'll fight and kill eachother. Bettas are aggressive fish. You can have a few females in one tank though, but not more than a few, and not in a 10 gallon. It's too small and even females will fight if the tank isn't big enough. I'd say you need at least 20gal for a female sorority.

      You also can't have tetras. They will bite and destroy your betta's fins, male or female doesn't matter. You should focus on researching if fish can even be housed together without incident before you pay attention to their color.

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      Danielle 

      7 months ago

      I got 2 10gal tanks and had inspiration from a betta. I looked forward to the hobby but after he died i don't know i feel like if i get any other fish thell die too (of corse they will) but sooner than expected. Since he passed i have a empty 10 gal and the other tank has a betta man in it. I don't know if i should get any more bettas since they are fragile and im just a dumb newbie but i don't know what other fish i should get. Maby some hardy fish. Lamp eye tetra and other fish? Im not sure. But for the background i like to contrast fish, like if you have a silver color fish than a black background and dark color fish with a white background.

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      Nadia Swayib 

      7 months ago

      Are crystals ok to put in tanks?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      7 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Teresa That's very strange. Is the plastic smell coming from the water? Do you have a filtration system on the tank? Is there a hard plastic cover on the filtration system? I would try rinsing with hot water. Just allow it to cool before you add it to the tank. All of those items are meant to be in fishtanks so they should not pose a risk of leaching chemicals into the water. Make sure that you test your water quality before adding any fish. My best guess is that the smell is from the acrylic tank itself, if it is hopefully it will fade with time.

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      Teresa 

      7 months ago

      Recently I purchased a top fin acrylic 2 gallon aquarium and "Glow" decor, plants and gravel from Petsmart. I rinsed everything thoroughly in cold water. After I put everything in and before I added the water I noticed a very strong plastic smell so I am concerned my betta may be effected. Do you think it will be safe for my betta?

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      LUZ 

      8 months ago

      I have a 50 gallon thank and I have 4 angel fish, 3 mollies, 2 yellow and black panda mollies, 4 tetra and 2 algae eaters. how often I should change the water and how much, I check the water with the strips to check the levels in the water . and how much of the solution I should put just for the new water or for the complete thank I love my fish and all this so confusing some times. I want to add natural plants but I don know witch ones. I need help. thanks

    • profile image

      Nancy 

      9 months ago

      I have a 30 g tank can I put a big seashell that I had for years in it.

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      Lindy 

      9 months ago

      My kids have a 2 or 3 gallon tank with a female beta. They thought it would be cool to use printer paper to line the outer walls with and cut windows and doors that open. Is it bad to block so much of the fish’s view?

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      hotshotpro 

      10 months ago

      awsomeness!

    • profile image

      Unknown 

      11 months ago

      So much facts. Wow. Mindblown. I regret having the idea of having an aquarium. I´m worrying too much but im sure this would help.

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      Zach 

      13 months ago

      can you add plastic glow in the dark rocks to the tank. The rocks are about as big as my thum.

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      Bugles nickname 

      13 months ago

      Is it ok to put a decoration In your fish tank if it isn't in there already because I did that and I took it out just in case it wasn't good for my fish

    • profile image

      Cristina 

      13 months ago

      Hi. We are setting up a new 38 gallon tank. I wanted to know if it’s safe to use old aquarium decor from an old tank. Some of the items have never been used, but they have been packed away for several years. Others were used and I would obviously clean them first to ensure they are clean. Any help is greatly appreciated!

    • profile image

      taffy 

      14 months ago

      this is a good website because i am doing school stuff with fish tanks

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      Jared 

      16 months ago

      I was just wondering, I have some glow in the dark paracord and I don't know if it is dangerous to put ina fresh water tank, I would like to, but if I can't, I would like to know that to. Can anyone help?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      16 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Suzi I am not a fan of using bowls for fish homes. They are often not large enough for the fish they contain and are very difficult to put filtration on. You will end up needing to do frequent and large water changes to make sure that they water chemistry does not become toxic to the inhabitants.

      That being said, I don't really think the color of the glass is going to effect anything besides your own ability to see in to the tank. Clear glass, plastic, or acrylic is most commonly used because it allows people to see directly in to the tank. If you have glass with a pigmentation you might not be able to see inside as well, or the beautiful colors of the fish may not appear in their full natural brilliance. Aside from that, I really can't think of anything wrong with using green glass. If you have your tank set up, I would love to see pictures of it!

    • profile image

      Suzi 

      17 months ago

      Is it okay to use a tank/bowl made out of green glass?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      17 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Riley Let me know how your tank turns out! I love decorating fish tanks. I could get into a lot of trouble at the pet store with all the different decor options.

      One day, when I have the room for it, I would love a 150 gallon tank with ancient Greek ruins, live plants, and small schooling fish (like tetras).

    • profile image

      Riley 

      17 months ago

      I have two goldfish and I was looking on pintrest for some ideas to decorate the tank. Thank you.

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      17 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Meiki Thank you! I enjoy sharing what I know about animals and their care. I've learned a lot in my time as an aquarist. I'm glad you found the article useful!

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      Meiki Love 

      17 months ago

      Really great information and I appreciate that this is all not just opinions, you are actually basing this off experience. It's hard to find answers when everyone has the approach of just being a know it all. You answered everyone's questions and that's nice. Just read a very informative article and had to give you 5 betta fins up for being awesome and truthful.

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      18 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Kim How long did you wait after you set up your tank before you put the fish in? It is possible that the tank had not fully cycled before you put the fish in. While the tank is cycling the good bacteria are building up in the filtration and in the gravel. This is exactly what you want to happen in your tank, they will allow the nitrogen cycle to work in a timely manner. Try to refrain from major water changes are changing out the gravel too often, this could kill off too much of the good bacteria. If that happens your tank will need time to rebuild it's cycle.

      Bacteria blooms will also happen while the tank is cycling, the water may appear to be cloudy during a bacterial bloom. Neon tetras are not the hardiest of fish and would not be a good choice for the first fish to add while a tank is still cycling. If I had to guess I would say the tank had not fully cycled and the tetras could not handle the stress of fluctuations in nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels in the water.

      Investing in a full water chemistry set is a good idea if you would like to learn more about water chemistry. The test strips are fine, but they are not as accurate as the sets with the test tubes. For more information about water chemistry and the nitrogen cycle check out this article here: https://hubpages.com/animals/Practical-Fish-Keepin...

      Best of luck! Fish keeping is a great hobby and can be very rewarding, it just takes a little time, effort, and research.

      @Mike Well, for starters legos are not made to go in fish tanks. It is possible that chemicals could leach out into the water and affect the water chemistry. Worst case scenario it could kill the fish. However, I am not so sure how dangerous legos are for fish. When I worked at the aquarium we would use all kinds of plastic 'toys' in the tanks. Dog kong toys were used to hold lettuce for fish to browse on. Lots of different kinds of children's toys and dog toys were used as enrichment for the octopus and other fishes. But, these items did not stay in the tanks for long term. We're talking maybe couple of hours at the most and never for days on end. Those toys were also clean with hot water and dish soap and then bleached and allowed to air dry for the chlorine to off-gas. I would imagine the legos would float in the fish tank, and would therefore not be suitable for use as fishtanks decor. To be safe, I would stick with something that has been made for use in a fish tank. Hope this helps!

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      Mike Fleary 

      18 months ago

      My friend built and put a sleeping place out of Lego's for his beta fish and I keep telling him to take it out. I need some facts to convince him to take it out.

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      Kim 

      21 months ago

      I bought a 10gal aquarium about 6 months ago I had bought 4 glow fish and 2 neon tetra and the black light for the glow fish. The glow fish would hide under the filters and then after about 1 week they started dying I tested the water with the test strips and it was fine I went to petsmart with a water sample they said it was fine and replaced the fish about a week later it happened again so I got different fish 2 none tetra 2 red lid tetra and then petsmart sold be a bunch of chemicals for the tank I have done complete water changes bought new gravel and my fish keep dying please help

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      Daniel D.- A fish expert 

      21 months ago

      Never buy those one fake jelly fish with the sting that you can attach with a suction cup. One time I bought one because I thought it looked cool well......... I had it and one day I looked at my fish tank and one of the fish had gotten caught in the string and died.

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      22 months ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Madison I have not heard of goldfish being aggressive to other species of fish. I would stay away from betas and gouramis, since they can be aggressive and nip the fins of a brightly colored or long finned fish. But, I would imagine that you would be able to keep medium sized tetras, cory cats, or loaches. You make sure that the other fish are getting all the food since goldfish aren't known for being the fastest fish in the tank. One great thing about the telescopes is that they can tolerate a wide variety of water temperatures, so they are very flexible when it comes to the water parameter needs of their tank mates. Make sure that you have an excellent filtration system on your tank! All goldfish are known for being messy.

      @Mickey Be careful about adding woods. You will want to make sure that it doesn't have any staining on it since it will leech into the water. Wood itself is fine for a tank, just keep in mind the wood will grow algae on it and will need to be cleaned periodically. Also, overtime the wood will degrade and breakdown. Since wood is a porous matter I would not pre-treat it with bleach before putting it in the tank. I would soak it in hot water, not boiling, but hotter than tap, for a little while to kill anything that may be living on it.

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      Mickey 

      22 months ago

      I have an ornament that I would like to use in my tank. It is made of wood. Can it be treated to make it safe for my fish?

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      Madison B. 

      24 months ago

      Hi, I was wondering if there are any fish besides goldfish that I could put in a tank with a black telescope and a calico fantail? I would love a lot of variety with the types of fish and I want the fish to be really the stars of my tank.

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      Jack 

      2 years ago

      Very nice post! Decorating my tank was probably the most fun part of setting up my aquarium. I like your little bit about choosing substrate and how sand can be difficult to work with. I used to use sand for one of my tanks and eventually replaced it all with gravel since it was a chore to clean out.

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      Brandon 

      2 years ago

      My fish is molly fish...so how many time should I feed them per day and put how many food? thanks.

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      2 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @adam sounds like your tank is around 5 gallons. I would personally add a small airstone with a small air pump. You can get one from the store or online that is for 10 gallon and smaller tanks and that would work just fine for your fish. It's better to have the airstone than to not.

      @brandon what kind of fish are they? Different species have different rates of metabolism. I would watch your fish the next time you feed them. Are they able to eat everything you put in? Did they lose interest before the food was gone or were they still looking for more when it was gone? Depending on the type of fish it might be a good idea to give them some food in the morning and at night. Hope that helped!

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      Adam 

      2 years ago

      Hi, I have a 20cm x 10cm rectangular small fish tank and inside I feed two about 2 to 3 inches fishes inside. May I ask that I need to put air pump or not because I heard they said that it didn't have much enough of oxygen in water for the fishes......is there other way to make sure the water have enough oxygen or must put air pump into my small fish tank? Thank you.

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      Brandon 

      2 years ago

      Hello, I have two small fish about two to three inches only. May I ask if I give them food once a day and only a few like six to eight of the fish food grain to them is it enough and ok to my fish ? Thanks.

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      2 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Kai, I would give the rocks a good wash before I put them in my tank. I would rinse them in hot water for a few minutes. If you think they could have something harmful to the fish on them you can soak them in bleach water for ten minutes, give them another good rinse, and let them dry completely before putting them in your tank.

      @Corey, there are fish that betas will get along with. Neon tetras would be a good match if the tank is big enough for more than just your beta. With betas you don't want any long finned fish (no mollys!), or another kind of labyrinth fish (no gouramis). But an algae eater or bottom fish (think cory cat) and neon tetras would be good tank mates.

      @Elton I would add some sort of decorations. You want the fish to be comfortable in their environment. Adding a substrate also increases surface area for good bacteria, this will help your cycle. And having plants, live or fake, will give the fish places to hide and make them feel better in the tank.

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      Elton 

      2 years ago

      Hi, I only feed two poecilia sphenops (molly) fish in a small plastic tank and this is my first time, so may I ask that should I put some small pebbles and fake grass in it for decoration or for the fish breeding?

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      Corey 

      2 years ago

      Hello,

      I have a Male Betta. It seems like he gets lonely at times.. is there ANY type of fish that would be okay to put in with him?

      Thanks

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      Kai 

      2 years ago

      Hi I'm a somewhat beginner, I've done hours of research on new freshwater aquariums and whatnot, but I've only ever had a fish tank when i was little and don't really remember much from then. I have a huge rock collection and would like to put some of those rocks into a new tank. How can I make sure that there is nothing on the rock that will mess with my tank? Is it possible to put them in the tank when cycling it before actually putting any fish in and testing the water? Thank you

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      2 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @HuzaifaMotiwala. I don't think the money plant will live very long completely submerged in water. The plant itself wouldn't be harmful, but as it dies it will mess with the nitrogen cycle. If you can get the money plant to grow hydroponically then you might be able to have the roots in the tank and the tree part on the outside. It would look cool to have little neon tetras swimming around! But, I am not familiar with growing this plant hydroponically, so I don't know if it will work out.

      @Annonymous, I honestly don't know if they will be safe to use. I checked out their website and they sound like they are well made. I would say you can give one a good rinse and give it a shot. I would keep an eye out to see if the paint starts to chip off or if the figurine starts to degrade at all. I think it could be worth a shot!

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      HuzaifaMotiwala 

      2 years ago

      Can I grow money plant in my aquarium?

      Is it harmful for fish ?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      2 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @gerry when I worked at the aquarium we would bleach everything (10% bleach to water ratio) after it came out of a tank. We would soak it for at least 10 minutes and then it would go into a bucket with a thio/water mix, and then we would dry it. At home you can use a splash of bleach, let it soak for a few minutes and then rinse with fresh water until you don't smell the bleach anymore. I would then let the ornaments dry completely, if there any chlorine left of them they will offgass while they dry.

      As long as the ornaments are not made of a porous material you should be fine if you bleach them. In the future I would not use dish soap to wash them as it could cause problems if you do not get all of the soap off. A hoot soak in some hot water or a little bleach water should be all you need. Hope this helps!

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      Gerry 

      2 years ago

      I broke down my tank and cleaned it to start over. I soaked the tank ornaments in dawn dishwashing liquid. The owner of the fish store I buy fish from said I should never use dish cleaner. It will kill the fish, he said. Do I have to throw all the ornaments away? Is there something I can wash those ornaments with that will neutralize the soap? I have been soaking them in plain water for the past two days.

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      Anonymous 

      2 years ago

      Is it safe to use Schleich model animals as decorations in a fishtank?

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      qq 

      2 years ago

      what are those

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      2 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      @Andy, make sure that any foam you use will not leach any chemicals and is nontoxic when dry. That can be a problem with concrete over time as well. Depending on the size of your tank and the size of the item you are making it could be an issue for your system as the concrete will leach chemicals that will make your tank more alkaline in nature. (Which can be helpful if you have a large saltwater system.) I am not too sure about the styrene, but my gut says to leave it out of the tank. It might be better to use the styrofoam to make a mold and the fill the mold with an acrylic like material. Hope this helps!

      @Anne, I would advise against using metal in a fish tank. The rust will mess with your water chemistry and if the fish eat any of the rust flakes it might not be too good for them. Once the stand starts to rust it will continue to erode away. A plastic stand that is not painted would be a better option in my opinion. I'd love to see a picture of the finished product! It sound like a really neat idea. Best of luck!

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      Anne 

      2 years ago

      Long story short, I would like to put a very simple metal plant stand into my 55-gallon tank (5 fish) for decorative reasons. Will the metal or perhaps rust be harmful to my goldfish?

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      Andy 

      2 years ago

      hi, are there any materials like styrofoam or polystyrene that can be carved into shapes, glued together and covered in concrete!? I know the silicone/glue needs to be safe as well as the concrete but I'm not sure about the styrene or foam!?

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      Betsy 

      2 years ago

      Very good condition

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      Crisantonio 

      4 years ago

      That's sad. I just realized I've been putting bad things into my aquarium for years! I love adding decoration, but I never really thought about how it can affect my fish. I haven't taken care of them for about 2 years now; but the next time I do, I'll definitely keep your tips in mind. Thanks!

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      4 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      They do sell dividers so that you can do just that. However, no two fish are exactly alike. One of my roommates in college had a beta tank with a built in divider so she could have two bettas. One of them would always flare his gills and try to attack the divider, the other fish didn't seem to care after the first week. It's possible that if they can still see each other they might behave in a similar fashion.

      Personally, I wouldn't put a divider in my tank. I don't think they look very appealing and I don't want to stress my fish.

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      kim 

      4 years ago

      can u separate the tank so you keep bettas apart or should u do it so they don't see each other also

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      Sp Greaney 

      4 years ago from Ireland

      I think it's nice to add decoration to your fish tank as it makes it looks less sparse. I think purchasing items for your tank in pet stores is ideal as you know that they are safe and meant for that specific purpose. It would be awful to put something in there that you shouldn't and end up killing your fish. Nice hub.

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      Melanie - Texas 

      4 years ago

      Thank you for your reply. After years of not having problems, this did all start when I added the decoration. I got 7 guppies and a male molly too at that time. Some of the guppies had babies, then they all died except for one male. So did the mollies (I already had a female). Even one of the red-tipped finned tetras died, but the other 3 remain. One cory catfish died, but the other catfish are fine, including the Plecostamus. Today I notice the male guppy "feels better," when he seemed somewhat distressed before. It seems all the babies are doing fine. The tank is a 30 gallon. I had put one dose of ich Rx in there, then afterwards, some dissolving fungus pills, as a safeguard. Then it said wait a few days and do a water change before adding more pills. I'm waiting and watching to see if I even need to do that again. I had noticed one fish with a tail problem, but it could've been bitten as well. But that fish did die. The only sickness I noticed was horizontal positioning and gill inflammation, and wriggle waggle distress. What gets me is that the decoration was there, in the pet store, for aquariums. Why would they be selling things that can poison your fish?

    • isharkbait profile imageAUTHOR

      Alex 

      4 years ago from Virginia Beach, VA

      Have you tested your water quality? But, I do agree that it is most likely the new object that you added. Do you still have any living fish in your tank? I think you are on the right path and agree with removing the decoration. I would treat your tank like it is new again. Add new fish slowly and in small numbers. Keep an eye on your nitrogen levels. If there is any toxins still in the tank from the decoration it should disparate with time and water changes.

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      Melanie - Texas 

      4 years ago

      I bought an ornament intended for aquariums at the pet store, at the same time I bought some new fish for the mature tank. I added some Rx to the tank, as I always do when adding new fish. Fish began to die. I couldn't see any symptoms, like ich or fungus. After awhile, I noticed the painted ornament was turning green (from brown). I saw that the paint was chipping, and it scraped off with a fingernail (while wet). I've removed it. Could it be that the ornament has been poisoning my fish? I did about an 80% water change and cleaning. Is there anything else I can do? Thanks

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