How To Decorate A Fish Tank With Household Items | Aquascape Addiction

How To Decorate A Fish Tank With Household Items

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We cover the essentials when it comes to using household items to decorate your tank, what is safe to use and what you should avoid using at all costs.

How To Decorate A Fish Tank With Household Items

Decorating a fish tank is always a whole lot of fun. There is no doubt about that. You get to create a little world of your own, one that will house your favorite pets. Now, you might not want to purchase any decorations from your aquarium or pet store. Yes, you might want to save money, or you might just love creating your own decorations out of household objects.

Sure, you can definitely go this way, but there are some things that you need to know. While you can make fish tank decorations out of household items, there are lots of rules to follow and many things that you cannot put in your tank.

Let’s go over the do's and don'ts of decorating your fish tank with household items right now.

How To Make Homemade Aquarium Decorations

Making homemade aquarium decorations is not that hard per say, but there are some rules you need to follow and some things you need to know. There are more than a few things that you should probably avoid putting in your tank.

1. Clay Pots

So, one of the best things that you can use to make decorations for your fish tank are clay pots. Clay pots tend to be non-toxic, kiln fired, and treated so that they don’t leak any chemicals into the water.

You can use clay pots for tunnels and caves, and just as standalone decorations too. Just make sure that any holes are more than large enough to fit your fish without injuring them. At the same time, make sure that there are no sharp edges which might cut your fish.

2. Ceramic Mugs

Although kind of boring, some people have been known to put ceramic mugs and other ceramics into their aquariums. Note, only put ceramics into a fish tank that are rated safe to eat off of. If they are safe to eat off of, they are safe to put in aquariums.

However, if the ceramics are not food grade, you cannot put them in an aquarium as they will leach poisonous chemicals into the water. Some people like using mugs because they can be placed sideways to simulate a cave of sorts.

3. Rocks

Now, rocks are another thing that you can decorate your aquarium with. However, using rocks is a bit dangerous at times, at least depending on the type of rocks you use. The problem with rocks is that they are full of calcium and other materials.

In other words, they can cause the level of water hardness to skyrocket, which is of course not a good thing. A general rule here is that you need to use solid, hard, and non-porous rocks. The harder the rocks the lower the chances that they will leach anything into the water.

You should not be using things like sandstone, limestone, or anything else that is soft, brittle, and very porous. The softer and more brittle the rocks are, the more minerals they will leach into the water.

However, it is not exactly the end of the world, but you will need to use water conditioner on a regular basis to keep the level of water hardness at an ideal level for your fish. Rocks can be used as little platforms, caves, and other such things too.

Many people like to glue rocks together with aquarium glue to make little caves and other formations. Just be sure to use non-toxic aquarium glue. Also, make sure that the rocks are smooth and do not have sharp edges, because you do not want to end up hurting your fish.

4. Plastic Decorations

As far as plastics go, this is a little iffy. Many plastics out there are cheaply made and tend to have lots of toxic chemicals in them. To be quite honest, food grade plastics that are safe to eat off, or child grade plastics that are safe for kids, especially those that like to put things in their mouths, are generally quite safe.

However, when it comes down to it, you probably want to avoid using cheap plastics for homemade aquariums decorations altogether. Besides the dangers which plastics pose, there are just much better things that you could be using.

5. Plants

As far as plants go, if you have plastic and non-toxic plants around the home, you can always put them in your tank. We would strongly advise against using real plants, for one because they can have diseases and bugs on them, and also because you probably do not have any aquatic plants lying around the home anyway that could survive being submerged in a fish tank.

Sure, you can use non-toxic plastic plants and glue them to rocks or anchor them down, but be sure that they are safe and will not leach toxins into the water.

6. Wood

Wood is a dangerous thing to put in your fish tank. There is a reason why pet stores only sell specially treated driftwood, or even fake driftwood. The reason for this is because wood is full of tannins and other substances which can adversely affect the pH level and the hardness (dissolved mineral count) of the water.

Unless you already have specially treated wood that can survive being in water without leaching tannins and other substances into the water, we would advise staying away from homemade wooden aquarium decorations altogether. If you want wood, you are better off buying ready to go wooden decorations from your local pet store.

6. Glass

Glass is one of the best things that you can use for homemade aquarium decorations. Glass is solid, it is hard, and it won’t leach anything into the water. You can use glass rocks or marbles for substrate, you can glue them together to make glass formations, and all of that other fun stuff too.

The only thing that you want to watch out for with glass is sharpness. Fish are delicate, so anything that is thing, brittle, and has sharp edges is a definite no-no where fish are concerned.

Important Tips Before Decorating Your Tank With Household Items

Let’s quickly go over some of the most important things to keep in mind when making household fish tank decorations on your own.

  • Stay away from soft and porous rocks that can adversely affect water hardness.

  • Generally speaking, do not use any kind of wood laying around the home as it will leach tannins into the water.

  • Make sure that anything you put in the tank is safe to have in your own mouth and safe to eat off. Not all ceramics and plastics are safe and non-toxic. You want to stay away from these.

  • Yes, you can use aquarium glue and fishing line to create your own decorations and to anchor them down, but be sure that you are indeed using non-toxic aquarium glue, nothing that will harm your fish.

  • Some people like adding toys like balls, Legos, and other such things into the water. Generally speaking, other than looking nice to your own eyes, they serve no real purpose for the fish, and they might even pose threats to their health.

  • Anything that you put in the tank should be thoroughly washed and scrubbed before being inserted into the aquarium.


At the end of the day, it is definitely possible to create your own aquarium decorations or to just use household items. However, keep in mind that what you put in the tank matters a whole lot, especially where the health and safety of your fish is concerned. Be sure that anything you put in the tank is totally safe and non-toxic.