Decorating your aquarium can be fun and gives you an opportunity to show off your individual style. Whether you want a pirate ship or a mermaid rock, you’ll want to choose aquarium décor that not only looks great but also serves a function.

For one, décor items in an aquarium should make the fish feel more comfortable. When a fish feels exposed, it undergoes stress. If your aquarium offers places to hide, the fish feel more at home knowing that if they need to hide from others that space is available. This improves their health, including encouraging them to spend more time out of hiding. As long as the fish knows there is a place to hide, their sense of well-being improves.

Decorations can be made up of soft or hard cover items that mimic the environment the fish are used to. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your pirate ship. It still simulates hard cover like rocks or other solid objects, provided your fish like that type of cover. Soft cover items are usually made out of living or artificial plants.

Be careful when introducing items not made for aquariums, such as ceramics or random stones you have found outside. These items may be toxic to the water and fish. Usually, it’s best to stick to items designed for aquarium use.

Most fish feel comfortable with 50-75% decorative cover. This may mean a lot of items in your tank, but it will help fish feel as if they’ve never left their natural cover. To ensure that all the cover doesn’t get in the way of seeing the fish, put larger plants towards the back and smaller items up front. Additionally, tall decorations can be used to hide filters and tubes, giving your tank a more natural appearance. Using the rule of threes can also keep your decorations appealing to the eye.

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