DIY geeky fish tank decor

January 2 | Guest post by metal-otaku

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 6.30.07 PMYou have a barren fish tank sitting on your bookshelf with a lone betta, and a single plant that came with your tank kit and the plastic stones. The poor guy is stressed to death, because you did your research and know your betta likes a densely packed home, not much different than the packrat like conditions you keep yourself in with your epic collectables.

But you've had to cut back on your spending and can't justify buying the cheesy plastic plants at the pet store at such exuberant prices, knowing they are bought from China for pennies. Not to mention the possible pollutants you might put in your tank from poorly made décor not meant for underwater conditions with life. Plus they just aren't your style or taste, and well — you just can't find any premade tank items that are. And let's face it, after watching an episode or two of TANK on Animal Planet, our expectations of what crazy fandom looks our tank can have, and should have, has put us outside the realm of the meager pet store offerings.

Which leaves you with what? Custom order? Pricey. DIY? Immediate thoughts go to the safety and well-being of your fish. Well I'm here to tell you, it can be done safely, and with everyday nerdy items you have around your house! And all you need is hot glue gun and maybe a small clear epoxy kit for aquariums.

Comic books or posters:

Old torn epic comic books or posters with no room to display on the wall? Geeky background! This keeps the fish from seeing their own reflection and being frightened that there's an intruder. Apply with spray adhesive or Elmers as long as you're not a messy water changer. If you are, there are background applicators on the cheap online. You might also want a putty knife for this to make it flush. Save it when you are done and electric tape it to a broken plastic hanger. Voila! Instant algae scraper.

Geeky collectables:

Action figures lying around collecting dust? Getting buried? Well, here is your instant fish tank decoration with bonus anti-dusting display needs! No need for an air tight case to prevent dust. Just drop it in the fish tank! Snails and shrimp will keep them clean and shiny!

Use solid rubber or hard plastic toys, know the paint is lead-free, if it has paint at all on it. Just drop it in, or use the hot glue gun to make arches and caves out of them. If you don't want the critters moving them around, hot glue it to a rock.

For figures with metal hinges, just pick a pose and seal all the joints with the hot glue. A tooth pick might come in handy here. Attaching them to a suction cup and wrapping the arms around the air line makes a great fun air line clip. Coat items with chippy paint with epoxy sealer. If you have a bottom feeder with a rasp (plecos), coat in epoxy sealer any paint that has a large broad surface (big figures), or else the fish will rasp off and eat the paint.

Items made out of resin can be coated with epoxy if painted, and you can rub the paint off easily. Most of these come coated, so the paint will be sturdy. But rinse it thoroughly to get all resin dust off. However, avoid resin if you have a fresh water puffer. They chew on them to work down their teeth. Resin is toxic if ingested.

Ceramic figures or pieces you just had to have because they looked epic on the Goodwill shelf, but you don't really have a place or use for them? (Think awesome antique teacups, cute Asian bowls, or one of those little gnomes kissing the frog on the toadstool.) If it's glossy or for food, drop it straight in. If it's matte, check the paint like the resin pieces. Cups and bowls make awesome caves, so do vases. Exceptions are if they have broken edges. Coat them in epoxy if they are smooth. If they are sharp use the hot glue to make a soft edge.

More reasons to make your own fish tank décor with your collectables:

  • Bring your fandom to your fish.
  • Clear shelf space for more figures.
  • Get out of ever dusting your collection again.
  • Give them a safe haven from your klutzy partner who breaks anything not bolted down.
  • Keep them out of the reach of grabby handed children. (Tell them the fish is a piranha.)

I hope this helps you decorate your tanks to your geekiest desires, while giving a great habitat for your watery pets to thrive in. Don't forget to research your fish to look at what kind of habitat your pet needs — either open spaces to swim or densely packed to feel hidden and safe.

  1. These are awesome suggestions, but I'm shit at keeping fish alive. Maybe I could incorporate them in a (oh so of-the-moment) terrarium. I'd feel a lot less bad about killing plants.

    4 agree
  2. I love that there's a Furry Bones figurine in that first photo! I collect those. I actually have that one in the photo.

    1 agrees
  3. Please remember that while a betta may be displayed for a few hours in a bowl they actually need 1.5 gallons of water per fish to be happy. I had a betta (called Plan B) for over 2.5 years in a 2 gallon tank and he did quite fine…I had snails and the like to help clean the tank since bettas stress out pretty bad with water changes and since the tank had an undergravel filter that also helped a lot.

    4 agree
    • actually a betta needs at least 5 gallons. 10 gallons even better. in their natural habitat they usually have a territory of about 3-4ft around their sleeping spot.

      i keep one in a 10, one in a 20 and one in a 75 gallon. the bigger the tank the more the fish will move.

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  4. Hello I'm the poster of this and I wanted to just say this was only related to decorations for fish tanks and not care of fish. If it is wanted I can do a basic fish care guide, for beginners.

    7 agree
  5. It has been my experience that the fish tank is not the place for things you actually want to keep nice. But otherwise, this is awesome. Also, I would add that random polyhedral dice make a nice colorful addition to the substrate layer. :)

    4 agree
    • as long as you do regular water changes and keep the nitrate under 10 your items won't get algae. lots of live plants help with this to.

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  6. We have tons of action figures/figurines and it is hard to find a home for all of them, what a great way to display them! We've always wanted to get a fish tank, we just need enough space to put a cat-proof fish tank somewhere.

    0 agree
  7. Nice ideas, as I hate some of the crappy tank decor in the shops, just like METAL-OTAKU says, make sure no sharp edges or toxic parts so they don't hurt or damage the fish. We like our tanks more natural looking i.e. real plants, but I like the ideas.

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    • i have turtles natural live plants are food not decor. XD. only my 10gallon can keep plants alive. (betta and shrimp tank) others the live is shredded and consumed.

      0 agree
  8. So- I have a pretty barren tank- Everytime we go to the Pet store my daughter sees some of the decorations and wants to buy them. I just can't justify spending soo much on them though. I was at the Dollar store and they have a bunch of Disney figurines, would they be safe to add to a tank? They look like they are completely plastic figurines.

    1 agrees
  9. I don't seem to like many of the items available on the shelves and was thinking about using a plastic model airplane cut up for a crashed plane display. Feasible? Bad idea? Good idea with the right tools?

    0 agree
  10. Hello, I really like your idea about coating the figurines with a layer of epoxy to make the safe for the fish. My questions are these: exactly what kind of epoxy do I need to be looking to buy? What is the price range? Where can I buy it? I would really like to make some DIY decorations out of Sculpty clay and paint them with acrylics, but I'm not sure what kind of epoxy coating I would have to buy to make them aquarium safe.

    1 agrees
  11. Decoration can change the looks of any item. If it is an aquarium then it will be looks beautiful. A well decorate aquarium can gives a good look to that aquarium. Decoration can be any type, but it should be look better. Thanks for making this Blog to inform about the decoration of water tank.

    0 agree

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