You 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.
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.