I hope you love the products I recommend! Just so you know, I may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI — as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
When you think about aquarium decor, there are probably a few things that immediately come to mind: brightly colored pebbles, rocks, plastic plants, and maybe even a scuba diver with a treasure chest.
But what if you want to do something different to create a decorative fish bowl or tank?
What if you don’t have a stunning aquarium coffee table or gallery view aquarium and you’re looking for a way to make your large 55-gallon aquarium more unique?
If so, we’ve got some great ideas for you.
But before we go any further it’s important you read the following!
How to make fish tank decorations at home:
Before you put anything in your aquarium, make sure it’s not going to affect the water. Stay away from natural things you find outside or anything that has paint, it can chip or be worn away by the water.
If you’re worried (of course you are!) you can test your decor by placing it in warm water for a few days to see how it reacts…Does the paint affect the water? does it flake or rust,? do the water parameters change?
Tip: A lot of aquarists use Krylon Fusion Paint in their aquariums to seal or paint homemade decorations. Kyrlon Fusion comes in a few colours as well as clear. So go ahead & use that old G.I Cobra Comander Figurine, just seal it first.
Here is a great article by Thatpetplace.com that discusses how to decorate a fish tank with household items and a few aquarium safe materials you can use when making your DIY aquarium decorations.
You’ll also need to make sure you clean everything well so you don’t introduce any contaminants into your tank.
Now, let’s take a look at some cool homemade DIY fish tank decoration ideas for your freshwater aquarium.
1. Clay or Cement Pots
Think flower pots.
One placed at the bottom of an aquarium on its side makes a big impact or scatter smaller ones for a really interesting look.
Scrub them well before you place them in the tank.
Another big thing to keep in mind with pots is to pay attention to the drainage holes & sharp edges. Make sure that your fish won’t get stuck or cut.
Your best bet is to either seal the holes or better yet make sure they’re large enough for your fish to swim through.
2. Ceramic Coffee Mugs
If your aquarium is in your office, adding a mug with your business’s logo is a great way to get a little bit of branding in and add an unexpected element to your tank.
3. Plastic Toys
Imagine dinosaurs roaming through your aquarium or farm animals hanging out with your fish… even sand toys buried in the sand at the bottom of your tank.
You could even create an underwater Star Wars Jedi battle.
Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your fish! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and what you can find in the toy store.
Check out these really cool aquarium set up ideas…AWESOME!
4. Prints and Pictures
Putting things inside the tank is not the only way to decorate.
Another option with endless possibilities is simply adding a large print picture to the back of your tank. Sure, you can go the standard route and give your fish a reef to swim in.
But think outside the box!
With a cool poster and some double-sided tape, you can transform your aquarium so your fish can go just about anywhere.
Here is a cool video on how to make your own Aquarium background.
5. Ceramic Figurines
Placing a ceramic figurine into your aquarium can really change the mood of your tank. Choose something colorful and modern for a little bit of fun.
You could also go with something more classic to give a more serious vibe.
Or you can add a little something outrageous that has absolutely no business being in an aquarium.
Any of these choices will definitely make your aquarium a real conversation starter.
6. Toy Blocks & Lego
Go beyond simple toys by building elaborate displays out of Legos.
7. Vinyl Stickers
This is a really simple way to dress up the outside of your aquarium. It’s another fun idea where the choices are almost unlimited.
Place stickers on the sides and around the front edges to create a cool effect. Add simple polka dots or stars. Build a scene from your favorite video game (Super Mario anyone?) or your favorite children’s book. You can even stick with fish if you want!
8. Holiday Decor
Don’t forget your aquarium when the holidays come around! There are a lot of things you can do to bring the fun and festivity to your fish.
Of all the decoration ideas, this one is by far the easiest one to create. All you need is a permanent marker and your imagination.
Draw directly on the surface of the glass to add some cartoonish charm to your aquarium. Doodle a fisherman on a dock, create a little house, design a private island, or whatever you want.
Designs can easily be removed with aquarium safe cleaner so you can erase them and change the scene whenever you want!
10. Picture Frames
This idea works best with small tanks because it all hinges on finding a frame that’s the right size. If you put a frame that’s too heavy on the front of a large tank, it could cause damage or make the tank unstable.
If you have a small tabletop tank, try to find a frame that’s not too heavy and that covers the edge of the front of the tank. Then, remove the frame’s glass and backing so you’re only left with the actual frame itself.