When it comes to choosing decorations for your aquarium, you need to consider your fish and what they need, even if it doesn’t fit a particular “vision” for your tank. Do your fishes need places to hide to feel safe? Do they have delicate fins that may tear on rough or pointy décor? What type of substrate might they need?
Also keep in mind that the more decorations you add, especially larger ones, you will be decreasing the total volume of your tank and may be disrupting consistent water flow. You should feel the water flow all around your tank and some large items may require additional flow from air stones or powerheads in order to maintain good water mixing. Always make sure your fish have enough room to swim comfortably as well!
But even with all those considerations made, there’s sure to be a bevy of options out there for accessorizing and designing the best tank for you and your fish.
Best Multipack Plants
MyLifeUNIT Artificial Fish Tank Plants
Large and varied assortment
Easy to install
Soft enough that it won’t hurt fish
Easy to clean and maintain
Can overcrowd smaller aquariums, disrupting waterflow
Some of the more colorful options aren’t very realistic looking
Even though most pet fish are sold in clear tubs packed gill to gill with 50 of their closest cousins, their forever home should be a lower-stress environment. With the MyLifeUNIT Artificial Fish Tank Plants 10-pack you get a great variety of colors, heights and densities to accommodate fish of all temperaments and environmental requirements. You can easily swap out any or all of these items to find ones that your fish prefer. Each plant is made from PVC, with a ceramic base that’s easy to install under most substrates and won’t upset the pH balance in your tank.
Price at time of publish: $16
Best Large Artificial Plant
Lantian Aquarium Décor Large
When it comes to artificial plants, a dense base with lots of stems is a great choice for most systems. Depending on the species you keep, you may go for something shorter that allows for top-swimmers to have open swimming space. For shyer fish, this fake plant provides lots of hiding spaces, while also bringing a pop of color to your tank.
This 18-inch plant from Lantian Aquarium Decor provides dense foliage attached to a single weighted ceramic base, which makes it easy to install in most substrates. It’s perfect for hiding fish in particular, while its combination of green and red should fit in with most tank designs.
Price at time of publish: $11
Best Small Fish Hideaway
MUNLIT Stackable Aquarium Rock Caves
Perfect for shy fish
Available in two-packs
Available with multiple opening configurations
Only available in small-fish sizes
For smaller, shy fish, multiple caves are an absolute requirement. These will provide them lots of options to take a break from their busy aquarium life, and maybe some rambunctious tankmates. These caves can be stacked, to provide a multi-level apartment complex, but are only appropriate for small fishes, such as bettas, small cichlids and tetras.
Price at time of publish: $12 (2-pack)
Best Large Fish Hideaway
Lingxuinfo Scakbyer Habitat Decor Hideout
Natural, painted look
Made of non-toxic resin
Only one opening
With an opening that’s nearly 5 inches high and 9 inches across, the Scakbyer Habitat Decor Hideout is perfect hideout for cichlids and medium-sized saltwater fish. It’s made from non-toxic resin, and painted in a realistic, natural pattern.
While designed primarily for reptile terrariums, this large fish hideaway sinks, making it easy to install on the surface of any substrate. Be sure not to install this cave too snuggly, for you will have to remove it to perform your regular maintenance!
Price at time of publish: $45
Majoywoo Natural Coral Driftwood
High density driftwood sinks, for easy installation
Available in a multi-pack of natural wood shapes
Variety sizing means you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get
Should be boiled or pre-treated before use
It’s important to select wood that’s been specifically treated for aquarium systems. Throwing in any old log from your yard is not appropriate and certain types of wood can secrete compounds that will poison your fish.
This natural coral driftwood assortment comes in a pack of three, each piece unique and approximately 6 to 10 inches long. It’s perfect for a medium to large aquarium system, but Majoywoo also offers a two-pack of even larger driftwood pieces.
For the best installation, boil your new wood for one hour or let it soak for four hours in salt water, which will help release any remaining tannins from the wood. Repeat until the water no longer changes color.
Price at time of publish: $22
Blue Handcart Natural Slate Stone Rocks
Neutral dark color
Comes with 3 pounds of slate
Slate is thin and can only build height by stacking
Should be thoroughly rinsed before use
Substrate rocks can vary widely in size, but if you’re looking to build up some height, you will need some natural shelving. This makes slate the perfect pick for building out aquascapes, since you can create height where you want it with these easily stackable stones. Blue Handcart Natural Slate Stone Rocks come in a stackable multi-pack, which includes a variety of 2-3 inch stones and a larger, 8-inch stone that can be used as a bridge between stacks.
Price at time of publish: $20
Best Landscape Ornament
UNEAK Large Shipwreck Aquarium Decoration
Easy way to add height to aquarium tank design
Comes in two pieces, for a customizable layout
Designed without sharp edges
Too large for small tanks
When it comes to large landscape designs in aquariums, who could ignore the quintessential pirate ship? What makes the UNEAK Large Shipwreck ideal is its 15-inch height, which makes for a dramatic statement piece. Plus, the wrecked ship is split in two, allowing you to separate the two pieces to get the best look and provide extra hiding spaces for your fish.
Price at time of publish: $100
Best Decorative Gravel
Oupeng Coarse Sand Stone Decorative Rock
Neutral but varied color palette
Good size for most aquarium set-ups and fish species
Heavy enough that it won’t be disturbed easily
Only comes in one size
Should be rinsed prior to use
While lots of decorative gravel is shiny or colorful, we like the more neutral sand tones provided by Oupeng Coarse Sand Stone. These small pebbles are appropriate for all sizes of fish and are capable of providing the recommended one inch of substrate for foraging, bottom-feeding fish. It’s also a perfect weight for anchoring live plants and other décor objects.
Price at time of publish: $8
Best Artificial Hard Coral
Danmu Polyresin Coral Ornament
Multiple color options
Realistic design with reliable size
Made of nontoxic and durable polyresin
Will need an occasional scrubbing
Saltwater tanks are known for their brightly colored fishes and corals, but if you’d rather stick to a fish-only system, you can still get vibrant colors without the work. Artificial corals, like the Danmu line, allow you to showcase your brightly colored fish with an equally bright background. This line of artificial corals comes in four colors, so you’ll be sure to find one that works with your design. Unlike live corals, you will need to scrub these to keep their colors their brightest.
Price at time of publish: $18
Best Artificial Soft Coral
Cayway Aquarium Silicone Fish Tank Decorations
Silicone is flexible enough for gentle movement
Multi-pack with interesting assortment
No picking or choosing what’s in the multi-pack
When it comes to selecting aquarium décor, silicone elements are rising in popularity. Rather than a stationary decoration, silicone décor items will provide some movement to your tank. We like the Cayway 4 piece assortment since it showcases four different types of soft color with their own design and color. They have multiple options for you to find the best assortment for your tank. These items will also glow under blue LEDs, making them pop amongst your other décor items.
Price at time of publish: $17
Zoo Med Floating Betta Log
High resting position
Provides dedicated feeding spot
Floats without any additional elements
Free floating (can move around tank)
Floating elements for aquariums are recommended for a small variety of species. Bettas, with their long, flowing tails, require regular rest periods. Many betta fish love this log from what I’ve encountered in practice. It gives them a safe place to rest that is up high in the water column, rather than down on the bottom. This log even has a feeding hole at the top to provide a flow-free space for feeding that limits competition from other fish.
Price at time of publish: $11
Best Budget Pack
Pietypet 25-piece Aquarium Décor
Wide variety and colors
Includes a cave
Cave too small for medium or large fish
This Pietypet set contains 24 various artificial plants, ranging in size from 10.5 to 2 inches, and also includes a rock cave. A wide variety of colors and sizes are represented, and each plant has an easy-to-bury base. Plus, you can even detach each plant from its base for easier cleaning.
Price at time of publish: $15
Best Extra Large
PENN-PLAX Age-of-Magic Wizard’s Castle Aquarium
Realistic, painted look
Can be paired with additional PENN-PLAX castles
Multiple holes and hiding spots
Painted colors can fade over time
Some sharp edges could prove dangerous to very sensitive fish fins
If you have a large tank that needs an extra-large décor item, we recommend PENN-PLAX Age-of-Magic Castle. At over 12” in height and length, you will need a large tank to accommodate such a large structure, but your fish, including your larger fish, will enjoy exploring the castle and its substructure. The base is 7” wide and hosts a large cage, perfect for your larger fish.
If you want an even bigger castle complex, you can combine the Wizard’s Castle with its Part B counterpart.
Price at time of publish: $41
Best Realistic Plant Set
YOJOE Aquarium Plants
Assortment of heights and widths
More “natural” looking plants
Weighted ceramic bases
Not ideal for long-finned species, such as bettas
This set contains five pieces of vibrant green artificial plants that are suitable for most types of fish. Some of the pointier fronds are not suitable for long-finned fishes, such as bettas. This assortment is a more “natural” aesthetic with green foliage and brown-tinted bases/roots.
Price at time of publish: $19
Best Treasure Chest
Penn Plax Action-Air Jewel Box Treasure Chest
Creates movement and oxygenation
Made of durable resin
Usable in smaller tanks
Air pump and tubing sold separately
When it comes to classical aquarium décor, nothing beats a traditional treasure chest. This model connects to an air pump, and the lid will periodically open and release a cloud of bubbles. This really isn’t adding much oxygen to your aquarium, but does provide a fun, animating component to your aquarium tank.
Price at time of publish: $9
Best Novelty Decoration
NICREW Aquarium Volcano Ornament Kit
Provides additional aeration and water flow
Suctions to the bottom of the tank for easy installation
Multi-colored LEDs for variety
Needs air pump, sold separately
What tank is complete with a towering inferno of bubbles? The NICREW Aquarium Volcano Ornament kit comes with a solid resin mountain structure and an aerator/light insert. This system is very easy to install and there are even suction cups on the bottom of the aerator disc to keep it in place. It comes in both a multi-color option or solid red to mimic a lava flow. This decoration will also improve your water flow and oxygen levels while bringing a fanciful element to your tank.
Price at time of publish: $18
Best for Small Fish
Penn-Plax Spongebob Squarepants Pineapple House
Excellent hiding spot for small fish
Medium fish can get stuck inside
No list of aquarium decorations would be complete without an under-the-sea pineapple house. However, this cave really needs to be for small fish only. As a private pet fish veterinarian, I have seen goldfish get stuck in this cave multiple times. I’m not sure what it is about this cave that is just irresistible to try and squeeze themselves into, but then they get stuck and injure themselves trying to get out. So, small fish only.
Price at time of publish: $6
Best for Bettas
Zoo Med Laboratories Betta Bed Leaf Hammock
Easy to install
Available in multi-packs
Will be loved by your bettas
Suction cups need periodic reattaching
It is recommended that all betta tanks have lots of places for bettas to rest. It gets tiring swimming in a ball gown all day! The best option is to install a betta leaf along the side of your aquarium, up high enough where your fish can enjoy looking at their surroundings. Simpler is better for these structures, so the basic Zoo Med Betta Bed Leaf Hammock is a cheap and inexpensive way to greatly improve your betta’s quality of life.
Price at time of publish: $3
Best for Goldfish
Underwater River with Air Pump
Provides additional aeration
Certain fish love playing in bubble curtains
Includes air pump
Goldfish are excellent foragers, so their environment should include some elements that help stir up the bottom debris. What better way to do this than to install an “underwater river?” This trick of the eye utilizes a small bar aerator under a plastic bridge. The bubbles run upwards along the clear insert and up to the surface, creating a bubble curtain that will delight goldfish in particular.
Price at time of publish: $28
What To Look For
Saltwater vs. Freshwater
All commercially made aquarium décor items are safe for both freshwater and saltwater setups. It does not make a difference which you use. If your décor item has any small metallic components, which are not ideal in fish tanks, they will corrode faster in saltwater than freshwater.
In order to successfully install most décor items, you may need to bury them in your substrate. Some will have larger bases that do not make this necessary. If you do not have enough substrate in the bottom of your tank, you may need to add a little more around décor items. Never glue any items to the bottom of your tank.
Whenever you add something new to your aquarium, you MUST make certain it is made of fish-safe materials. Typically, this will be plastics that do not degrade in water or natural rock elements. It is not recommended to take any materials, such as rocks and sticks, from the environment and add them to your aquarium. Even after aggressive soaking, some of these elements are not suitable for your fish’s health.
How do you clean aquarium decorations?
The best method to clean soft, artificial plants is to remove them from the aquarium and soak them for 5 min in hot water. Silicone elements should be cleaned in warm water. After 5 minutes, give them a thorough rinse and light rub before rinsing them in treated water and putting them back in the aquarium. Hard, resin décor can be scrubbed with a dedicated scrub brush under hot tap water and rinsed in treated water before returning to the aquarium.
How do you get algae off aquarium decorations?
The best method to remove algae from your decorations is to remove them from the tank and clean them as listed above. There is no way to avoid algae in a fish tank.
Can you clean aquarium decorations with bleach or vinegar?
It is not recommended to clean your aquarium decorations with any cleaning agents if they are being returned to the same system. If you are using old decorations in a new system, they can be soaked in 10% bleach solution for 10 minutes and then thoroughly rinsed in tap water and then treated water before adding them to the tank. Any suspected Mycobacterial infections should be treated with Lysol, instead of bleach, since this will penetrate the cell wall better.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
In her 10 years as a private practice fish veterinarian and previous owner of a fish store, Dr. Jessie Sanders DVM, CertAqV has seen firsthand the wide variety of decorations available to fish owners. The biggest issue she sees in practice is owners who select items that are not correctly sized for their fish. Adding adequate and size-appropriate hiding places is one of the easiest options to decrease stress in fish and increasing their health overall. Make sure there are enough hiding places for everyone so the fish don’t have to complete over the best one. It is also in the best interest of your fish to mix up their environment every once in a while to provide them more enrichment and mental stimulation.