How to Decorate Fish Tank

Last Updated on October 6, 2020

A nicely decorated fish tank will be pleasant to look at and will also give your fish places to hide so they can feel relaxed and have better health. Here are the steps for decorating a fish tank after you’ve got all the decorations together.

1) Set up the filters, heater, and other necessary “plumbing” first

Aside from making your fish feel secure, the main reason to decorate your best betta fish tank at all is to make it look good. The best way to make a tank look good is to cover all the wires and tubes that are required for the tank’s filters and heaters and other parts. And to cover those well, you have to know where they’re all going to be. So get your filters set up with their uptake valves, and your undergravel filters put in, and your heater attached first. Just do NOT plug any of them in until your tank is completely filled with water.

Related: Can I Add Warm Water to a Fish Tank?

2) Get the gravel ready

Now that you’ve got all the “plumbing” in, the next step is to start at the bottom of the tank — the gravel. You will need to wash the gravel at least twice to get the dust off of it. After that’s done, scoop it into the bottom of the tank in plastic or non-breakable bowl. It’s nice if the gravel in the front of the tank is just a bit shallower than the gravel in the back, but you may want to make this adjustment after you’ve put in all the other decorations later.

3) Put up the aquarium background

This can be a bit of a pain if you have your heater or exterior filter set up already, but just take them off again if you have to. Put up the aquarium background so you can’t see all the wires and stuff on the back of the tank. This will make a big difference — with the gravel and the background set up alone, all of a sudden your glass box looks like a real aquarium!

Related: How Big Should a Betta Tank be?

4) Position the larger decorations

Now put in one or two large decorations, like a big piece of driftwood, or that cool skull cave tank decoration that you got. Be sure to wash the new decoration thoroughly in clean water that will not harm your fish first. Even decorations from pet stores benefit from a little rinse before they go into the tank.

Before you put the big decoration in, push the gravel away from where it will sit, then position the decoration, and push the gravel back so it covers the bottom a little. Do not worry if it is not perfect — everything will settle a bit and shift a little when you fill the tank with water. You can do final adjustments after that.

5) Position the plants

Rinse your plants under clean water before they go into the tank. Now take the six to twelve plants you bought at positioning them around the tank. Put them towards the back wall of the tank, and put the taller ones furthest back with maybe one or two of the little short ones closer to the front of the tank. Placing a few plants near the sides of your larger decorations will make the tank look better. You should have at least six plants for even a 20-gallon tank so your fish have plenty of places to hide in. Oddly enough, the more places the fish have to hide, the less stressed they will be, and as a result, you will see them more often, and see their natural behaviors more.

6) Fill the tank with water

Put a small, shallow dish on the gravel, and slowly pour water into that dish. The dish protects the gravel from getting blown away by the water — without the dish your carefully set up tank would look like a hurricane just came through. Keep pouring water “into” the dish even when the water level is six inches or more above the dish.