Best DIY Fish Tank Decor Easy To Make Creative Ideas

Estimated read time 17 min read

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.

Further Reading: Liven up your aquarium with some great fish tank decorations. Find the latest fish tank decor ideas.

Table of Contents

My Top 5 Favorite DIY Fish Tank Decorations From The List Below

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 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.

Here Our Homemade Fish Tank Decoration Ideas

1. Clay or Cement Pots

Flower Pots (7958675534).jpg

By Simon Q from United Kingdom – Flower Pots
Uploaded by tm, CC BY 2.0, Link

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.

Don’t limit yourself to terracotta—there is a wide variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors available!

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

Bob Ross Heat Changing Mug - Add Coffee or Tea and a Happy Little Scene Appears - Comes in a Fun Gift Box

Get The Bob Ross Mug

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.

That said, this idea works for home aquariums, too! Putting in a funky mug or two (or three!) makes your aquarium a real conversation piece.

3. Plastic Toys

Can you find a comic book hero?

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 Jedi battle with some Galactic Star Wars Decorations!

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

Buyartforless Imagination Keep Your Eyes on The Stars and Your Feet on The Ground Art Print Poster
Get The Stars

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!

How about swimming in a starry forest? Taking their VW van to surf at the beach? Or maybe your fish want to hang out in outer space?

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.

make your own aquarium background video

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

In search of the Little Mermaid

Go beyond simple toys by building elaborate displays out of Legos.

There are so many possibilities. You can go a more traditional route and introduce some deep-sea explorers or even build an underwater palace.

But don’t stop there. Set up camp for a Lego family. Build an underwater ferry or create your own deep-sea Alcatraz. Create the New York City skyline.

Read our post to find out if Lego is okay to use in your aquarium and how to make it safe.

7. Vinyl Stickers

Cool Sticker 100pcs Random Music Film Vinyl Skateboard Guitar Travel Case Sticker Door Laptop Luggage Car Bike Bicycle Stickers (100pcs)
Get Some 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

Goldfish and skulls

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.

For Halloween, add some skulls & skeletons or fill the tank with scary spiders. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to add a Lego feast for your fish or add a colorful fall backdrop.

There are so many possibilities for Christmas: Add snowflakes to the outside of the tank, let some reindeer hang out with your fish, or just get some little gifts for Santa to leave for your fish.

9. Doodles

Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker 80's Glam , Pack of 24
Get Some Sharpies

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

RPJC 11 x 14 Picture Frames Made of Solid Wood and High Definition Glass Display Pictures 8x10 with Mat or 11x14 Without Mat for Wall Mounting Photo Frame Black
Get Some Picture Frames

For an easy way to draw attention to your aquarium and make it match your existing decor, add a simple picture frame to the front.

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.

Get some picture hanging strips, attach them to the tank and the frame, and there you have it! You can choose something simple or go with one that’s a little funkier.

Guide To Transform Your Aquarium with Stylish Ornaments

Aquarium enthusiasts understand the importance of creating an environment that is not only visually appealing but also conducive to the well-being of their aquatic friends. The best way to enhance your aquarium’s aesthetics and functionality is through DIY fish tank decor. In this article, we’ll explore why DIY fish tank decor is such a good idea and how it can cater to the needs of aquatic plants in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Materials for Your DIY Fish Tank Decor

A. Lava Rocks: A Natural Choice for Aquarium Use

One great idea for DIY aquarium decorations is to utilize lava rock, which not only adds a rustic charm but also provides a great hiding spot for small fish.

B. Embracing the Beauty of Live Plants

Incorporating live plants into your decor is a stylish fish tank DIY ornaments option that promotes clean water and a vibrant ecosystem within your aquarium.

C. PVC Pipe: An Innovative DIY Aquarium Ornament

PVC pipe offers an innovative way to create tunnels and caves, providing a safe haven for timid fish.

D. Getting Creative with Buddha Statues

Adding Buddha statues to your aquarium decor introduces a touch of tranquility and a unique element to your underwater world.

E. Adding a Splash of Color with Acrylic Paint

Enhance your decorations with acrylic paint, giving you the freedom to choose different colors for a truly personalized aesthetic.

F. Ensuring Safety with Silicone Sealant

When working with various materials, such as lava rock and PVC, using silicone sealant is crucial for both underwater use and long-term durability.

Creating Stylish DIY Ornaments

A. Using Aquarium-Safe Paints for a Unique Touch

Achieving a unique touch in your aquarium can be accomplished through aquarium-safe paints, allowing you to express your creativity safely.

B. Building DIY Aquarium Decor with PVC and Lava Rocks

Combine PVC and lava rocks to craft stunning underwater landscapes, following inventive ways to arrange them.

C. Sculpting Clay Pots for a Natural Look

Clay pots are a versatile option for crafting natural-looking aquarium decor, providing a touch of authenticity.

D. Crafting Your Own Lighthouse Decoration

lighthouse decoration can add charm to your underwater world, providing a focal point that both you and your fish will enjoy.

E. Thinking Outside the Tank: Innovative Ways to Decorate

Explore inventive ways to decorate, such as using water bottles and plastic bottles, turning them into unique ornaments.

F. Incorporating Feng Shui Principles in Your Fish Tank

Consider the principles of Feng Shui when arranging your decor to promote harmony and balance in your aquarium.

Step-by-Step DIY Plan

A. The First Steps: Choosing the Right Materials

Learn the initial steps of your DIY plan, including selecting the best method and gathering materials from your local store or online with free shipping.

B. Designing Your Decorations with Safety in Mind

Ensure that your decorations are safe by using only aquarium-safe glue and considering the toxic paints that should be avoided.

C. The Best Method for Adding Finishing Touches

Discover the best method for adding finishing touches to your creations, making them truly stand out in your aquarium.

D. Aquarium Enthusiast’s Guide to Regular Maintenance

For long-lasting decor, follow the aquarium enthusiast’s guide to regular maintenance to keep your DIY ornaments in pristine condition.

DIY Decor Ideas for Small Aquariums

A. Transforming Small Tanks into Big Things

Learn how to make a small aquarium a grand statement with carefully chosen decor elements.

B. A Timid Fish’s Dream: Creating Hiding Spots

Provide a safe haven for timid fish by incorporating hiding spots into your decor scheme.

C. Showcasing Betta Fish in Style

Discover stylish ways to showcase Betta fish in your aquarium, creating an environment tailored to their needs.

Safety Considerations and Tips

A. Using Only Aquarium-Safe Materials

Always prioritize the use of aquarium-safe materials to safeguard the health of your aquatic pets.

B. The General Rule for Toxic Paints

Understand the general rule when it comes to avoiding toxic paints, ensuring the well-being of your fish.

C. Ensuring Water Quality with Proper Filtration

Maintain water quality through proper filtration, which is vital for the health of your fish and the longevity of your decor.

D. A Word on Carbon Dioxide in Your Aquarium

Learn how carbon dioxide can affect your aquarium and how to manage it for the benefit of your aquatic plants.

Additional Creative Elements

A. Incorporating Artificial Plants for Low Maintenance

Consider using artificial plants as an easy option for adding greenery without the need for constant care.

B. Upcycling: Turning Plastic Bottles into Decor

Upcycle plastic bottles into unique decor pieces, showcasing your eco-friendly approach to aquarium design.

C. Aquarium Silicone: Your Versatile DIY Tool

Discover the versatility of aquarium silicone in creating and maintaining your DIY decor.

D. Duct Tape and Hardware Store Finds: Unexpected DIY Materials

Explore unexpected materials, such as duct tape and hardware store finds, to add character to your aquarium.

E. Untreated Wood and Chimney Flue: Rustic Aquarium Decor

Create a rustic aquarium vibe by incorporating untreated wood and chimney flue into your decor scheme.

Making Your Decor Stand Out

A. Choosing Different Colors for a Unique Aesthetic

Enhance your decor by choosing different colors, giving your aquarium a one-of-a-kind aesthetic.

B. The Art of Creating a Fish Tank Background

Learn the art of creating a fish tank background, adding depth and dimension to your underwater world.

C. Coral Reefs: Adding a Touch of the Ocean

Bring the allure of the ocean to your aquarium by incorporating coral reefs into your decor.

Where to Find Materials

A. Exploring Your Local Pet Store

Begin your DIY journey by exploring your local pet store for inspiration and materials.

B. Pet Shops vs. Online Retailers: Comparing Options

Consider the pros and cons of pet shops versus online retailers when sourcing materials for your DIY projects.

C. Enjoying Free Standard Shipping for Your DIY Needs

Take advantage of free standard shipping options when ordering materials online for your DIY aquarium decor.


A. Embark on Your DIY Fish Tank Decor Journey

With the knowledge and inspiration provided in this article, you’re ready to embark on your DIY fish tank decor journey.

B. Creating Your Own Aquarium Decorations for the First Time

Whether you’re a seasoned aquarium enthusiast or a beginner, creating your own aquarium decorations for the first time is a rewarding experience.

C. Achieving Perfect Decor

ations for Your Aquatic Haven Strive for perfection in your aquatic haven by customizing your decor to suit your unique style and the needs of your fish.

D. Elevate the Beauty of Your Aquarium with DIY Ingenuity

With a touch of DIY ingenuity, you can elevate the beauty of your aquarium, creating a stunning underwater world that both you and your fish will enjoy. Good luck!

What household items can you use to decorate a fish tank?

There are many household items that you can use in your aquariums. Here are just a few ideas;

  • Clay or Cement Pots
  • Ceramic Coffee Mugs
  • Plastic Toys
  • Prints and Pictures
  • Ceramic Figurines
  • Toy Blocks & Lego
  • Vinyl Stickers
  • Holiday Decor
  • Doodles
  • Picture Frames

Can I paint my aquarium decorations?

A lot of aquarists use Krylon Fusion Paint in their aquariums to seal or paint homemade decorations. Krylon Fusion comes in a few colors as well as clear. So go ahead & use that old G.I Cobra Commander Figurine, just seal it first.

Looking to paint your aquarium? Check out our guide where we’ll help you choose an aquarium safe paint that’s not toxic for the fish in your aquarium.

What is the best thing to put on the bottom of a fish tank?

The best thing to put on the bottom of your tank is a substrate. This can be gravel, rock, aqua soil even marbles. The substrate is where the most beneficial bacteria will grow. So use something with a lot of surface area to provide a great place for your good bacteria.

Take your tank to the next level with some of our most popular aquarium DIY projects and ideas.

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