Aquarium Safe Paint That’s Non-Toxic For Fish?

Estimated read time 9 min read

In this article, we’ll discuss a few ways to use paint inside your aquarium safely.

Painting your aquarium is an easy way of keeping out unwanted light, hiding cords and filters, and adding to the tank’s aesthetics.

However, not all paints are safe to use in an aquarium as most can be toxic to fish.

But more on that later;

Before you look for aquarium safe paints, it is important first to figure out what part of the aquarium you will actually be painting.

So let’s begin,


Using Paint Inside Your Aquarium

All painted objects, such as decorations and pipes, should be carefully analyzed before being put inside the aquarium.

If some of the paint was to peel off or leach chemicals into the water, it could prove very harmful to the fish.

Who would have thought, eating paint chips was a bad thing?

If you wish to paint objects inside the fish tank, you can use one fo the paints listed below or continue through this article to help you choose the safest paints for your task.

Overall Best Types Of Paint To Use In An Aquarium

Painting Aquarium Glass On The Inside Of Your Tank

Krylon Fusion spray paint might be perfect for plastic and PVC. But it’s not exactly suited for being used on the glass inside an aquarium.

Instead, the best paint for aquarium glass is actually Performix Plasti Dip, great name right?

Performix Plasti Dip: Safe Paint To Use On Aquarium Glass

This is also sprayed paint, but unlike the Krylon Fusion, it is very well suited for glass as it dries up to form a thick rubbery material.

The Performix Plasti will not crack or flake underwater, and you can also use it on other objects and decoration pieces inside the tank.

This will also give these objects a unique look.

If your fish love eating algae off of surfaces, and who doesn’t love that, then don’t worry because they will not be able to bite off the “rubber.”

Just make sure that the paint is properly cured before putting the object back inside, and it should be very safe.

Is the Plastikote aquarium safe?

Plastikote is a similar product to Plastidip. However, plastidip forms a rubber coating that is safe for use in your aquarium.

Plastikote is an enamel based spray paint and not recommended for use in your aquarium.

Safe Aquarium Paint For The Outside Of Your Aquarium

Essentially, all paints are safe to use outside aquariums since they do not come into contact with the water and fish inside.

The outside of the aquarium constitutes the glass tank, stand, and any plastic or steel bodywork.

The back of the glass is the most widely painted part of the aquarium as it is an alternative to adhering a backing to the tank.

Having a background makes your fish and decorations stand out and block out any unwanted light.

Although it does not really matter what type of paint you use outside of the aquarium, most people still prefer to use acrylic paint or Plasti Dip.

You can even go with matte paint to completely block out any light.

Just choose a paint that is better suited to your purpose and makes your aquarium look beautiful.

Non-Toxic Paint For Plastics and PVC In Your Aquarium

The most common material that you will find in aquariums is plastic, plastic pipes, plastic plants, plastic ornaments, and on and on.

The best way to paint all this plastic is with spray paint.

Not only is spray paint easy to apply (since you don’t need brushes), it also doesn’t make a mess, as long as you can point the nozzle where it needs to go.

Spray paint can actually be a great way of strategically hiding all the PVC pipes inside your aquarium, just make sure you paint the pipes the same color as the background.

If you want to keep things simple, you can take a black spray can and paint the PVC pipes so that they “disappear” against the black background.

Keep the layer thin and even to prevent it from dripping, but if you want a stronger color, you can always go for more paint layers.

The most widely used spray paint inside aquariums is Krylon Fusion spray paint; this paint is specially designed to be used inside reef tanks but you can also use it in a freshwater aquarium.

Krylon Fusion Aquarium Safe Paint For Plastic

Krylon Fusion aquarium safe paint’s primary advantage is that once applied, it holds on to PVC, plastic, and resin very well.

Another reason for Krylon Fusion’s popularity in comparison to other paint brands is that it offers a wide range of colors. So, if you want to paint your tank red and green then I can’t stop you, but you should really reconsider your plans.

The paint itself dries in just 15 minutes, leaving behind a smooth finish, even when used by amateurs, which is great for me.

To ensure that it does not flake or chip off, let the paint cure for at least a week.

Once cured, rinse with water to wash away any dust particles or residue left on the paint’s surface.

Note: Clean and sand the object before painting it thoroughly. Making it smooth will further reduce the chances of any flaking or chipping.

Is Rustoleum safe for aquariums?

Depending on which Rustoleum product you are using, it may be safe for use. Many spray paints on plastics and metals bond to the surface and eventually become inert, making them safe for use in your aquarium.

That said, we recommend Krylon as it’s used by most aquarists and is known to safe for aquarium use.

Related: Aquarium Safe Silicone

Paint For Everything Else In Your Aquarium

The advantages of spray paints are clear, and we have highlighted 2 that can be safely used on 2 different types of surfaces.

However, spray paint might not be the best option for other surfaces inside fish tanks such as styrofoam, bricks, or cement.

For these types of surfaces, you can safely use Drylok.

Drylok Masonry Waterproofer

Okay besides sounding like a great name for a dungeons and dragons campaign! this paint is specifically designed to resist water and is extensively used inside fish ponds, birdbaths, and increasingly to make 3D aquarium backgrounds.

Drylok is not exactly paint since its primary function is to act as a seal and prevent water loss.

Original Drylok is white, and even though colorful variants are available, they are not considered safe to be used inside aquariums.

If white is too boring and you are looking to add a pop of color inside your tank, you can mix Quickrete Liquid Concrete Paint with Drylok.

This paint comes in a variety of colors and is safe to use inside fish tanks.

The fun part about this is that it allows you to create shades and colors of your own choice by mixing different Quikrete paint.

Can you paint your aquarium ornaments?

You can use many kinds of paint and sealants that are safe for your aquarium decorations. The most common are two-part epoxies to latex-based acrylic paints.

However, always ensure that the paints you use are aquarium safe and do not contain any mildew preventing ingredients.

Click here to learn how to make fish tank decorations at home.

What To Look For In An Aquarium Safe Paint?

If you’re going paint shopping for your aquarium, you should be wary of unsafe paints for use in a fish tank.

Here are a few telltale signs that will let you know whether the paint is aquarium safe:

Be on the lookout for paints with labels such as ” ‘for use in potable containers” or “food safe.” These types of paints do not leach chemicals into the water and are safe for fish.

However, even if you use aquarium-safe paint, it is still important to wait for the paint to cure so that it becomes inert, meaning that all solvents have fully evaporated.

Unless cured properly, all types of paint can be toxic inside a fish tank.

Also, it is important NOT to use mold-resistant paints to be harmful to fish.

What Happens If You Use The Wrong Paint In Your Aquarium?

Water can be a cruel environment for paint; the constant pressure means the paints might absorb water. The paint will then start to peel off or form bubbles on its surface.

These can then be confused by fish as fish flakes or surface algae.

Needless to say, eating paint can be quite harmful to fish and, in some cases, can kill them as well.

Wrong types of paints or paints that have not been cured properly can also release toxic chemicals into the water.

This can end up slowly poisoning the fish, making them sick or killing them.

Video: Spray painting aquarium PVC pipes to black

Final Thoughts

If you plan on painting your aquarium, it is essential to use paint that is safe for your fish.

We hope that our guide will help you choose the right type of paint.


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