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Which aquarium decoration is best?

Aquarium decorations aren’t just about making your fish tank look good. They also provide hiding spots to help your fish feel safe. It’s important that you choose suitable aquarium-safe decorations that won’t affect water quality or injure your fish. 

When considering what types of decorations are right for your fish and aquarium setup, think about the size and materials. The Penn-Plax Castle Aquarium Decoration is ideal for medium-sized and large tanks. 

What to know before you buy an aquarium decoration

Types of aquarium decorations

Consider what type of aquarium decoration you want for your tank. Some might also consider the floor of the tank as a type of decoration, but it also provides enrichment for bottom-dwelling fish. 

  • Ornaments: These are usually made from resin or some type of ceramic. They come in a wide range of designs and sizes, so there’s something to suit most tanks. They’re usually hollow with two or more openings so fish can easily hide inside. Resin is a common ornament material. Once cured, resin is completely inert and safe to use in fish tanks. You can easily mold it into practically any shape, making it ideal for all kinds of ornaments.
  • Natural driftwood: Natural driftwood makes an attractive addition to an aquarium, but only if it comes from a reputable aquarium supply manufacturer and is properly cured. Never use found driftwood in a fish tank.  However, it can still leach tannins into the water, causing discoloration. 
  • Artificial plants: Some fish like to hide among plants, but planted tanks require a lot of maintenance. Artificial plants are the next best thing. Silk plants made from fabric (but not real silk) are gentle on fins, too. 
  • Rocks: You can use rocks as aquarium decor but, as with driftwood, don’t use rocks that you’ve found. Instead, buy ones that have been specifically cleaned and treated for aquarium use. Some rocks can leach harmful substances. Safe rocks for freshwater aquariums include lava rock, quartz, basalt and slate. For marine aquariums, look for reef rock, such as Fiji rock or Tonga branch rock. 


Check the dimensions of any decorations you’re considering to make sure they fit your tank well and comfortably accommodate your fish. 

  • Small:  Decorations shouldn’t take up too much of your aquarium as fish need space to swim around, so if you have a compact fish tank, choose small ornaments of around 4 inches or less. 
  • Medium: Medium ornaments of around 5 to 8 inches are great for mid-sized tanks and accommodating bigger fish. 
  • Large: If you have a large tank, it can fit larger ornaments of around 8 to 14 inches. These are perfect for big fish or groups of smaller fish to hide in. 

What to look for in a quality aquarium decoration

Smooth openings

Good decorations for fish tanks shouldn’t have any sharp edges that could injure fish. However, smooth openings are of the utmost importance, as fish are more likely to catch their bodies or fins here than anywhere else. 


You can find decorations in a range of styles, from simple logs to classic treasure chests and castles to whimsical underwater designs. 

How much you can expect to spend on an aquarium decoration

Basic ornaments and fake plants cost less than $10, while large and elaborate ornaments and treated driftwood can cost as much as $50-$100. 

Aquarium decoration FAQ

Do fish like decorations in their tanks? 

A. Any fish you keep in a home aquarium like tank decorations because it gives them places to hide. Even though your fish doesn’t care if their environment looks pretty,  the cover the decorations provide makes them feel safer and more secure. 

Are aquarium decorations safe? 

A. In an ideal world, any product sold as an aquarium ornament or decoration would be 100% safe. However, you may discover unreliable sellers that sell decorations with sharp edges or toxic materials. As such, it’s always best to buy decorations from reputable brands. Before putting any ornaments in your fish tank, check for sharp edges, especially around openings, and file them down if necessary. 

Do you have to clean aquarium decorations? 

A. Yes, you should clean decorations before you first put them in the tank and whenever there’s significant algae build-up. You don’t need to do anything fancy — just give them a scrub with hot water and an aquarium cleaning brush or soft toothbrush.

What’s the best aquarium decoration to buy?

Top aquarium decoration

Best Penn-Plax Castle Aquarium Decoration

Penn-Plax Castle Aquarium Decoration

What you need to know: Measuring 14.5 inches tall, this decoration is perfect for mid-sized and large aquariums. 

What you’ll love: It’s made from a safe and durable resin that’s painted for realism. It has plenty of different spots for fish to hide in. Since it’s double-sided, it will look good no matter where or how you place it in your tank. 

What you should consider: Some buyers report receiving their castle broken — but you’ll be able to get a refund or replacement if this happens. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top aquarium decoration for the money

Best Marina Naturals Pickerel Silk Plant

Marina Naturals Pickerel Silk Plant

What you need to know: This soft-feeling fabric artificial plant is non-toxic and won’t scratch or injure fish. 

What you’ll love: It’s a great choice for fish that like to hide in plants, and you don’t want to maintain real ones. You can choose from medium or large sizes. It looks realistic and won’t fade. 

What you should consider: The edges of the leaves shred slightly over time. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Hygger Poly Resin Wood Trunk Aquarium Ornament

Hygger Poly Resin Wood Trunk Aquarium Ornament

What you need to know: Suitable for small tanks of up to 20 gallons, this resin log ornament looks good and gives ample hiding space. 

What you’ll love: It’s hand-painted for a realistic effect. It has three separate openings, so fish have various ways to enter and exit. It’s small enough for compact tanks but still relatively roomy inside. 

What you should consider: You may need to file down the edges for fish with delicate fins. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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