As pet parents, one of the things we like to do most is take pictures of our pets. I mean what parent doesn’t love snapping tons of pictures and sharing them with random strangers. We all do it. The cashier at Tractor Supply showed me pictures of her dog the other day. And let’s not forget social media! So, I figured, if we’re going to spend all this time taking and sharing pictures, why not take a few extra seconds to make sure our pictures are amazing.
I was cleaning my fish tank the other day and really got to looking at it. I have to admit, sometimes I just replace the water without really paying attention to the decorations :/. Unfortunately, I was not happy with what I saw. The decorations were a bit hodge podged to begin with, having been picked out by a three year old, and they weren’t looking any better for the wear. I really wanted to freshen up the tank, but one, I didn’t like anything at the store, and two, I didn’t want to pay 15.00 for a small Ariel figurine. So I looked into creating my own tank props. Not only does creating your own give your more options, but it also gives you the access to a truly customized fish tank. I have seen some pretty awesome Super Mario tanks and Harry Potter ones. I would love to take my fish out and re-do their tank Hufflepuff style, but my daughter’s a Ravenclaw and they’re her fish, so we went with a tea party set up.
After deciding what to do, I had to figure out how to do it. I have heard rumors of a clear coat that you can add to anything and make it safe for your fish, but to tell the truth I cannot find such a product. I have looked everywhere, but I cannot find a spray, or paint, that is guaranteed to be water proof and safe for fish. What I did find was a great article by That Fish Blog. A quote from the blog said “If something isn’t safe for your tank to begin with, a clear coat isn’t going to make it safe.” I am apt to agree with this statement. If you truly want to care for your water and your fish stick to materials that are safe just the way they are. That said, here is a list of items that are, and are not, safe for your fish tank. Happy decorating!
Unsafe items for your fish tank
Metal – metal items will start to corrode and rust. When this happens it can leach chemicals into your water and will have a bad effect on your quality, and ultimately your fish.
Painted objects – This includes glass, plastic, ceramic or any other item that has been painted. Over time the water will wear at the object and the paint will start to chip off into your water. Also, just because the material is safe does not mean that the paint is.
Objects from nature – It may seem like a great idea to pick up something you found outside and add it to your tank, but this isn’t really the case, for a few reasons. 1: The item you pick up is from a different environment than your fish. Adding coral to your freshwater tank could change your water chemistry to something unnatural for your fish to live in. 2. The item you pick up could have come in contact with chemicals such as pesticides or herbicides.
Rocks that contain calcium carbonate – Which rocks are those? Some of the most popular examples are: Pearls, some marble, onyx, coral, limestone, calcite, and dolomite. These rocks will leach the mineral into your water and raise the PH levels. When in doubt add a drop of vinegar to your rock. If it fizzes up like a middle school science volcano, it’s not safe for your tank. (I’m sorry for anyone who wanted to adorn their fish with real pearls. It would be beautiful).
Cement – Cement is often made with lime and therefore can be unsafe for your tank just like the rocks above.
Objects with sticky decals – These are objects that have stickers on them for example. As with any sticker the glue will dissolve while sitting in water and you will end up with the glue and the sticker loose in your tank
Safe items for your fish tank
Glass – Clear or colored glass is perfectly safe for your tank. Make sure the glass is fully colored, not just painted, and clean it well before giving it to your fish. Some examples are glass jars or colorful glass bottles. Items like these also make great hiding spots for your fish.
Plastic – The same rules apply to plastic as to glass. As long as it is: clean, not painted, and doesn’t have a sticker on it, plastic should be perfectly fine in your tank. By the way, this includes Legos. If you can build it, you can decorate with it!
Ceramic – Ceramic items such as plates and cups are just fine for your tank. Many of these items can also serve as great hiding places. I used ceramic items to redesign my tank, and Lindsey loves the creamer dish.
Store Bought River Rocks – These rocks do not have calcium carbonate and add a clean natural look to your tank. Mix up large and small rocks for a natural soothing substrate.
Terracotta – Terracotta is a great addition to your tank as long as it has not had any harmful chemicals in it such as fertilizer or pesticides.
Sticker and Vinyl Decals – True, you can’t put these one the inside of your tank, but feel free to decorate with it on the outside. They make for a super cute wall paper.
I hope this list helps you create the perfect customized fish tank. If you decide to redesign, don’t forget to head over to the Loved and Pampered Pets Facebook page and share your pictures. I’d love to read your comments.