How to Design an Aquarium


Designing an aquarium, also called aquascaping, is one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of the fishkeeping hobby. The aquarium is a mini replica (or simulation) of the fishes' natural homes, which means utmost care must be taken in designing, preparing and maintaining the tank's elements and ecosystem. Here are some guidelines in designing a successful fish tank.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper and pencil
  • Reference books
  • Internet access
  • Trip to the local fish store
  • Research your fishes' "natural setting" requirements. Making your fishes "feel at home" should be your primary concern. Read reference books and go online. Study the different habitat requirements of all the species in your tank. If you have nocturnal species, you'll need to provide caves and dark corners. Schooling fishes will need adequate open space, while territorial ones will need boundaries and markers.

  • Visit your local pet stores. What do they have? What are the latest tank decoration products? Browse the store's aquarium displays for ideas.

  • Consider using a combination of elements like live or artificial plants, driftwood, rocks, slate, clay pots and plastic or resin figures.

  • Consider maintenance requirements. Some aquarium designs will require tougher maintenance than others. An intricate or complicated design might be difficult to keep clean, especially when algae grow in nooks and crannies and fish droppings gather on deeply recessed areas.

  • Decide on a theme. Putting decorative elements together becomes easy when you have a theme with a focal point to guide you. You can design a castle island, a sunken pirate ship, a tropical jungle or whatever your favorite scenario is. Of course, you can recreate Amazonian forests or African lakes specifically for your fishes that originated there.

  • Draft your design. It always helps to map out your tank layout on paper. You can design several options before you start buying décor. After you've bought the design elements, you can also "dry run" the layout before actually setting them into the tank.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can either design your aquarium and build it before you introduce your fishes or redesign your tank by slowly introducing the décor items after the fishes and ecological elements are already established.
  • Stay away from toxic materials and decor. When designing your aquarium, avoid anything metallic, oily, water soluble or dirty.

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  • Photo Credit Photo by Ronald Bayan
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