Ornaments and decorations
Here at The Fish Room, we are not the biggest fans of using fake plants and decorations as we prefer to go with a more nature based them in our aquariums. That being said, there is some fantastic options around if that is the style of aquarium that you find appealing. Often fake plants and ornaments can be a little pricey, but they have the advantage of never dying on you- which means that are long term investment as long as you look after them. Removing them often and cleaning them in a bucket of aquarium water and an old toothbrush will keep them looking in tip top condition for a long time. If you decide to change your decorations around be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight to keep them looking good between use.
Many hobbyists (including us at The Fish Room) prefer the natural look for their home aquarium. These are normally stones, wood, spider wood and leaves. Often most of these can be collected from local beaches or river ways. If you are collecting your own decorations, some cautions need to be made. With wood, it is recommended to only use hard woods as soft woods can root and leech into an aquarium very easily. Always check for rotten spots on the wood, remove them if possible so if does not disintegrate within your aquarium. Some people choose to boil wood they collect to get rid of any nasties. We prefer to use wood from the beach, we give them a quick water blast to blow anything off of it and then rinse it is water to remove any salt residue.
When collecting rocks a good way to test if they are suitable is to poor some vinegar on them, if they sizzle they are not to be used, if they do not sizzle they will more often than not be okay to use. Once we have done the vinegar test, we give rocks a quick scrub and rinse and we then use them.
Of course, there is always the option of buying your wood and rocks from an aquarium or pet store. The advantage of this is that you only have to select your bits and away you go. Any good store should have a good range of both wood and rock for you to choose from and often then stock some very nice exotic bits of spider wood and other dark woods that are hard to find in the local conditions. Of course, a lot of the fun in aquarium keeping is finding your own natural decorations.
Adding a background to your aquarium has several benefits, both to your visual enjoyment and the comfort of your wet pets. They are often used to hide power cables behind the aquarium and can also add great depth to an aquarium if used correctly.
Aquarium backings can be done in several ways, all good aquatic stores will carry rolls of backing paper which you can glue on to the back of the aquarium. This normally come double sided often with one side being a planted picture back drop and the other more rock and wood based. Aquascaping hobbyists also use a misted clear backdrop to add depth and a hint of focus to their scapes.
Hobbyists will often paint the back of their aquarium before they put it into place. Common colours for this is black and blue. Black gives great depth to your aquarium and can make brighter coloured fish really pop, however darker colour fish tend to blend in and get darker with a black background. Blue is a great natural colour to use and most fish tend to stand out really well with this colour behind them.
We have also used a bright green painted background before on a densely planted aquarium, this gave a fantastic contrast on red plants as well as a sense of the aquarium being far fuller of plants due to the green colour.
It is becoming more and more common for hobbyists to either make their own 3d background from polystyrene or to purchase store bought 3d units. 3d background can really finish of an aquarium if the right one is used in the right scape/set up.
Now we have gone through what you will need to make your aquarium gorgeous in part 4 we can go through what other items you will need as a part of your aquarium keeping kit.