from the blog

How to Achieve a Natural Appearance in Your Aquarium

Care and maintenance

Tips and setup

September 26, 2020

Natural Habitat Beauty

Many aquarium hobbyists advocate for establishing a “natural” appearance in home tanks. It is commonly believed that the more closely you can mimic the natural environment of your fish, the happier and healthier they will be. While things such as diet and water parameters play a large role in mimicking the natural environment of fish, tank decoration is important as well. In the wild, fish use their environment to build nests for spawning, to hide from predators and to engage in social activity with other fish. It makes sense, then, that re-creating the natural habitat of the species in your tank would help them to feel at home.

Tips for Natural Décor

If you plan to create a natural décor scheme in your aquarium, the substrate is the best place you can start. Many aquarium hobbyists assume that gravel substrate is adequate for any freshwater tank set-up and, while this may be true, gravel is not necessarily the ideal substrate for every species. Corydoras catfish, for example, should not be kept in tanks with rough substrate like gravel because it could damage their sensitive barbels. Some species of loach prefer sandy substrate that allows them to burrow and some cichlids sift through sandy substrate in search of food. To determine which type of substrate would be best for your tank, research the natural habitats of your tank inhabitants and use that information to make your decision.

When researching the natural habitats of your tank inhabitants, be sure to note the aquatic conditions each species prefers. Some fish come from swamp-like habitats and thus may prefer a densely planted tank. Other fish may come from an environment that has limited aquatic vegetation but has many large rocks or pieces of driftwood to provide hiding places. Understanding the natural habitat of your fish will help you to recreate that environment in your home tank and it will make your fish feel more comfortable in the long run.

Utilizing a Natural Décor Scheme

Once you have gathered the elements for your natural décor scheme you need to determine the ideal way to arrange them. The key to keeping your tank looking natural is to avoid organizing it too much. Let your substrate fall naturally, creating dips and slopes in the tank rather than being completely level. When adding live plants to your tank, try to use several different species and intersperse them rather than clumping all of one species together in the tank. Layer your live plants as well, placing the taller plants near the back of the tank and the shorter ones up front. Try to keep your decorations proportional to the size of your tank – when using rocks or driftwood, choose one main object to be the centerpiece of the tank and use several smaller objects as accents. Root some extra live plants in and around your other pieces of tank décor to keep up with the natural feel.

To keep your tank looking natural while also enhancing the water quality in your tank, consider adding an EcoBio-Stones. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural zeolite and crushed stone so they will blend perfectly with your natural décor scheme. In addition to providing you with a natural-looking stone, EcoBio-Stones are also infused with beneficial bacteria that will help maintain the nitrogen cycle in your tank. Once introduced into your tank, these bacteria will multiply and begin working to keep your tank water clean and clear. In conjunction with a natural décor scheme, EcoBio-Stones can help you give your fish a healthy environment that mimics their natural habitat.