How to Decorate a Goldfish Aquarium

Aquarium Plants - creating a display

A goldfish aquarium in a centrally heated room rarely falls below 18°C (64°F) and will support many plant species sold for tropical aquariums. Choose healthy plants with strong root systems that will establish in the substrate and feed them weekly with a small amount of aquarium plant food.

When building up a planted display, use larger plants at the back and sides of the aquarium to create a framework. Turn each plant until you find its most pleasing 'face'. Continue planting towards the front of the tank, using smaller species to allow swimming room for the fish.

Planting Ludwigia for A Stunning Display Of Green

  1. Slide the plants, embedded in rockwool, out of the pot. Carefully unravel the rockwool. There may be up to three plants in each piece.
  2. Create a hole in the substrate with your fingers and hold it open.
  3. Put in the plant and cover the roots with substrate. Firm in gently.
  4. Put in plants 2.5-5cm (1-2in) apart or leave room so that the tips of the leaves on separate plants just touch.

Plastic Plants for Easy Care

Real plants look great, but they do need a certain amount of care. In addition, goldfish are prone to dig around or snack on them. Plastic plants can provide an ideal solution: they are virtually everlasting and, like real plants, provide shelter and a spawning medium for fish. Their leaves and stems will be colonised by the same bacteria that live in the filter. However, because they do not take up nitrates, as real plants do, you will need to pay extra attention to water changes. Initially, even the most realistic replicas can look 'too good to be true', but as their leaves acquire a fine algae coating, their colors will tone down.

Completing the Display - Other Decor

In addition to the substrate, rocks and bogwood and real or artificial plants, aquarium retailers sell a whole range of other tank decor that you might want to consider for your tank, some of which is particularly good for junior fishkeepers.

As a final touch, you will probably want to add a background to the tank. Apart from helping to create an effective display in the aquarium, backgrounds will hide the electrical cables, filter pipework and the wall behind the tank.

Choosing a background

Like the range of tank decor, backgrounds vary in style from plain black - a safe choice, that will look good in any tank -to natural-looking scenes of tree roots, rocks or plants, which will give the tank a more 3-D look, to more fantastic landscapes, such as Classical temples and sunken cities. These backgrounds are usually made of plastic and sold off the roll or to an approximate size and are easy to trim with scissors. You can also buy a range of solid textured panels for the back of the aquarium, but these should be placed into the tank right at the start.

Other tank decorations

Children, in particular, will enjoy adding other decorations to the tank and provided you don't overfill the aquarium, they can help to promote an interest in fishkeeping in the very young. As with other aquarium decor, make sure that you buy only items recommended for aquarium use. Aquarium retailers stock a wide variety of items that are suitable.

Maturing the Tank

Once the water has been added, it's tempting to go straight to your retailer and buy the fish - after all that's what all your hard work has been for. Don't! The filtration system will take up to six weeks to mature biologically, and the fish must be added gradually. If you have real plants, these will also need time for their roots to establish without disruption. Leave the aquarium lights on for 10-14 hours a day to promote their growth. Once the aquarium has been running for at least a week, you can add your first fish.

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