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7 Tips For Designing An Aquarium

Updated on January 17, 2014

Why You Should Design Your Own Aquarium

Most people are fearful when it coems to designing their own aquariums. This is very surprising to me. People are comfortable with designng the interiors of their own home. Picking furniture, choosing the colour of the walls and deciding what to put where are just a few of the decisions people are very comfortable making while designing their own homes. However they are sometimes not comfortable with designing their own aquariums. Although they have nothing to fear. Designing a beautiful aquarium is the question of having a plan. Once you know what you want to achieve, it is easy to make all the decisions on what kind of plants to get, what kinds of fish to get and so forth. This article is going to show you how easy it is to design your own aquarium.

Aquarium With Coral

Aquarium resembling a coral reef at the London Zoo. The most beautiful aquariums resemble a single habitat.
Aquarium resembling a coral reef at the London Zoo. The most beautiful aquariums resemble a single habitat. | Source

1. Decide what you are aiming for

The most important part when designig an aquarium is to decide what you want to accomplish before you start building it. First of all, where are you going to put the aquarium? This will determine how big of a tank you will need. There are important stylistic considerations to take into account when deciding where to put your aquarium. For example the aquarium will have something behind it. The color of the wall will determine which plants and fish will look good in the aquarium. A darker aquarium will look better in front of a bright white wall, whereas the opposite is true for an aquarium in front of a dark wall.

You will also need to decide what type of natural habitat your aquarium will want to resemble. You will need to pick completely different plants and fish if you want to your aquarium to resemble a stillwater environment, than if you want it to resemble a coral reef. The easiest way to srew up your nice aquarium is to go for an eclectic look. It won't work if you put together plants from a river bank with fish that enjoy living in freshwater lakes.

2. Keep It Simple

The most beautiful aquariums are the ones that achieve their effect with as few objects as possible. Just think of natural habitats. It is commonplace that one type of plant dominates a given habitat.

Go for one type of rock if possible. Your aquarium will lack an overall colour if you have several different types of stone inside it. The aquarium needs to have empty spaces in it, areas with only water. A too condensated aquarium will lack shape. An aquarium with too much stuff shoved into it will look monotone to the human eye, and it won't reach the desired effect.

An aquarium with a convex shape.
An aquarium with a convex shape. | Source
An aquarium with a concave shape.
An aquarium with a concave shape. | Source
An aquarium with a triangular shape.
An aquarium with a triangular shape. | Source

3. General Shape

The most beautiful aquariums have a shape. This means that the still objects, like rocks and vegetation will form a shape inside the aquarium. This will make your aquarium pleasant to look at both from the distance and from close range. When you are close, the fish and details will be beautiful, whie from distance the overall shape will give the viewer a pleasant experience.

There are three main shapes when it comes to aquariums. The convex shape, the concave shape and the triangular shape. These shapes are made up of the plants and rocks inside the aquarium.

The concave starts from a low point at the two sides of the aquarium, and peaks around the middle with one high point

The convex starts high on the two sides of the aquarium. The lowest point of the shape is around the middle. So the convex has two peaks, one at each side.

The triangular consists of several small triangles. One triangle formed by the vegetation and the rocks is followed by another. Such a shape will have several peaks and lows. The peaks are at approximately the same height.

4. Focal Point

Every aquarium needs a focal point. A focal point is the point in the aquarium which will draw attention to itself right away. It is the dominant point part of the design.

Such a focal point can be achieved by congesting stale objects into one place in the aquarium. The focal point is created by relative congestion at that point, while other places will be relatively scarce in stale objects.

The focal point of a convex shape is next to one of the sides of the aquarium. The focal point of a concave shape will be around the middle. The focal point of a triangular design is in one of the triangles close to the center. The focal point should be very close to the center, but never exactly in the center. It would look too symmetrical. So symmetrical that it would look unnatural and pre-planned to the human eye.

5. Settle All The Rocks

Rocks have an important part in creating the above mentioned shapes in an aquarium. However the rocks need to be settled. The fish will move the rocks with heir movement. The wall of the aquarium might break if a rock becomes unsettled and hits the glass. The plants will also prevent the rocks from staying in one place with their growth.

Lay an inch of sand on the bottom of the aquarium. This will fix the rocks well enough. If you are using volcanic rocks - which are light - make sure to fix them with silicone to the bottom of the aquarium.

6. Go For Contrasting Colours

The most beautiful aquariums have contrasting colours. An aquarium with only one colour will be one-dimensional and unpleasant to look at. No-one spends hours, or even minutes looking at a plain aquarium. You need to have an aquarium full of colour and life just like it is in nature.

There are a few general colour pairings that will ensure that your aquarium will look the best possible. Red fish go well with green plants. The other nice looking colour combination is the black background with light-coloured fish and stones.White sand looks magnificent with a black background. Black effect can also be achieved with volcanic sand. Use white pieces of stone for white effect.

7. Lights

A too bright aquarium is not good. It will hurt your eyes when looking at it. Just like with the colours and the shape of the design, you need contrast with the lights as well. Instead of using flourescent lights, use a spotlight. A spotlight will leave some parts of the aquarium dark, while the area right under the light will be very bright.

If you have a very bright aquarium, you can make it a bit darker by not wiping out all the algae straight away. A bit of algae is not harmful, and it will add a bit of a natural feel to your aquarium instead of the regular ├╝ber-polished fake looking aquariums.

Tips For Designing Your Own Aquarium


I hope that you share my view that designing your own aquarium is not that hard. You have to decide what type of aquarium you want, which shape would fit into your plans, decide on the colours you are going to use, and buy plants, fish and stones accordingly.


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