Aquatic Artistry: 30+ Creative Aquarium Ideas For An Underwater Oasis

By Bruna L November 8, 2023

Believe it or not, aquariums have been around for a long time. They have been popular decorative options for many homes since the Victorian era. But anyone who’s ever owned one will tell you that caring for them isn’t easy. They require constant cleaning, an adequate light source, and balanced water to ensure the fish’s happiness and health. There’s also the matter of decorating. Will you opt for natural or artificial ornaments?

Of course, before all that, you must decide on the kind of fish, plants, gravel, food, and filters that will be calling the tank home. It’s a lot of work and money to watch fish swimming around, but we guarantee all the effort is worth it in the end. Nothing is more satisfactory than putting things together and seeing all the elements coexist harmoniously and thrive. If you’re at a loss decorating your tank, don’t worry; we have your back. Here are 45 creative ideas to elevate your aquarium aesthetics.

Jurassic tank

Now, this fantastic concept is for those who grew up watching the Jurassic Park movies and loved recreating it whenever they had a chance. This concept uses LEGO bricks, Hot Wheels, cheap toy dinosaurs, and literally anything available. Yup, you don’t need to spend much money to recreate this.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Micromoo_

If you can believe it, the ornamental decorative gate was made out of aquarium-safe polymer clay. So far, this tank is stocked with shrimp, but who knows what kind of creatures lurk in those woods? As we should all know by now, life always finds a way.

Fishing dock

Now, let’s be honest here: fishing is not the most exciting hobby out there. It’s basically hours upon hours of doing nothing but sitting still and waiting for something, anything, to happen. Unless you have an endless supply of patience, we don’t recommend it.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/-LiverLover-

Some people enjoy the idea of fishing but don’t want to spend their time sitting on a chair and waiting for fish to latch onto the bait. We have the perfect solution – an aquarium decorated as a fishing dock like the one above. How cool is that?

Oddly-shaped house

Who says fish are the only creatures that can be stars in an aquarium? People with no creativity, that’s who. Believe it or not, but depending on your setup, your beautiful aquascape may not have a single fish inside. Crazy, right? Consider this advice not to limit yourself.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/nikbru

Take a look at the aquarium above, for example. This beautiful piece may hold about 11 gallons of water but is in no way, shape, or form suitable for fish, no matter how small they are. A bunch of tiny shrimps calls it home, instead.

Iwagumi style

Some people prefer to decorate their aquariums in ways that resemble lush forests, while others prefer a less natural approach, with tanks decorated to look like miniature cities or with fictional characters. This one, though, was made to look like an alien world.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/dfektv

This breathtaking aquarium was inspired by the Iwagumi style, which is a Japanese approach to aquascaping, focusing on minimalism and balance. With the fish swimming around in harmony and serenity, it sure looks like something out of a science fiction movie!

Super Mario Aquarium

Everybody knows Nintendo games are expensive, especially if you want anything from the Mario franchise. So, instead of spending money on games you’ll regret buying in a week or two, why don’t you invest in a Super Mario aquarium?

Image Courtesy of Reddit/hootersbutwithcats

Sure, it won’t have that natural appeal aquarists love so much, but it will be unique. Besides, it will definitely be a conversation starter, and your fish will love it just the same. But watch out for that pesky cease-and-desist letter from Nintendo.

Lush & symmetrical

Planning, building, and nurturing an aquascape to the point where you are satisfied with your work is not more challenging than it seems. You need to be knowledgeable, handy, and, above all, patient if you want to realize your idea fully.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/WiseGains

The aquarium above is an excellent example. It may look absolutely lush and incredibly symmetrical right now, but it took about seven months to get it to look perfect like that. Seven months of research, hard work, and much patience. Definitely not a hobby for the short-tempered.

Old cabinet aquarium

If you have any older relatives, chances are you have a bunch of old furniture lying around, unused. Some could be in bad condition, while others could be outdated but still usable. Those with woodworking and aquarium-building experience can easily turn them into something magical.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/aaahmanduh

That’s precisely what someone did to this old cabinet. Instead of contributing to the landfill problem, they decided to upcycle it and turn it into an incredibly classy aquarium. Now, that’s something you don’t see every day and worth keeping for generations to come.

Branches everywhere

When it comes to aquariums, the amount of decorations you should have is only limited by the kind of fish you want to keep. Some of them love having a bunch of stuff around, while others prefer a more minimalistic setting.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/crevettecroquette

If the fish you’ll care for don’t mind a busier environment, the tank above would be perfect for you. All those branches are excellent for them to hide and play in. Besides, it looks natural, a setting you’d often find in ponds.

Exploring anemone

Building and maintaining an aquarium is hard work, but it’s work that’s also fun and rewarding, especially when your fish start to get used to their new environment and finally show their personality. Yes, fish have personalities. How crazy is that?

Image Courtesy of Reddit/FrostHydras

Sometimes, other things in your tank may have a personality, too. A case in point is the anemone above. Since it wouldn’t stop exploring the tank, it had to be contained in that plastic cup. A natural wanderer, so cute!

Aquarium mushroom

When you start gardening for the first time, finding mushrooms in your plant boxes may be scary. That is, until you do a little bit of research and learn that they are actually a sign of healthy soil. The same is true for aquariums.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/DrGetSomeStrange

Finding a mushroom or two popping out of your bark is not that rare, especially if they’re only partially submerged. The warm and humid environment of aquariums is the perfect breeding ground for these cute little guys. They’ll appear when least expected.

Entertainment console aquarium

If you love having a big aquarium elevating the aesthetics of your living room, this is for you. Imagine entering your house and being greeted by a breathtaking tank inside your entertainment console. That’s exactly what you see in the photo below.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/rlmaster01

With a mix of woodworking and aquarium-building skills, you can go far, especially if you love ideas like this for your house. Now, you’ll be able to watch a movie or play a game while keeping an eye on all of your fish.

Different fish, different needs

When it comes to building a nice aquarium for your fish, there are many things you should consider adding to your tank, depending on their species. While most fish have similar needs, not all of them are built the same.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/JagAquatics

Bettas love having a fluffy surface to rest on, for example, while others prefer a very sandy bottom to burrow themselves in. Some fish are shy and love having places to hide away, like the big caves in the tank above. Truly fascinating!

Not what you’re thinking

We know precisely what you’ll think the moment you take a peek at the picture below. Please put the pitchforks and the torches down, and let us explain what you’re actually looking at. That teeny tiny mason jar there is inside the actual aquarium!

Image Courtesy of Reddit/logging9n

That’s right! That’s not some poor neglected Betta fish kept inside a mason jar on purpose. This is simply a tank decoration, and the fish has a whole aquarium to explore, but for some reason, he prefers to sleep inside it. The tank is massive, and yet it likes confining itself in that small space.

Fish-free aquariums

When it comes to aquariums, everyone thinks you need big, planted tanks, regardless of the fish’s size. That’s not necessarily true. You don’t even need to have fish inside your aquariums if you don’t want to. There are other delightful creatures you can put in there.

Image Courtesy of Instagram/rogue.wildflower

First and foremost, aquariums are decoration pieces, and as long as you can make them work within your pre-existing décor, that’s good enough. You don’t need big, fancy, and expensive setups, just good taste and a whole lot of common sense.

Axolotl hole

Now, if you know anything about fish and water creatures, you’re probably aware that it isn’t easy or cheap to take care of axolotls at home. They require a specific environment to thrive and live happy lives. Ask anyone who’s ever cared for them, and they’ll tell you we’re right.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/enmaku

But if you’re willing to put in the time and work they require, you’ll get rewarded with a friend for life, especially if you build them an aquarium as cool as the one above. Hobbit hole? It’s more like an axolotl hole, and we’re beyond impressed with this setup.

Fish babysitter

It’s hard to do things around the house when you have a little kid to care for. They need attention at all times, after all, and things can get dangerous if you leave them to their own devices for a long period. When they’re suddenly quiet, you should be suspicious.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/mwbstevens

Surprisingly enough, the best weapon you can employ in these situations is a well-appointed aquarium! It works pretty much like a TV, except it won’t harm your kid in any way, shape, or form. Less screen time is always good, plus they get an early introduction to sea creatures.

Swimming into Mordor

We’re pretty sure Boromir never had the opportunity to see this aquarium before he said his famous phrase, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” How are we so sure? Because he never added, “But you sure can swim all the way there” afterward.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Rxmacdaddy

Not everyone is a fan of aquariums that aren’t natural, but even the most hardcore aquarist would agree this Lord of the Rings-themed one is unique. Hopefully, the fish living here will have a much better time than the characters from Tolkien’s famous book series did.

Are you ready, kids?

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are; everybody loves SpongeBob SquarePants. It’s okay; you’re a big adult now, but you’re free to admit you also like it. What’s the point of growing old if you can’t be a bit childish sometimes, right?

Image Courtesy of Reddit/HotLavishness4

So, why don’t you go out there and get yourself some SpongeBob décor for your aquarium? You will definitely nourish the little kid inside, and, as a bonus, your children will end up loving your hobby as much as you do.

Victorian aquarium

Here’s something we’re pretty sure you have never thought about before. Victorian aquariums. Yes, it turns out the idea of tans isn’t new, and the people from the 1880s also enjoyed having them around for one reason or another. Who could have imagined?

Image Courtesy of Reddit/ImmunosuppressivePip

This one is made out of cast iron and used to have a small, hand-operated fountain in the middle to keep the water oxygenated. Since its restoration, modern bubblers and filters have been added. It’s definitely a great inspiration for other aquarists out there.

Cthulhu?

This tank here is for all the fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulhu. If you like how tentacles look but can’t afford the time and money to have an octopus aquarium, this betta tank is the right solution. It might also please goth and horror lovers.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/RandyHoward

The tentacles were 3D printed, painted with acrylic, and sprayed with a couple of coats of clear finish. It may not sound good for the fish, but if you give the finish enough time to dry, everything will be safe to use. Super impressive!

Mangrove aquarium

Mangroves are one of the richest ecosystems on our planet – They are coastal and act as a natural shield against erosion and filter for the water that flows there. Their root system also provides excellent homes for various marine life.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/WEAP0NIZE

It’s no surprise, then, that some people would like to recreate it at home, using aquariums. If you are one of those people, know that it is possible to have a mangrove aquarium, but you have to be patient while the trees grow and the beautiful roots develop.

LEGO tank

When it comes to children, two things are true: First, no matter their age or gender, they all love playing with LEGO bricks. Second, if you have a beloved hobby and would love to get them involved, they’ll probably hate it. What to do?

Image Courtesy of Reddit/mestes09

Obviously, you need to find a way to combine both things! Take the fantastic LEGO aquarium above, for example. This is a great project for little hands to be involved in without boring them to death. Next time, they’ll be the ones bothering you to participate.

Piano aquarium

This one is for music lovers who, besides listening to their favorite songs all day long, also enjoy decorating their houses to look like the coolest music studios out there. And what’s cooler than an aquarium installed inside a piano?

Image Courtesy of Reddit/sorsonking

That’s precisely what we have here. An old – over a hundred years old, in fact – upright piano converted into the snazziest aquarium ever. And don’t worry about the vibration bothering the fish – the piano was completely gutted before the tank was installed.

Lush aquarium

If you’re anything like us, you must spend most of your time living in a big, loud city that doesn’t leave much room for peace and tranquility, no matter where you go. If that’s the case, don’t worry. We have a solution for you.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Avamedic

See, you don’t need to move to the country if you want to have some peace and quiet for once. All you need is a nicely built aquarium in your living room, which resembles a lush green forest full of mysteries and wonders.

Paludarium

When it comes to recreating small ecosystems inside glass tanks, people’s mind goes straight to aquariums, but they aren’t the only option available. Paludariums also exist. They’re less popular, of course, but they’re just as fun and delightful—something for people to consider.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/theloneplant

They’re basically a mix between an aquarium and a terrarium and work as both simultaneously. On the dry layer, there are land and terrestrial plants, while in the water, there are aquatic plants and fish. Everything coexists in a perfect balance.

Crystal clean tank

Aquariums are not only about providing the best environment possible for beautiful fish to thrive inside the comfort of your own house; they’re also about complementing your décor with a tank that fits the general aesthetics of your surroundings.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/watcherfam

And when it comes to that, no other aquarium is prettier than the one above! With its crystal clear water, white sand, and overall minimalistic décor, it’s the perfect tank for bright, clean, and uncluttered houses. Even Marie Kondo will be impressed by it.

Realistic aquarium

Everyone likes to discuss how realistic aquariums are better for your fish’s health. By realistic, we mean no artificial plants or ornaments, only natural things that could be found in the fish’s original habitat. No aquarium is as realistic as the one below, though!

Image Courtesy of Reddit/EpsilonVaz

Everything – from the gravel at the bottom of the tank to the plants that climb above it – was made to completely emulate how life would be if those fish lived in nature. Believe it or not, it even has a realistic rain and fog system.

Miniature pond

Aquariums are all pretty much the same if you think about it. It doesn’t matter if you go the artificial route or the natural one. At the end of the day, they all end up looking quite similar and always with the same purpose, of course – to display fish.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Hedgie84

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. If you are willing to invest time and money, you can create something as unique as the setup above. Just remember, the more intricate your tank is, the more work you’ll have to do to keep things balanced.

British aquarium

Aquariums are great not only if you want to take care of fish and flex your aquascape muscles but also if you want to display some of your personality through your décor. How you decide to go with your tank says a lot about you.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/audiobookbop

That’s how we could figure out that the tank owner above is British—using a beautifully ornated tea set as a tank decor. C’mon now, there is nothing more English than that. All it needs is some soldiers wearing fuzzy hats marching in there now!

AT-AT

If you’re new to aquascaping and don’t know what to do for your first project, why not get inspiration from your other hobbies? If you’re a big Star Wars fan, for example, you could make something similar to the aquarium below.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/chuck_2565

This impressive piece is home to some very lucky tetra fish, and besides the obvious AT-AT ornament, it also has a bunch of cholla wood, moss balls, java moss, and leaf seeds—the perfect house for small fish and a great décor for a nerd’s home.

Landscape inspiration

When you’re building an aquarium, you can be inspired by lots of different things. If you want to go the aquascape route, though, the more natural your inspiration source is, the better your aquarium will look, as you attest by the one below.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Real___Jerry

The aquarium owner loved this landscape shot so much that they wanted to recreate it as a home for their fishy friends. So, they put in the work and ended up with this amazing piece that looks as impressive as the inspiration picture itself.

Abandoned railroad

As mentioned before, there are many ways you can go about decorating your aquarium. You can get inspiration from pop culture, exotic landscapes, and even from around your house. If you’re creative, though, you’ll probably end up with something like the photo below.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/DaisyDukeNukem7

An abandoned railroad as an aquascape? It’s unusual, but it definitely works, especially if you’re a big fan of horror, thriller, or mystery movies. Imagine how cool this setup will look once the fish are added. Cool and eerie, the perfect mix for some people.

Barrel pond

There are many ways you can transform your garden or backyard area into an oasis of tranquility if you’re tired of the pace of the metropolis. One of the best ideas, heavily inspired by Japanese culture, is to create a pond for some beautiful koi fish.

Image Courtesy of Reddit

You can go as cheap or as expensive as you like. It can be rustic or modern, too, depending on your preferences. The cute little pond above, for example, is made out of a simple barrel, modified to support all the water, plants, and fish inside it. How cool is that?

Giant reef tank

What’s better than having delicious food and great drinks at a beautiful, exotic restaurant during your travels? How about doing that while watching some beautiful fish swimming about? That’s precisely what the patrons of this Romanian restaurant experience.

Image Courtesy of Reddit

Yes, your eyes are not fooling you. This is an enormous reef tank full of saltwater fish and corals right there for everyone to see. Definitely, a place pretty much any aquarist would like to visit someday, that’s for sure. We’re curious about where in Romania this is.

Beloved skull

Every Halloween, folks pick the spookiest costumes and decorate their houses with ghosts, zombies, and other scary ornaments. For others, though, the spookiest night of the year lasts all year long, and we’re sure they would appreciate this aquarium as much as we do.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/RxDocMaria

For some reason, it’s not that unusual to have a skull decorating your tank. It has plenty of places for fish to hide in. The snail and loach here love their skull so much they decided to add themselves to the décor.

Healthy TV time

We all know how bad watching too much TV can be for your body and mind – It makes you more sedentary, causes eye strain, headaches, and disrupted sleep. It desensitizes you to violence and can even impact your social life.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/DanTheEdgyMan

If you want a vintage TV for your home but don’t want to watch it, we have the perfect solution for you – a TV that’s actually an aquarium. With a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of sealant, anything is possible!

Small reef aquarium

As everyone knows, the ocean is vast and mysterious, and it’s impossible to adequately capture its beauty in its entirety, regardless if you are painting its likeness or building an aquarium. Some people enjoy trying, though, and the results are usually breathtaking.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Aqua_Splendor

Take the small reef tank above, for example. Despite its size, it is beautiful and well-constructed. People tend to think you need a huge room and an even bigger wallet for saltwater aquariums, but that’s not necessarily true, as we can see here.

Best of both worlds

When it comes to aquariums, most people prefer natural-looking ones. Others, though, don’t mind some artificial decorations if that means the tank will look as good as they have imagined. If you are still determining what you want, your best bet is to experiment around.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/callistodev

Take the tank above, for example. It doesn’t follow a particular recipe. It’s a stunning piece that mixes both artificial items, such as the smaller plants and the heads, with natural stuff – the lucky bamboo and the bigger rocks. Different elements can work together to produce something spectacular.

Wood optical illusion

According to the Cambridge dictionary, an optical illusion is “something that tricks your eyes and makes you think you see something that’s not really there, or see it differently from how it really is.” Looking at the aquarium below, we’ve just been tricked by one.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/deejay602

Because, my dear friends, what you’re looking at is not the roots of a tree someone put whole inside their tank, but actually a piece of driftwood very well positioned. So well positioned, in fact, that it tricks our eyes into thinking we’re seeing something we’re not.

Incredible living room aquarium

If you’re one of those people who would love to have a large aquarium decorating your living room, you’re going to love this. When it comes to big tanks, it doesn’t get any better than one set up exactly like what we have here.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/halycon8

Beautiful, isn’t it? This thing is huge and is sure to house a bunch of happy fish for a really long time. And if you’re concerned about the fireplace below it, don’t worry – that’s just an electronic fireplace; there are no actual flames.

Appreciated décor

Some people say fish have small brains and aren’t capable of showing emotion. If you have ever kept them, though, you know that’s not necessarily true. They can and will show you appreciation, especially if you do something that pleases them.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/derpinu-

Like the fish above, for instance. Once her owner placed the vase inside the aquarium, she would constantly snuggle inside it. And don’t worry, she’s not stuck and got out of the vase just fine when food was brought in.

Lush corner

If you’d love to get more in touch with nature without the need to leave the house, there are a bunch of things you can do. Adding plants and even an aquarium to your space is a great way to change things around and bring more of the outdoors in.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/itstherussianmafia

If you do your research right, you may end up with something as mesmerizing as the setup shown above – with both aquatic and terrestrial plants that complement each other and bring the air of a wild forest to your home.

I am Groot

If you are a big Marvel fan or simply enjoy the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, you probably love one of the most endearing characters of the franchise, Groot. He first appeared in 1960 as a villain but has since turned into a beloved hero and a pop culture icon.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/Prgm970

It’s no surprise, then, that some people would love to incorporate this tree-looking guy in their aquariums. The best part about it is that your décor will still look pretty natural, and your fish will have plenty of room to hide within Groot’s head.

Bowl aquarium

Back then, it was normal to keep goldfish inside glass bowls. Thankfully, most people now realize that it’s a terrible place for water creatures to live in and are moving on to more humane ways to take care of their fishy friends.

Image Courtesy of Reddit/kermitDE

That doesn’t mean you should ban the bowl aquarium entirely, though. Don’t keep your fish in them, of course, but be creative and put some aquatic plants in them instead. You’ll have a nice piece for your house, and no fish will be harmed. Win-win!

Tank helpers

Taking care of an aquarium is serious work, especially if you have a big, natural tank with many aquatic plants inside. Not only do you have to take care of the fish, but you also have to take care of everything else.

Image Courtesy of Instagram/jungle_aquariums

Having someone to help you with your aquarium maintenance is a great idea, but the people in our lives are not always available. That’s when you get yourself a couple of “tank helpers,” like the cute cats above. Look how willing they are to clean the tank.