Create an aquarium that both you and your fish will love.

There’s a bit of an art to creating your aquarium. The first priority is the health and happiness of your fish and, once you have that sorted, you can experiment with the layout and look. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating (or re-creating) your fish tank.

Plan before you build

Before you rush out and buy everything you think you’ll need, do a bit of forward planning and work out the layout of your fish tank. You might want to map out your layout on a piece of paper or, if you’ve already bought your aquarium’s elements, play around with their configuration while the tank is empty. This will help you work out the best use of space and avoid a cluttered look.
Tip: The ‘rule of thirds’ is a good way to think about your space: “The rule of thirds divides an image up into three sections we use these intersecting points to frame and focus what we what the viewer to see,” says Daniel Cano, director of Aquarium Industries.

Find your focal point

Whether this is a piece of driftwood, the plants, an ornament or otherwise, having one focal point will help you work out the rest of your tank’s scheme. Obviously, your fish will be the focal point for the viewer but, when you’re designing the aquarium, using one element as an anchor will help you work out your colour palette and layout.

Colour code

While we’re talking about colour, think about choosing a palette for your tank. Whether you want to choose three tones – say brown, green and black – or try to keep all of the hard elements, such as substrate and ornaments, one tone, your tank will have a bold look. If you prefer a brighter palette, there are so many colourful options that you can inject some personality with. Your substrate alone can start the colour code from the ground up, with two-toned options, as well as vibrant glass gravel in blues, greens and reds.
Tip: An earthy palette will be the perfect backdrop for your colourful fish to stand out.

Paint the back

If you’re going for the sleek look, painting the back outside glass of your tank will elevate the whole environment. Rather than showcasing what’s sitting behind the fish tank, when you paint the back you’ll be able to set the mood. This look will set your tank apart as a central piece of your home and let your aquascaping shine. If you decide to do this, make sure your tank is empty when you paint it, you do a double coat and that absolutely no paint makes its way into the tank. Ensure your tank is totally dry before you add water (or your fish).
Tip: Darker colours will make pale-toned gravel and ornaments stand out.

Take it slow

When you’re planning your fish tank, think about it as a space that will grow like a garden. Some fantastic examples of aquascaping only get better with age, as new plants grow and moss (if you’ve planted it) starts to soften the harder edges of the environment. Before you begin setting up, make sure you choose plants with their growth in mind. This way, you’ll understand their level of maintenance and how your tank will look in two months’ time. If you’re planning to invest time in your fish tank, think of it as a work in progress so you can tweak the design as the environment grows and changes.
Tip: If you’re going for a plant-focused tank, use a selection of plants with different heights and foliage silhouettes for a textured look.

Did you know that your local Petbarn offers a free water-testing service? Bring in a sample of your tank water to make sure it’s just right for your fish.