Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by Marco C.
A lot of people thought of making their own clay decorations, only to find out why they should not make clay aquarium decorations. Decorations can be quite expensive and if your budget is a little tight, you might have thought of making your own aquarium décor! Even though it might be fun, using clay to make your own decorations might be harmful for the fish! Some materials are unfortunately unsafe for the fish, and clay is a part of that list.
What Is Dangerous About Clay In An Aquarium?
Unfortunately, there is no aquarium safe clay. Using clay to make aquarium decorations sounds very sensible and it’s logical to wonder why not make clay aquarium decorations! The thing is, clay on its own isn’t a dangerous material and we’ll later learn that we can use some clay for decorations. Most clay, however, is too unsafe and unfiltered for your aquarium. This is particularly important when we’re discussing air-drying clay and polymers.
If your thought was shaping clay when wet and then letting it dry, we’re going to have to disappoint you. Any form of clay that can be shaped when wet and dried on air is dangerous for your fish. Even though you can make incredible sculptures with this clay, it’s just going to absorb water from the aquarium. Once it does, it will start to break down into soft clay and fish could eat these pieces.
If fish eat broken down clay, they could get sick and die!
Unfortunately, polymer clay is also no good. This clay requires baking to harden, which is why many people think that it won’t break down when submerged. This thinking is wrong, as polymer clay will break down and release toxic chemicals into the water. This could is obviously very dangerous for the fish, which is why we recommend you don’t do it.
There are forms of clay, red clay for example, which are put into aquariums to help plants grow. Underwater plants will eat the iron out of the clay through the roots. It’s still unknown, unfortunately, whether this clay is harmful for fish. A lot of fish-forum users report that they use cleaned, filtered, and baked natural clay as a foundation for their substrate!
Other Dangerous Decorations
Clay, however, isn’t the only dangerous thing you could put in your aquarium. There are numerous things that might be logical to put in as decoration, but could quickly turn your whole aquarium experience sour.
Firstly, there’s paint. Even though it’s generally safe to put anything plastic in the water, it can become dangerous if the paint is coming off. Let’s say you’re putting a toy in the aquarium – check whether all the paint is still good with your fingernail. If the paint starts coming off underwater, not only could it release toxic chemicals, but fish could also mistake it for food!
We strongly encourage you to buy aquarium decorations at the pet store!
Learn more about: How To Clean Algae Off Aquarium Decorations
You should also avoid natural decorations. You could be thinking that adding seashells, rocks, or sticks found in the wild is a good idea, but it really isn’t. Even though it’s more natural than adding artificial decorations, these things could be carrying bacteria and parasites which could harm the fish. You should always opt for store-bought decorations!
Real sand is another thing that you should absolutely never put in your fish tank! A lot of people make this mistake, thinking that they’re creating a more natural environment for their fish. Real sand can’t be used as a substrate because it’s been polluted by various chemicals that are used in water.
You should also avoid adding real wood you found in the nature. Driftwood bought in pet stores was treated and cleaned before being put up for sale, while the wood you find could carry parasites, bacteria, and fungi. Not to mention that it could release dangerous chemicals of its own!
Lastly, you should never put anything edible in the aquarium. Fish food should be the only edible thing in the aquarium.
Alternative Aquarium Decorations
However, not everything is doom and gloom! There are many alternative homemade fish tank decoration ideas you can use in your aquarium!
Starting off with clay pots! We said that there’s a form of clay you can actually use, and here it is. You can also use flower pots that are ceramic! These pots are safe for fish and you don’t have to worry about any form of intoxication! All you have to do is thoroughly wash these pots before putting them in your aquarium! We also recommend that you watch out for drainage holes and sharp edges – your fish could get stuck or cut!
Another thing that you can put in your fish tank is ceramics! However, make sure that this is “dinnerware safe”. As a general rule with aquariums, if it isn’t safe for you to eat off of it, it isn’t entirely safe for the fish. Make sure that you wash it before you put it in the tank!
Glass is another thing that you can put in your aquarium, but you must be careful! Firstly, glass can cut anyone easily, so make sure that there are no sharp edges. Secondly, there are glass items with unsealed paint – you can’t put those in your aquarium as they’ll release toxic chemicals. However, if it’s safe, putting a glass jar in your fish tank will make for a great hiding spot!
The same applies for mugs – as long as it’s clean, you can put a coffee mug in your aquarium.
In conclusion, using clay to make your own decorations will harm your fish. Unfortunately, there is no clay available on the market that’s also safe for fish. Using natural decorations, such as wood, rocks, seashells, etc. is also dangerous as it could bring unwanted bacteria and parasites into your aquarium. If possible, you should always stick with store-bought decorations as they’re cleaned and prepared to be submerged.
If you’re looking for alternatives, however, you can find them in glass, clay, and ceramic pots, and coffee mugs. All of these are safe to use as long as they’re clean!