How to determine "safe" aquarium decorations DIY?

  • #1
My daughter is getting a tank for her bedroom (she turns 10 next week and has helped me a great deal with the family tanks!) that I am going to allow her to aquascape on her own (with help!). I recently bought a bunch of rocks and made my own caves and stuff with aquarium-safe silicone and she loved how things came out and wants to do some for her tank...

She also wants to use non-traditional decorations in the tank but I have no idea what would be safe for the fish and what wouldn't be!?!?

I've read that some people use dollar-store fake plants but how do you know which are safe and which aren't? My daughter LOVES all those fake flowers and plants (goes around picking them up off the floor at the craft store!) and would love to glue them to rocks, etc.

She also lives and dies for horses and has 2,018,082,042 plastic horses and accessories. Any chance that these would be safe? What if I covered them in silicone entirely? ;D

I've also seen that people use glass vases/cups and hamster tubes (we have tons of those!) so is safety determined by the type of plastic??

I want to give her creative freedom but it MUST be safe for the fish! I appreciate all suggestions and advice! x
  • #2
I use silk plants from the dollar store. Just make sure no metal is showing.
If you use silk flowers test in water for dyes that might leech. I've seem MM use white flowers (I think)
Any glass would be safe, I would think most any mug that you would drink out of would be safe also.
Not sure about her plastic horses, but you can look at cake decorations. Just be careful of the (not so recent) recalls on some products make in China.
People have used lego's etc in their tanks.
PVC pipes are safe.

I can't wait to see what she creates!
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
OMG, she LOVES Legos!!! She and my son will sit there for hours making all sorts of things with Legos...I can't imagine what she would do for her fish! Oh dear Lucy, you may have created a MONSTER!!!!!!!!

So pvc plastic, glass...I wonder what playmobil toys are made of? They come from Germany so might be safer than China-made stuff.

Are the plants at the dollar store silk? And if I tested them in water, would the leeching be obvious because it would turn the water a different color?

I really appreciate the advice, she is going to absolutely die! ;D
  • #4
Please post pics after it's set up! It's going to be some great bonding time for both of you, too. That's wonderful. So she doesn't know yet?

Goodness, this is gonna be great.
  • #5
I've never used silk flowers from the dollar store, just the greenery.
Maybe if you look at Karen's albums, you'll get idea, Shawnies too.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Lucy, I couldn't tell a silk flower from get the idea! I assumed that the green vine stuff they sell at the dollar store was silk-based.

I haven't told my daughter yet...her 10th birthday is Aug 24th and I am getting the tank via Craigslist and giving it to her on her birthday. I have found a nice 20 gallon with stand for $25 that I hope goes through, if not, I may go for a 30g, not sure yet.

Then my plan is to seed the tank from extra medium that I keep in my filters (thanks to Shawnie!) and while the tank gets its water up to par, we will go shopping for stuff to set it up and put together the decorations, etc. I want her to design it 100% as that has been a dream of hers since we first started with fishtanks!

I am sure she will move her 5 guppies out of my community tank and into her room and then she will be able to pick out a few more fish once everything is all set. She loves to use the API test kit to check the tank water and spends a lot of time each day just watching all of our fish to make sure they are happy and healthy.

I really think she is going to absolutely flip out over this whole project...and even more so now that legos can be involved! LOL ;D
  • #7
Sounds like great fun!
I think the Lego's will float, but I'm sure you'll come up with a way to silicone them to some rocks or something to get them to stay down. Even if you use, ummmm, I forget what it's called, that flat peice that you can stick legos on and put gravel on top of that.
Do a search on the forum, you'll probably find a couple of posts about them.
It's rewarding to be able to provide the tools to our kids and let their imaginations go! I know it's going to be her design, but what a wonderful mother daughter bonding experience.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8 really hit the nail on the head. Fishkeeping has turned into a great bonding thing for us...and it was by accident as the first tank was a gift to my partner! My daughter and I just fell in love with the fish and ran with is so cool to take her to the LFS and have her rattle off the different names of fish, etc. And any excuse to spend more time with her is great to me!

Most importantly she is very attentive to the fish and cares about all aspects of care from water quality to food variety. It feels good to raise another fishlover but oh boy do we ever have MTS!!!
  • #9
I set up a 45 hexagon in my living room recently. My fiancee wanted it to be kinda girly-themed, so I got purple gravel. She found a Polly Pocket Cinderella castle online and wanted it in the tank, so we put it in there. It looks awesome, and hasn't affected water quality at all (which was what I was worried about). I'll put pics up sometime.

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