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Fun Fish Tank Themes

You don’t have to be a kid to get excited over creating a themed aquarium, but how do you go about finding a unique motif and designing a cool fish tank set-up to bring it to life? Let’s take a look at 15 aquariums and examine how a few coordinated design elements can really pull your fish tank themes together!

15 Exciting And Creative Themes For Aquariums

The good news is it’s not hard to create a stunning themed aquarium and you don’t have to incorporate your chosen theme into every element of your tank’s design. In fact, a few simple decorations are often all you need to emphasize a theme without going overboard or hitting a garish note.

The key to designing a unique themed tank is to incorporate your motif into two or three elements of your set-up. You can further emphasize your theme with the right colors of substrate and plants. The three easiest ways to bring an aquarium theme to life are:

  1. Attaching a themed or custom-printed aquarium background to the tank.
  1. Using a few themed fish tank decorations or toys inside the aquarium.
  1. Starting with a premade themed aquarium set-up that includes branded elements like a tank, hood, substrate and/or decor.

Disney Fish Tank Themes

It’s probably no surprise that some of the most popular themes center around Disney cartoons and movies. It’s not just children who find these tank’s irresistible, either, as many adults still adore the Disney of their childhood too! Given the plethora of characters, it’s not hard to create an amazing and unique themed Disney tank!

One of the easiest ways to create a small fish tank for your child is to buy set-ups with built-in backgrounds and tank toppers, as in the Frozen and two Classic Disney examples below. But you can also start with a standard-sized fish tank and use plastic models, stickers and/or colored substrate to make your theme stand out!

1. Frozen

Penn-Plax Officially Licensed Disney's Frozen Themed Betta Tank from Perfect for Betta Fish, This Small Tank is Perfect for Fans of Frozen! Small 0.7 Gallon Tank (FZR108), Blue

2. Classic Disney #1

Penn Plax Classic Disney Betta tank kit, 0.7 gal.

3. Classic Disney #2

Penn Plax Classic Disney Kit with filter, 1.5 gal.

4. Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid tank
Image Source: instagram.com

One way to design really girly fish tanks is by using a few toys or models for decorations against a pink or purple substrate, as in this Little Mermaid themed aquarium. It’s amazing ho w just adding Ariel and Ursula to a tank makes the theme pop out, especially against the vivid pink gravel! Personally, I’d also add some sparkling or glitter-based elements to this one as well, to increase the girly factor.

5. Finding Nemo 

Finding Nemo tank
Image Source: instagram.com

You don’t have to stick with a straight movie theme, either, and can incorporate Disney characters from several cartoons if you prefer. In this example, Finding Nemo fish tank decor and stickers are used along with a few elements from the Little Mermaid (we see you, Sebastian!) to create a whole Disney Ocean theme!

SpongeBob Themed Aquariums

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” If you can sing along to the chorus, then perhaps you’d be interested in one of these three SpongeBob themed aquariums?

6. SpongeBob Background 

Penn Plax SpongeBob Squarepants Betta Aquarium Kit, 0.7 Gallon

When space inside a small tank is at a premium, it makes a lot of sense to emphasize your theme through exterior methods rather than by using a lot of branded decor inside. A simple SpongeBob fish tank background can bring your theme to life in a nano tank without adding any clutter or taking up room you need for your pet fish! 

7. Bikini Bottom Models 

Bikini Bottom Models in the tank
Image Source: instagram.com

For larger tanks, consider recreating the town of Bikini Bottom with models of the character’s distinctive houses and businesses. You could use the famous Pineapple or the Krusty Krab, along with Patrick’s and Squidward’s homes! Different colored substrates are a great way to create paths and other city effects too. 

8. Aquascaped SpongeBob Tank

Aquarium accessories and more decoration decor plants spongebob mermaid

There’s no reason you can’t design an aquascaped themed tank, like this beautiful and rather subtle example. Most of the hardscape is formed from generic rocks and gravel, but a couple of key themed decorations make the SpongeBob link clear. I really love the way the delicate aquatic plants resemble terrestrial grass in this serene design. 

Zen Fish Tank Themes

Meditative or Zen-themed aquariums are usually designed to create a relaxing or contemplative feeling when you watch them. This broad theme can run the gamut from densely aquascaped gardens to tiny tanks with a central Buddha statue or Ying-Yang symbol. 

9. Simple Buddha Statue 

buddha-aquarium
Image Source : flickr.com

10. Zen Garden Aquascape

The Zen Underwater Garden expresses a harmony of peaceful beauty of Japanese gardens with wabi-sabi and majesty of Shan Shui oriental highlands and mountains paintings.
Learn more: adana.co.jp

My favorite Zen-style aquariums are designed around aquascape (live plants) and hardscape elements like rocks, sticks, and branches to create a harmonious atmosphere inside the tank. Zen aquariums may contain a few fish or invertebrates for algae control, but the main focus is usually on the plants and decor rather than the animals. These styles can be expensive to set-up and require a lot of maintenance. 

11. Zen Backgrounds 

Top Fin® Underwater Wood & Zen Reversible Aquarium Background
More info: petsmart.com

Using a Zen themed background like this one can add depth to your aquarium and make it look like it stretches well beyond the back of your tank. These backgrounds also help draw the eye to any elements that extend above or outside of your aquarium, like branches or above-water flowering aquatic plants

Other Ideas for Aquarium Themes

You’re not limited to Disney, SpongeBob or Zen themes, either! You can choose a theme based on your favorite movie or novel (Harry Potter, anyone?), go for a comic book series theme, or even base your theme on your favorite video game! 

12. Spooky Or Haunted Aquarium Theme

Dark and Eerie Fish Tank
Full Tutorial at: instructables.com

I love the intense spookiness of this Haunted Forest theme. The thick, bare branches reaching out of the top of the tank against the pale, moonlit background is incredibly creepy! A few dark rocks and some gravel substrate completes this simple theme and pulls it together into a very impressive aquarium. 

13. Glow-In-The-Dark Ocean Reef Theme

GloFish Aquarium Anemone Ornament, Medium, Yellow

If you enjoy the look of things that glow-in-the-dark, then why not design a whole Glow-themed tank? There’s hundreds of unique fish tank decorations that glow in the dark and you can even buy specially branded GloFish that fluoresce under your blue light or moonlight! This underwater reef theme is carried further with the plastic glowing plastic anemones, jellyfish and substrate. 

14. Glowing Space Or Galaxy Theme

Glowing Space or Galaxy Theme tank

The sky’s the limit when it comes to glow tank designs, so why not head out of our atmosphere and create a space-themed aquarium? There’s no shortage of cool ideas, from a glowing Marvin the Martian or other classic cartoon character to the cows and aliens from South Park!

15. Video Game Theme

Mario Bros Fish Tank
Learn more at: instructables.com

Video games are a very popular and creative option to design a theme around. You could pick a classic game from your childhood, like this tank based on Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers game. Add in a few obvious elements from the game, like the easily-recognized green pipes, cloud-faces and bricks, and you’ve got a masterpiece to your fandom! Consider a Spyro the Dragon theme, or go modern with a Witcher or Skyrim themed aquarium!

Conclusion

As you can see, the decorations for themed aquariums can be simple or quite complex. There’s a lot of ways to bring your theme to life inside your tank, from printing custom backgrounds to the creative use of models, toys and other decor elements like plastic and live plants. Do you have a themed tank? Share it with us below or on our social media pages!

Jen has more than 30 years experience as a biologist, aquarist, and fishkeeper. She is an expert in setting up new tanks and maintaining naturally-planted freshwater habitats, and has experience raising a wide variety of aquatic species.

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