betta fish themed aquarium

5 Stunning Betta Fish Tank Themes That’ll Earn You Bragging Rights

Setting up a unique betta fish tank is an exciting way to take your hobby from simple to dazzling. However, the tricky part is finding fish-friendly ornaments to keep your project hazard-free. While decorating, fishkeepers like you and me, lose too many fish from the toxic minerals found in aquarium toys and decorations.

I’ve started multiple aquariums from scratch, beautifying each tank with a different aesthetic. This also means I’ve tested and sorted through hundreds of tank ornaments to find the best combination of beauty and betta-friendly.

Tapping from 6 years of fishkeeping experience, I’ve created a detailed guide to show you five beautiful concepts for decorating your betta fish tank, including where to get the items to fill it. I also threw in some safety precautions to help you create a harm-free aquatic wonderland!

1. Natural Wonder

This natural wonder theme perfectly depicts a  “home away from home” for your betta fish. The tank mimics a natural habitat, calming and encouraging them to hide and relax behind driftwood boulders.

For this theme, use aquatic plants and driftwood to create a mini replica of a planted aquascape. Make the driftwood your tank’s focal point, underplanted with aquatic carpet grass using plants like Vallisnera or Micro Sword.

You can also use rocks from pebbles to large stones. I like to use pebbles sparingly and focus on using driftwood and a plant carpet to create a captivating open space.

What You’ll Need to Recreate a Natural Replica Tank


Since driftwood is the tank’s centerpiece, you’ll need lots of big pieces. However, you must clean and prep them a week before adding them to your aquarium. 

To clean the driftwood, you’ll need salt, dechlorinated water, and a rock of equal or greater size. The rock helps keep the wood submerged because new driftwood will float in water.

Boil enough water to submerge the driftwood and add ½ cup of salt per gallon. Next, dunk the driftwood and change the water every 24 hours or when darkened with tannins. You’ll know the driftwood is ready when it stops leaching large amounts of tannins and sinks on its own.

Underwater Plants and Toys

Micro sword is one of the best plants for creating underwater carpets due to its hardiness and excellent carpeting ability. Its light, long leaves spreads across the tank’s bottom in a thick green carpet, closely resembling seagrass. I also recommend it for beginners because it’s fast-growing and low-maintenance.

Toys like the Zoo Med Sinking Log and the Groot Air Bubbler blend beautifully into the theme while entertaining your betta fish.

2. Zen Garden

Your betta needs zen time, too! This zen garden is a minimalist setup to soothe your betta with neat carpets and smooth stones. It’s perfect for male bettas with large fins because the lack of sharp decorations reduces the chance of trapping or injuring them.

While garden-themed tanks are usually used to house single males, they’re also perfect for a group of female betta fish. In this case, I’d recommend adding 2 or more big trees for extra foliage to hide in.

What You’ll Need to Recreate a Garden Tank

Carpet Grass

One standout feature in every garden-theme aquarium is a well-planted floor. I use Water Sprite or Vallinera seedlings because their blades create a thick carpet. 

Choosing the right substrate is essential because it needs to anchor the plants firmly while holding nutrients. You can grow the grass from seeds or seedlings but I find that seedlings anchor into the substrate quicker.

Aquarium Gravel

Aquarium gravel creates a fluorescent contrast to the tank’s floor and resembles a garden walkway as it divides the carpet grass.

To clean the gravel, soak and swirl it in water, and replace the water until it’s debris-free. Avoid using soaps and detergents because their chemicals leach into the water and affect its quality.

Ornamental Trees

Trees are the cherry on top in every garden aquarium. The tree can change the tank’s aesthetics, so I play around with different replicas like Cherry Blossom and Bonsai trees. To ramp up your betta’s mental stimulation in the tank, add theme-matched toys like leaf hammocks and mossballs.

🐠Transform your betta’s tank into an interactive playground. Find the perfect betta fish toys to complement your tank’s theme. Discover More

3. Color Burst Reef

A reef tank is perfect for fishkeepers who love a mix of colorful lights and vibrant decorations. Displaying rocks, shells, and plants that mimic natural coral reefs, reef tanks keep your betta entertained The decorations can also provide shade and act like a playground for your betta.

Unlike other themes, reef tanks rarely use carpet grass and opt for a sandy beach-like floor instead. So, you’ll need to build up the tank’s floor with artificial ornaments to give it more depth and character.

What You’ll Need to Recreate a Colorful Reef Tank


White sand suits reef tanks because it creates a bright background for colorful ornaments to bounce off. I use Aquanatural Sand because it’s the cleanest I’ve ever used, but I never skip washing for extra safety.

Similar to gravel, simply put it in a bucket and pressure-wash it with a water jet or fast-running tap. With each wash, swirl the sand with your hands to dislodge any debris before topping the water off. Repeat 6-7 times before adding it to your aquarium.

Artificial Plant Decoration

Aside from your vibrant betta fish, artificial plants bring the most color to your reef tank.  Aquatic weeds cover the ground, while resin coral ornaments form lifelike boulders in the tank. Just remember to soak new tank ornaments in regular water for 5-6 hours to ensure that they don’t leach odors or dyes into your aquarium.


When decorating a reef tank, focus on making it highly realistic by drawing inspiration from natural reefs. I use pebble arbors to mimic aquatic plants and rocks and add plastic artifacts to add realism to my tank. The arbors also entertain my bettas because they run and hide in the passage daily. I threw in a toy UFO and submarine and the compliments were endless!

4. Ancient Ruins

The ancient ruins theme depicts the legendary city of Atlantis inside your betta’s tank. It uses ruin-style decorations like “broken” artifacts to showcase your creative touch. Add in a couple of betta-friendly tankmates like guppies and neon tetras and your city will come alive!

Unlike other themes, these tanks feature more decorations than plants. Draw inspiration from different concepts like shipwrecks or underwater castles.

What You’ll Need to Recreate an Ancient Ruins Tank


Unlike planted tanks, this aquarium uses gravel as its substrate, meaning that all its greenery (if any) comes from artificial ornaments. You can use any gravel color, but I recommend white gravel because it creates a bright contrast against the tank’s ornaments.


When decorating an ancient ruins tank, there’s no limit to the ideas. The idea is to mimic real underwater scenes, complete with lost treasure or sunken vehicles. You can choose rocky ruins like towers and castles or take an equally realistic approach and pick sunken artifacts like buses and tires. You can even find unique ornaments like a Titanic Shipwreck for your tank.

5. Aquatic Fantasy

The aquatic fantasy theme uses one main focal point—usually a castle—to create a fancy underwater kingdom. Like reef tanks and ancient ruins, this theme doesn’t have much use for plants. However, the castle’s “rooms” or compartments create shade and hiding spaces for your betta.

Like most other non-planted aquariums, it uses gravel as its primary substrate. Aside from beautifying the tank, gravel helps house the beneficial bacteria that remove waste in the tank’s nitrogen cycle.

What You’ll Need to Recreate an Aquatic Fantasy Tank

Decorations and Ornaments

The most essential ornament is your centerpiece, which could be a castle, cave, cottage, or even mountain. Next, you can focus on smaller ornaments like artificial weeds and shrubs to fill in the tank’s bottom layer and give it a lifelike feel. 

When buying the focus ornament, avoid products with small holes or sharp edges because they can injure your betta’s long fins. I always recommend resin-made materials due to their all-around smoothness.

How to Decorate a Betta Tank Safely

Before adding tank ornaments, they have to pass the betta safety check. Here are a few checks to run on each ornament before adding them to the tank:

  • Ensure the ornament has big enough holes to prevent your betta from getting stuck or injured.
  • Avoid decorations with sharp or pointy edges since they often cause injury. Plastic toys are more likely to have sharp edges because they’re mass-produced and easily skipped during quality control.
  • Boil collected rocks and gravel in regular water for an hour before putting them in your tank. It kills harmful bacteria and prevents pathogens from entering the aquarium.
  • Avoid using metal ornaments because they rust and leach toxic metals and could poison your fish.

Creating a Betta Wonderland

Aquarium themes are a fun way to beautify your betta fish tank. You can harness creativity to build any imaginable concept while providing mental stimulation for all the tank inhabitants. Just be sure to pre-treat toys and ornaments to avoid putting debris and toxins in your betta’s home.

If you’re considering some new decorations for your aquarium, I have the perfect resource to help you. I’ve created an article on 10 quirky tank decorations to up your theme game, so be sure to check it out!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Bettas Like in Their Tank?

Bettas like soft plants, subdued lighting, and enrichment to keep them stimulated. Because of this, I’d recommend aquascaping your aquarium with plants, rocks, and decorations to ensure a safe and engaged betta fish.

What Are the Must-Haves For a Betta Tank?

Aside from a lid (to protect jumpers), betta tanks need a filter, heater, and high-quality tank decorations. In your kit, you’ll also need a de-chlorinator, thermometer, and a water test kit. These are not only convenient, but they are also essential for determining water quality.

What Decor Should Be in a Betta Tank?

The key elements of betta-friendly decor are beauty and safety, so you can use ornaments from natural or synthetic sources. Some natural ideas are aquatic plants, driftwood, and rocks, while resin and plastic betta-safe toys fall into the artificial section.

How Do I Make My Betta Tank Interesting?

You can make your betta tank interesting by incorporating a theme and adding matching decorations. A decorated tank complements your already beautiful betta fish while making a great conversation starter in your home.

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