Accessories That Totally Annoy Aquatic Pets – And What to Use Instead

Alison Page

Alison Page


accessories that annoy aquatic pets

Sharing is caring!

Fishkeeping is a popular hobby with hobbyists of all ages. In fact, I got my first fish tank as a birthday present when I was 15 years old. Since then, I’ve successfully kept many different fish species in tanks of various shapes and sizes and loved every moment of my hobby.

Of course, I’ve tried to keep my fish happy and make my tank look great, too. So, like many aquarists, I’ve installed various accessories in my aquariums. Some of these ideas worked very well, but others stressed my fish to the point where I had to remove the unwanted additions before any harm was done.

In this guide, I take a look at some of the most popular fish tank accessories that annoy aquatic pets and suggest what you can use instead to keep a happy, harmonious tank!

Why Is Too Much of a Good Thing Bad for Fish?

Fish are largely serene creatures that spend their days exploring their surrounding environment, searching for food, socializing, avoiding predators, and hunting for mates during the breeding season.

Aside from brief periods of stress, a fish’s life is pretty tranquil. So, you want to replicate that in the captive environment. After all, the less stress a fish suffers, the less likely the creature is to succumb to disease, and it will enjoy a longer lifespan.

But a fish tank can be quite a boring place for fish. For example, intelligent species, like bettas, need plenty to keep them physically and mentally stimulated to prevent stress-related boredom from setting in. So, it can be tempting to add a few accessories to entertain your fishy friends.

However, I urge caution since tank accessories that annoy your fish will cause stress. Stress impacts the fish’s immune system and weakens it, leaving it open to attack by parasites and bacteria. Ultimately, the effects of exposure to long-term stress will kill your pets. So, proceed with caution when choosing accessories for your aquarium.

Key Takeaways

  • Excessive lighting with flashing effects can frighten fish; use dimmable LEDs and provide hideouts to reduce stress, while strong aquarium water movement from air bubblers may overwhelm some fish; aeration can be achieved with less disruptive equipment.
  • Avoid plastic plants that can harm fish; silk plants are safer, but living plants are beneficial for oxygenation and offer natural hiding spaces.
  • Decorations with small openings can trap small fish, and noisy, vibrating equipment causes harmful stress. Prevent annoying interior reflections by using matte, dark-colored backgrounds.

Blinded by the Light!

Awesome colorful coral reef aquarium tank

Although you want to get the best possible view of your fish, intense lighting can cause stress, especially if the fish have nowhere to hide from the brightness.

In addition, you can buy lighting units with special effects features, like thunderstorms complete with brilliant lightning flashes! Although that looks great to humans, the effect can dazzle and frighten your fish, and if you keep nocturnal fish species, you’ll want a lighting unit with a moonlight setting so that you can watch your fish feeding and moving around the tank at night.

Living plants make a fabulous addition to an aquarium. They provide extra oxygen and take up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, absorb harmful nitrates from the water, and offer hiding places for shy fish, fry, and invertebrates. However, plants need light at least eight hours of light every day to survive. Certain species, like those with red leaves and carpet plants, need rather bright lighting, which can be bad news for your fish.

Fish don’t have eyelids, so they can only escape the glare of a lighting unit or scary special effects by hiding amid dense plants, taking refuge in a cave, or burrowing into the substrate.

The Solution

Use dimmable LED lights with adjustable brightness settings. Ensure you provide plenty of plants, caves, and decorations where your fish can retreat if they feel threatened, and don’t use flashing special effects that could scare your pets.

Air Bubblers

Aquarium with Air Bubbler

Fish need dissolved oxygen in the water to breathe. Ordinarily, the surface area of your fish tank provides a perfectly adequate platform for gaseous exchange when assisted by the surface agitation caused by the outflow from your filtration unit.

However, air bubblers can be used to agitate the water surface. That also creates a beautiful effect, sending curtains of silvery air bubbles floating up through the water and popping at the surface.

I’ve used air bubblers many times in my tanks, and I’ve found that various fish species, including guppies, goldfish, and even a betta, loved playing in the stream of bubbles. However, other fish species find the whole experience highly stressful. Poor swimmers often struggle against the water turbulence the bubbles create, while others simply seem to dislike the disturbance and go to great lengths to keep clear of the device.

The Solution

Rather than a bubbler, consider using a sponge or gentle power filter to provide aeration without creating excessive water movement.

Plastic Plants

Little fish in fish tank with plastic plants

If you don’t want the additional work of maintaining living plants in your aquarium, you might be considering using plastic ones instead. Plastic plants can look extremely attractive and come in many colors and styles. However, fake plants are not a great choice for a tank containing living creatures.

The main issue with plastic plants is that they can have sharp edges and points that can potentially injure your fish and other livestock. Also, while living plants help to create a healthier environment for your pets, plastic plants don’t do that.

Living plants require occasional pruning and trimming; algae will eventually grow on their leaves. However, algae and general detritus will gather on plastic plants, and you need to remove them from the tank and clean them from time to time.

The Solution

Opt for live plants whenever possible. Live plants provide oxygen, help maintain water quality, and offer natural hiding spots and environmental enrichment for fish.

However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to care for living plants, you could use silk ones instead. Silk plants are usually made from soft materials that won’t harm your fish, and they come in a range of beautiful colors and designs that complement your aquascape.

Decorative Ornaments With Small Openings

Catfish in aquarium

Most fish are curious creatures that enjoy exploring their surroundings, and including aquarium decorations the fish can swim in and out of is a great idea. However, be wary of choosing decorations with tiny openings that could trap your fish, causing stress, potential injuries, and even starvation if the fish can’t reach their food source.

It’s amazing how a tiny fish, like a tetra, can disappear without a trace. I’ve found several rasboras and tetras hiding inside ornaments and even inside the filter box. The fish had ventured in, presumably hunting for food, only to get stuck and unable to find their way back out. Fortunately, I was on hand to find and rescue my missing fish before any harm was done.

The Solution

Always choose ornaments with large openings and smooth surfaces to prevent fish from getting stuck inside or injured.

The best habitat for any fish species is one that closely replicates its natural environment. That way, the fish feel safe, secure, and relaxed. So, use natural rocks and driftwood to make attractive additions to your aquarium, provide hiding spots, and enhance the aesthetics of your setup.

Dense, bushy plants also provide somewhere safe for the fish to explore and hide in, or you could use silk ones if you don’t want the hassle and extra work involved in keeping the real thing.

Loud or Vibrating Equipment

Colorful exotic fish swimming in Aquarium with filter

Some filter systems, air stones, and powerheads are incredibly loud and vibrate quite violently. This is not only irritating if you have your fish tank in your bedroom or office, but it can also stress out your fish, affecting their behavior and overall well-being.

The first thing to do is find out why the equipment is loud or vibrating. Excessive noise and vibration are often caused by a fault developing or the filtration unit needing cleaning. However, vibration is almost always due to incorrect placement of the equipment or a part working itself loose.

The Solution

If you can’t repair the equipment, replacing it is often just as cost-effective. These days, you can buy modern filtration units, pumps, and the like that are almost silent. However, remember that regular maintenance and cleaning of your fish tank equipment can also help to reduce noise levels and keep vibration to a minimum.

Highly Reflective Surfaces

fish in an aquarium looking into a small decorative mirror

Although backgrounds are useful for eliminating a view of cabling around the back of your aquarium and can be used to highlight your fish’s beauty, highly reflective backgrounds or tank surfaces can cause stress to fish.

Some fish, especially territorial types like bettas, often interpret their own reflections as intruders or competitors, leading to constant stress and anxiety. This perception of threat can trigger defensive behaviors, such as increased aggression levels, flaring, or hiding.

Seeing continuous reflections of themselves or other objects in the tank can confuse your fish and disrupt their natural behavior patterns. This disorientation often impacts the fish’s feeding habits, social interactions, and overall well-being, leading to a failure to thrive and a shorter life expectancy.

Finally, excessive glare from reflective surfaces can hinder visibility within the tank, making it difficult for your fish to move around their environment and locate food or shelter safely.

The Solution

The easiest way to solve this problem is to choose a background for your fish tank that absorbs light rather than reflecting it. Sometimes, painting the background on the outside of your rear aquarium viewing pane with matte paint is the best solution, although that does make it difficult to change the background in the future if you want to.

Dark-colored backgrounds, such as black or dark blue, are ideal for reducing glare and can provide a nice contrast that highlights your fish’s colors and the decor within the tank. Alternatively, you might prefer to opt for natural-themed backgrounds, such as underwater landscapes or aquatic plants, to create a visually appealing backdrop for your livestock.

Proper lighting management is crucial in minimizing reflections inside your fish tank. Position the aquarium lights strategically to reduce direct light reflection off the glass or water surface and consider using dimmable LED lights with adjustable brightness settings. That allows you to customize the lighting intensity to suit the needs of your fish and plants without creating excessive glare.

Avoid putting your fish tank close to windows or other sources of natural light that can contribute to glare and reflection. If natural light is unavoidable, use curtains or blinds to control the light entering the room and casting reflections onto the tank.

Final Thoughts

Although you want to create a visually pleasing aquarium for you and your friends to enjoy looking at, that should never be at the expense of your fish’s well-being.

Unfortunately, some common fish tank accessories can annoy your pets and should be avoided. Plastic plants have sharp edges that could injure your fish, bright lighting can dazzle your fish, and reflective surfaces could cause stress. Curtains of air bubbles and noisy, vibrating equipment can prevent your fish from relaxing and feeling safe in their habitat, further contributing to a stressful environment.

Luckily, there are plenty of safe alternatives and easy fixes you can use to put things right, as outlined in this guide.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.