Having a tropical aquarium can be a fun hobby as well as a great way to add a decorative focal point to any room. Everyone knows that filtration and lighting are key elements to an aquarium, but many people don't realize that the "decorations" in your tank also have an important function in the tank. Aside from making your aquarium look great, decorations can provide important hiding places for your fish. Gravel comes in many colors and styles and is key to the look of your tank. If you want a colorful tank, you can get gravel in almost any color you want. If you prefer a more natural look, you can get white, off white or even gravel that looks like stone.
Aside from being decorative, gravel is also functional. Gravel plays in important role in the biological filtration of your tank as well as under gravel filtration if you have that type of system. It can also provide an anchor for root systems of live plants so it is important to be sure you choose the right type of gravel. It' best to choose a gravel that is 4 to 6 millimeters, especially if you have an under gravel filter as this will help with water flow. Those neat looking shiny marble type stones you see are not recommended for gravel, but if you really like the look, you can scatter some on top of the gravel.
Rocks add a natural look to your tropical aquarium and provide a place for fish to hide behind. Rocks can also be handy as a surface for some types of aquarium plants to grow on such as Java Moss. You can buy interesting rocks in all shapes and sizes at your aquarium store. If you use rocks from your own yard, make sure you clean them thoroughly and rinse off any soapy restudy before putting them in the tank.
Bogwood is another great addition to a tropical aquarium and can help give your fish lots of places to hide and swim around in. This type of wood can last a long time in your tank and is available in most fish stores. It's probably not a good idea to use wood you find in the woods or your yard as it can have parasites or other things that are not suited for tropical fish.
Live plants are a great way to enhance the natural look of your tropical aquarium while also helping to improve the water quality and providing the fish with a natural cover and spawning area. If you have ever tried to keep live plants and found they wilt and turn pale after a couple of weeks, this is probably because you have not provided them with enough (or the right kinds) of light. Most plants have specific lighting requirements and you may simply need to buy a different bulb for the tank. Once you do that, you will find live plants are easy to grow and will interest to your aquarium. If you like a more traditional decorative look for your tropical aquarium, you may want to add in some interesting décor such as sunken treasure chests, underwater divers or greek ruins. Your tropical aquarium can be decorated for any look you want as long as you be careful not to add anything that would be toxic to the tank.
Be sure to clean and rinse anything you plan to add so as to not contaminate the tank.
Lee Dobbins writes for http://www.fish-tank-guide.com where you can get more articles on tropical fish and aquarium care.