How to Create Hiding Spots in an Aquarium

When creating an aquascape or even just creating a shrimp tank, shrimp in particular – but also some fish – would like some sort of home to seek refuge in.

Today, we’re going to talk about these hiding spots and how to easily create some in your aquarium.

This could be from a small little cubbyhole all the way to something like cholla wood and DIY PVC setups.

It’s necessary to put these safety measures in place to give your shrimp the best security possible, especially when there might be predators in the tank. Providing great hiding spots is essential to keeping a healthy, happy shrimp colony.

When planning hiding spots for your aquarium, select materials that are non-toxic, non-abrasive, and able to withstand the aquatic environment.

A table with examples of safe materials is below:

DriftwoodWashed up, dried natural woodNatural look and feel to the aquarium
RocksStones and pebblesEasy to clean and helps water quality
PVC Pipes/TubesCut plastic pipingCan be easily removed for cleaning
Clay Pots/VasesCeramic pots or vases with openingsUnique shapes for hiding spots

Always remember to thoroughly clean any objects before placing them in the aquarium. Avoid unique decorations such as shells, as they can change water chemistry over time.

Place hiding spots in different areas of the tank. This will provide security and a very natural looking environment for your fish and shrimp.

Placing hiding spots in an aquarium

small aquarium with hiding spots

To place the hiding spots in your aquarium, you need to consider both natural and artificial options.

Natural hiding spots such as plants and rocks provide a more authentic look while artificial hiding spots like caves and tunnels offer more control over the aesthetic.

Some people – myself included – don’t really appreciate artificial items in the aquarium, but in the end, as long as the inhabitants of our tank are happy, we should be happy too.

Natural hiding spots in aquariums

Rocks placed in such a way that openings are available make for natural hiding spots. They offer secure cover for small fish and shrimps.

Trees with hollow trunks or branches can make burrows that give shelter to your aquarium inhabitants.

And finally, we have plants – the larger ones are perfect for creating natural hiding spots.

Artificial hiding spots in aquariums

The best part about the artificial hiding spots is that you have full control over them – especially how they look like.

You can buy various decorations from pet shops, create your own hiding spots from PVC pipes (see the video below) or get creative with anything from coconut shells to clay pot plants and anything in between.

As I said, I am not particularly a huge fan of most artificial hiding spots (or decorations, that is) in aquariums, but I have to admit that they’re better than nothing and much easier to care for.

The useful video below shows you how to create easy PVC hiding spots for your aquarium. You can use larger pipes if needed:

Creating hiding spots with plants

To create hiding spots in your aquarium with live or artificial plants, you don’t have to put in a lot of work. Plants will grow and provide more protection as time goes by.

You can read on my previous article about the easiest low light plants to grow in your fish tank, or some of the best plants to use in Jarrariums, where you will most likely have plenty of shrimp.

Keeping aquatic plants like java moss or DHG (dwarf hairgrass) will give your shrimp, and especially your shrimp’s fry a place to forage and hide when needed.

Moss is essential for shrimp fry in the early stages of their life and will help keep their die off to a minimum.

If you opt for live plants to create hiding spots for your shrimps and fish, here are a few tips I have for you:

  • Size: Get different sizes of plants for a natural hideout.
  • Placement: Put plants in corners and close enough to actually create hiding spots.
  • Type: plants with larger leaves or those that grow dense are perfect options.
  • Maintenance: You will have to do some pruning every now and then to keep them look nice.

Live plants are also great in aquariums and fish tanks because they help maintain the water quality. Plants also produce oxygen in the water column from soaking up ammonium and nitrates while in the photosynthesis period.

Alternative: Artificial plants! These are easier to manage, but they don’t provide the additional benefits or live plants.

Using hardscape to create hiding spots

To create hiding spots for your aquarium inhabitants, using hardscape décor elements like rocks, driftwood and logs, you’re already on the path to creating a very natural-looking environment for your fish.

So let’s get a bit more in depth with some inspiration for creating aquarium hiding spots with rocks, driftwood / logs and such.

Rocks and caves

Rocks and stones are one of the main hardscape elements used in an aquarium to create a natural feel for “the wild”.

They are a great source to grow algae and diatoms on which your cherry shrimp will feast upon.

In the aquascaping world, there are a few rocks that are commonly used and which I recommend too:

  • Ohko Stone
  • Ryuoh Stone
  • Seiryu Stone
  • Yamaya Stone
  • Manten Stone
  • Pai-Hai Stone
  • Sado-Akadama Stone
  • Kei Stone
  • Black River Stone
  • Utah Dragonstone

These types of rocks, with combination of moss, can create a shrimp haven and actually a huge landmark that they will call home.

Driftwood and logs

Driftwood is another hardscape element that shrimp love to crawl around on. These come in all different types, like:

  • Malaysian
  • Mopani
  • Manzanita
  • Cypress
  • Riverwood
  • Texas Select
  • Hornwood
  • Branchwood

Each type has different characteristics and just depends on your personal taste. You can even source your own from a river or basically find any root with a nice shape, treat it at home (let it soak & boil it) and you can use it in your aquarim.

Driftwood has a tendency to lower pH in fish tanks, which can be great if you have harder water or a very sensitive species of shrimp or other fish.

Tips for maintaining hiding spots in aquariums

Now that you know how to create awesome hiding spots in your fish tank, let’s see how to properly ensure that they’re clean and in perfect condition!

Regular cleaning

To keep hiding spots functional and safe, cleanliness is key. Regular upkeep helps prevent dirt and debris from building up.

Inspect weekly for any damage. Vacuum or wipe down using a suitable cleaner – no harsh chemicals! A cloth with warm water and mild soap should do the trick.

However, don’t go too crazy with this. If you want to opt for a natural look, various algae growth won’t hurt – it would actually increase the natural feel of your aquascape.

I personally rarely clean the decorations and only do so if goop starts piling up. Otherwise – I just put them in and leave them for most of the time.

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