If you’re setting up your fish tank for the first time, you might want to think about adding some rocks to your aquarium. While you may think that rocks purely serve as a visual aid in your tank, they actually have a lot of benefits to your fish and other things living in your tank!
The type of rocks you should use depends on whether you have a freshwater tank or a saltwater tank and, with so many different types of rocks out there, it can seem a bit daunting trying to choose the right one for your tank.
Fortunately, we have complied a buying guide that gives you everything you need to know about choosing the best aquarium rocks. We’ll discuss whether you really need rocks, the types of aquarium rocks, what to look for when buying and have even included some of our top picks out there on the market today. So, if you’re ready to find the right rock for your fish tank, keep reading on below.
Do I Need Rocks In My Aquarium?
Rocks have many benefits when placed in a fish tank and most owners choose to use them alongside substrate and other aquarium decorations and plants to create a habitat for their fish. One of the main reasons rocks are so beneficial is because they serve as bacteria colonies that can help your pet fish thrive and become healthy. They also mimic a natural environment for your fish, keeping them stress-free and happy.
The best aquarium rock can add to the beauty of a tank, too. With so many different types of rocks out there, you are free to decorate your tank however you wish and make your aquarium a real eye-catching piece in your home. Not only adding an aesthetic look to your tank, many rocks have holes and hiding spaces for your fish. This again adds to the natural feel of the aquarium and will make your fish feel safe.
Types Of Aquarium Rocks
There are two main types of rocks available for an aquarium — freshwater and saltwater rocks. The type of rock you need to buy will depend on whether you have a saltwater or freshwater tank, as both have different requirements.
Freshwater Aquarium Rocks
Freshwater tanks are easier to maintain than saltwater tanks and you have a lot more freedom with the type of rocks you use. Freshwater rocks can serve as good colonies for bacteria and provide your fish with food sources. They can also add to the overall aesthetic of a tank and provide excellent hiding and resting places for fish.
Saltwater Aquarium Rocks
Marine and saltwater aquariums need a lot more maintenance than freshwater tanks and therefore choosing the right rock is very important. Saltwater rocks can serve as the main filtration process in the aquarium and can also contain a host of beneficial bacteria, which can serve as food to the fish.
Of course, in both types of tanks you can also use artificial rocks. These rocks serve only really as a visual aid to a fish tank and do not have the same benefits when it comes to bacteria as live rocks do. However, artificial rocks are very easy to place in the tank, don’t require maintenance at all and can still provide hiding spaces and a natural home for your fish.
Things To Consider When Buying The Best Aquarium Rock
There are a few things you should take into consideration before you purchase the best aquarium rock to make sure you get the right kind for your tank.
First and foremost, you’ll need to consider the size of the rocks in relation to your tank. Normally, rocks come in packs of different sizes and so you can place them around your tank, adding character and places for your small and large fish to hide and rest.
The main thing to remember is to not to overfill your tank with rocks and aquarium decor. Your fish need a lot of space to swim around, and won’t like being cramped in with lots of rocks and plants.
The color of the rocks you choose will ultimately help how your tank looks when it is completely decorated. If you want a natural looking tank, you can go for natural colored artificial rocks or live rocks. If you want something a little more out there that grabs your attention, you could go for neon colored rocks!
You should also avoid live rocks that have black algae or a slimy texture, as this can indicate dead organisms that can contaminate the tank.
One of the main benefits of rocks is the hiding spots they give your aquarium fish. These hiding spots can also serve as resting spots, which some fish, such as cichlids, will really appreciate. Aquarium plants are also useful for providing hiding spots.
You want to make sure that the rocks you choose are treated and completely non-toxic so they don’t contaminate the water and harm your fish. You should always be wary of rocks that smell funny and always check the materials before you buy.
Some rocks can be expensive, while others can be fairly cheap. This is just something to keep in mind before buying, otherwise you could end up spending more than you wanted to! The best aquarium rock for you in not necessarily the most expensive!
The Best Aquarium Rock Reviews
This Dragon rock from Lifegard Aquatics is a unique and interesting rock that certainly stands out in a tank. In this pack you will receive approximately two large pieces of rock and four smaller pieces of rock, perfect for arranging in any way you like and adding some character to your tank. The color is completely natural and adds to a natural looking habitat, too. Again, it is recommended that you wash this rock before adding it to your tank, especially to prevent the pH of your water from being raised.
- 10 gallon kit
- 2-medium/4-small rocks
- 1-Lg/2-Med/6-Small rocks
Spruce up your aquarium with these Underwater Galleries Big Rock Box Aquarium Cichlid Stones, perfectly sized for the larger fish in your tank or for creating dramatic rockscapes! These stones aren’t just about looks; they offer cozy hollow spaces for your aquatic pals to explore and claim as their own little territories. Crafted from eco-friendly ceramic, these stones are light enough not to stress your tank’s glass and designed to keep your aquarium’s water displacement to a minimum, so there’s plenty of room for your fish to swim freely.
Not only do these stones add a natural charm to your aquarium, but they also prioritize the health of your underwater ecosystem. They’re engineered to not release any harmful minerals into the water, ensuring a safe environment for your fish. With the Underwater Galleries Big Rock Box, you’re not just getting decor; you’re enhancing your fish’s living space with safe, spacious, and environmentally conscious options. It’s the perfect choice for anyone looking to make a big impact without compromising on safety or style!
This South Seas Base rock from Carib Sea is great for marine, reef and cichlid tanks. The unique shape of this rock is formed by the erosion and pitting of limestone over the course of eons, providing a fun and interesting display to your tank that also gives your fish space to hide and rest. Completely clean and safe, you can be sure this rock will not harm your fish and it is designed to keep the pH level. The colors also help provide a natural looking environment for your fish and add to the aesthetic of your tank.
- Safe for all marine
- Durable natural Rock
- Calcium Carbonate rock
Natural rock is a great addition to any aquarium, and one of the best that you can buy is this one. It has 50% void space to give you more bang for your money. The void space provides spots for your fish to play and hide or sleep. Take from the South Seas, this rock has a fun design that features brilliant colors such as pale purple and gold. You can easily set it in your tank without worrying that it might release chemicals or other substances that can harm your fish. It’s also safe to use in any aquarium that uses freshwater.
- Durable natural rock
- T is clean and safe for marine
- Unprecedented 50% void space
Underwater Galleries Assorted Cichlid Aquarium Stone Caves, 2 count box
This artificial rock from Aquarium Supplies provides a natural like shelter for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. Made of 100% ceramic material, this rock decoration is completely safe for your fish and looks almost identical to a real rock — no one would know the difference! Measuring 22 x 18 x 12 inches, this rock provides a lightweight and natural looking alternative and adds an interesting piece to your tank. It is also perfect to be used as a breeding ground for fish and as a hideaway for bottom dwellers and does not require any maintenance.
- Provides natural like shelter
- Great for bottom dwellers
- Perfect for breeding
Another artificial rock, this step ledge from Penn-Plax is perfect for reptiles, small fish and other aquatic pets, providing them with a place to hide and swim through. Made of non-toxic poly-resin material, this artificial rock is completely safe to have in your tank and works in both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.
The design very closely mimics natural rocks and therefore it makes a great piece in any tank, without standing out too much and still keeping the habitat looking natural. This decorative rock is available in three different sizes based on the size of your tank and the size of your fish.
- Perfect for reptiles
- Realistic rock formation
- Beautiful hand painted details
This Smoky Mountain Stone kit from Lifegard Aquatics allows you to create a magnificent arrangement of rocks in your aquarium. These all-natural rocks look like miniature rock formations and, with two medium sized rocks and three small rocks included, you can place them around your tank and create a natural environment for your fish, including areas for them to swim through and hide. Some fish owners have reported that these rocks altered the pH of their tank so this is something to watch out for, yet they are completely safe for your fish to be around.
- Aquascaping Seiryu Stone
- For 25 gallon Aquariums
- Includes 2-medium/3-small rocks
Best Aquarium Rock FAQ’s
Can I use rocks I find outside in my aquarium?
Generally, using rocks you find outside in your aquarium is advised against. This is because the rocks outside have not been treated and can therefore sometimes contain micorogranisms that could harm your fish. They can also contain calcium which can alter the pH of aquarium water. It is for this reason that you should buy rocks specially designed for aquariums.
Are there different types of rocks for saltwater and freshwater aquariums?
Saltwater and freshwater aquariums are different and therefore have different requirements. Just like some fish can’t live in freshwater and saltwater and others can only live in freshwater, the same goes for rocks. The wrong type of rock in the wrong water can also affect the water, which can then harm your fish. You should always check the rocks you use are suitable for the type of aquarium you have.
Rocks for saltwater aquariums include Fiji Rock, Pukani Rock, Aquacultured Live Rock, Dry Rock and Tonga Branch Rock. Rocks for freshwater aquariums include Slate, Lava Rock, Petrified Wood, Mountain Stone and Quartzite.
As you can see, there are many different benefits to having rock in your aquarium. Not only can rocks make your tank look pretty and build an eye-catching display, they also provide beneficial bacteria for your fish, as well as providing hiding and resting places. They help to create a natural habitat for your fish too, mimicking how they would live in the wild. Whether you have a freshwater tank or a saltwater tank, there is a best aquarium rock out there for your fish.
Check out our other Fish Tank, Food & Accessories posts here:
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- Best 5 Gallon Fish Tanks Guide
- Best Aquarium Thermometer Guide
- Best Aquarium Vacuums Guide
- Best Aquarium Gravel Cleaners Guide
- Best Water Conditioner For Fish Tank Guide
- Best Aquarium Plants Guide
- Best Fish Tank Decorations Guide
- Best Fish Tank Gravel Guide
- Best Aquarium Sand Guide
- Best Goldfish Food Guide