There are many alternatives when decorating your aquarium rather than buying them from a store. You could scour your home for unique items that you no longer need, or you could raid your child’s toy box. Yes, you heard me right. Kids toys can be used as fish tank decorations.
What makes kids toys perfect as tank ornaments is how detailed most of them are. These toys generally depict characters from famous cartoon shows and action movies and would make the perfect theme in your fish tank.
Since they are made for children, this should mean that they are safe and do not contain any toxic materials. This is especially true for the more established brands, but I would be a little cautious with toys that are made by smaller, lesser known toy companies. It is common knowledge that there have been toys originating from third world countries that were made with materials that are regarded as toxic. But being a good parent, I’m sure you would have checked on the safety of the toys for your kids before buying them. Safe for the kids would generally mean safe for the fish. Even so, we will still need to consider a few precautions before placing them into the tank water.
Kids Toys Safety Check
The first thing that we want to ensure is that there are no metal parts anywhere on or in the toy. Metal oxidizes in water and can pollute it badly. These metal parts can be in the form of screws, springs or other components. Remove them if there are any. Don’t leave even a tiny piece of metal in the toy, not even if it is deep within it. Water seeps into the deepest recesses of any object and it will get into the metal part.
Do not leave any batteries in the toy. You may think it is cool allowing it to have some automation but it is dangerous to the fish. A battery is a cylinder containing some of the most toxic chemicals and it will seep into the water. This goes for toys that are said to be water proof. Being water proof and soaking in the water for indefinite periods of time are two totally different things.
Check the paint job of the toy. Toys from established brands have their paint moulded into the plastic. This makes them less likely to pollute the water. However, toys that have painted on colors are something you should avoid. The paints will over time leak into the water and poison it. To know whether the paint is moulded or painted on, you can scrape a blade over the surface. If the paint comes off as dust, it is most likely painted on.
Finally, ensure that there are no sharp parts that could injure the fish. If there are, blunt them with a file. These points and sharp edges could cause injury that can result to eventual death.
Preparing The Toys
Once you have found the perfect toys for your aquarium, you need to first prepare them before dumping them into the water.
You first need to thoroughly wash them. First soak them for a couple of minutes in diluted bleach. Make sure the bleach is thoroughly diluted or you might fade the paint job. Soaking them in bleach kills off any microorganisms that will definitely be on the toys.
Next, wash of the bleach thoroughly with plain water. Never ever use any form of detergent to clean anything that you might put in the aquarium water. Detergent will leave a residue that will pollute the water, no matter how much you try to wash it off.
Once rinsed, air dry the toys in bright sunlight. The UV rays from the sun kills off any balance microorganisms on the toy. Your toys are now ready to be used in the aquarium.