When you’re setting up your fish aquarium, you want to do your best to mimic a natural environment. This means plants, proper substrate, natural light, and – you guessed it – caves.
Caves are an important part of a healthy aquarium environment. In fact, certain types of fish depend on aquariums to aid in their social lives and mating habits.
But picking out the best fish cave for your aquarium can be hard. After all, there are so many different styles and sizes that the possibilities seem to be endless.
That’s why we made this complete guide to help you through the process! From showing you some of our favorites to helping your understand exactly why caves are important, we have your back!
So, to get started, we’ve compiled a list of the best fish caves for aquariums!
The 13 Cozy Fish Caves for Aquariums:
1. Penn-Plax Deco-Replicas Granite Aquarium Ornament Series
If you’re looking for multiple caves for a large community tank, then this is the choice for you! You have multiple buying options that allow you to buy multiple caves to stack.
The realistic granite design is modern and eye-catching. This helps with aesthetics.
Just be careful if you have fragile finned fish such as bettas. The rough surface could be dangerous for their fins if the tank is overcrowded.
2. SunGrow Betta Fish Cave
This coconut hut is a great natural choice for your tank. It’s designed specifically to meet the needs of your fish, especially betta fish.
The edges are smoothed for your fish’s safety, and it’s non-toxic. This will help make sure your fish are safe in their home.
Just make sure to follow the specific instructions to prepare your new cave.
3. Penn-Plax Reptology Shale Step Ledge for Aquariums & Terrariums
If you’re looking for a way to make a home for fish and amphibians, these ledges are a great choice.
The cave is a perfect hideaway, and the steps make a nice lounge for amphibians like frogs. It also has an aesthetic design with a natural appearance to make sure your tank looks great all the time.
Just beware of the size and weight, especially if you plan to use other huts as well.
4. MF Cichlid Stone Ceramic Aquarium Rock Cave Decor
This ceramic cave is designed with bottom-dwelling fish like cichlids in mind.
The smooth ceramic surface is safe and helps keep your water healthy. It’s also designed specifically to aid in breeding, a bonus if that’s your goal.
Just keep the dimensions in mind when buying this cave!
5. EHC Skull Mountain Aquarium Ornament Fish Tank Decorations
If you’re looking for an edgier approach to your tank, take a look at this handpainted skull mountain. It’s a solid polyresin cave with several holes for your fish to swim through.
It’s durable and built to last. However, it doesn’t sacrifice safety.
The paint is fish safe and all of the materials are non-toxic.
6. Blue Ribbon 006090 Exotic Environments Swim-Through Stone Pile
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for your cave needs, then this stone pile may just be the right choice. However, while there are several caves, they are connected.
This means it might not be the best for cichlids.
It has a nice aesthetic exterior. The outside is smooth, but the edges may be sharp.
7. Tfwadmx Aquarium Resin Driftwood Decoration
This natural-looking driftwood provides a cheaper option to store-bought driftwood. It’s sturdy and safe for all aquatic life.
Also, while it is lightweight, you don’t have to worry about it floating away. The base is designed to anchor the limb.
Just know that you may need a little extra elbow grease during cleaning.
8. Tfwadmx 2Pcs Decaying Trunk Aquarium
This sturdy resin cave is durable and realistic. Both trunks are carefully designed to look as real as possible, aiding in the appeal of your tank.
A smaller design means this is better for smaller fish, protecting them from larger predatory fish.
Make sure to follow instructions and rinse decorations before installation. Before soaking, use a nail file to go over sharp edges.
9. Hygger Betta Log Resin Hollow Tree Trunk Ornament
One thing about resin is sharp edges are common no matter what. These can be filed down with a nail file or Dremel, though, to ensure your fish’s safety.
It has a flat base to make set up easy and prevent movement. And the 5 holes provide plenty of ways for your fish to hide and play in their tank.
Just know that this is designed for smaller fish.
10. VORCOOL Aquarium Sea Rock Cave Ornament for Fish Tank Decoration
If you’re looking to spoil your favorite betta, then this is a fan favorite! It’s safe and non-toxic, and it can be used in salt or freshwater.
The resin can be filed down to reduce sharpness. It’s sturdy and durable and built to last.
11. Yosoo Aquarium Ornament
If you’re looking for a resin ornament but aren’t sure what you want, this ornament has multiple styles. It can be used in nearly all terrains for fish, reptiles, or amphibians.
Each design is unique and carefully crafted. Just be careful with sizing because it’s a bit smaller than expected.
12. DR. Moss Cichlid Stone Luxury Set
If you’re looking to breed cichlids, then this set is a must-have.
It has a smooth ceramic surface for healthy water and safety. And, since each cave is separate, it’s perfect for territorial cichlids.
While they’re already aesthetic on their own, this set also can be used with moss. Just use a fish safe thread to help secure the moss to the surface of the ceramic.
13. Betta Rock Cave
Another betta favorite, this rock cave is designed for smaller tanks and smaller fish. The resin design appears natural and realistic, and the set includes artificial moss.
All of this pairs together for a more natural-looking environment.
The edges are smooth, and it’s designed to be as safe as possible.
Just note that the moss is made of plastic and could break and pollute your water. If you see your fish nipping at it or notice it breaking apart, remove it from the tank.
Buying Guide – Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Best Aquarium Fish Cave Decorations
Now since you know what our favorites are, we want to give you the resources to help you pick your favorite. To do that, we’ve compiled a guide to help you figure out everything you’ll need to know before investing in aquarium cave decorations.
From why caves are important to what the different types of caves are, here are the answers to all your questions:
Why do you need a hiding spot for your fish?
You work hard to make your fish happy, but have you ever wondered about why exactly your fish need certain things? Of course, we know why they need necessities such as food and water, but why are things like caves important?
Turns out, there are a lot of reasons that caves and cave-like decorations are so important to happy, healthy fish.
First, caves can be important during breeding. Even if your fish aren’t actively breeding, the instinct is still there.
This means if you have a co-ed aquarium with males and females, then the males will probably chase the females. While this behavior is mostly harmless, it can be stressful for the females if they can’t catch a break.
This is one reason why caves and hiding spots are important. They can help provide a peaceful refuge for your females away from the males.
If your fish are actively breeding, then a cave is still important. This is especially true for a community tank.
In the wild, breeding leaves both the male and female vulnerable. While captivity is safe, the instincts are still there.
As a result, it’s unlikely that your fish will actually breed if they don’t have privacy. Privacy will result in your fish feeling safer, which equals a better chance of reproduction.
Once the breeding occurs, the caves will also provide a safe place for the eggs. Certain breeds of fish, such as cichlids, will especially need caves for their eggs.
In a community tank, there’s no guarantee that eggs left out in the open won’t become a snack for other fish.
Certain fish, such as Kribensis cichlids, like to care for their young – called fry – as well. Caves provide a safe place for the parents and children to stay together during times of stress or danger.
Caves will also be beneficial towards fish that are more aggressive and territorial.
Fish such as cichlids are extremely territorial and like to claim certain areas. As a result, they’ll spend a large majority of their day keeping fish away from their space.
As a result, without a proper cave, your fish may claim too large of an area. This can lead to stress for both them and the other fish in the tank.
A cave will help narrow down the area for your fish to claim. Thus, they’ll have a smaller place to protect, providing refuge and peace from their tankmates.
In general, fish just enjoy having a place to go. Whether they’re swimming in or out of the caves or taking a break, they appreciate the safe place.
Types of Fish Caves and Hiding Spots
Caves are not a one size fits all type of product. Different fish will enjoy different types of caves and hiding spots.
That’s why it’s a good idea to consider all of your options. You can even build your own cave for your aquarium!
To help you get started, here’s a brief introduction to each type of cave.
Plants are one of the best things you can add to your aquarium for a variety of reasons.
First, they offer a safe place for your fish to rest. They can hide within the thick of your plants, or some fish, like bettas, like to rest on the leaves.
They may even decide to lay their eggs in the plants!
Plants offer a lot of other benefits too though.
Like we mentioned above, your goal in making an aquarium is to make it as natural as possible. In nature, nearly every body of water is filled to the brim with a wide variety of plants.
Plants can also help improve water conditions. They help remove waste products and, in turn, produce beneficial oxygen for your fish.
Like plants, driftwood provides an all-natural touch to your fish tank’s caves. You can even find your own driftwood to add it to your tank.
It’s a great source of shade, and it provides a natural surface to encourage bacteria growth.
But, wait, isn’t bacteria bad? Not all the time!
Driftwood makes a great home for beneficial bacteria. Like plants, these bacteria help remove waste products from the water, keeping it clean and healthy for your fish.
Driftwood is also a fan favorite for certain types of marine life.
Plecos, catfish, algae eaters, snails, and even shrimp love driftwood. You’ll notice them either making their homes in the driftwood or even laying their eggs.
When it comes to thinking about fish caves, you’re probably the most familiar with ceramic caves. These are the types you often see in stores.
Ceramic is a fish decor super surface.
It’s a porous surface that almost seems to breathe. And, with each breath, it purifies the water in your tank while providing space for bacterial growth.
On top of that, it also helps conduct heat to provide a warm, safe space. This helps increase the chances of your fish laying eggs inside of the cave.
Ceramic caves are a fan favorite for several types of fish breeds. Here are three breeds that love it the most:
The natural husks of coconuts make great caves to add to your fish tank. This is because of all the amazing benefits they offer.
First, coconut husks are essentially hardened pieces of wood. This means that, like driftwood and ceramic caves, they offer a great place for bacteria to grow.
You can also use coconut husks as a base for vegetation such as plants and moss.
Fish are naturally attracted to the coconut husks, and you may even notice your fish or shrimp eating it. The husk is a great treat and a great home – offering the best of both worlds for your tank community.
If you’ve been in your local pet store, then you’re probably familiar with aquarium decorations. Faux coral, skulls, pirate treasure, sunken ships – there are dozens of options.
Most of these options are also designed with hollow spaces that act as small caves for your fish. This provides a much needed hided spot for them while also aiding your tank’s aesthetic appeal.
DIY Caves and Hiding Spots
If you’re looking for how to decorate your fish tank on a budget, then don’t shy away from caves. Instead, get creative, get innovative, and learn how to make your own!
Making your own caves and hiding spots is surprisingly easy, and you probably already have everything you need. Here are two examples of cheap and easy DIY aquarium caves and hiding spots.
Small terracotta flowerpots make great caves. You can get creative with the sizes, and the porous surface is great for bacteria.
Just make sure that the pot is new and doesn’t have any chemicals such as fertilizer or paint on it. This will help keep your fish safe.
Small PVC pipes laid carefully across the bottom of your tank can make great hiding spots for smaller fish. They also make a fun activity for fish who like to swim in and out of tanks.
Just make sure that any and all edges are files down and smooth to prevent injuries. Also, like with terracotta, make sure there are no harmful chemical coatings.
How many caves do you need?
This can be a bit tricky, and it depends on a variety of circumstances.
Your best bet to make sure that all of your fish are happy is to provide a hiding space for each fish. This means one cave for every fish.
Of course, for larger community tanks, this may not be possible. In this case, experiment with the number by adding more when needed.
Certain caves can be heavier than others. As a result, when you need more, you may want to switch to lighter options like PVC pipes compared to stones.
Why are your fish suddenly hiding?
So you have your new cave, and your fish seems to like it. Maybe a little too much.
You bought a cave to give your fish a place to rest, but what happens when they won’t come out? Turns out there are a few reasons while your fish may suddenly go into hiding:
You go to the pet store and purchase a bold fish. It’s swimming around, happy, and seemingly unbothered.
However, as soon as you get it home and introduce it to the community tank, it goes into hiding.
Or, in a similar situation, you introduce the new fish and your original fish go into hiding!
Why is that?
Introducing a new fish can be a big change. It’ll take a little while for them to feel secure with each other’s territories.
Give it a few days, and your fish tank should be back to normal with all your fish swimming around happy and free.
Fish are prey animals. Even in full health, they’re nervous and don’t like to feel vulnerable.
When they’re sick, this need to hide and protect themselves is intensified. As a result, they may hide more often.
Identifying and treating the disease is important, so reach out to your vet or a professional.
Overcrowding, too much open space, not enough open space – fish can be surprisingly picky. If they’re uncomfortable in their environment, you may notice that they’re hiding more.
Take a while to observe how they act and find the trigger. Then, work to adjust it to help your fish feel more at home.
Whether it’s bullies or threats, if your fish is afraid, they’ll hide more. If you believe this is the problem, you’ll need to split your tank to remove the bully in order to keep your fish safe.
Some fish just prefer to hide more than others. So long as the habit is consistent, it’s nothing to worry about and nothing unusual.
Caves are a great way of helping your fish feel more at home in their aquarium. They offer a safe place for your fish to collect themselves – which is especially important in larger community tanks.
When it comes time to pick the best cave for your aquarium, make sure to do your research on your specific fish. Different fish enjoy different things.
Whichever cave you end up investing in, just know your fish appreciate the thought you put into ensuring their happiness.