With the aquarium keeping hobby becoming more and more popular each year, the number of people trying to decorate their tank to make it look unique and stand out is also increasing.
Over the last year, aquascaping has skyrocketed in popularity but it can take a surprisingly high amount of time and money to do it correctly we we have seen a large number of people reach out to try and find other ways to decorate their tanks.
One thing that keeps on coming up over and over again is keeping seashells in an aquarium as a form of decoration. This is a little controversial and it can have some potential downsides but many people do it with no real negative issues.
Due to the various controversial discussions that we have seen on social media recently, we have decided to publish this post going over if you can keep seashells in your aquarium as well as the best sea shells to keep in an aquarium.
What Are The Downsides Of Keeping Seashells In Your Aquarium?
There are three main downsides that are commonly brought up when talking about keeping seashells in an aquarium. These are pH level changes, salt content, and bacteria but not all three of these can affect all tanks.
When it comes to pH levels, seashells have the potential to slowly change the levels in your aquarium over time as they release calcium carbonate. This is not an issue in most cases but if your pH levels are already on the borderline of being too high or too low, it can cause problems.
This can technically be a problem in both saltwater and freshwater aquarium tanks but it is often blown out of proportion and most people shouldn’t have issues with it.
Another issues for freshwater tanks is that seashells can hold sea salt on them for a surprisingly long time. If too much salt is introduced into a freshwater tank, it can cause serious issues and even kill the fish.
This is not really an issue for saltwater tanks as they are already designed to handle high salt content but it is something that you need to be aware of.
Simply running the seashells under the freshwater tap for a couple of minutes is not enough to remove the salt and you may have to steep of even boil the shells to remove it fully.
The last downside is bacteria. Seashells can often harbor harmful bacteria but this is usually only an issue for saltwater tanks as the bacteria struggle to live in freshwater.
If you are planning on keeping seashells in a saltwater tank, it is important to make sure that you boil the seashells for at least five minutes to kill off any harmful bacteria.
Can You Keep Seashells In Your Aquarium?
A huge number of people keep seashells in their aquarium without having any negative issues and the unique colors, shapes, and patterns on some seashells can make for excellent, often free decorations for your tank too.
As we have covered above, technically, there are some potential downsides but it is very rare that any of those three will matter in the average aquarium setup, especially if you boil the shells prior to using them.
Due to this, provided you are aware of the potential issues and have considered their impact on your aquarium, we don’t see any major issues to prevent you from using seashells in your tank.
How Do You Prepare Seashells For Use In A Freshwater Aquarium?
If you have decided that seashells are something that you would like to use to decorate your freshwater aquarium, there are a few steps that you need to take first.
The first step is to make sure that the seashells have been properly cleaned. This means removing any dirt, sand, or other debris from them as well as any natural oils.
You can do this by giving them a good scrub with warm water and a toothbrush. Once they have been scrubbed, they need to be rinsed off with clean water until all of the soap is gone.
After they have been cleaned, the seashells need to be boiled for at least five minutes. This will kill off any harmful bacteria that could potentially infect your fish.
Once the seashells have been cleaned and boiled, they can be added to your aquarium. It is important to note that you should never add seashells that have been found in the wild to your tank as they could introduce harmful bacteria or parasites.
You should always look for signs of deterioration on the shell as the calcium carbonate is diffused into the water though. A small steady release of calcium carbonate can help to maintain a steady pH level in some tank setups but a rapid increase can sometimes cause huge issues.
Can I Put Shells From The Beach In My Saltwater Aquarium?
If you have shells that you have collected from the beach, you can absolutely add them to your saltwater aquarium but there are a few things that you need to do first.
Just be sure to follow our cleaning instructions in the section above for your shells but try to remove any tendons or flesh left over from the animal that had previously lived in the shell.
Some people will want to boil the shell for more than just five minutes too with many experiences saltwater aquarium keepers recommend that you quarantine the shell prior to placing it into your main aquarium too.
This is usually just to try and make sure that any potential negative side effects are deal with prior to putting the fish in your main tank at risk. When being quarantined, some people will use treatments such as Melafix or Pimafix to try and deal with any parasites, fungus, and bacteria on the shell too.
What Seashells Look The Best In An Aquarium?
Due to the vastness of the ocean there are a huge number of popular seashells commonly used in aquariums as a decoration. We have chosen some of our favor options below to try and help as many of our readers as possible choose the perfect shell or shells for their tank setup.
Just keep in mind that some of the shells below are huge so are only suitable for larger aquarium tanks due to the amount of space they are able to take up.
Here are some of our favourite seashells to use in an aquarium as decorations:-
- Horse Conch Shell
- Nautilus Shell
- Pink Mouthed Murex Shell
- Lightning Whelk Shell
- Hundred-Eyed Cowrie Shell
- Cockle Shell
- Queen Conch Shell
- Black Murex Shell
- King’s Crown Conch Shell
- Miyoko Murex Seashell
- Triton’s Trumpet Shell
- Junonia Shell
- Conus Gloriamaris Seashell
- Channeled Duck Clam Shell
- Venus Comb Murex Shell
- Florida Fighting Conch Shell