Your aquarium is a source of wonder and tranquility in your home. While you can settle for an ‘out of the box’ environment, why in the world would you want to do that? Today I’ll tell you about aquarium safe paint that you can use for making the ultimate underwater environment for your fishies at home. I’ll share with you some of the best brands for glass, pvc, plastics, and more, so that you can get started on adding a little color into your that aquatic mini-environment that can really make an enormous difference.
So, what paint is technically aquarium safe paint? Usually that will break down into three types, those being epoxy, latex, and acrylic paints… however, you should still do a little due-diligence, just to be on the safe side.
Let’s get started with a few ground rules that you should always follow when it comes to paints and underwater environs.
Best practices when finding paints to use in your aquarium
Painted scenes look amazing in your aquarium. Maybe you’ve started off with a lovely background, added a little ‘age’ to the traditional treasure chest, or even added a neon pirate-skeleton in the mix. However good they look from the outside, the environment inside is really harsh for those paints. If they aren’t suitable, it’s going to be harsh for your fish too and could well kill them.
That’s why you are going to need a few ground rules to ensure that you are truly using aquarium safe paint. When it comes to paints that are going to be submerged, always check the label and look for the following:
- Make sure it’s waterproof – While you usually don’t have to worry with the recommended types of paint, it only takes you seconds to confirm that your paints are indeed waterproof and this is vital. You don’t want your work to end up dissolving in the water and poisoning your fish.
- Check for the words ‘non-toxic’ – You should see ‘non-toxic’ on the packaging and in some cases, it will say ‘non-toxic for animals’. When you see the latter, this is absolutely the best paint for use, but sometimes it will simply say ‘non-toxic’ and that should be okay, too.
Best paints for glass
Now that I’ve given you some basic ground rules, I’ve got a few examples of some paints that you can use on your aquarium glass that look good and will do the job nicely. While there are certainly other brands out there, these should get you started if you are ready to get some painting done right away.
Performix Plasti-dip is amazing stuff. Basically a non-toxic, spray-on rubber, Plasti-dip is waterproof and highly resistant to corrosion. As a bonus, since it’s rubber, it also dampens sounds, helping to make to make your aquarium just a little more serene inside.
Once you’ve applied it, then it takes about 24 hours to cure properly so that it is ready and the resulting rubber won’t crack for years. It’s even safe enough that algae-eaters can eat any resulting algae that grows on it, so this stuff is definitely a safe bet for your fish. Give it a try and see what you think. Since it’s versatile, you might find yourself using it for more projects after you’ve done that fish tank!
Pond Shield Epoxy
While it’s not technically a paint, Pond Shield epoxy will allow you to fix things like shells, faux-plants, and more to any place that you would like in your aquarium. It’s designed for ponds and not only is it nontoxic, but it provides a sealing effect if you need to make sure that anything is sealed off for safety, such as a liner.
This epoxy will affix to just about anything, including plastics, woods, and stone, but keep in mind that you will have to treat the glass first to ‘rough up’ the surface. This is accomplished with a little glass etching, so while this can make you a nice viewing window for a DIY saltwater tank it is going to take a little patience and work.
The vendor gives a little background on doing this which you can view here.
That said, if you are considering upgrading to a larger, DIY tank, you can really work some magic with this product so it is well-worth your while.
Drylok Latex Waterproofer
While it’s not technically a paint, Drylok comes in a number of colors that can essentially produce the same look as paint while giving you a non-toxic, watertight seal that can withstand 10 pounds of PSI.
“This is the equivalent of a wall of water, 22 feet high…”
This is the equivalent of a wall of water, 22 feet high, so it should more than suffice for your indoor aquarium unless you are a supervillain with sharks!
All kidding aside, you can also mix this stuff with Quickcrete Liquid concrete, a paint that plays well with Drylok and which is safe for fish as well. This will empower you to make that latex coat into custom-mixed colors and shades of your choosing, so you can really go wild with this combination.
If you’ve got the patience, you can even build on to that, by using layering to create a 3-dimensional addition to a formerly boring tank. The possibilities with this are endless and should keep you occupied for a good, long time as you create the perfect tank.
Drylok has a minimal odor when applying and in about 3 hours after application you can add another coat if you like, with each 1 quart can covering approximately 18.7 to 25 feet of surface. So get a few cans and take your tank to the next level with Drylok Latex Water proofer.
Best paints for Plastics, Resins, and PVC
Generally, when it comes to painting plastics, PVC, and resins, your best go-to paint is going to be a spray paint. It’s quick and easy to apply and as long as you ensure that it’s nontoxic with a quick glance at the label then you should be golden. In this section I’ll give you a favorite and for a little variety, I’m throwing in an acrylics option. Call me old-school, but whenever I’ve got a chance to bring them in, I love acrylics much more than a plain old spray-can. You can get great results with either, so it’s up to you, but if you want to break out some acrylics then now you’ve got the option!
Krylon Fusion Paint
When it comes to color selection, it’s hard to beat Krylon Fusion. It comes in an enormous variety of colors and it sticks to plastics with ease. While their packaging might advise you that no preparation is needed, if you use this I recommend the following:
- Sand the area down a little to avoid any future cracking and to maximize surface efficiency for holding your paint.
- Apply it lightly and layer as needed, to avoid any dripping.
- Stick to Kylon FUSION. Krylon produces a wide variety of spray paints, but Fusion is the only Krylon product that is meant for your fish tank. Other varieties might be toxic and should be avoided.
While this stuff may dry in as little as 15 minutes, it is important to note that after this short time it is NOT ready to be put in your aquarium. You will want the Krylon paint to cure and this takes about a week in order to cure properly. So, place your painted items in a dry place after you’ve painted them and give them a good rinse later with plain water before you put them in your tank.
Arteza Outdoor Acrylics
I promised you some acrylics and here they are! Arteza offers a great set of outdoor acrylics, which are self-sealing and come in 24 colors that you will love. You also get the bonus of being able to mix up your own hues and shades so you’ve got a chance to go wild. So, paint up a neon sign that says ‘Atlantis bar’
“You also get the bonus of being able to mix up your own hues and shades”
and snack plates with little fried fishies or greens for the health-minded fish or some equally fantastic background. Arteza Outdoor Acrylics have got you covered!
What about other materials?
Just in case I haven’t covered all of the items that you envisioned adding to your tank, I’ve got a great general purpose enamel spray paint that you can use in a pinch which should get that color on safely and effectively. It also happens to be a cheaper alternative to Krylon Fusion, so take a peek at what Valspar can do and see what you think!
Valspar Enamel Spray paint
I discovered Valspar on accident when I needed a little spray paint and the Krylon had already disappeared from the shelves. I have to say, it’s a happy discovery. While it has a very small color selection, you can get some great colors such as satin whites, silver, and more. Once it’s cured, it hardens into a nice, chip-resistant coat that is non-toxic and is going to look great.
Now that you’ve got some good examples you are ready to begin planning and implementing the stages of your new project. So, fire up those creative juices and get out your sketchpad and with a little planning and some good time-management, you should be able to create a fish tank that your fish, friends, and you will enjoy equally.
It’s worth the time, as well you know, as nothing quite says tranquility in a household quite like fish swimming about in a beautiful, enclosed environment.
So… what are you waiting for? Sketch it up, get the best aquarium safe paint, epoxy, and latex, and make it happen! You’ll be happy that you did.