Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Aquariums? An Easy No-Fluff Answer

Many of us have a hobby of keeping a decorated  aquarium in our house. Whenever we think of decorating and painting, acrylic paint comes to our mind. The painting will naturally look good that’s for sure.

But, is acrylic paint safe for aquariums?

Yes, acrylic paint is safe for aquariums if we use the water based variants which is free from any kind of toxic chemical substances. But, if you use the chemical based acrylic paint, it won’t be safe for your aquarium.

As we all know, acrylic paint is terrific in terms of durability. Does acrylic paint submerged underwater around the fish? Many people have much thought in their minds.

Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Aquarium?
Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Aquariums?

We all like to make the aquarium fish feel better, that’s why we decided to paint. The first thing which comes to our mind is whether the paint is non-toxic for the fish or not. Painting can be fun but we need to maintain all types of precautions. The researchers claimed 13% of people used to paint aquariums with acrylic paint all over the world. 

 In this article, we are going to give you all sorts of ideas regarding painting an aquarium with acrylic paint.

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Aquariums?

Yes, water based acrylic paints are fully safe for aquariums. There’s no doubt in it, and it won’t harm your fishes. Acrylic paints are mainly  of two types – water-based and chemical-based. It would be better to use water-based acrylic paint because it will not produce any hazardous chemical substance while flaking off after a long time.

You might have a fear in your mind whether these chemicals will kill your fish or not. You should always use nontoxic paint.

 However, non-toxic the paint maybe, the flake off pieces is harmful to your fish. The fish might think those flake off paint to be their food. We are not saying that acrylic paint is harmful but one needs to be extra careful while dealing with fish. 

aquarium fish

Remember one thing that a little bit of irresponsibility can prove to be life-threatening for the fish. You should always check the toxic label and whether it is animal safe or not. The paint has a water-resistant property because of its polymer particles. Moreover, the paint is porous, so it will slowly absorb water and it will be softer. So always try to use the paint after proper waterproofing, drying and curing.

Which is the Safest Paint Type for Aquariums

Get to know about aquarium safe paints here!

The thing which we can’t ignore is that you need to check whether the paint is safe for your fish tank or not. If the paint is chemical-based naturally it will be harmful to your aquarium. So, never experiment with the fish and check the label of toxicity in the paint. 

The most important material in the aquarium is plastic. We use it for decorative purposes. So, the best paint is spray paint. There is no need to do any additional cleaning. Spray paint is considered to be the best because it covers up the PVC pipes. 

However, if you are looking for the best safe paint for your aquarium then you should use,


  • The best part is that this paint can be used on various products like indoor and outdoor. You can also use it on metal spray paint or wood spray paint. 
  • It can also print to different surfaces which includes plastic, metal, wood and other objects. 

Now, let’s discuss aquarium glass and plastic decorations.

Generally blue, black and grey are the most popular colors for outdoor pipes and stands. If you prefer the colour black, you should use,


  • It provides a perfect controlled grip. It resists moisture, corrosion and acids.
  • The paint is multipurpose and gives the rubber coating and best result.

Now, if you have made up your mind to paint it blue then you should use,


  • It is a wonderful compilation and applies rapidly and effortlessly to almost any substrate substance. Moreover, it also establishes a resistant coating that prevents  any kind of chemical reaction like abrasion and corrosion. It will have a very mild effect.
  • The product also establishes a smooth, easy to stick surface that assists in preventing skidding and slipping.

For actual painting, we also need the sealant product. You should choose,


  • The best part is that this sealant product can be applied to any construction surface. It is made up of metal wood.
  • It can prime on its own and it helps in reliable adhesion.

Another important sealant product is,


  • The product assists in ensuring against radon gas penetration by imposing a restriction on vapour transport.
  • The striking thing is that the product can withstand 10 pounds of hydrostatic pressure. This pressure is the same as a wall of water 22 feet high.

How to paint an Aquarium (Step By Step Guide)

In this paragraph, we are going to state how you will paint the aquarium step by step. It is not easy to draw for everyone. You should know the proper procedure. 

How to Paint the External Part of an Aquarium?

The external part of the aquarium represents the glass wall, the trim, aquarium stand, filter plumbing, pipes etc. When you have decided up your mind to paint then research the external part of it. 

Now, choose the colour. It would be better if you choose a dark colour like black, blue or grey. Some like to choose glossy colours. It entirely depends upon you which colour you would like to prefer. The external colour doesn’t matter much as it has a glare effect. 

You might wonder why we have to choose the dark colour instead of the light colour. It is because it avoids the background distraction and lets the aquarium pop out with or without lighting. 

Aquarium outer acrylic painting

It would be better to choose a dark color especially blue because it can effortlessly camouflage many parts like water, heater, reef tank, etc. Moreover, these dark colors also help us distinguish plants and fish easily in aquariums. 

Now, another query struck in our mind is which paint is ideal for painting the aquarium. We can use either acrylic paint, acrylic enamel, or acrylic spray paint. Out of all these, acrylic latex spray paint works fine

It would be best if you paint when your fish tank is empty. Take out all the materials from the tank. Now, wrap the three sides and the bottom portion with plastic tape. Now, start your paint. Give three to four coats for getting the best result. 

As we are talking about painting the exterior side of the aquarium so there is no need to invest much of your time in examining the paint. Even having a few toxic chemicals spray paints are not unhealthy as they are hardly in contact with the aquarium inhabitants.

After drying the final coat you can also use various kinds of epoxy coating as sealant for ensuring more safety.

These are the proper steps that we need to follow while painting the outside of the fish tank. The smell of the acrylic paint also comes but it vanishes as soon as it dries up.

How to Paint the Interior Aquarium Decorations?

Painting the interior side of the aquarium is a tedious job. Moreover, it also takes time to complete. Follow the step by step process.

Aquarium interior decoration 1
  • The first step is that you should clean the interior side of the aquarium. You may use detergent or liquid soap, but it would be better if you use the parts with isopropyl alcohol or acetone. The basic tools which are needed are cotton wipes, pad, water, etc.
  • Now, take the Dura-Gold 1000 Grit Wet or Dry Sand Sandpaper and rub it. Without sandpaper and primer, it would not be possible to get a fine result. The sandpaper gives a long-lasting effect to adhere the paint properly.
  • After cleaning properly, let it remain dry for a few hours. 
  • Now, take the acrylic paint and start painting. Apply at least two to three coats to get the best result. However, it entirely depends upon your choice of how much thickness you want. 
  • Let the paint dry in between every coat to avoid peeling, flaking off. If you start applying two to three coats at a time then the entire thing will get damaged. The paint will not remain properly.
  • If you wish then you can also use a thick paint brush for marking any critical edges. However, you can also paint without a brush.
  • After finishing the painting work let the paint set and dry for at least one day. After drying, apply some sealant. Keep the fish tank in proper sunlight so that it can dry. However, you need to keep at least 7 to 8 days to get the best outcome. Drying the paint didn’t mean cure, so we need to wait.
  • The last step is to wash away with fresh dechlorinated water. Now, you can decorate the aquarium as per your wish.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Fish?

No, acrylic paint is not at all toxic to the fish. Water-based acrylic paint is not harmful to the fish. 

On the other hand, acrylic paint which is chemical-based contains toxic chemicals. Those are toxic to the fish. However, if you want to be over sure then always go through the label of the paint. If possible then double-check the paint. 

If you have a desire to paint a plastic piece then it would be better to use spray paint. These are best for plastic paint and it is free from any toxic elements. 

is acrylic paint toxic to fish

You may use the Krylon clear spray for bonding. It is not only free from any toxic elements but also best for durability. The paint which is not cured is very harmful to the fish. During the curing process the toxic solvent present in the paint evaporates making it non hazardous to fish. So make sure to cure the painted interior decoration thoroughly before putting it in the aquarium.

You should always avoid those paints which have mold-resistant written on its label as they are harmful for fishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your answers here

1. How Dangerous Is It To Use The Wrong Paint In Your Aquarium?

Answer: It is very dangerous if you use the wrong paint in your aquarium. Though your aquarium looks calm and quiet it has a harsh effect on its environment. You have to be careful in this matter otherwise all your fish will be dead.

2. What Colors Can Fish see?

Answer: Almost every fish has a greenish view. Just like camouflage, the green line tends to blend in with the surrounding. Moreover, the colour green seems to be more visible in clear water. So, the fish mainly see the colour green.

3. Is PVC safe for fish tanks?

Answer: PVC pipe can be used in the fish tanks if it is potable. It is absolutely safe for the fish tanks. This pipe never leaks toxins into the fish tanks. You can also use PVC glue. Once the glue dries up, it is safe for the fish tank.


We are happy that you have read the entire article. If you plan to keep an aquarium in your house then you should keep all the safety measures while painting. Always use non-toxic paints which are not at all harmful for the fish.

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