Fake Aquarium Coral: A Dive into the Artificial Reef World

Aquariums are a beautiful addition to any space, bringing life and wonder into our homes and offices. Watching vibrant fish swim through brilliantly colored coral reefs can be an extremely relaxing and captivating experience. However, maintaining a live coral reef aquarium requires specific water conditions, lighting, and care. This is where fake aquarium coral comes into play.

Artificial aquarium coral provides all of the beauty of a coral reef without the demanding upkeep. Manufactured coral decorations have become increasingly realistic, mimicking natural coral’s intricate textures and vibrant hues. With the right selection and placement, fake coral allows aquarium owners to create stunning underwater scenes.

Fake Aquarium Coral

We’ll explore the benefits of using fake coral, how to choose the most realistic pieces, DIY artificial coral projects, proper use and care, different types of fake coral, and much more.

What is Fake Aquarium Coral?

Fake aquarium coral, also known as artificial aquarium coral, refers to coral decorations created to mimic the appearance of live coral reefs and place in aquarium tanks. Artificial coral replicas provide the beauty and ambiance of a coral reef without the difficulty and expenses of maintaining live coral.

Aquarium fake coral decorations are crafted from various materials, most commonly:

  • Silicone – Lifelike silicone coral replicas are flexible and replicate the motion of live coral swaying in water currents. High-quality silicone artificial coral offers excellent realism.
  • Plastic – Plastic fake coral decorations are more affordable and rigid. Modern plastics can mimic the texture and colors of natural coral.
  • Resin – Resin artificial coral is lightweight, durable, and can capture intricate details. Epoxy resins create realistic coral with bright, lasting color.
  • Cement – Cement fake coral is hand-crafted to provide unique shapes and textures. It offers weight and stability for large decorative pieces.

Artificial coral decorations are available in all shapes, sizes, and coral types to create beautiful aquascapes. When designed properly, fake aquarium coral offers a vibrant underwater aesthetic without the high maintenance.

The Benefits of Using Artificial Coral

Decorating aquariums with artificial coral pieces provides a range of advantages over live coral:

  • Easier Maintenance – Fake coral requires no special lighting or water conditions. Like live coral, it doesn’t need regular trimming, feeding, or pruning.
  • Cost-Effective – Good quality artificial coral is generally cheaper than purchasing and sustaining live coral. There are also no ongoing costs for supplements and specialized care.
  • Customizable Designs – Fake coral allows aquarists to design the coral layout and carefully control the reefscape.
  • Eco-Friendly – Using fake coral avoids damage to natural reef habitats from collecting live coral. It provides a sustainable alternative.
  • Consistency – The color and appearance of artificial coral does not fade or change over time like living coral. It remains vibrant and healthy-looking.
  • No Algae Growth – Fake coral does not get covered by unsightly algae or calcification the way live coral does after time.
  • No Aggressive Growth – Artificial coral does not expand aggressively like fast-growing live corals, making arrangement easier.
  • Compatibility – Fake coral is safe for all fish, invertebrates, and plant life, unlike some live corals which can be toxic.

For these reasons, aquarium hobbyists often opt for the beauty of fake coral over the demanding care of live coral reefs. Artificial coral creates a brilliant and lush underwater scene with minimal effort when properly selected and arranged.

What is the Most Realistic Fake Coral?

When selecting artificial coral for aquarium use, the most realistic options provide an authentic underwater reef experience. The highest quality fake coral mimics natural coral formations’ depth, motion, colors, and textures. Here are top tips for choosing realistic fake coral:

  • Look for Varied Textures – Quality artificial coral incorporates uneven, porous, and layered textures replicating live coral.
  • Choose Colorful Pieces – Vibrant colors like neon greens, pinks, purples and yellows match the hues of real coral reefs. Avoid unnaturally bright or washed-out shades.
  • Select Multiple Shapes and Sizes – Assorted branch shapes, mounds, and colony structures look more convincing than uniform pieces.
  • Consider Soft and Swaying Silicone – Silicone coral that sways with water flow appears more lifelike than stiff plastic or cement coral.
  • Illuminate with Proper Lighting – Use LED lighting to bring out vibrant colors and add shimmer reminiscent of real coral reefs.
  • Go for Density – Abundant coral tightly clustered together replicates natural reef density. Sparse or spread out fake coral looks artificial.
  • Choose Reputable Brands – Top artificial coral brands like Blue Zoo Aquatics, Carib Sea, and Seachem specialize in ultra-realistic fake coral.

With careful selection, the best fake coral convincingly mimics living coral reefs’ complexity, motion, and brilliance. Investing in realistic artificial coral is worth the price for a truly immersive underwater aquarium experience.

How to Make Fake Coral for Your Aquarium

For crafty aquarium owners, making homemade fake coral can be a fun DIY project. There are a few common methods and materials for handcrafting artificial aquarium coral:

  • EPOXY RESIN – Mix colored epoxy resin with a hardening agent and pour into coral molds. Provides smooth, glossy coral replicas.
  • CEMENT OVER FOAM – Shape foam forms, coat with cement, and paint for lightweight fake coral pieces.
  • MOLDED PLASTIC – Melt and mold plastic beads or sheets into coral shapes. Provides long-lasting structure.
  • CLAY – Sculpt air-dry or polymer clay to create uniquely shaped coral decorations.
  • SILICONE – Mold and paint silicone for flexible, swaying fake coral that moves with water flow.
  • PAPIER MACHE – Use paper strips dipped in adhesive over wire frames for an organic coral look.
  • WOOD AND RESIN – Coat hand-carved wood pieces in colored resin for natural textures.

Making fake coral allows you to create customized shapes, sizes, and colors. Take care to use aquarium-safe materials and sealants. The options are endless for inventive aquarists willing to get creative!

Is Artificial Coral Good for Your Aquarium?

Artificial aquarium coral offers a range of benefits for freshwater and saltwater tanks. Fake coral creates no issues for aquarium life and provides an attractive reef appearance. Key advantages of artificial coral include:

  • Safe for all fish, invertebrates, corals, and plant life
  • Does not impact water chemistry or quality
  • Provides hiding spots and visual barriers for shy species
  • Helps oxygenate water like live rock
  • Looks vibrant and healthy long-term with no algae overgrowth
  • Complements live corals and rocks for mixed reef aquariums
  • Endless arrangements and aquascape designs possible
  • Easy to remove or rearrange pieces as desired
  • Available in many realistic shapes, colors and coral types

The main downside is that fake coral lacks live coral’s dynamic movement and natural growth patterns. Proper selection and placement of quality artificial coral decor minimizes this tradeoff for a stunning aquarium without demanding upkeep.

Large Artificial Coral Reef Aquarium Decorations

Large artificial coral reef decorations can be bold centerpiece elements for instantly dramatic aquarium decor. Oversized fake coral pieces up to 2 feet wide make a vivid impression and create an illusion of expansive underwater vistas.

Extra-large fake coral options include:

  • Coral Colonies – Massive brain, star, and maze coral structures as a focal point.
  • Coral Walls – Fake coral attached to backdrops or 3D backgrounds for built-in realism.
  • Coral Arches – Towering structures of coral to provide height and complexity.
  • Coral Caves – Fake coral assembled into sheltered caves offer hiding places and depth.
  • Coral Domes – Circular mounds of fake branching coral create striking shapes.
  • Coral Columns – Vertical structures of colorful coral branches.
  • Coral Boulders – Irregularly shaped clusters of brain or bubble coral.

Giant artificial coral decor instantly establishes an aquatic theme while providing ample space for fish to swim and explore. Strategically place these statement pieces to define sections of your aquascape.

Artificial Coral Inserts: What You Need to Know

Artificial coral inserts offer a convenient way to add touches of realistic coral throughout your aquarium. Small pre-made coral pieces are designed to insert into rock crevices or aquarium backgrounds easily.

Key tips for using artificial coral inserts effectively:

  • Use textured backdrop materials like foam or natural rock to allow inserts to wedge in securely.
  • Select small inserts ranging from dime to golf ball sized to tuck into gaps organically.
  • Choose assorted shapes like branching, round, or finger shapes to mimic natural growth.
  • Insert at varying depths for a natural look, with some deeper in crevices and some barely peeking out.
  • Angle inserts in different directions for an unstructured look. Avoid neatly aligning them.
  • Use inserts to transition between larger statement coral pieces for a cohesive look.
  • Scatter inserts sparsely throughout the tank to complement other coral decor.

Artificial coral inserts allow you to build up dense coral coverage gradually. Take time to place inserts to look like natural coral growth carefully.

Fake Coral Decor: Beyond the Aquarium

While artificial coral is commonly used for aquarium tanks, quality faux coral decor can add ocean flair to home spaces beyond the fish tank. Fake coral décor ideas include:

  • Table Centerpieces – Bright artificial coral branches and succulents make lively tabletop accents.
  • Bathroom Accents – Fake coral on the counter or decorative towels create a coastal theme.
  • Poolside Décor – Artificial coral placed around pools complements nautical themes.
  • Centerpiece Bowls – Floating fake coral, marbles, or sea glass fills large glass bowls.
  • Coastal Wall Art – Fake coral silhouettes, patterns, or clusters make trendy wall decor.
  • Fireplace Mantel Accents – Coral and shell arrangements make fun mantel vignettes.
  • Bookshelf Styling – Place fake coral and books on ocean themes together.
  • Door Wreaths – Intertwine faux coral, starfish, and greenery for tropical welcome signs.

Let your imagination run wild using quality faux coral to decorate any space with an underwater oasis theme. The right décor transports you to warm tropical shores no matter where you live.

Artificial Coral Jewelry: A Fashionable Alternative

Genuine coral harvested for jewelry threatens already fragile natural reefs. However, artificial coral jewelry from colored resin, plastic, or glass provides a sustainable and cruelty-free alternative.

Faux coral jewelry offers the same fun, beachy style as the real thing. Artificial coral comes in endless colors like ocean blue, cherry red, neon pink, and sunny yellow. Popular types of fake coral jewelry include:

  • Bracelets – Chunky cuffs or dangling charms work well.
  • Earrings – Options range from studs to dramatic long statement earrings.
  • Necklaces – Multi-strand beads or pendants with faux coral charms.
  • Rings – Bright artificial coral stands out when shaped into rings.
  • Hair Accessories – Faux coral hair clips, bands, and combs.
  • Body Jewelry – Fake coral shaped into bars or studs for piercings.
  • Brooches & Pins – Brightly colored resin or plastic coral pins.

Artificial coral jewelry lets you wear cute ocean-themed accessories without harming fragile coral reef ecosystems. It’s a responsible way to sport the latest beachy jewelry trends.

Fake Coral Snake: A Different Kind of “Coral”

“fake coral” refers to decorative replica coral within aquariums and ocean themes. However, another “fake coral” usage is the artificial coral snake. This fake snake mimics the distinct striped pattern of the highly venomous eastern coral snake but is safe for educational purposes.

Here’s an overview of the fake coral snake:

  • Inexpensive Alternative – Allows students and educators to study coral snake features without the risk of handling the actual venomous snake.
  • Convincing Look – Carefully replicates real coral snakes’ vibrant banding, colors, size, and shape.
  • Made of Durable Plastic or Rubber – Stands up to frequent handling without damage.
  • Useful for Teaching – Demonstrates identification features like distinctive red, yellow, and black band patterns that differentiate coral snakes from harmless look-alikes.
  • Important for Safety – Allows identification practice without the imminent danger of accidentally encountering a real coral snake.

While not underwater decor, fake coral snakes play an important role in education about wildlife and environmental awareness. Responsible coral snake education saves lives by teaching identification of deadly species.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Fake Coral

Fake aquarium coral requires occasional cleaning and maintenance to look its best long-term. While artificial coral does not grow or calcify like the real thing, debris and algae will accumulate over time. Here are cleaning tips:

  • Gently brush fake coral with a soft toothbrush to dislodge dirt and algae buildup from crevices.
  • For tough algae, use diluted bleach or hydrogen peroxide solutions. Rinse extremely thoroughly.
  • Soak in hot water with dechlorinator to loosen stubborn waste. Scrub and rinse well.
  • Avoid metal brushes or pads which can scratch or scrape artificial coral.
  • For hard water deposits, soak in vinegar water. Rinse and dry completely before returning to the tank.
  • Rearrange pieces periodically to expose all sides equally to tank maintenance.
  • Wipe coral decorations above the water line to prevent water spots and mineral deposits.
  • Remove and scrub thoroughly at least every few months for pristine artificial coral.

With occasional cleaning, artificial aquarium coral remains vibrant and beautiful in your underwater oasis for years.

Saltwater vs. Freshwater: Where Does Fake Coral Fit?

One major advantage of artificial coral is its versatility – fake coral decor can be incorporated into freshwater or saltwater aquarium setups. Here’s a look at using fake coral in different tank types:

Saltwater Tanks

  • Provides essential decoration and reef structure without live coral care demands.
  • Use to supplement live coral growth for a vibrant mixed reef aquascape.
  • Artificial coral withstands saltwater conditions long-term.
  • Great for fish-only marine tanks lacking live coral.
  • Arrange fake coral on tank walls to mimic large reef formations.

Freshwater Tanks

  • Adds color, texture, and visual interest to freshwater planted tanks.
  • Provides hiding spots and territory markers for freshwater species.
  • Use to create themed biotopes like Lake Malawi or Tanganyika.
  • Attaches to driftwood and rocks to resemble natural algae growth.
  • Safe for delicate freshwater shrimp and plants.

Fake coral is a versatile design tool suitable for marine and freshwater aquarium hobbyists. Use artificial coral to create your dream aquascape regardless of tank type.

Can You Put Real Coral in a Fish Tank?

Given the difficulty of keeping live coral, some aquarists consider adding real coral to a fish tank. Natural coral can thrive under the right conditions but also brings challenges.

Here’s an overview of placing real coral into home aquariums:


  • Stunning natural beauty and growth.
  • Natural water filtration from live rock.
  • Bright, fluorescent coloration under proper lighting.
  • Mesmerizing underwater movement from swaying coral polyps.
  • Supports growth of beneficial marine microfauna.


  • Requires large tank size – minimum 50 gallons.
  • Demands intense LED lighting, stable water parameters, supplements, and care.
  • Risk of rapid, aggressive coral growth overwhelming a small tank.
  • Possible toxicity to fish and invertebrates from stinging coral.
  • Beginner-unfriendly – coral care requires extensive experience.

For aquarists up to the challenge, a thriving live coral tank creates a hypnotizing underwater spectacle. However, fake coral offers a much more beginner-friendly alternative for those seeking beauty without the demanding coral care requirements.

Types of Coral: Real vs. Fake

Hundreds of coral species populate ocean reefs globally. Aquarium hobbyists can replicate this diversity with different real and artificial coral types.

Here are some of the most popular coral varieties found in home fish tanks:

LPS (Large Polyp Stony) Coral

  • Bubble Coral – Round cavities with bulbous polyps
  • Brain Coral – Ruffled grooved surface
  • Star Coral – Protruding star-shaped polyps

SPS (Small Polyp Stony) Coral

  • Bird’s Nest Coral – Branching fingers like a bird’s nest
  • Staghorn Coral – Spindly antler-like branches
  • Acropora Coral – Delicate branching structures

Soft Coral

  • Leather Coral – Smooth skin-like texture
  • Gorgonians – Branching structures with polyps on sides
  • Xenia – Swaying pulses with tentacles extended

Mushroom Anemone

  • Ricordea Yuma – Fluorescent pucks with short tentacles
  • Rhodactis Mushrooms – Round discs with ruffled tentacles


  • Zoanthus Colonies – Clustered button polyps on mats
  • Palythoa – Thick tentacle-covered mats

Fake coral offers renditions of all these coral types and more. The variety allows aquascapes replicating lush natural reef diversity. Do your research to select the coral species best suited to your tank inhabitants and décor goals.

Where to Buy Artificial Coral

Many options exist for obtaining quality artificial coral for aquarium use. Good sources include:

  • Online Shops – Specialty aquarium websites offer wide selections with competitive pricing and shipping. Recommended online stores include Bulk Reef Supply, Live Aquaria, Marine Depot, and Amazon.
  • Local Fish Stores – Walk into pet and aquarium stores to hand-select pieces. Develop relationships with trusted staff.
  • Aquarium Swaps/Forums – Join local clubs to connect with aquarists selling frags or used artificial decor.
  • Craft Stores – Hobby stores sell materials for DIY fake coral like silicone, epoxy resin, and plastic beads.
  • Aquarium Manufacturers – Leading decor brands like Penn Plax, Carib Sea, and Zoo Med sell artificial coral.
  • Conventions/Expos – Fish conventions offer vendors with the latest artificial coral selections and competitive deals.

With some smart shopping, you can hand pick gorgeous artificial coral pieces to design your dream aquarium reefscape. Support fellow hobbyists by buying through small businesses, local clubs, and private aquarists when possible.


Artificial coral is a versatile and eco-friendly alternative to real coral, providing a realistic and realistic representation of natural reef environments. Its durability and authentic textures make it popular for aquarium owners and home decor. By carefully selecting and arranging artificial coral, it enhances the aesthetic appeal and supports the preservation of natural habitats.