Is Acrylic Paint Aquarium Safe? Best Aquarium Safe Paints

When considering the use of acrylic paints for an aquarium, the first question that comes to mind is whether or not they are safe?

Some people say yes, and some say no. We will take a look at both sides of this issue so you can decide for yourself.

After answering whether acrylic paint is safe for aquariums or not, we’ll review the top-rated aquarium-safe paints that you can use to customize your aquarium.

can i paint aquarium

Can I Use Acrylic Paint on Aquarium?

As a general rule, acrylic paints are not recommended for use on or in aquariums. This is because they contain solvents and other chemicals that can leach into the water and harm your fish if they come into contact with it. If you do decide to use acrylic paint despite this fact, however, make sure to buy one labeled as ‘aquarium safe’ or ‘non-toxic for aquarium use.’

Another crucial issue with acrylic paint is its water-soluble nature. This means acrylic paint will become soften if you expose this to water for a certain period of time. As Aquarium contains water, this paint will not last in the aquarium for a very long time.

The paint will start to peel off and your fish will be exposed to toxins in the paint such as lead, mercury, and other harmful metals. Lead poisoning is one of the main reasons why people find themselves stuck with sick or dead fishes in their aquariums.

Can acrylic paint kill fish?

You may be thinking that the paint you choose to use inside the aquarium is safe because it is labeled as non-toxic or not hazardous. But the non-toxic label doesn’t mean fish can eat the acrylic paint and survive.

As we have said earlier, acrylic can flake off the surface of the aquarium. It can then end up in the water and be eaten by fish. And this can kill your fish in the aquarium.

So, this begs the question: what kind of paint is aquarium safe?

Best Aquarium Safe Paints

There are a lot of options for you to choose from when you want to paint the aquarium. However, not all paints are safe for use in an aquarium. In fact, some types of paint can be extremely detrimental to your fish and your fish tank. Here are the best paints for aquariums that will last long:

Pond Armor Non-Toxic Pond Shield Epoxy Paint For Internal Use

Pond armor epoxy paint is a one-of-a-kind water-resistant formula that insures your aquarium will be protected. Designed to withstand the hot summer and harsh environments, this paint can stand any heat or cold weather just as well you would!

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With 11 color options available, you are guaranteed to find the perfect one for your needs! Easy application ensures quick drying so it won’t take up too much time.

It’s fish and plant safe so there is no need to worry about hurting any living things while giving your fish tank space some flair. Whether you need it for fish tank walls, ornaments, or rocks, Pond Armor Paint promises protection that lasts through all seasons and makes fish and plant life safe!

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Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint For External Use

If you are looking for a paint that will last your fish tank for years to come, then look no further than Krylon fusion all in one spray paint. This spray paint is the perfect match for an aquarium as it is non-toxic and free of any harmful chemicals.

This paint comes with a quick-drying formula that makes it easy to get the job done without having to wait around for hours or days for the paint to dry. It has 7 finish types including matte and glossy, and comes in 61 different colors so you can find one that matches your specific needs.

The versatility and durability that Krylon brings to the table have me saying, “I’m hooked.” Not only does it come in many different colors, but it can also be used indoors or outdoors and dries fast. And my favorite part about this product is that you don’t need any primer- what a time saver!

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How to Recognize a Fish Tank Safe Paint?

A fish tank safe paint will have any of the following written on the label: Food Safe, Non-Toxic, or for Use in Potable Container.

Food-safe paints are not only made of ingredients that are safe for animals who may come in contact with them. Manufacturers of these products use different types of coating, from synthetic resins to water-based paints that evaporate when dry. This variety gives consumers a choice of pet-safe options for their interior design projects and purchases.

Food-safe paints are easy to find at local hardware stores, as pet owners have become more conscious of the many products and materials that involve their pets.

well decorated aquarium with ornaments and fish

What Happens If You Use The Wrong Paint In Your Aquarium?

A lot of people might not know, but paints can be harmful to your fish and other aquarium inhabitants. Sometimes these effects are quite dramatic, and in other cases, they can be much more subtle.

However, the truth is that you need to use aquarium-safe paint if you want your fishy friends to live a long happy life in their tank.

So what’s bad in using the wrong paint?

There are certain ingredients in the sort of paints that you’d find in home improvement stores and other places where you might be tempted to shop for aquarium paint. These ingredients can harm your fish because most paints contain chemicals harmful to animals.

Can acrylic paint be submerged in water?

The short answer is yes, however, the long answer is more complicated. Acrylic paint can be submerged in water for a brief moment but it’s not ideal for prolonged periods of time. The components that make up acrylic paint are slightly different than other paints like oil or latex and are made up of substances called “polymers”.  Polymers are like plastics that never truly dissolve completely in water, even when exposed for long periods of time.

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How is this a problem?

When immersed in water for long periods of time, the polymers in acrylic paint will start to break down and will begin to flake off the surface. If you add this water back into your aquarium, it could cause serious harm or even death to your fish.  The dissolved polymers that slowly accumulate over time can also make your tank look cloudy as well.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Fish?

Acrylic paints generally contain no toxic ingredients, making them safe for fish. However, additives included in many acrylic paints are not safe for fish. So, the answer can vary depending on what you have for use in your tank.

Acrylic paints are generally labeled “non-toxic” or “non-flammable.” But some acrylic paint may contain toxic substances such as lead, which is poisonous to fish and other aquarium inhabitants. Lead is not always listed on the label for many brands of acrylic paints, making it a potential concern.

Acrylic paints also contain pigments that come in powder form. These particles can sink to the bottom of your fish tank.

While some additives do not dissolve well and settle on the bottom of fish tanks, others may remain suspended in aquarium water. As a result, these additives can poison fish life in your aquarium.

is acrylic paint aquarium safe

How to Spray Paint Plastic For Aquariums

The process is easy enough to be done by yourself. Ensure that you carefully pick the materials and follow the instructions given below-

1. Gather Essentials

First thing first, gather all the essentials in your work area so that you have access to everything while working. The essentials include the plastic container, spray paint cans, masking tape, and primer spray. Also, make sure to use thick newspaper or old cardboard to protect the floor from overspray and drop cloths to cover furniture around your working zone.

2. Mask Blurry Edges

Once you have gathered essentials, start masking off the areas around your aquarium where you don’t want any paint from reaching by taping them out with masking tape. This way you’ll have fewer messes after you’re done.

3. Apply Spray Primer

Once the edges are masked off, get down to spraying primer. Ensure that you follow the instructions given on how much spray per square foot so that it gives a smooth finish over the surface of your aquarium.

This is not essential if you have picked a paint that doesn’t require an additional primer coat for adhesion and durability. The spray primer will ensure that the paint adheres to the plastic effectively and covers the surface evenly.

4. Painting It All Over

Now it’s time to spray some paint all over the plastic container. Start around the bottom of the piece if you are worried about having drips go beyond your painting area by holding it up a little higher, or spraying from underneath first if you don’t mind drip marks on your project.

Be sure to follow the instructions given with your paint and don’t try to hurry and get it done as you want it to give a nice thick coat of even color so that the end result is clearly visible.

5. Let It Set

When you’re done applying a layer of spray paint, let it set for at least 24 hours before you handle the piece. This will give enough time for it to fully dry and adhere properly to the plastic so that there is no risk of any paint chipping off.

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If after the first coat, you feel that the desired color is not achieved, then you may go with subsequent coats to achieve perfection.

6. Enjoy The Results

After 24 hours, take all your tape off and lift your project up carefully. It should have an even coat of paint on every bit of the surface without any blank areas and should be somewhat glossy in appearance unless you use a matte finish color.

Allow it to sit for another 24 hours before you fill your aquarium with water and start enjoying the results of your hard work!

Although we have titled this as the way to go for plastic painting, you can follow the same for aquarium glass as well. The only difference will be in handling as glass is extremely brittle. Plus, you may need to pick different paint can for glass as not all spray paints adhere to glass surfaces.

Do Fish Like Decorations?

Fish have a very simple view of the world. To them it’s a big bowl of water, some rocks to hide under and plants to eat. They don’t really find anything else interesting.

Artificial plants, boat figurines, and all other decorations in the aquarium are viewed by fish as just that – artificial ornaments which have absolutely no purpose other than looking nice to us humans.

Most of these ornaments are quite useless and some of them may even lead to the death of your beloved pets due to ingestion of poisonous substances that some of them may contain.

However, some argued that fishes feel more comfortable in a well-decorated fish tank than a non-decorated one. Though we couldn’t find any real data on this, you can go with safe decorating elements in the aquarium for making your room feel soothing.

What color is best for an aquarium background?

Blue and black are the most common colors for aquarium backgrounds, but they can be a bit boring. Other colors that look good with fish are orange or red, and some people will use white or grey.

I recommend going with any color that fits with the surrounding. Try not to go with lighter shades as the fish look better when the background color is darker.

Can you paint your aquarium ornaments?

No. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to decorating their aquariums. Acrylic paint and any other paints that are not specifically meant for fish tanks will kill your fish if they come in contact with it or ingest some of the particles that might stick to their gills.

We recommend buying the aquarium ornaments considering your color taste so that you don’t end up scratching your head to find aquarium-safe paint. If you have to, use the one we have recommended above for internal use.

Enjoyed reading this? Go through our articles on kids’ safe acrylic paint and body-safe acrylic paint.

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