There are several reasons for why your fish habitat should include some kind of cover. This can come in many forms, from plants to pirate ships, and i’m going to go over a few of the best options, and their benefits.
So, why are hiding places so crucial? If you keep a tank with all the same species, and all the same sex, then you may not have these issues… but generally speaking, fish are always chasing each other around for various reasons, and it can be harmful behaviour at times.
This activity can sometimes be for mating purposes. You fish may not be actively breeding, but if you have males and females together, then the males are probably chasing the females. This can be tiring for the females being chased around all day and hiding spots provide them some peace and refuge. This will greatly reduce the females stress.
Fish will also use a cave for mating purposes. If you have fish that are paired up, they are very unlikely to breed if they don’t have privacy. If you have a community tank, then the fish probably aren’t going to get down with so many spectators around to possibly interfere. By keeping varied cover throughout the tank this gives them a lot more opportunity. A proper cave will also provide refuge for the eggs. Cichlids prefer to lay their eggs in an area where they can actively guard the eggs. This will increase your chances that no other tank mates will snack on the eggs. Kribensis cichlid for example, will stay with the fry for long periods of time until they are big enough to protect themselves. The parents will often usher the young back into the cave during a tank cleaning or during times of stress.
Territorial and aggressive fish will also greatly benefit from a proper cave. Many fish, especially cichlids, lay claim to a specific area of the tank, and spend most of their time shooing away other fish that come close. By giving them a proper cave, this narrows the area they will protect and gives them some space for refuge so they can ignore the other fish coming into the area.
Caves also provide hiding places for fish that may be consistently bullied and will help to reduce their stress. Fish are often out-of-sight out-of-mind kind of animals, so if a fish is in a cave they will leave it alone.
Fish also just seem to genuinely enjoy swimming into/through things, which is another big reason to add cover and Caves to your aquascape
Here’s some options of how to create cover and hiding spaces in your tank:
This is a big one. They provide subtle coverage, oxygen, and a food source to your eco system. Fish are used to having plants in their natural environments and know how to use them to their advantage. Some fish will even lay eggs on or under plant leaves. Tall plants like jungle Val are a great solution.
Plecos, catfish, algae eaters, snails and shrimp love to make a home on some driftwood. You will often find snail or cory eggs laid on its surface. Driftwood adds some great shade in the tank and provides a natural surface for bacteria growth.
check out our shop to see some high-end driftwood options
Ceramic is a porous surface that breaths. As a result it actively purifies the water in the tank and allows for great bacterial growth. It also conducts warmth, and increases the likelihood fish will lay eggs inside. Ceramic caves make for a cozy home for cichlids, plecos, apistos or any other medium sized fish. These are also available in the shop
This is a favorite here at Sam’s Aquariumz, the coconut cave is a do-it-all piece. The natural husk will serve as a great treat to fish and shrimp. Because it’s a hardened piece of wood, it serves as a great bacteria host like driftwood. You can make this a living decoration easily by adding moss to its rough surface. It’s natural design is super luring to fish, and they will take it up as a home immediately.
If this article hasn’t convinced you to get an all natural cave then I don’t know what will!
Happy fish keeping!