How To Stop Your Fish Getting Stuck In Decorations In Your Tank!

As an aquarium owner, you are probably always on the lookout for cool things that you can add to your tank, and there’s an ever-growing range of decorations that you can choose from – so you might be constantly adding sunken castles, shipwrecks, deep caves, and more to your tank. However, have you ever found a fish stuck in a decoration, unable to move? If so, you may be panicking about what to do, how to get it out, and whether it is likely to survive the ordeal, or whether it’s going to die. You might also be wondering whether you need to permanently remove that decoration from your tank, or if this was an unlucky fluke that will never occur again.

Fish getting stuck in your decorations is bad; many fish are susceptible to stress, and may die from the sheer overload of getting stuck. They might also cut themselves badly on the decoration as they struggle to get free, or you may injure them by mistake as you try to help them. If a decoration poses a hazard to your fish, make sure you remove it from the tank to prevent further injuries.

If a fish gets stuck somewhere in the aquarium, it is important not to panic. You should focus on freeing the fish and removing the decoration, and then inspect the fish for injuries and take action if necessary.

Can Fish Get Stuck In Tank Decorations?

Yes, fish can and do occasionally get stuck in tank decorations, which may surprise you – it seems like fish should be smart enough not to swim into areas that they can’t get out of. However, like all animals, fish occasionally misjudge a space or turn awkwardly while in it, resulting in getting themselves jammed in the decoration. This can result in injuries and panic, and may sometimes cause the fish to die.

You should always bear this in mind when selecting tank decorations; think about the size of your fish and assess the size of any holes, nooks, crannies, etc., before selecting a decoration. Fish can be surprisingly determined to swim into small spaces, and if something then frightens them or they find that they can’t turn around, they may injure themselves on the decor and cause further damage by struggling in panic. Getting a fish out of a tank decoration is challenging because it tends to cause increased stress; they feel trapped and someone is “attacking” them.

If possible, stop up holes that are big enough for your fish to get through but small enough that they might get stuck, as this should prevent problems. Think about all the different fish sizes in your aquarium and choose accordingly. If a fish does get stuck at any point, make sure you remove that decoration, or stop the hole up so it can’t happen again.

Can Fish Get Stuck In Rocks In Your Aquarium?

Some kinds of fish do seem to get stuck in rocks in an aquarium, but this is a little rarer than them getting stuck in a decoration, as rocks rarely have a hole that they can swim into and should not really have many nooks and crannies. If you find a fish that appears to be stuck in a rock, it is important to check that a fish is genuinely stuck before you attempt to remove it, as you may cause damage and additional stress by doing so. Some fish, such as triggers, will deliberately wedge themselves into a rocky space because it makes them feel safer, and trying to remove them is dangerous.

You may occasionally see a fish get stuck in a rock, but this is pretty rare, and it’s best to leave them to get out on their own if possible. However, if you are sure a fish is stuck, you may want to move the rock so that the fish can swim free if this is possible. 

When setting up your tank, always make sure that you minimize crevices that fish could get stuck in, particularly if you are situating multiple rocks together to create mini caves and hideaway spaces. If a fish cannot turn around in the space, ensure that it can swim through to the other side and escape, even if that means rearranging your rocks.

Can Fish Get Stuck In Plants In Your Fish Tank?

It is very unlikely that a fish will get stuck in the plants inside your tank, as plants move with the water and do not create a dense structure, so fish should be able to easily swim free, even from a large mass of plants. Plants cannot trap a fish the way that rocks and solid decorations can, and you shouldn’t need to worry about this happening.

However, you may sometimes find dead fish in your plants, which leads to the idea that they might have got stuck and died there – this is not usually the case. Instead, it seems that many fish choose to die surrounded by plants, perhaps because they are attempting to hide from predators while weak, or perhaps for other reasons. If you find a dead fish tangled up in your plants, it was probably going to die anyway.

If you are really concerned about this, space your plants out a little so that they form a less dense mat of greenery. However, it is not likely that a fish will get stuck among your plants.


If you have ever seen a fish stuck in a decoration, your first instinct might be to panic and rush to its aid, but it’s often best to wait a while and see if it is actually stuck. Fish can get stuck in decorations or in rocks, and you may need to intervene, but see if they can free themselves first, as this will cause less stress and may result in fewer injuries. Always try to set up decorations so that your fish cannot get stuck in them, as this reduces the risk of death or distress.