A fish photography tank setup is crucial for taking quality pictures. In this article, we’ll explore the steps and tools necessary to set up a fish photography tank, ensuring both the well-being of the fish and the quality of your photographs.

Photography enthusiasts often find themselves mesmerized by the vibrant world of aquatic life. Capturing the essence of this life requires not just skill, but also the right environment and equipment.


Fish Photography Tank

Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the technicalities, it’s essential to understand the importance of ethical fish photography. Ensure that the fish are not stressed or harmed during the process. Acclimatizing them to the photography tank and maintaining water quality is crucial.

Choosing the Right Tank

A clear, appropriately sized tank is the foundation. A standard 10-20 gallon tank is sufficient for most small to medium-sized fish. Opt for a tank with minimalistic design – fewer edges and frames mean fewer distractions and reflections in your photos.

Water Clarity and Quality

Water clarity is pivotal for sharp images. Use a good quality filter to keep the water pristine. Additionally, maintaining the right temperature and pH levels according to the fish species is vital for their health.


Lighting is arguably the most crucial element in aquarium photography. This pivotal aspect not only illuminates the vibrant world within but also defines the mood and atmosphere of the captured scene. In the contained universe of an aquarium, where every ripple and reflection tells a story, lighting becomes the narrator, guiding the viewer’s eye through the watery tableau.

The art of lighting in aquarium photography goes beyond mere visibility. It’s about accentuating the iridescent scales of a fish as they dance through beams of light, or capturing the subtle interplay of shadows and luminescence that give life to underwater plants. The challenge lies in balancing the intensity and angle of light to avoid the glare and reflections common in glass enclosures. When mastered, this balance creates a harmony between subject and environment, making each photograph a testament to the photographer’s skill and sensitivity to their aquatic subjects.

Moreover, lighting in aquarium photography does not merely replicate natural conditions but often enhances them. It can emphasize the textures and colors of both the flora and fauna, creating images that resonate with a vividness not always perceptible to the naked eye. This transformative power of lighting turns each photograph into a unique interpretation of the aquatic world, offering viewers a glimpse into the depths that might otherwise remain unseen.

Background and Decor

A plain background helps the fish stand out. You can use a single colored sheet outside the tank or paint the back glass. Keep the decor simple – a few rocks or plants are sufficient. Overcrowding the tank can stress the fish and clutter the photo.

Camera and Lens Selection

Choosing the right camera and lens is a critical step in mastering aquarium photography. This genre requires equipment capable of capturing the fleeting, often ethereal beauty of aquatic life. A high-quality DSLR or mirrorless camera, known for their larger sensors, offers the versatility and image quality necessary for such intricate work. These cameras excel in low light conditions typically found in aquarium settings, ensuring crisp, detailed shots even in challenging lighting.

Lens selection, however, is where the true artistry comes into play. A macro lens, for instance, is indispensable for capturing the minute details of smaller fish or the intricate patterns of coral. The ability to focus closely, combined with a wider aperture, allows for stunning close-ups with a shallow depth of field, bringing a subject into sharp relief against a softly blurred background. On the other hand, a wide-angle lens can capture the grandeur of an entire tank, providing context and showcasing the aquarium’s ecosystem in its entirety.

Equally important is the consideration of focal length. A lens with a variable focal length offers flexibility, adapting to the photographer’s position relative to the aquarium. This adaptability is crucial in public aquariums where space and angles are often limited. A fast lens, with a wide aperture, is also beneficial, allowing for faster shutter speeds to freeze the swift movement of fish, reducing blur and capturing the dynamic essence of aquatic life.

Using a Tripod

The importance of a tripod in fish photography cannot be overstated. It serves as an unshakable foundation, ensuring stability and precision that is crucial for capturing the dynamic and often unpredictable movements of fish. With the use of a tripod, photographers are granted the freedom to focus on the complexities of lighting and composition without worrying about the blurring effects of hand tremors or movements.

In the intricate dance of underwater photography, where every detail counts, the tripod becomes an extension of the photographer’s vision. It allows for meticulous framing, enabling the photographer to patiently wait for that perfect moment when the fish displays its most striking pose or swims into the ideal composition. The tripod’s steadfastness is particularly valuable in low light conditions often encountered in aquatic environments, where longer exposures are necessary to capture the vivid colors and textures of aquatic life.

Moreover, the use of a tripod with a fish photography tank opens up creative possibilities. It facilitates the use of slower shutter speeds, creating ethereal, motion-blurred images that convey the fluidity and grace of fish in their natural habitat. The tripod also aids in macro photography, where the slightest movement can disrupt the focus on minute details. By providing a stable platform, the tripod ensures that the intricate patterns and delicate features of fish are captured with crystal clarity.

Filters and Polarizers

Filters and polarizers play an often underappreciated, yet vital role in aquarium photography. They are the unsung heroes that tackle the unique challenges presented by photographing through glass and water. A circular polarizing filter, in particular, is a game-changer. It significantly reduces the glare and reflections caused by aquarium glass, a common frustration for many photographers. By rotating the filter and observing its effect through the viewfinder or display screen, one can almost magically enhance the clarity and contrast of the scene within. The colors of the fish and the textures of the aquatic plants become more vivid and lifelike, as if the glass barrier has been removed.

In addition to polarizers, the use of neutral density (ND) filters can be instrumental in aquarium photography, especially when dealing with brightly lit tanks. These filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens without altering the colors, allowing for more control over the camera’s aperture and shutter speed. This is particularly useful for achieving a shallow depth of field or capturing the movement of fish with a desired level of blur. The combination of these filters with the right camera settings opens up a world of creative possibilities, enabling photographers to convey the serene and often mystical beauty of aquatic life in a more compelling and evocative way.

Post-Processing Techniques

Post-processing can help in fine-tuning your images. Adjusting white balance, contrast, and sharpness can make a significant difference. Remember, the goal is to enhance the photo while keeping it natural-looking.

Fish photography can be challenging due to the constant movement and the water medium. Patience is key. Spend time observing the fish to understand their patterns and behaviors for the best shots.

Setting up a fish photography tank is a blend of art and science. It requires an understanding of both photography techniques and aquatic life care. With the right equipment and approach, you can capture stunning, ethereal images of these underwater beauties, all while ensuring their safety and comfort. Remember, the best fish photography tells a story, capturing not just the fish but the essence of life beneath the water’s surface.