During a visit to the pet store for some goldfish essentials I discovered an entirely new realm of toy photography potential. No, it didn’t involve incorporating animals into my photos, but it did require ‘borrowing’ some accessories from the aforementioned goldfish.

Aquatic ornamentation

My plan was to quickly run in and grab some fish tank cleaning supplies but that changed the moment I stepped into the aquarium decor aisle.

I was caught off guard by the astoundingly wondrous items lining the shelves. Decaying structures, natural rock formations, plants, fantasy forest elements, sci-fi, horror, humor—you name it.

There were so many options to choose from, and all of them had an incredible level of detail. While intended to adorn aquatic habitats, I couldn’t help but think how amazing these pieces would work for toy photography.

Fill your tank

Surprisingly, the sticker price for these decorations isn’t too bad. Prices ranged from a couple of bucks for the smaller items, up to around $60 for the larger ones. That’s a decent deal, especially when you consider how much mileage you could get out of this stuff.

Most items featured detailing on all sides, which would allow you to re-use them over and over from different perspectives without it being obvious in your photos.

You can browse some of the items and get an idea of pricing over at Amazon.

Putting aquarium decor to use

I picked up a few different pieces to work with, courtesy of the store’s buy 2 get 1 free sale. The goldfish got to one of them before I could shoot it, but here is the remainder of my haul.

My pickups (minus the one the fish got)

As I said, the full 360-degree level of detail makes these items extremely versatile when it comes to shooting. They can stand up well as primary subjects in your photos, as well as background and secondary elements, as I have used them.

Mola Ram & the skull rock
Link with the broken pot & skull rock
Moai (with mini Moai)

I’m excited to add these items to my toy photography prop house, and will no doubt get my money’s worth in future photos.

Not just fish

The amphibian section also had some great looking items with a ton of potential. It makes me wonder what other untapped resources the pet store holds. Maybe I’ll visit the bird aisle on my next visit.

What else lies below?

The fish got this pagoda before I could get it in front of my toys 🙁

If you are looking for dioramas for your toy photography, I highly recommend a visit to your local pet shop. I guarantee that at the very least you’ll walk out with inspiration.

Have you ever picked up items for your toy photography off the beaten path? Sound off in the comments below.