What would be your advises when taking shoot in an aquarium?

What are your preferred lenses? How do you deal with the low light? What about the aquarium glass which bring some deformation? The fact that fishes are moving and hiding?

A zoo style is what I had in mind but I guess tips for home aquarium are welcome as well.

7 Answers 7


Cleaning the glass is a great suggestion, however, even with clean glass you have a few more issues.

Fast moving fish - Since fish often make quick movements, you will probably want a fairly fast shutter speed, which means you need fast lenses and plenty of light.

Glare - This can be caused by your flash, or by other ambient lights. Ideally, there would be zero lighting on your side of the glass, with the inside well lit. Since this isn't going to happen, you will need to account for the reflections on the glass.

  • On camera flash is not going to work, because the light will bounce right back. You may be able to use an off camera flash, but even then, it will be tough to get the angles right.
  • You may be able to avoid the glare by getting closer to the glass. This will decrease the area the you are shooting through, which limits the possibility of reflections, but also limits your perspective.
  • A circular polarizer filter can be used to eliminate the reflection by blocking the light coming from certain angles. This will limit the glare, but it also lowers the overall light, so you may have to adjust your exposure.
  • 1
    Try getting a flexible rubber lens hood, then get REALLY close up against the glass. Dec 30, 2010 at 16:26

Clean the glass! And I'm not talking about any camera equipment.

Be careful what you use to clean though, because chemicals/soaps/cleaning fluid are bad for fish.

  • 1
    That's a nice straightforward answer. I had in mind more like zoo aquarium where it might be hard to clean the glass but I guess a starting point would be a simple tissue to wipe off greasy finger. Sep 5, 2010 at 8:58
  • 2
    It's a surprisingly good advice -- in zoo aquariums most smudges are on the outside of the glass and can be cleaned (although it never would have occurred to me to do it).
    – dbkk
    Sep 5, 2010 at 18:08

A tip I haven't seen yet: set your white balance to Tungsten because the auto white balance will not work and everything will have a yellow tint .

If you have the ability to shoot RAW, than do so and correct the white balance later to get the best colors for your shot.


If possible, get the lens right up to the glass. And by right up I mean actually touching it. It should also be square on. That way you lose the reflections on the glass that you might get from any lights behind you. You can also push gently against the glass which will help steady the camera for longer exposures.


As in every low-light situation, fast lenses always help. Aquariums are different in that you're shooting through a glass, which obviously means that on-camera flash is guaranteed to ruing the picture. Apart from that, you might get reflections from other light sources, which you might eliminate by putting the lens directly on the glass (lens hood might also help).

If you're just photographing fish in your aquarium at home, you can get around the light problem by lighting the aquarium from the side.


Try manual focus. I've had issues with autofocus since the camera focused on the glass instead of the subject inside the aquarium.


I can't speak directly to aquariums, however I've done shots at zoo's before. When things are enclosed in glass, you tend to have problems with glare. Especially from flash, but also from other sources, it can make getting a shot very difficult. The one trick I've learned is to find off-angles from any intruding light sources. The general idea is that light bounced strait on will bounce strait back, so if you need to use flash, point it at an angle to the glass so any reflected light bounces off and away from the camera. It can be tricky to position yourself for the best shot, as you need to take the same bounce angle into account for any other light sources.

I also highly recommend using at least an f/2.8 lens, however faster lenses would be even better. A wider max aperture will allow more light through in less time. High ISO performance is probably your best tool, though. A camera that can handle ISO 800/1600 (or better) without too much noise is going to give you the best chance of capturing good shots.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.