Easy DIY Terrarium From an Old Fish Tank

I simply love finding objects that would otherwise be considered trash and useless and making them useful. The downside? I may look like a hoarder sometimes- eek! But hey- beauty is in the eye of the beholder. At least that’s what I told myself when I bought this old fish aquarium from the Goodwill outlet. Check out that beaauttt-
 Photo Credit Anya McInroy
Original Blog Post
Hahahah I know I know, my husband shakes his head at me the same way. Hold tight. What we have here is an empty aquarium just screaming to be zested for my bedroom make-over, except do you see my issue below? Hmmm ya you can probably see why I scored this little guy for $2 at the thrift store. But don’t worry sam to the rescue….
Well now to insert a quote from one of my favorite child hood movies- “oh just smash it with a hammmah” -Emperors New Groove. Boom baby I broke it out.
Next give it a good rinsing and wash, we want it to be oh so crystal clear to see those beautiful plants
I collected fun vessels from thrift stores and just looking around the kitchen…I love the idea of different colors and texture in the terrarium adding for more visual interest.
I wanted the terrarium to still look a bit aquatic so I added some perlite to the bottom. I happen to have perlite but if you want to use rocks or actual aquarium rocks go for it!! I loved the pop of white against the dark wood and terra cotta pots.
After planting go ahead and start placing your pots, have fun with color and order. Just keep in mind growth habits and wanting the taller plants in the back of the terrarium. I used all sorts of succulents so it won’t require much water and upkeep. I also love how many varieties of color and texture succulents have to offer!
Hope you have fun with this find and fix it, happy friday!

Suggested materials:

  • Old Fish Tank
  • Succulents
  • Perlite
See all materials

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Zest it Up

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • J. L. Hart
    J. L. Hart
    on Jan 22, 2017

    How or what did you do with the rim of the tank. It looked black when you started and ended up looking like wood?

    • Zest it Up
      Zest it Up
      on Jan 31, 2017

      Hey there! The black rim was from a screen that came with the fish tank! We took it off to have an open terrarium and really loved the outcome!

  • Mary Knieser
    Mary Knieser
    on Jul 10, 2018

    Did you put a top on it? My cats loved sitting on the top of the tank when it had fish. But the top is long gone.

  • Yukie Yamamoto Russell
    Yukie Yamamoto Russell
    on Nov 28, 2018

    how do you water them?

Join the conversation

2 of 79 comments
  • Barbara Vaughn
    Barbara Vaughn
    on Jan 26, 2017

    I forgot to mention, after you set up your terrarium, you might want to add a light, this you can also get at pet store.

  • Elaine
    on Nov 30, 2017

    I have always loved the look of the old terrariums that were popular in the Victorian times and your fish tank reminds me of that. I, personally, would LOVE to see you take the plants out of the pots and plant them directly in soil, with gravel, of course, underneath for drainage. Since you don’t have a lid, you probably won’t have any mildew issues but if you ever do, adding a small amount of charcoal to the soil stops that from happening. A mini fern would look lovely in your tank as it would add a lacy different texture. You are very photogenic, by the way and thank you for your post!
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