Zest it Up
Zest it Up
  • Hometalk Helper
  • Atascadero, CA

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
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
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….
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
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.
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
Next give it a good rinsing and wash, we want it to be oh so crystal clear to see those beautiful plants
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
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.
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
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.
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
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!
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
easy diy terrarium from an old fish tank, gardening, terrarium
Hope you have fun with this find and fix it, happy friday!
xo
Sam

Suggested materials:

  • Old Fish Tank
  • Succulents
  • Perlite
See all materials
Zest it Up

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

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Have a question about this project?

6 questions
  • Jev11476878
    on Jan 22, 2017

    what size aquarium did you use?

  • Vicki Kuhse
    on Jan 22, 2017

    Thats not how we did it in the "70"'s. We would put small gravel on the bottom, enough for the soil to drain. Use cardboard to make a box inside the tank, this is so u can put your soil in as high as u want but to also put colored sand or rocks between the glass and the soil, visual effect so u dont see the soil. Then plant your plants dircetly in the soil. I wish i had pictures of how truely pretty it was. My purple passion plant grew like crazy in it. I had put different size rocks in my tank, it was landscaping indoors. I had about 10 different plants in it. I just thought i would share that with you in case u were going to do another one. Thank u for sharing yours.

    • Vicki Kuhse
      on Jan 22, 2017

      Funny it says i am from Mt View CA... No im not. I am from and live in Iowa.

    • Vicki Kuhse
      on Jan 22, 2017

      Oh good i see it is showing where i am really from.

    • Susan Blair Seifert
      on Jan 22, 2017

      and we called it a Terrarium !

    • 7218805
      on Jan 22, 2017

      What's old is new again...but you did a lovely job!

    • Linda
      on Jan 22, 2017

      Looked really nice. I done that with a big fish tank. Had a lid on it and I put chameleons in it with a bunch of live plants. It was really neat to watch and find the little critters. They change colors so you never know what color you are looking for. You can buy meal worms to feed them or you can buy crickets. Thinking about getting me another one to do. If they get out you have to be quick to grab them. Looks funny chasing them around.

  • Thomas
    on Jan 22, 2017

    Can i put a christmas cactus in it?

    • Nancy
      on Jan 22, 2017

      Yes, but you'll need really bright light if you want it to bloom. Also, water lightly.

    • Mat3253122
      on Jan 22, 2017

      About that Christmas Cactus, you say water lightly, but how often?

    • Kim
      on Jan 22, 2017

      Matthew, I do not have a green thumb, so when I received my Christmas cactus, I got very special instructions on how to water it. Twice a month I completely submerge the pot for 15 minutes, then drain off the excess water. It is thriving!

    • Brenda
      on Jan 23, 2017

      If you submerge it, won't the soil wash away? I water mine with watering can every other week. It bloomed Christmas Eve and I had beautiful flowers for about three weeks.

    • Zest it Up
      on Jan 31, 2017

      Hi there! You can add any plant you want to the open terrarium! We like adding various plants that require different maintenance so make sure you cater to each plant that you add!

  • Bonnie482
    on Jan 22, 2017

    Can this be put outside?

    • Eve
      on Jan 24, 2017

      I would think it would be fine on a covered porch but not out in the rain and hot sun.

    • Zest it Up
      on Jan 31, 2017

      Hey there! Something special about terrariums is that it gives you the opportunity to bring the outdoors inside your home! You can definitely leave it outside. In that case, we suggest keeping it our of direct sunlight and misting it once a month with water.

  • Opu5216064
    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?

    • Ed K
      on Jan 22, 2017

      It looks as if there is a screen on top to keep the livestock in ,when you take it off you would see the rim .ed k

    • Opu5216064
      on Jan 22, 2017

      Makes sense, thank you

    • 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
    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.

Join the conversation

2 of 79 comments
  • 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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