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Cool New Uses for Your Old Aquarium


There comes a day in every aquarist’s life when they have to figure out what to do with an empty aquarium. Whether you’re upgrading to a newer, larger aquarium or leaving the hobby entirely, you’re going to need to decide what to do with your old one. These days you have two options, recycle it or reuse it.

Recycling your aquarium can be as simple as putting it into your recycle bin. But if it’s still in good working order and doesn’t leak, you might want to consider listing it for free on Craigslist or your local Freecycle group. Alternately, you can contact your local school district and offer it as a classroom aquarium.

But if you’ve got the space and you’re willing to put in the effort, re-purposing your aquarium may be a better option. The question is, what are you going to turn it into? Here are some ideas you might want to consider.

A Terrarium – This is possibly the most obvious choice and a natural one for those who love gardening and plants as well as fish. If you’d like a great step-by-step walkthrough on how easy this can be, try the All Things Plants site.  An aquarium makes an ideal growing environment for plants that thrive in a humid environment. If yours has a hood light unit, you won’t need to worry about natural light sources and it will give you even more control over the mini eco-system you’re creating. Your major concern will be controlling mildew growth and not allowing your plants to outgrow their environment.

An Orchidarium – Similar to the terrarium transformation, an orchidarium is slightly more complex, to take into consideration the very specific needs of orchids. A sizable tank will require a small fan for air circulation, lights, possibly a heating system to maintain a warm, even temperature and a misting system. A gorgeous example of a well-planted, healthy orchidarium can be found here:

A Vivarium – If you’re interested in keeping reptiles in addition to fish, an old aquarium can be an ideal environment with just a few tweaks. There is one caveat, aquariums aren’t a good choice for larger reptiles, particularly snakes, as their hoods don’t generally fasten securely enough to contain them properly. However, for small lizards, turtles and snakes, an aquarium can work very well. Each species will have its own specific needs and you need to take those into consideration when making your modifications. At minimum, you’ll need to include a basking lamp and screen top for airflow.

An Indoor Herb Garden – Love adding tasty herbs to your dishes? An old aquarium can be a great place to grow your favorites indoors, and makes a great option for those without much (or any) outdoor growing space. eHow offers a brief, but handy guide to the transformation. The tricky aspects of this conversion include water drainage and stagnation, creating an ideal environment for a variety of herbs from a variety of climates and choosing herbs that won’t outgrow the space (particularly where height is concerned).

A Lighted Display Case – Want to keep your collectibles safe and (mostly) dust-free? An aquarium with a hood can be an excellent option. You may need pedestals to make the best use of the space, both vertically and horizontally. The lighted hood makes a great spotlight to give your collectibles the attention they deserve.

A Coffee Table – If you want to add a unique touch to your living room décor, a re-purposed aquarium can be just the thing. Adding a glass or wood top makes the conversion quite simple, and you can get quite creative with the interior. Marbles, river rocks, unlit (or electric) candles, or even books are great ways to full the interior space. For an example of how it’s done check out this site.

There are, of course, many more great ideas for re-purposing aquariums. If you’ve stumbled upon one you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.