DIY: How to Turn your Old Fish-Tank Into a Terrarium

Cacti, DIY, Succulents, Terrarium, Up-Cycle -

DIY: How to Turn your Old Fish-Tank Into a Terrarium

Aquarium into Terrarium

Having an aquarium was never in my to-do list. Well, you never know when your father-in-law will strike again...

A while back we celebrated our little miss' 2nd birthday and her grandad turned up with a very large aquarium -a very large brittle aquarium, if I may add- and three tiny fish. You can't imagine the horror after I realized the size of the fish-tank! It was huge! And the only things that crossed my mind were the possible accidents that could happen with a 2-year old playing in the house... It was a giant glass box filled with more than 50lt of water and connected to two power outlets, one for the filter and one for the light.

When they were setting it up, I asked the technician who had come to install it a few questions. They were regular questions, mostly considering the safety of my little one; however all the answers were inadequate and gave me the feeling that they could easily be replaced with "you are woman, do your job, keep the kid out of here and not near the aquarium"...

First, I asked if the glass was shatter-proof, as it was intended as a gift to a 2-year old. The answer was a simple "No, it isn't". My next question was "What will happen if our little one throws one of her toys (she had a new game that time around, where she would bent her knees and then throw balls or her doll up in the air and then she would try to catch them, although not always succeeding. Therefore, they would end up bumping into cupboards, chairs or whatever else was close enough). The answer was "She shouldn't, don't allow her to do so. It will break.". I asked one last question, as we weren't getting anywhere with the previous answers. I decided to just ask one last thing and then resolve into taking very deep breaths, while my little one was still asleep (a small miracle, as she never sleeps at noon). The question was: " What if she climbs at a chair and decides to deep her hands into the fish-tank?" -you know, the fish tank had a lid that you could open and close for when you were going to feed the fish, a very visible and easy to open lid, a new adventure for a very curious young lady - and the answer "Why would you let her climb at the chair? You shouldn't.". Such a pleasant experience... I'm not even going to talk about the possible health hazards that may occur.

Anyway, long story short, the next day the fish-tank was empty. It took many hours to remove the water and the fish carefully. The fish-tank was packed into its box and carefully moved to my studio. I didn't want to sell; it was a gift after all (and may even start a vendetta against my father-in-law). The fish stayed for a day at a nice large bowl and the next day, they had their own childproof aquarium, one specially designed for children, posing way less risks. At this moment, they are swimming happily next to me as I type this post.

TL;DR: My father-in-law hit 'n' missed by buying a bulky fish tank for my 2-year-old's birthday. Rude technician failed to impress. Bulky fish tank is now a terrarium, while the fish are swimming happily in a different, less-risky, child-proof aquarium.

After reading my life story, I owe you the instructions and several photos of how the fish-tank turned into a beautiful terrarium that is now sitting in one of my workbenches.

Before you start a project like this one make sure that you have all the ingredients needed to set it up! Below, you will be able to find a simple tutorial on how to turn your fish-tank into a terrarium!

Materials Needed:
❖ One Old Aquarium
❖ Pebbles, Gravel, Perlite or Pumice Stones
❖ Potting Soil
❖ Succulents & Cacti of your Choice
❖ Spray Bottle filled with Water

1st Step: Go succulent-and-cacti shopping. I got mine from a local store and Leroy Merlin. They both had a nice variety. I chose smaller plants.

Succulent Assortment

2nd Step: Fill the bottom of your aquarium with perlite (pebbles, pumice stones etc). I added a little extra but about 2cm will do the job.

Fishtank into Terrarium

3rd Step: Add potting soil to your aquarium until it's halfway full.

4th Step: Since the aquarium is quite large and we have several succulents to add, I would recommend to decide where each one will be placed before planting them.

5th Step: Once you decide where each succulent will be, carefully remove them one by one from their containers and set them on the soil.


6th Step: Fill the aquarium with more soil until the roots are completely covered.


7th Step: Spray your succulents and cacti with some water; be careful not to aim directly on the plants themselves, and your new terrarium is all set!

Don't forget that due to the fact that an aquarium doesn't have draining holes, you have to be careful with the watering!


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