How can I reuse or recycle an old fish tank?

fishtankWe’ve had an email from Tracey about reusing an aquarium:

My boyfriend’s fish recently all went away to fishy heaven and now he has a ten gallon fish tank now sitting in the basement until we can figure out something to do with it, we could just give it to value village or goodwill or something but I thought it would be neat if there was something we could make out of it. Thanks!

Poor Tracey’s boyfriend’s fish :(

We’ve actually had two fish tanks from Freecycle over the years – both cracked ones so no good for fish but used for John’s brother’s suitcase gecko – so Freecycle might be an option along the lines of “value village or goodwill”.

But how about reuses? It might be a bit heavy to be used as a general storage but flipped upside down it could be used as a mini-greenhouse (although venting might be a problem).

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by kraaft)

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17 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle an old fish tank?”

  1. Delusion says:

    We unfortunately had a bad incident recently were we lost 9 fish to Velvet and thought the rest would be gonners.

    In this time my partner and I were thinking of what we could do with our 125 gallon tank that technically “divides the living and dining room”.

    We came up with the idea of using it to grow “bog plants” such as venus fly traps as these meat eaters need a humid environment and its easier to maintain in a tank. It would also make a wonderful feature!

    Thankfully for us our other fish have recovered so it’s remained a fish tank but when they have all naturally passed on, I think we’ll be doing the above!

  2. Bellen says:

    Right side up a terrarium,
    a plant nursery,
    grow herb for the kitchen,
    layered with aquarium gravel, marbles, sand, etc a very safe way to have a candlescape,
    put vellum on the outside and a string of Christmas lights inside for a sophisticated accent light,
    upside down to protect or accent a collection of something,
    on the floor for a wastebasket or a paper recycle bin,
    on end for a mini bookcase for oversize books

  3. Bryan says:

    Grow algae and make biodiesel. hrm, better save that one for the chemists.

  4. Karen says:

    My son used our old one to show off a collection of pretty stones that he finds on beaches. Just returned from Corfu with a rather heavy suitcase full of stones he collected for his tank!
    In truth, it looks quite cool! Sometimes we put candles in it too.

  5. Just Staci says:

    When my 4 yr old son moved into his own bedroom,he was a bit apprehensive.But I got him a pet turtle and built a small water and stone terrainium in an old 10 gallon tank,and the hood light made a great ‘night-lite’ for my big boy!
    As for a plant tank,leave it open end up and put plants inside,leaving tank light on at night,turning it off during day hours.

  6. Paige says:

    Hey there, Recycle This! I loved your idea about the fish tank, seeing as how my husband stores tanks in the garage swearing next time the fish will survive….I posted some ideas and linked to you here:

  7. Natalie says:

    Hey, i turned mine on it’s side, pasted some crepe paper and black silhouettes onto the sides and then fitted a light mechanism (or you can just place a lamp) inside which made a feature light. I made my friend one with james bond cut outs. He uses it as an illuminated side table.

  8. Victoria Knight says:

    Hi! I have just recently found what I think is a perfect use for my old fish tanks. Depending on the size, they are absolutely perfect for miniature room & doll dioramas! You have a 360º view and it keeps the dust out too!

  9. Faye Lambert says:

    I thought it would be a good idea to turn mine in to a worm farm, not only is it good for the garden but my 3 year old can watch the worms at work

  10. Jafran says:

    yeah can please let me have one of your tanks for my 2 turtles who are not living the right way. They live in a small, small tank whick they can’t take any more and they try to come out of it everytime.
    you can contact me at

  11. Laura says:

    Use It as a terrerium.
    or put decapitated barbie dolls in it. (just kidding)
    you could put a collection of pretty rocks in it or something like that…

  12. These are some great ideas I have one in the garage and I’m going to wash it up this weekend and decorate it!!! thank you all :)))))

  13. Larance33 says:

    I just got a 33 Gal Fish tank. How can I turn it into a Herb Garden? Fresh Herbs all year long sounds good to me. Need a step by step plan or a site I can go to. Really like to get this going before winter. Gives me time to learn. Thanks advance. John

  14. I was interested in doing the same (with a fish bow) but apparently turning a fish tank into an herb garden is pretty complicated, see great explanation here:

  15. Sky Miller says:

    Well, If you’re interested in animals and pets then your fish tank would be great for a hamster cage if it’s big enough. For a hamster cage, your fish tank would need to be at least 20 gallon tank. A hamster is a great pet for almost any age, except babies of course. :) Hope this helped:)

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