I’ve had an old aquarium around the house for quite some time. I don’t remember ever having fish in one this size, so I suppose that this is one is an old one that I have always used as an “over-wintering” vessel for plants. The Baby Sunrose spent a winter inside it at my son’s house and survived nicely. Since I still have the Baby Sunrose, I know it grows plants with no problem. So I am going ahead with my project.
Now I have decided on converting the aquarium to a terrarium. Makes sense to me. I have quite a few plants that need a bit of a humid atmosphere to survive and I think this would make the best use of available materials, right? And don’t tell my husband this, but if I like it, guess what I will be watching for all next summer at garage sales? Mwwwaaahaaa!
Wouldn’t a desert landscape be nice with a cactus and some succulents? What about a jade plant paradise in sand and rocks? A tiny rock garden inside an aquarium? Oh, I better watch my imagination. This basement garden shop is only so big!
Converting Aquarium to Terrarium
- Clean it well
- Clean again with something which won’t harm plants.
- Seal all sides/corners with clear silicone gel to be sure it is water tight. (No leaking on floors.)
- Assemble all plants for terrarium. I am insisting you shop for plants!
- Underlying gravel, charcoal, soil mix, mosses or stones
- Plant her up and enjoy!
Watch the amount of water that you add to the container. If there is a lid that keeps the moisture inside, not much will be needed at all, if ever. If soil that is initially used is slightly moist, it may just recycle the moisture itself on its own. Use a spray bottle to add a little if needed. A little bit of condensation on the sides of the tank, maybe in the morning or late night, means there is moisture in the tank.
If you don’t have any lid for the container, you could put some stretchable plastic wrap around the top to keep the moisture inside. Otherwise, you may have to sparingly water occassionlly and this is where a moisture meter would come in handy.
My aquarium has a metal screen top which makes me assume it must have housed some kind of animal at some time? I have wrapped that top in plastic and will remove it to plant or add water as needed. After some observation, I will know how airtight it will be.
Lighting in an Aquarium converted to a Terrarium
If you have the type of setup which included the aquarium light system, you are very lucky. This should work well for the plants too. If you do not have lights, the terrarium could be set up under grow lights like mine will be.
I already have plant shelves with lights above so I will just be sliding the planted terrarium onto a shelf of that wall unit. I think it will work out well. Judging by how well the plants behave, I will see if more or less light is needed and adjust the height of those lights over the container. Mine are LED lights and have worked well for the plants under them so far.
If you should use regular florescent lights, you may have a “heat” problem, so adjustments may need to be made for that situation. Perhaps use plants that thrive in high heat and humidity? Be careful that the plants don’t get sunburned or they could die.
How Did My Conversion Go? Check Out the Video!
I love it! I think it looks awesome and the plants seem to like it. The humidity is better for that Fittonia inside the terrarium since they seem to like moist air. My only problem is going to be : How long before everything grows so big (especially that Creeping Fig) and I need to replant? I will cross that bridge when I come to it, OK?
Hi, I am Kim and thank you so much for visiting my magazine! I am a gardener and a hypertufa maker. If you came here to learn about hypertufa, I have a lot of information. But I also write about flower gardening and using succulents which are great drought-tolerant plants.