can you use a terrarium as an aquarium?

Greetings, fellow enthusiasts of aquatic life and terrarium artistry! If you’ve ever pondered the possibility of transforming that exquisite terrarium into an aquatic haven for your fishy friends, you’re not alone. As someone who’s deeply passionate about both terrariums and aquariums, I’ve often found myself captivated by this intriguing idea. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll embark on a deep dive into the mesmerizing world of terrariums and aquariums. We’ll explore the feasibility of converting a terrarium into an aquarium, and, more importantly, how to make this transformation safe and enjoyable for your underwater companions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Terrariums and aquariums, though sharing some similarities, harbor crucial distinctions in terms of design and functionality.
  • The conversion of a terrarium into an aquarium is indeed possible but demands meticulous planning, including structural assessments, water-tightness verification, and the setup of essential aquatic elements.
  • Ensuring the comfort and safety of your fish when repurposing a terrarium is paramount, and factors like the nitrogen cycle and proper fish acclimatization play pivotal roles in achieving this.

So, let’s embark on this exciting journey to discover if a terrarium can indeed be transformed into an aquarium and what steps are necessary to create a harmonious aquatic environment.

Is it Possible to Over Oxygenate a Terrarium Used as an Aquarium?

Over oxygenation in aquariums can be a concern when using a terrarium as an aquarium. While oxygen is essential for fish, excessive levels can lead to problems. Too much oxygen can create an imbalanced environment, affecting the pH levels and causing stress to your aquatic pets. It is crucial to find a balance and monitor oxygen levels to ensure a healthy and thriving ecosystem.

Can I Bring a Terrarium as a Backpack into the Aquarium?

When it comes to bringing a backpack to the aquarium, it’s important to consider the contents. While a small backpack can typically be brought in, carrying a terrarium might cause some concerns. Due to limited space and potential disruption to the aquatic environment, it’s best to leave the terrarium at home and enjoy the fascinating underwater world without any additional baggage.

Can Terrariums be Used as Aquariums?

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty details of converting a terrarium into an aquarium, let’s gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental differences between these two captivating enclosures.

The Differences Between a Terrarium and Aquarium

Terrariums are primarily designed for terrestrial plants, creating a charming, self-contained ecosystem that often resembles a miniature greenhouse. These enchanting displays typically house various plants, including succulents or tropical species, and replicate a land-based environment. Terrariums can be either sealed or open, but they are fundamentally not designed to hold water for extended durations. They rely on minimal moisture, typically in the form of occasional misting, to sustain the enclosed plants.

In contrast, aquariums, often referred to as fish tanks, are thoughtfully crafted aquatic habitats that are purpose-built to hold water without any leakage. They cater to an array of aquatic inhabitants, including fish and other underwater creatures, creating a captivating underwater world. Aquariums necessitate a balanced ecosystem consisting of water, substrate, filtration, temperature control, and, most importantly, structural integrity to support the weight of the water they contain.

Now that we’ve established the core disparities between terrariums and aquariums, let’s explore how you can effectively turn a reptile terrarium into a secure and comfortable aquatic abode for your finned companions.

How to Turn Your Reptile Tank Into an Aquarium

Should you have a reptile terrarium that you’re eager to repurpose as a fish tank, it’s vital to follow these essential steps to ensure a smooth transition and provide a thriving habitat for your aquatic friends.

Step #1: Clean the Terrarium

Before initiating any modifications, embark on a thorough cleaning process to rid the terrarium of any residues, debris, or contaminants that might be detrimental to aquatic life. It’s imperative to create a pristine canvas for your aquatic endeavor.

Step #2: Verify the Structural Integrity of the Tank

Conduct a meticulous assessment of the terrarium’s structural composition to ascertain its capacity to hold water without any leaks or vulnerabilities. Given that terrariums weren’t originally designed for aquatic use, this step is of paramount importance. Pay close attention to seams, joints, and any potential weak points.

Step #3: Set up Your Fish Tank

Once you’ve confirmed the terrarium’s water-tightness, you can proceed with setting up the fish tank. This includes the addition of an appropriate substrate, decorations, and any aquatic plants you wish to introduce. It’s imperative to select materials that are entirely safe for fish and won’t release any harmful substances into the water.

Step #4: Initiate the Nitrogen Cycle

Establishing a stable nitrogen cycle is pivotal in maintaining optimal water quality within your new aquarium. Employ a reliable filtration system, diligently monitor ammonia and nitrite levels, and introduce beneficial bacteria to facilitate the essential nitrogen conversion process.

Step #5: Introduce Your Fish to Their New Home

Once your terrarium-turned-aquarium has completed the cycling process and is ready to welcome its aquatic residents, it’s crucial to acclimate your fish meticulously. Monitor their behavior and the water parameters closely to ensure a seamless adaptation to their new environment.

Learn More About Aquariums

As you embark on this unique journey of converting a terrarium into an aquarium, it’s highly advisable to continue expanding your knowledge about aquarium maintenance and the art of fishkeeping. Delve into the captivating realm of fish species, aquarium upkeep, and the aesthetics of aquascaping to craft a stunning aquatic exhibit.


In the realm of terrariums and aquariums, the prospect of transforming a reptile terrarium into a fish tank is indeed a tangible endeavor. However, it’s essential to acknowledge and address the critical distinctions between these two distinct enclosures. With thoughtful planning, comprehensive structural assessments, and strict adherence to sound fishkeeping practices, you can create a secure and enjoyable aquatic environment for your fish within a terrarium setting.

Always bear in mind that the well-being and comfort of your aquatic companions should be the top priority. By following the outlined steps and continuously educating yourself about the nuances of aquarium care, you can embark on a remarkable journey of turning a terrarium into a thriving aquatic world.


Q1: Can I use any terrarium as an aquarium?

Not all terrariums are suitable for conversion into aquariums. It’s imperative to ensure that the terrarium is structurally sound, capable of holding water without any leakage, and constructed from materials that are entirely safe for aquatic use.

Q2: What are the fundamental differences between a terrarium and an aquarium?

The primary distinctions revolve around their design and intended function. Terrariums are primarily designed for terrestrial plants and are not engineered to hold water for extended durations, while aquariums are meticulously crafted aquatic habitats purpose-built to contain water for fish and aquatic creatures.

Q3: How can I determine if my reptile terrarium can be used as an aquarium?

To ascertain the suitability of your reptile terrarium for conversion, conduct a comprehensive assessment to verify its structural integrity and water-tightness. Pay meticulous attention to seams, joints, and any potential weak points.

Q4: What is the nitrogen cycle, and why is it essential for my aquarium?

The nitrogen cycle is a critical biological process in which beneficial bacteria convert ammonia, typically generated by fish waste and uneaten food, into nitrite and then nitrate, which is less harmful to fish. Establishing this cycle is vital for maintaining optimal water quality in your aquarium and safeguarding the health of your fish.

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