The Best DIY Aquarium Projects

Guides and ideas to DIY your own creations, from lava rock to a DIY backyard aquarium helicopter.

Aquarium fish keeping is one big DIY project in and of itself. But within the hobby, there are tons of small projects that can make your tank and atmosphere even more creative! I’ve compiled a list of DIY aquarium projects to provide you with plenty of inspiration for your own. Some of this stuff, you just can’t make up. 

NOTE:      Many of the DIY projects you’ll see listed online involve very small glass containers being re-purposed for aquarium use. This can be fun, but on the whole these items are way too small for any fish to live in healthily and comfortably (mason jars, I’m lookin at you!) Please stick to projects that allow enough room for your fish. There’s plenty to choose from!

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1 Marimo Moss Light Bulb

The Marimo moss light bulbs are weird, but good weird! These are a little mini DIY lightbulbs filled with water, substrate, and Marimo moss. Just don’t put fish in these, people!

These are tiny, fun, aquatic plants-only displays. But they make a super fun desktop item and a unique and surprising gift. Create your own tiny underwater plantscape and choose your own decor!

I think this is an excellent candidate for theme-based design. You could do a steampunk theme, holiday themes, seasonal themes, and place/geography based themes. The world is your oyster. Or rather, your lightbulb.

Marimo Light bulb DIY

You can find a tutorial for this here. Just be sure not to use fluorescent bulbs as they contain chemicals that will harm your plant.

Another option is to create a terrarium.


2 Upcycled Computer Aquarium

I think this one might be one of my favorite. It combines a vintage vibe with the Ray Bradbury curiosity of things not being exactly where they’re supposed to be. (Or, being exactly where they’re supposed to be, but in an equally unnerving way). Check it out!

You can view the Instructables tutorial for it here.


Upcycled computer aquarium

Upcycled Computer Monitor Aquarium by © Instructables

3 Upcycled Television Aquarium

This is a similar concept to the upcycled computer aquarium, but in this case, you use an old television. The inside of the old television is removed, like the computer, and the upper panel is created as a hinged lid that allows you to open up and access a glass aquarium placed inside.

This tutorial is also available on Instructables.


Television aquarium DIY

Upcycled DIY Television Aquarium by © Instructables

4 DIY Aquarium Stands

This is probably the most common DIY aquarium project you’ll come across: Building your own stand to support your aquarium. It’s pretty crucial to make sure that you construct something sturdy enough to accommodate the heavy weight of water.

I’ve seen people put them on wheels, and I think that could go either way. It seems convenient if you need to move your aquarium, however, when the water shifts from side to side it changes the weight distribution and becomes heavier on the side with higher volume. This creates extra stress and imbalance on the stand. At your own risk!

For most aquarium stands, good old 2x4s will do the trick.

Trafish Aquatics makes the excellent recommendation to place 2×4 supports every 2 feet when building an aquarium stand. If you wanted to be extra safe, you could go a step further and build the frame by placing a support at every 16 inch interval- In other words, 16in on center, like you do in house framing. This is what residential building code uses for the strongest structural support. 

5 Re-Purposed Found Objects: Tires, Styrofoam, & More

Don’t believe me that you can make a fish tank out of an old tire or a styrofoam box? That’s okay, I didn’t either- Until I stumbled across a video in the abyss of YouTube that changed my mind.

With a little creativity and vision, it’s totally possible to turn found objects and leftover items into aquarium masterpieces. This person shows a time lapse of building three different aquariums out of re-purposed items.

In fact, this whole channel has something for everyone (see below!)

6 The Aquarium Helicopter

The aforementioned a YouTuber has a penchant for working with plaster and cement materials. They took it to the next level by plastering a yard piece designed as a helicopter, housing a fish tank.

The result is one of the quirkiest, most whimsical sights I’ve seen: A bunch of aquarium fish looking like they’re about to take flight in a helicopter. This definitely wins the imagination prize.

NOTE:  The only thing that I think is worth noting here is that those aquariums are too overstocked and the fish are way too large to be comfortable. They probably just did it for the video wow factor, but you definitely would want to stock your tank (helicopter?) more humanely.

Don’t miss their DIY aquarium outdoor café seating area. Holy moly.

7 DIY Lava Rock Project

Lava rock is particularly beneficial for aquariums because it helps aerate the water and remove nitrates, which are bad for your fish. This person took it a step further by combining the benefits of lava rock with the economy of creating your own aquarium decorations. And we get it- All those aquarium decorations can add up!

The only change I’d make here is to use fish-safe silicone sealant instead of the regular GE silicone sealant.

Final Thoughts

There are tons of amazing tutorials out there online for these various projects. I’ve linked to a few so you can check it out, but hopefully these Will help get the ideas going for your next project. If you have your own DIY aquarium project you’d like to share, please feel free to reach out to us and you could be featured!