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Old Aquarium Water Garden


I'm new member and it's my first post so please forgive me if this is an inappropriate place to ask this question.  image

I have an old glass aquarium. It is quite small (45, 30, 31 cm) and I was thinking I would like to turn it into a small pond/water garden.

However I'm not sure if it would be appropriate or where to start. My idea was to partially fill it with some substrate, probably a gravel beneath soil of some sort. Add stones and plants and wait for nature to do the rest. I had also considered painting some of the sides black to cut down on too much light promoting an explosion of algal growth?

Although I have experience keeping tropical fish, I have no real experience growing water plants, especially outside. So what I would like advice on, please, are the following points...

Suitability of aquarium in the first place.Substrate options. Species that are the best to use - clearly the point here is to encourage as much wildlife as possible so presumeably natives are the best option. Is painting a good idea or even necessary? Position - I live on Anglesey and my garden is south facing. So, it's either blistering sun (when we get any sun) or fairly hard shade, with few inbetween areas. Also subject to heavy rains and fierce winds (and I do mean fierce). Winter weather is cold and wet but hard frosts and snow are uncommon.

Sorry to go on, I'm trying to supply as much pertinent information without writing an essay.image

Any help or advice no matter how small would be most gratefully received.

Very many thanks in anticipation.



  • tooniatoonia Posts: 25

    hello Dibbler,

    I can understand why you had the idea and can picture how attractive it would look when first planted up however..

    Presumably an aquarium is made of toughened glass but not designed for outdoors so I don't know how it would stand up to conditions in your garden.

    Even if painted it would get extremely hot in sunshine, the water could boil!

    Most container ponds are solid and opaque, you can easily convert any big pot as a water feature, a pond book from the library will tell you how.

    As for the wildlife, there is a danger of creatures falling in your aquarium and not getting out, creating an escape for them would be difficult.

    Even a small sunken pond would attract all sorts, frogs, dragonflies and birds for a drink so I would strongly encourage you to investigate other possibilities.

    You could make an ant farm in your aquarium!

  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    Although this sounds fine in theory, in practice - not !!

    Glass is extremely dangerous for starters, the least little thing can cause it to smash. Do you have kiddies, pets, parties, where will it be placed etc etc...if you answer yes to any of them, then forget it. And even if its no, still forget it.image

    They are plenty of other containers which can be considered, things like a kids rigid paddling pool or even a babys bath. At the allotment my pond has been converted from an old bath - does the job without being dangerous.

    Liners - theres plenty to choose from these days and they're canny cheap too.

    Hmm; glass.......wouldn't be something I'd choose...

  • i agree with marshwello get a shallowish pot with no holes fill halfway with substrate and create an emersed sytle setup with aquarium plants and the will flower this is a common method used to dry start aquatic plants for aquarium i have a heavily planted 4 ft aquarium and there are many species available that will grow above and below the waterline

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    If you wanted to make use of an aquarium in a garden, then a garden designer would say that the right thing to do would be to make use of it, as an aquarium, as a garden feature.

    There's a photo of such a feature here:

    Garden Aquarium

    I think I saw a similar thing on the one of the TV garden makeover programs last season, possibly one of David Domoney's programs. But you'd really like an aquarium larger than yours, to make an impressive water feature like that.

    Another innovative use for a small aquarium, also from David Domoney, is to use it to grow plants hydroponically, so you can see all of the roots. That can make a very unusual garden feature. He had a garden with several glass containers, with plants growing in the water, in his RHS silver medal garden at Hampton Court last year. There's a photo here:

    Hydroponic Garden

    You'd also need to think about what happens when the water freezes. A strong frame, and toughened glass, would be essential to prevent the glass from cracking.

  • is is feasable to use an aquarium in the garden but no t in this instance i mentioned a better alternative standard aquarium glass would not be really suitable for garden use as there are temp fluctuations and also debris which could damage the glass you would need extra thick glass also with sunlight algae issues would be a pain

  • DibblerDibbler Posts: 6

    Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and reply. I'm very grateful for all the comments and ideas.

    Gary  - Thanks for the links!

    Firstly, I don't have any (young) children or pets. If I did I would never have considered the idea to begin. I take the point about about safety but I don't necessarily think a small aquarium would be any more dangerous than a glass greenhouse would be. Glass is dangerous, but with sufficient care taken I don't believe it would be a problem for me. But the point is well made. Thanks.

    Temperature fluctuations. I considered this. I don't think that with careful placement this would be any more of a problem than it would for any other small volume of water. In fact by my rough calculations, approx. 29 litres is not that small a volume especially when it is contained within the confines of a tank. Temperature, and consequently evaporation, is much more likely to be an issue if the water volume is displaced over a larger area such as a childs pool I would imagine. I can't see the water boiling away in north Wales image  During winter there is the problem of cracking the glass and this would need addressing. This more than heat, I suspect, would be the biggest problem.  the Nontheless it is a consideration.

    I am aware that an escape route for potential illicit "skinny dippers" would be required. I did mention I would be using rocks which would provide the same and I have also planned to add some thickish ex-aquarium branches I have to provide further escape routes. I also imagine the plants would be useful for that too.

    I am concerned about algae (I mentioned cutting down the light by painting) but perhaps this would rectify itself once the system had established itself and stabilised? One of the considerations in using the aquarium was that it was glass and we could see what was happening below the water line.

    I thank everyone for their contributions. Much to think about.


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