Monday, October 21, 2013

Mason Jar Monday - DIY How to Make an Aquarium From a Mason Jar

Perusing the aisle of my local SprawlMart the other day, I came across a giant, 1 gallon Mason-style jar. I picked it up and the ideas of what to do with such a large jar started swimming around in my head. My mother walked up behind me and exclaimed, "Holy cow. That thing is as big as an aquarium!" Thanks mom, that is a great idea! 

This Mason-style jar is now my tiny house aquarium. Here is how to make a Mason Jar Aquarium for yourself: 

Pick up 1/2 gallon size Mason Jar: 
I like this size better than the gallon size one (even though the gallon size is still fantastic!). The 1/2 gallon size is not too cumbersome for a Tiny House. It is also good size to sit on a desk or kitchen counter. Beta fish don't like large spaces so the I decided against the gallon-size decorative one, and went with the 1/2 gallon size instead.
Buy a Fish:
Choose a beta fish. Not only are they beautiful, they are loners and they breathe air. That means you only have to worry about and clean up after one fishy and you don't have to monkey with a pump of any kind. Once a week you pour your little buddy into another container, scrub out his jar, refill the water, and put him back in. Easy peasy.

Create a "Fish Friendly" Habitat:  
Add gravel, plants, and decorations.You can change his environment with the seasons if you would like to use his aquarium as a decorative tool as well. More popular pet stores sell theme-based decorations for aquariums such as small Christmas trees, skulls and pumpkins for Halloween, etc. I have chosen a cute haunted house (I can call it a Tiny Haunted House, get it?) but it won't fit in the mouth of the jar (I didn't even consider that, der). He did get a little gravel though as well as a tall plant for additional color and so he can swim in and out of it.

Add Water and Water Treatment Chemicals: 
Beta fish require that you treat tap water before putting them in to remove chlorine and other chemicals. A drop or two (read the label) of water treatment and your little buddy will be swimming happily. 

Enjoy Your New Pet: 
Be sure to keep him out of direct sunlight. Betas like 74 - 85 degree water and like to be fed twice a day. They eat a pelleted food and also like treats such as bloodworms, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae, and daphnia. 

One More Thing:
Don't put the jar lid on. The gallon size jar does not have seals and rings, but a one-piece lid. If you want the look of the lid on the jar, cut out the center circle in the ring to leave just the ring or drill LARGE holes for air. Remember, your fish needs oxygen and the lid will kill him. 


  1. OMG, love the Tiny Tim thing! I have some huge antique mason jars that belonged to my parents, and would love to try this, but I tend to kill fish. Just ask my kid about the time she won fish at the carnival and I forgot to put the water treatment in. Flush, flush, flush.

    1. Deb, you crack me up! The bonus is that Beta fish are quite hardy. Unlike goldfish, they don't go belly up quite as easily.

  2. What a great idea! My daughter will LOVE this.

    1. Renee, the best part is the entire thing costs under $15! I am making one for my classroom too.

  3. I had no idea you could do this. What a neat idea for both recycling and a unique space saver.

  4. This is such a cute idea! Cheap and easy, love it.

  5. Hi, I am doing a project similar to this for school and I was wondering if anyone would be willing to answer some of my questions.

    -Do I need a larger jar than 1 gallon if I am doing an aquaponics set up instead of a regular fish tank?
    -Is it necessary to include a heater at the bottom of the tank?
    -Should I feed the Betta fish pelleted food instead of flaked food?
    -Do I need an air pump or will the plant provide the air needed?

    I hope my questions can be answered soon because I need to purchase supplies soon!!! :) :) :) :) :)

  6. I would suggest a larger container if you are planning some aquaponics. I have seen large party drink containers that look like giant mason jars if you like the look (which I do). Betas breathe air, but the water will build up amonia, so the smaller the container the more frequently you will need to change the water. An aerator will help keep the good bacteria going in the water, but the Beta will breathe air above the water surface. I had a beta in a container with a plant. The plant helped keep the water clean. Finally, Betas like warmer water. If you live in a cold climate like I do, you may consider buying a heater appropriate for the tank size you choose. Hope this helps!