People can buy some pretty random gifts at Christmas time, maybe your kids have been bought a fish tank from a well-meaning family member, but they’re just not interested in keeping fish? Or maybe you have had a fish tank for the last few years in your home and you do not particularly want to restock it because you do not have time to keep up with the maintenance in your busy family lives?

We are going to take a look at some inventive ways which you can recycle or upcycle your fish tank. Upcycling is becoming more and more popular. It is a way to take an existing old object and give it a new lease of life without having to break it down. Glass takes more than one million years to fully degrade if left in a landfill, and the U.S. currently throws away enough glass each week to fill a 1,350-foot building, so finding a way to reuse your glass fish tank is much better than sending it straight to a landfill.

There are plenty of unique and creative ways to use your old tank—from creating a mosaic lightbox for your children’s bedroom to using it as a table centerpiece during your favorite holidays throughout the year.  Here are five fun ways which you can recycle your fish tank.

#1: Table Center Piece

This easy and quick upcycle is perfect for people looking to add a unique look to the dinner table. This project will take a maximum of 10 minutes and anyone can do it. For this craft you will need some pebbles, candles and decorations to suit the time of the year. Use a selection of larger and smaller candles to create some depth to the centerpiece. Place the taller candles along the back of the tank, and some smaller ones across the front. Then gentle scatter your pebbles around the candles to keep them in place. You can also add some larger pebbles around the sides. Depending on the time of year, you can switch things up by adding some holly around the candles for Christmas, or mini pumpkins for Halloween.

#2: Mosaic Light Box

This is a fun project that you can do with your kids for their bedroom. You will need lots of brightly colored glass paints, a black glass paint pen, and some paint brushes. Decide on the design you would like for your lightbox; perhaps you would like to base it around your favorite movie or stick to the theme of a fish tank. Draw your design onto paper which has been cut to the same size as each side of the tank. Once you are happy with your design, stick the paper to the inside of the tank as a template. Use the black paint pen to trace over all the main lines, and once the line has dried, you can paint each section a different color. Once the paint is dry, you can use strip lighting or fairy lights on the inside so that it lights the tank up. This project will take a few hours, depending on how many helpers you have.

#3: Grow Food

If you are looking for a more practical solution for repurposing your fish tank, look no further than this suggestion. Did you know you can grow your own plants or herbs, in your own home using just some lighting and the waste that fish naturally create? Why not leave the tank as a fish tank, and turn it into an aquaponics set up? Aquaponics is the combination of keeping fish and growing plants all in one. You would have a small tray on top of your tank, where the plant will grow in clay pebbles. The water from the tank will have nitrates in it, from the fish’s waste, which the plants will use to grow, and in turn, the plants clean the water before returning it back to the fish so minimal maintenance is needed on your part. Perfect if you loved keeping fish but did not enjoy cleaning them out! This project will take you around two hours to set up but will grow you food for years to come.

#4: Coffee Table

This last one is for the slightly more adventurous and DIYers among us! Why not turn your tank into a coffee table? Fill the bottom of the tank with sand, shells, pebbles and driftwood. Perhaps you could even collect them from your favorite beaches and create a really special meaningful table. Once you have filled the tank, you can attach a large piece of wood to the top using adhesive, and you have your very own handmade coffee table.

#5: Kids Fairy Garden

Why not make a fun project out of turning your old aquarium into a magical fairy garden with your children? Use soil, and stones to create a path which leads through the garden, and either make your own fairies or use their toys to bring the garden to life.  You can also add twinkling lights to make it even more magical for your children.

The U.S. is the top trash-producing country in the world, throwing away over 1,600 pounds of trash per person, per year, so why not take a look around your home and see if there is anything else you and upcycle and give a new lease of life?

Robert is a Fishkeeping enthusiast with over two decades of experience with both freshwater and saltwater. His currently has a 120-gallon freshwater tank and you can read his blog at Fishkeeping World.