Jackie Thompson

Around 139.3 million fish are pets in the U.S, and those who adore these aquatic creatures often go to great lengths to ensure they live in appropriate conditions. If you are keen on having fish as pets and you want to make an aquarium yourself, there are so many ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint through repurposing or upcycling. Of course, regardless of the structure you build, you should first do thorough research and have a talk to an aquarium specialist to ensure that what you build has enough space and is the right materials so you can incorporate everything your fish needs to survive – including filters, heating, lighting (which is necessary for plant growth) and the like. Once you receive the okay for your design, you can start thinking of ways to incorporate recycled materials in your creation.

 Aquarium Size Matters

The first thing to consider when finding a glass receptacle or glass panels to build into a sustainable aquarium is size. The bigger the aquarium, the more energy (light and heat) you will need, and the more energy you will use all-round. Fishbowls are unhealthy for fish, and they are also difficult to maintain in an optimal state, so opt for a small tank of around five to 10 gallons if you have a couple of fish. Ideally, you should use glass panels or other recyclable materials you already have at home. Visit second hand or thrift stores, as many people who no longer have pet fish donate aquariums to goodwill. If you wish to create a rectangular or large square aquarium, visit waste and recycling sites to see if large glass panels are available.

 Finding Useful Materials

If you have bio stones (made of volcanic rock and cement), or you can find a few small pieces of driftwood, know that these will make your aquarium more beautiful but also give fish a place to hide. Biostones, which are made of rock and cement, can also help keep the water clean, as they are porous and have a slight filtering effect. Other elements you can use include small sculptures and other items in your home that can add life and color to your aquarium design. Check out secondhand and waste sites as well; it is worth giving various places a call beforehand to ask if they have any specific materials you need.

Using Living Plants

Plastic plants may look cute in an aquarium, but they can damage fish with fragile skin or scales, and they are unable to absorb carbon dioxide and other gases that can be harmful to fish health. Aquatic plants increase oxygen levels in the water and provide helpful bacteria to the environment. If you have a friend who already has an aquarium with plants, ask for a few cuttings. Locate the lowest stem nodes before cutting and remove the leaves beneath it. Plant into a substrate that is covered in freshwater moss. This is fast growing and is also a fantastic way to keep the water clean.

Decorating Your Aquarium

When it comes to aquarium decoration, you can let your imagination run wild, especially when it comes to decorating the outside parts of the aquarium. You certainly don’t have to have a plain glass structure. You can decorate the lower portion of the aquarium with old brooches, toys or bottle caps. The only proviso is that you should not paste items above the substrate line, as you’ll need to enable light to reach your aquatic plants. If you have a large tank that is suitable for decoration, you can put a few recycled or unwanted ceramic pots at the bottom of the aquarium; the fish will love swimming in and out of them. Some fish owners create ‘tunnels’ that fish love swimming through. You can do this by using small plant pots with a hole cut in the bottom, or by stacking PVC tubes of various widths and creating an art piece that will boost fish activity. Just remember that the tubes should not be too long, as fish may be reticent to swim through if they are.

There are many ways you can create an eco-friendly aquarium by using wasted and recycled items. From old PVC tubes to cute décor items that can be stuck to the aquarium exterior, there are so many items you have stored away that could play a key role in your design. Remember to run your ideas past an aquarium expert first; mention all materials you intend to use to ensure that the health of your fish always remains the number one priority.

Photo by Claudio Guglieri on Unsplash.