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What Can You Keep in a Fish Tank Other Than Fish?

Some people are just not into having pet fish and I understand that because there are some common pets I just wouldn’t consider owning. The question came up on what other uses or inhabitants could a person put in an aquarium. So, I thought this would be an interesting article to tackle.

There are many things you can keep in a fish tank instead of fish. A few ideas are things such as snakes; rock displays; Lego creations; mice; geckos; dwarf frogs; crabs; anemones and corals; tropical underwater plants; aquaponics; ant farms. These are just a few of the many ideas for things you can keep in a fish tank instead of fish. The possibilities are endless!

I did some quick research online to see what other ideas there were out there and honestly, it all just sounded like regurgitated information. I thought to myself, what would I use a fish tank for if I wasn’t going to use it for fish? I came up with 10 or more ideas I will share with you below. I like them, you might not and that’s okay. Maybe I will help you come up with your own unique ideas using the information I provide here.

Regardless, I am here to throw out some ideas just in case you’re not really a fish person, but maybe you have an aquarium you would like to utilize. Let’s just jump right into, shall we!

11 Things You Can Keep in an Aquarium Other Than Fish


  1. Rock display. I like rocks and there are so many cool things you can do with them. You can paint them with smiley faces, you can paint them to look like houses and all sorts of things. The idea here would be to create some sort of scene in your fish tank using rocks and maybe some other items such as sticks or sand. You could leave the fish tank light on the aquarium and turn it on at night to display your creation. This could be a fun feature in a child’s room.

  1. Similar too the above idea Lego’s would make a very intriguing display in a fish tank. The fact that you can create a Lego scene then turn the fish tanks light on to display it would make it that much more enjoyable. The good thing about a Lego display is just how easy it would be to change it up occasionally.


An idea would be to have a Lego scene created based on the time of year whether it is Halloween, Christmas, a birthday or so on. If you            happen to have a fish tank running with fish in it and are now wondering if you could put Legos in the water, make sure to go check out           my article on the topic HERE when you are done reading this article.


  1. Now, let’s get into some living creatures. Chances are if you have a fish tank you enjoy pets and just might want something different than fish. How about a small snake? Such as a Rosy Boa or Hognose variety. There are many different options, if snakes are your thing. As with keeping anything in a container, make sure your pet won’t need a larger tank as it grows.

  1. How about a marine tank filled with live corals and or anemones? If you still want water in your fish tank and you are up for the challenge, then growing live corals might be for you. These setups can become expensive so make sure to do research before committing. Go down to your local fish store and see what kinds of corals and anemones they bring in on a regular basis. Then you will be able to figure out what the costs will be.


  1. One of the things most homeowners enjoy having around the house are plants. How about having your live plants in an aquarium? A live planted tank is not only a beautiful focal point, but I have found it to be very therapeutic. I equate it to being like working in my garden in the summertime. There are so many varieties of plants you can grow in a fish tank surely you will be able to find some that you would enjoy growing.


  1. Having pet shrimp seems to be getting more and more popular these days. There are so many cool species of shrimp available such as ghost shrimp, red cherry, blue tiger, crystal shrimp and many other types to choose from. Keep in mind if you decide to have pet shrimp, you will need to have a large enough tank. If you liked the idea of starting a planted tank, you could combine that with having shrimp as shrimp prefer live plants to live amongst.


  1. If you still want water in your fish tank, a couple of other options for you could be dwarf Congo frogs or crabs. Fiddler crabs are one species that are fun to watch because they have one larger white claw that becomes quite animated when the crab is moving about its business. The way it moves around is quite entertaining. Dwarf Congo frogs are fun to watch as well. They are cute and super active the way they dart around the tank.


  1. If you haven’t heard of aquaponics and you like keeping plants around the house, then this could be your new hobby. Most aquaponic tanks have a fish or two in them but you could have a fish tank with no fish and run an aquaponic set up. Aquaponics is when you have a living plant above your fish tank with its roots growing into the water of the aquarium. It is a super cool set up.


  1. Geckos and other lizards are typically kept in fish tanks with a screen cover. You could research other lizards however, I am going to recommend you consider a gecko. They are cute little friendly lizards that provide an incredible amount of enjoyment. Of course, you will need a heat lamp made for lizards, branches and rocks and you will be good to go. Most pet stores carry these fun little guys.


  1. I haven’t personally met anyone who has had a pet ant farm. You would have to have a very secure lid for the fish tank as you wouldn’t want these litter critters crawling out and showing up everywhere in your house. I imagine if that’s your thing it would be interesting to watch them tunnel through the glass walls of the fish tank. It’s just an idea I thought someone might be interested in.


  1. Lastly, I am going to suggest you consider housing pet mice in a fish tank. Honestly, I don’t find mice as creepy as some do. I don’t mind holding them at the pet store when we visit for our fish supplies. A fish tank allows you to keep an eye on your mice. As with the ants, again, just make sure you have a secure lid. Mice are good climbers and jumpers.


As you can see (whether you want to still have water in your fish tank or not) there are many different things you could do. I think the important thing to consider is that you will want something you won’t mind taking care of and will thoroughly enjoy watching when it is all set up.

I really like any of the ideas that include water in the fish tank because if you have a change of heart down the road, you could easily just add fish. Assuming, that is, you already had a running filter and the tank was cycled properly.

Whichever way you go, I wish you good luck in making your final decision.

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