Terrarium turned Aquarium

All the ferns in the terrarium I recently replanted bit the dust. Ferns are so high maintenance! If I miss watering them once they seem to dry to a crisp. I wondered what else I could use my terrarium for, and I decided to turn it into an aquarium. It can hold almost 2.5 gallons of water—perfect for a betta fish. (Contrary to popular belief, bettas should not be kept in tiny vases. They need heated water and room to swim.)

This little fellow is Moby (as in Moby Dick). He’s a dumbo ear betta with huge ear fins, which make him extra cute. In fact, I’d say he’s about as cute as a fish can get. I’ve never tried my hand at keeping water plants before, so I added a java fern and a marimo moss ball to the mix to see how they do. The best part is that I don’t have to worry about watering them, hah!

betta fish bowl

betta fish bowl

betta fish bowl


  1. Maya

    I love the fish! He’s adorable! And what a great idea. My dad & his wife had a beta last for years in this sort of set up. May Moby enjoy a long life as well.

  2. V

    I still can’t believe I just stumbled upon a blog post about Betta fish. I just had a look at them today trying to decide if I should get one.

    You just never know what little bit of knowledge you’re going to gain in the blogosphere from one day to the next!


    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I’ve been doing a 50% water change once a week. I got a little aquarium siphon so I can use it to vacuum the gravel without disturbing Moby too much.

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I had bettas back in college and had no idea they needed heat! They always just hung there in the water not moving much. Moby swims around like crazy. It’s amazing how much difference the right temperature makes!

  3. John

    how did you keep the water clean? I have a similar set up with my beta and after a day or two the top of the water gets brown and a little cloudy

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      To make cleaning easier I ended up taking out all the gravel so the bottom is just bare glass, and I replaced the real plant with a silk one. The real plant started dying and dirtying the water. I use a small siphon to vacuum the poo and a gallon of old water out of the bottom of the bowl once or twice a week and then pour in a gallon of clean water. (The tank holds about 2.5 gallons, so I never replace all the water at once.) This siphon works great: http://amzn.to/1TMW4NT I hope that helps! :)

  4. sarah

    I’m planning on getting my son a fish for his first pet for Christmas, he’s 3 so I think we can all handle it! I found your pic on pinterest and love the idea of not using a traditional fish bowl. I was so excited to see you use real plants because I heard they actually feed off the fish waste, but I was reading through the comments and it seems it added more waste/dirty water! Bummer! What about the moss ball? Those are so cute! Also, would you say the fish/bowl is pretty low maintenance overall? I don’t want to constantly be cleaning a fish bowl!

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      The real plants dirty the water faster, but all the fake aquarium plants I’ve tried have damaged my fish’s fins because they were too sharp. The moss ball dirtied the water most of all and I threw it away!

      My 2 gallon bowl needs cleaned twice a week to keep the fish healthy. I use an aquarium siphon to suck out the dirty water, and it only takes me about 5 minutes each time I clean the bowl. Very easy. If you want to do less maintenance you could look into a bigger tank with a filter that would help keep the water cleaner.

  5. Deb Jones

    I love your beta container. did you just weight the plant in the pot with stones? How do you keep the water so clean? I have 3 betas in separate containers (those “I clean myself” fish tanks, and trust me they do NOT clean themselves) and I cannot seem to keep food debris and fish poop from dirtying up the water?

    1. Amanda (wit & whistle) Post author

      I just set the plant in the pot and it stayed weighed down without additional weights. I use an aquarium siphon to suck out the poop from the bottom of the bowl. I only feed him 4 food pellets at a time and make sure he eats them right away, so they don’t dirty the water.

  6. Rosa

    that looks like Java Fern. it cannot be potted or it will die. i just got the ferns and a marimo but i am struggling to clean the water without scaring Joey too much.

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