DIY Aquarium Jar

Michael Langerman
5 min readJun 21, 2020

Mason jars of different sizes can be used to make aquariums and aquarium gardens.
In this example, I use a 3 liter jar with a lid.

Save the lid to make a planter.

Remove stickers and handles.
Clean the jar.

I fill the jar with NYC tap water.

Add gravel or rocks.

Let it sit in an open jar overnight to dechlorinate the water.

I always add seashells in my aquariums.
Even broken shells will do — looks good and provides calcium for snails ;)

The next day I add live aquatic plants.
Use seashells, rocks, and driftwood to anchor plants.

I have slow and fast growing plants in each aquarium.
Plants are an essential part of every aquarium.
And so is algae.
Plants compete with algae for food.
Therefore, it is crucial to let plants grow before adding any pets into aquariums.

I add seed shrimp that feed on algae and detritus.
You can add any other tiny algae feeders if you have them.
It’s okay if you don’t have them ;)
Just let your plants sit for a couple days or so.

Plants have a better chance to win over algae in aquariums without pets producing waste.

A couple days later, I add common pond snails and ramshorn snails.

Snails feed on green algae growing on walls and other surfaces.

A couple weeks later.
The aquarium is ready for your pets.
Here, you can see my cherry shrimp babies.

And here, I am transferring a couple of dwarf guppies from the old aquarium garden into a newly built, couple weeks old aquarium.

I do not use man-made filters, air pumps or heaters in my aquariums.
Also, I do not change water.
Only add dechlorinated water to the level.
Algae and plants are the most efficient filters on our planet.
I add new plants as time goes.
Here is a dwarf lily anchored with a seashell.

I grow Dwarf lilly, Elodea, Hornwort, and duckweed in all aquariums.
Those are fast growing plants.

Also, I grow land plants on top of my aquariums.

For this purpose, I make planters like this one or repurpose the lid of the jar.
Check links in the description for details.

In the following months, the common green algae builds up on walls and shells as you can see it here.
I swipe the algae of the glass once in a season or so, but keep it in the aquarium.
Remember that algae feeds on waste and there are critters that feed on algae.

It is a very low maintenance and basically a self-sustaining aquarium garden :)

Well, I built many of them, some you can see here.
There are land plants, even succulents growing on top.
Check my previous videos about them and much more.

Have fun and happy aquarium gardens :)