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8 Non-Fish Aquarium Pets: Alternatives to Consider (with Pictures)

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Zebra Nerite Snail

When most people think of aquariums, they think of fish. In fact, it’s safe to say that most aquariums do contain fish, so we aren’t too far off from the mark. However, there is also a range of non-fish aquarium pets that you may want to consider.

Some of these are extremely similar to fish, like shrimp. However, others require a completely different tank setup, like turtles. Both of these provide an alternative to your regular fish aquarium.

Below, we’ll go over some other non-fish aquarium pets that you can consider.



The 8 Non-Fish Aquarium Pets

1. Red-Eared Slider Turtle

Red-Eared Slider Turtle
Image Credit: Erika Varga, Pixabay
Care Requirements: Moderate

This specific turtle species is a popular option for aquariums. They are active, sociable pets that enjoy swimming and diving. Red-eared turtles may be able to recognize their owners and swim up to them, especially during feeding time. However, they often don’t like to be handled all that much.

They need more equipment than your average fish. The tank needs to be quite large to allow plenty of swimming room, and they need a dry-docking area where they can bask underneath a heat lamp. You’ll also have to invest in a water filter, water pump, and thermostat.

2. Nerite Snail

Zebra Nerite Snail
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock
Care Requirements: Minimal

If you want something relatively easy to take care of, the Nerite Snail may be a good choice. These interesting snails feed on algae that naturally grows in the tank (though you will often have to add algae wafers to the tank if there aren’t any fish). They are less than 1 inch long and have a pretty polka-dot shell.

These snails need a water filter, water pump, and appropriate substrate. You’ll likely need a heater, too, though they prefer their water around room temperature.

They can live up to 2 years with proper care, though they can suffer from a range of health problems.

Other Snails to Consider:

3. Red-Clawed Crab

Red claw crab coming out from it's burrow in the mangrove
Image Credit: JudyKay, Shutterstock
Care Requirements: Minimal

Red-clawed Crabs are surprisingly interesting pets to own. They’re curious, active crabs that like to explore and climb. However, they are also territorial, so you cannot keep them with other pets.

They require both land and water areas, which can make their tank a bit harder to set up. A secure lid is also necessary, as they will escape otherwise. Red-clawed Crabs are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, such as flakes, pellets, algae wafers, Brine Shrimp, Mysis Shrimp, and vegetables.

With proper care, they can live for about 2.5 years. However, they can get a range of parasites and fungal infections that can limit their lifespan.

4. Sea Horses

seahorse in aquarium
Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay
Care Requirements: Moderate

Sea Horses are technically “fish.” However, they’re unusual enough to be included in this list, in our opinion. They prefer a vertical tank with lots of stuff for them to grab onto. They are monogamous and mate for life, with elaborate courtship rituals that can be quite fun to watch.

You’ll need to provide them with plenty of water (at least 20 gallons for a pair of sea horses). They also need a water filter, water pump, and a lid (as they will jump).

Sea horses are carnivorous and eat live or frozen food such as Brine Shrimp, Mysis Shrimp, Copepods, and Amphipods.

5. Aquatic Frog

african dwarf frog (hymenochirus boettgeri) swimming underwater
Image Credit: Charlie Tyack, Shutterstock
Care Requirements: Minimal (usual)

Aquatic frogs are another potentially fun non-fish aquarium pet. Frogs come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from rather still, easy-to-care-for species or more complicated specimens.

These animals are often social and can get along with several types of fish. They need to be in a tank that’s large enough to swim around in (usually at least 10 gallons). Their water temperature usually needs to stay between 72 to 82°F.

Frogs are almost exclusively carnivores, so they’ll need to be fed bloodworms, shrimp, and frog pellets. The exact diet will depend on the species.

6. Crayfish

Image Credit: Krista Grear, Pixabay
Care Requirements: Moderate

Most people think about eating Crayfish—not keeping them as pets. However, these can make interesting pets if you’re looking for a non-fish companion. They are quite interesting to keep, as they are colorful and active. They like to explore and dig around.

They are territorial, though, so you’ll need to provide them with plenty of room just for them, complete with hiding spaces. They need at least ten gallons to swim around in, as well as a secure lid to prevent them from escaping.

They’re omnivorous, so they need a variety of food to thrive. You can feed them a range of frozen prey items, like Brine Shrimp. However, they can also consume pellets and veggies.

7. Shrimp

Saltwater Peppermint Shrimp
Image Credit: haireena, Shutterstock
Care Requirements: Minimal

Shrimp can be fairly interesting animals to keep, especially if you’re looking for something low-maintenance. They’re small, peaceful animals that graze on algae. You’ll often need to provide them with algae wafers, as aquariums often don’t produce enough algae to fulfill their needs.

They can get along with other types of fish, too, assuming the other fish won’t eat them (many consider them prey animals). They don’t need a very large tank when kept exclusively without any other fish.

These animals can live up to 2 years with proper care. However, they may suffer from bacterial infections, parasites, or fungal infections. They molt periodically, which is completely normal.

8. Other Frogs

a blue poison dart frog on a tree
Image Credit: Efraimstochter, Pixabay
Care Requirements: High

We’ve already talked about aquatic frogs, but you can keep other frogs in an aquarium, too. Many other species of frog require both land and water areas, so you’ll need to set up the tank much differently than you would for fish. The exact requirements do vary from frog to frog, though.

Often, frogs require a regular diet of insects. They need at least 10 gallons to move around in, though larger species may need even more room. Some species live up to 10 years with proper care, but they may suffer from health problems such as fungal infections, bacterial infections, parasites, or metabolic bone disease if their water quality or diet is inadequate.

Of course, these frogs often have more strict requirements, so they are a bit harder to take care of. They’re best for experienced keepers.




There are tons of different animals you can keep in an aquarium—not just fish. Some of these are extremely easy to take care of, like some species of aquatic frogs. Others are a bit harder, like turtles. Therefore, there are a range of options for you to choose from beyond the normal fish.

Of course, many of these species require different tank setups than your average fish tank. Therefore, you’ll need to research water requirements and may need to add in a bit of land, too. Every species is different; be sure to research heavily before you settle on a particular animal.

Featured Image Credit: Ilja Lahmanov, Shutterstock

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