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9 DIY Outdoor Fish Tank Ideas (With Pictures)

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By Lindsey Stanton


Outdoor fish tanks are becoming increasingly popular amongst seasoned aquarists, adding natural beauty to the environment. When placed in the right area outdoors, the tank will flourish and so will the fish! A planted tank is the best theme for outdoor tanks, as it blends in with the landscape and provides a tranquil and relaxing view for you.

There are a variety of outdoor tank ideas, some of which are hard to DIY; while others are simple and novice aquarium keepers can easily create an outside fish world.

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Why Choose Outdoor Fish Tanks?

Outdoor tanks add fascination to many yards. Fish keepers get creative when designing outdoor fish tanks!

Here are a few good reasons you should choose an outdoor tank. Not only does it provide a decoration factor, but it is also a fun DIY project!

  • It looks attractive
  • Allows more room for the fish to swim
  • Fish are exposed to their natural environment
  • Live plants flourish
  • Fun DIY project for the whole family
aquaponics system
Image Credit: tanakornsar, Shutterstock

Safety Measures for Outdoor Fish Tanks

Predators and weather elements are a risk to outdoor tanks. We will provide you with the necessary safety measures to reduce potential risk factors your tank may have to endure.

  • Snow: Add a 300W heater or two to keep the tank from freezing over.
  • Predators: Add many floating plants such as water lilies or duckweed. Ensure the tank has a variety of hiding spots, is deep, or has mesh over the top.
  • Evaporation: Refill the tank every day in warmer weather when water starts to evaporate quickly.
  • Debris: Use a large aquarium net to capture any debris that falls into the water.

Where to Place an Outdoor Fish Tank

Outdoor fish tanks look best under shady trees, patios, or near outdoor garden tables. If you sit outside often, you will want to place the tank close for easy viewing.

If you regularly have strong winds or scorching hot days, you will need to place the tank under an outdoor sunroof or leafy tree. You can even invest in making a DIY lid to fit the tank.

Outdoor Fish Tank Price Range

Creating an outdoor tank is not the cheapest option in the hobby. You can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,500 if you are creating a large outdoor fish tank that requires a large number of building materials, filtration, and sump systems.

You may have to pay extra for a water fountain if you plan to add one for the beauty and aeration it offers to the outdoor tank while maintaining beauty.

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The 9 DIY Outdoor Fish Tank Ideas

1. DIY Washtub Tank by Woohome

Image Credit: Woohome

Using a large oval-shaped basin makes an excellent outdoor fish tank! It has a decent depth, and you can easily place large aquatic plants inside the tank using ceramic pots and aquarium soil. You can become creative and even paint the outside to your desired color. Planting brightly colored roses makes it more attractive to any garden. This tank is good for fancy goldfish such as large adult fantails. You can attach a hang-on back filter or use an underwater sump system. Avoid using well water as the iron content will cause the basin to turn a rust color.

2. DIY Old Boat by Woohome

Old Boat by Woohome
Image Credit: Woohome

You can convert a boat into a tranquil little shallow outdoor tank for smaller fish. You will have to treat the wood with an aquarium-based sealant to prevent rotting or leaking. Placing ceramic pots with water lilies and having a side of the boat with duckweed adds a fascinating aesthetic.

3. DIY Pop-up Aquarium by Homesthetics

Image Credit: Homesthetics

You can purchase a large glass plant vase from a local plant nursery. Adding in plants and dechlorinated water makes it a good outdoor fish tank idea. This allows a clear 365° view of your fish. Avoid placing it in the sun as the size can cause the temperature to fluctuate rapidly.

4. DIY Brick and Cement Fish Tank by I Craft

If you have bricks left over from a masonry project, or you’re just looking for a new focal point for your yard, check out this brick and cement fish tank. You can make this into just about any shape, size, and depth that interests you and fits your space.

If you’ve never done brickwork before, make sure to read up on how to properly do this. Keep in mind that you’re creating something that needs to be watertight and last for a long time, so putting it together correctly is essential.

5. Planter Pot DIY Mini Pond by Aquapros

Planter Pot DIY Mini Pond
Image Credit: aquaproshq.com

Do you have a couple of old, sturdy plant pots lying around, not being used? Put those pots to good use with these planter pot DIY mini ponds. Any size planter will work, assuming you can make it watertight. Consider what you’d like to put in your fish tank, though. If you’re hoping to add koi or goldfish, for example, then these mini ponds will be far too small with most planters.

6. Mini DIY Outdoor Pond for Aquarium Fish by Aquarium Co-op

Mini Outdoor Pond for Aquarium Fish
Image Credit: aquariumcoop.com

This mini outdoor pond for aquarium fish is an excellent outdoor fish tank DIY project because you can use just about any type of tub, bucket, bowl, or planter to make it. Large storage tubs can make great fish tanks, and 5-gallon buckets from hardware stores are often inexpensive and extremely sturdy. You can even use containers you already have lying around the house. Just be cautious in selecting your container.

Plastic containers that have been left in the elements can become fragile, so old containers may not work well, and containers that have at some point held dangerous chemicals, like pesticides or cleaning supplies, can be extremely difficult to fully clean and make safe, so it’s best to avoid these altogether.

7. DIY Backyard Pond by Fish Lab

Backyard Pond
Image Credit: fishlab.com

Are you wanting to take your DIY fish tank a step further and permanently install it as a feature in your yard? This backyard pond DIY is what you’re looking for. This project details all of the steps you need to take to build an in-ground backyard pond or fish tank. You have the freedom of full customization with these types of projects. Make sure to check with the utility companies in your area to ensure it’s safe for you to dig before you get started, though.

8. DIY Aquaponics Fish Tank by Back to My Garden

Aquaponic setups are a great option because you can not only keep fish in your backyard, but you can grow food, too! This aquaponics fish tank project will show you all of the steps to fully create an aquaponics setup.

This style of growing is popular because it can be low maintenance if set up properly and the fish and plants have a symbiotic relationship, allowing each to support the health of the other.

9. DIY Firepit Aquarium by WooHome

Image Credit: woohome.com

Do you have an old raised firepit that you aren’t using anymore? This firepit aquarium project will show you how to convert your firepit to an outdoor fish tank. With the right type of firepit, you will be able to use this aquarium as a table, as well as a focal point of your yard. You may even be able to cover it to create more table space, but this depends on how you set it up. Just don’t leave it covered all the time since this can reduce the oxygen getting to the fish tank.

Fish That Do Well in Outdoor Fish Tanks

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With so many fantastic outdoor fish tank ideas, we hope this article has helped to narrow down the best outdoor fish tank that meets your needs. Each outdoor tank will vary in set-up and size depending on the fish you plan to keep in it. Ensure you take the necessary risk measures to keep your fish safe in the outdoors. Many aquarists enjoy the overall attractiveness of the outdoor tank will provide.

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Featured Image Credit to kocaturk84, Shutterstock

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