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10 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!

  • 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
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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 10 DIY Outdoor Fish Tank Ideas

1. Washtub Tank

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. Old Boat

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 duckweeds adds a fascinating aesthetic.

3. Wooden Planter Aquaponic Tank

Using an aquarium place under a wooden planter box looks fantastic against outside walls and under patios. You can use the aquarium water to use on your plants in the box. Starting a vegetable garden above the tank is a potential idea.

4. Pop-up Aquarium

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.

5. Rock Pound with Fountain

Purchasing a large rock pond with a built-in fountain makes an excellent home for small fish. You can place this in a flower bed to enhance the aesthetic value.

6. General Outdoor Aquarium

You can use a fish tank and place it on a decorative unit outside. Grow vine plants around to bring out the natural appeal in your garden. Floating plants like duckweed will grow well in this type of outdoor tank.

7. Circular Washtub Tank

A circular replica of the oval basin, this design offers a more sophisticated look to planted gardens. This outdoor tank looks good with a large ceramic pot of tall water lilies to add to the height attractiveness. This is ideal for fish such as koi or slim-bodied goldfish.

If you're new to the world of goldfish or are an experienced goldfish keeper that loves to learn more, we recommend you check out our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish, on Amazon.

From diagnosing illnesses and providing correct treatments to ensuring your goldies are happy with their setup and your maintenance, this book brings our blog to life in color and will help you to be the best goldfishkeeper you can be. 

8. Backyard Grotto

Although building this is more expensive than the other ideas available, the beauty and size are worth it! This tank looks great against walls that are partly shaded. The glass front panel makes viewing your fish easier. This tank works well for goldfish and larger-bodied outdoor fish. Adding pot plants on the stone walls enhances the natural look.

9. Fountain Pond

To create this masterpiece, you will need to mold stones and cement around the tanks. To add a supportive base, you can clay wrap bricks and place them on either side. This is overall one of the best outdoor aquariums for minnows and small fancy goldfish. A hang-on-back filter mimics waterfall action.

10. Glass and Concrete Aquarium

Molding cement and bricks around a curved glass panel offer an eccentric and professional look to gardens. This looks ideal in shade areas. A large amount of space is suitable for koi or slim-bodied goldfish. Growing tall aquarium plants helps to counteract the overall height appearance and make it look more natural. The glass curved panel allows you to easily view your fish.

Fish That Do Well in Outdoor Fish Tanks
  • Comet goldfish
  • Common goldfish
  • Large fancy goldfish
  • Fathead minnows
  • Bluegills
  • Koi
  • Golden rainbow trout
  • Archerfish
  • Rosy, red minnows
  • Sticklebacks
  • Sterlets

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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 the outdoor tank will provide.

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Featured Image Credit: kocaturk84, Shutterstock

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