What to put in my empty fish tank

…no, you damn perverts. :smiley:

I have a 10 gallon fish tank I bought a while back. Apparently, I am to fish what Hitler was to the Jews…except, not intentionally. I cannot keep a fish alive, no matter what I do. So, as a service to the species, I’ve decided to forgo anymore fish.

This leaves me with a beautifully decorated, fully functioning, 10-gallon fish tank sitting in the corner of my bedroom. I would like to have something neat in there, as the little fish and their bubbles (God Rest Their Scaley Souls) always made me smile.

I’d rather not have something that I have to feed furry creatures to (ew). I was thinking maybe hermit crabs, but apparently they don’t live long? Hamster? Can you keep a hamster in a tank? I would imagine that probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Turtles smell, right?

Any ideas are welcome. I must do something with the tank!

Are you any good with plants? If so, maybe a terrarium. You could put some frogs in there too maybe. Here’s a site for terrarium stuff.

‘Amish Terrarium. Must find Amish terrarium.’

Yes, but keeping the Amish in glass containers would be cruel…

don’t they live in open air, like us?


I remember my junior-high biology teacher had a snake that ate goldfish (they’re often sold as “feeder fish” for that reason). Go with what you’re good at!

I once built a really cool setup involving a whole lot of those blacklight-reactive acrylic “rocks” you can get, a blacklight-reactive oil of some kind (I forget where I got it, sorry), an aquarium pump, and some appropriate warning stickers if you feel like it. Replace the grow-light with a blacklight, and, if you set the pump intake right, you wind up with these glowing rocks and this ominous-looking stream of fluid that starts glowing (some other color) as it fans out around the rocks.

Not organic, but certainly bound to start conversations, and some people find the sound of running water quite soothing.

Emperor scorpions. They can’t climb glass, and they’re mostly harmless.

Thank you for the suggestions!

MrJackboots, I think I may be going for something a lil’ more organic, but that does sound really cool.

JThunder, thank you, but ewwww. :slight_smile:

It should be noted that I am terrified of spiders and anything like them (scorpians included).

I know you said you’re a fish-moiderer, but might I suggest a betta? Just one would be in heaven in a 10g! Lovely animals, and the easiest fish I’ve ever kept. I’m not positive how much you know about fish-keeping, so here’s a very quick primer:

  1. Let your water sit out and have the temp stabilized! (Also allows for gas exchange.) Keep a couple of buckets and let them sit; 24-48 hours should be enough. Don’t run hot water from the tap (there’s a risk heavy metals could leach from the pipe); use cold water instead.

  2. Use a water conditioner! Buy one that says on the bottle that it takes care of chlorine, chloramines, and ammonia. There are types that do other things (help fish with slime coat production, etc), but I always feel like that’s overkill.

  3. Make sure your temps are good. There seems to be a consensus that bettas do best at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. You live in CA, though, don’t you? So you might not need a heater. Also keep in mind that stable temps are almost as important as warm temps. Fluctuations in temp do not make for happy fish.

  4. When in doubt, understock! (So no goldfish in bowls…or even ten-gallons. :frowning: )

  5. Do you know anything about cycling? If not, I’m thinking that could be a big reason for the fish-moider. Googling can rustle you up some very useful information on the subject. You can cycle with fish, but fishless cycling is generally considered to be more humane, especially with delicate fish like bettas. (All I mean by “delicate” is that bettas seem to be done in fairly quickly by bad water conditions, not that they’re particularly easy to kill. Many other species seem to be much more tolerant of poor water conditions.)

  6. Also keep in mind that because bettas are anabantoids (air-breathers), you don’t absolutely need to cycle–indeed, many bettas prefer still water. In that case, you’d just keep the tank without a filter and keep your water scrupulously clean. (I must confess, though, that I wouldn’t like making 100% water changes on a 10g on any kind of reliable basis. You probably would want to cycle in a tank that size.)

  7. Only one male betta per tank! You can keep females together, depending on temperament, but they have to have tons of space and lots of cover.

  8. Almost all fish love plants–even try artificial if you can’t manage real ones. If you decide to go the betta route, most people keep them with java moss or java fern.

  9. Ooh, look at all the pretty betta pictures! Here and here and here.

Of course, you might already know all this and I’m talking down to you a bit…in which case, I apologize. :slight_smile: It just seems like there’s so much outright misinformation going around in the hobby that it’s better to tell people crucial things than to assume they know them already.

If you have any more fishkeeping questions, please feel free to ask me!



I grow this carnivorous plant in 10 gallon tanks.

Place a plastic grid on flower pots, fill with water to just below the grid and run a submersible heater at 75 or 80 F. The Nepenthes pots sit on the grid with armth and humidity.

They are a very interesting look plant with their little pitchers. :slight_smile:

Hamsters aren’t great in tanks, mostly because they smell, but it’s a good home for gerbils, who are decidedly non-stinky! (I seem to be talking a lot about gerbils these days…) Anyway, since they chew so much, a tank is actually the best place for them because they can’t chew it. I don’t remember if you said how big your tank is, but 5 gallons per gerbil is the recommended size, and you need at least two to keep each other company. Same-sex unless you plan on breeding, because the WILL make babies. :smiley:

There are a few more threads on gerbils and gerbil-care if you decide to go for a live pet. You can also go to www.agsgerbils.org for a lot of good stuff, and lists of breeders.

Have you thought about a lizard or frog? I’m not a reptile/amphibian expert, but I know that they are usually kept in tanks.

If you really want fish, betas are the easiest fish to take care of, in my experience. They were the only ones I could keep alive. They are solitary fish, but come in many beautiful bright colors, dont’ need to be in a heated tank, and are very easy to care for.

I’ve had hermit crabs. They’re entertaining but rather hard to care for, as they require a certain level of humidity as well as the correct salinity of salt water pools to successfully molt. I was unable to get the right conditions and mine died after a few months.

I’ve had a lot of success with anole lizards though, and I’ve kept them for over 10 years. The oldest one I had was a Roquet Blue anole who lived to be 8 years old. Besides the Roquet, I’ve also had brown, green and crested anoles. The subspecies can all co-habitate with each other, are relatively cheap (costing around $6 and up, depending on the subspecies). You can feed them either live crickets, live mealworms or special bottled anole chow sold at pet stores. All are less than $10 for a batch. If you get an anole very young you can tame them to tolerate being handled occasionally, but generally they’re not pick-up pets. Although I did used to have one who loved to sleep just inside my sleeve. :slight_smile: I highly recommend anoles. They’re pretty, lively, easy to care for, and fun to watch. Small warning: they sometimes ogle you if you get undressed in their presence. :smiley:

Thanks, AFG, that last line gave me a mental image that will stay with me all day. And the cats look at me funny when I snort coffee out of my nose.

If you do decide to go with bettas, you might be able to get more than one male per tank by dividing the tank. The ones I’ve heard about usually have to make the divider opaque because the silly betta will be forever trying to fight it’s neighbor.

And it’s not true that betta can live off the roots of live plants growing in their tank. They eventually starve to death.


Okay, maybe not.

If you want fish you can’t kill, you could just put some of those floating plastic fish (like this or this or this) in the tank.

I think kittens in a tank would work out wonderfully. I could get some info from Bonzi Kitty (that is what it was called, right?).

So it seems like I’d probably kill hermit crabs. Can you have a pet crawfish? I’ve always wanted a pet crawfish (I think my 4th grade class had one). Is it hard to keep a crawfish happy and…alive?

Gerbil is a possibility. Do they get overly stinky (obviously I would clean regularly, but I mean, compared to other animals)?

Nepenthes…Yeah, I’d probably kill that. I can’t keep regular flowers alive.

No one has mentioned turtles- are they as smelly as I’ve heard?

Oh, for the record: I am not an animal murderer (in general :)). I have happy cats and dogs and had a lovely hamster and guinea pig who lived for a long, long time.

A crystal garden. I made one with my chemistry set, years ago. You need a tin of water-glass (sodium silicate, once used to preserve eggs) and some coloured chemicals like copper sulphate, cobalt chloride and so on. Dissolve the water-glass in water (I forget the concentration, so some experimentation would be in order) and drop crystals of the various chemicals in it. As if by magic, they will react with the sodium silicate and form gigantic branching crystals like tiny trees. Unreal.

NB The above is from memory and well over 30 years old, so you may need to research a little.

10 gallons is pretty small for most non-fish non-baby critters.
Definitely too small for turtles, who swim a lot & poop A LOT.
Sounds right for a betta though. I know people keep crayfish
as pets but I don’t know the care needs. Google 'em!

Rodents would pee & the glass tank would concentrate the
ammonia fumes & be really hard on the critters’ respiratory
systems. Plus they are pretty active for a wee little 10 gal.

Tarantula, hissing roaches, giant millipede?
Possibly a poison dart frog? They are tiny.

http://www.blackjungle.com is an awesome vivarium
site too.

Oh & you Lost Skeleton-quoting dorks -

I love you :smiley:

< name dropping :wally >

(Himhotep & I are friends with Jen & Larry & to see their
thing getting quoted on SDMB of all places is so damn cool)

< /name dropping :wally >

You need this!

Warning: Not work safe if you are liable to be labelled as a cultist!

Or even better, this:
Warning: Inhuman organic of twisted madness which will make you question your sanity! As such, not work-safe!

But alas, those must be handcrafted. Directions are provided : http://www.miskatonic.net/pickman/mythos/

Failing which, you can always dump in some D&D miniatures.

OMG ExtraKun, that’s brilliant. As soon as I get home tonight, I’m digging out some D&D Miniatures, and setting them up in my fish tank as an underwater party of adventurers. (Must remember to make sure there’s a Magic User amongst them to provide underwater breathing.)

</D&D geek>