How to Make a Water Bottle Aquarium with Children

Small fish can live in the small water bottle aquarium.
Small fish can live in the small water bottle aquarium. (Image: session aquarium 1 image by Anthony CALVO from

Making a water bottle aquarium with kids can be a fun and educational activity. This is a simple craft that turns a water bottle into an aquarium. Aquariums are simple for children to maintain and can teach responsibility and recycling at the same time. This project can be a way for teachers to introduce students to the concept of recycling.

Things You'll Need

  • Large water bottle or clean soda bottle
  • Scissors
  • Heavy tape
  • Aquarium sand
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Small fish

Cut the water bottle below the curved top with a pair of scissors. You want the bottle to have a steady base and the walls to be straight, so be sure to cut all of the curve of the plastic away.

Finish the top edge of the bottle aquarium with heavy tape. This will smooth any rough cuts as well as protect your child from any scratches from the plastic.

Pour about half inch of sand into the bottom of the bottle, followed by about a half inch of aquarium gravel. This will provide a simple filtration system for the aquarium waste.

Fill the bottle with water, making sure to keep the top of the water a couple of inches below the top edge of the bottle to prevent spilling and avoid allowing the adhesive from the tape from leaching into the water. Pouring the water in will cause some sand and sediment to cloud the water.

Introduce one or two small fish into the aquarium bottle once the water clears. Care for the fish by putting a small amount of food in the aquarium once every day or every other day.

Clean the aquarium approximately once every couple of weeks by carefully removing about half of the water and replacing it with clean water. This will keep the nitrates in the water low and the fish healthy.

Tips & Warnings

  • When feeding the fish, be sure to use a very small amount of food because of the size of the aquarium.
  • Adding a few small snails and a small aquarium plant can help keep the aquarium clean.
  • Remove the chlorine from the water by allowing the water to sit out for 24 hours, or use a commercial product designed to remove chlorine from the water so that the chlorine does not kill the fish.
  • Be careful to avoid disturbing the gravel when changing the water as this can spike the ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank, which can kill the fish.

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