Turning a jar or decorative glass vase into an aquarium is a great option for a beginner and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
To make a habitat for aquatic creatures, you’ll need rocks and live plants. If you can get some rocks/gravel straight from a friend’s aquarium, then it’ll have the beneficial bacteria needed to cycle your new jar. Live aquatic plants also have good bacteria, clean the water, and provide a place for creatures to hide. Fill the jar with filtered water, and add the rocks and plants. Let this sit for a week before adding creatures. Feed the jar some fish food everyday even though there’s nothing to eat it. You are feeding the beneficial bacteria which breaks down the waste of the future creatures.
After 1-2 weeks, you can add a snail, a few small cherry shrimps, and a guppy. Place the jar in a place where the plants can get light to grow. This spot should not cause the water temperature to fluctuate too extremely. It’s usually not a good idea to keep it on a window sill because the direct sunlight will cause the water to overheat during the day and drafts will cause it to get cold at night. If the water feels like it is at room temperature then it should be fine. If it feels cold then it’s probably too cold. If you can get your hands on a thermometer then a good temp is anywhere from 20 – 25 Celsius.
Cleaning: Every week, remove a third(or up to 50%) of the water and replace it with filtered water. A turkey baster can be used to suck up dirt from the bottom of the jar. Don’t stress out if you miss the weekly cleaning. The creatures should be fine if you are late with the cleaning. In between cleanings, add more filtered water if you see that it is evaporating. If you notice that the sides of the jar aren’t clean anymore, then algae might be starting to grow. Get an old tooth brush and rinse it with hot water. Use it to scrub the sides of the jar until they are clear. Tip: dirty aquarium water is great for plants!
Feeding: The biggest killer of fish is overfeeding them. A fish stomach is only the size of it’s eye. If the fish can’t finish the amount of food it is given within a minute, then it’s too much. Also, if lots of food is falling to the bottom then it will go bad and pollute the water. The snail and shrimps will eat some of the falling leftovers. It’s much better to feed the fish 2 or 3 small meals per day. If you only have time to feed the fish once then that’s fine. Just don’t over feed just because you feel sorry. Usually the amount of food that can balance on the tip of your finger is enough. If the fish is a tiny baby then crush the food into tiny dust specs and feed only a very very tiny amount. Usually if you swish your finger into the fish food bottle, tiny specs will stick to your finger that you can feed to the baby. Babies and small fish can’t hold as much food in their bodies so they need to be fed several times a day.
Shrimp and snails are scavengers. As mentioned, they eat all the leftover food. They also eat algae and dead plants. If you feel like they are not getting enough food then sink some fish food down under the water for them once or twice a week. You can also buy special pellets for them or algae wafers. The algae wafers will be too big for them so chop them up on a cutting board and just feed them a few crumbs of it each time. They also like to eat dry oak leaves. Find a few and put steep them in a cup of hot water until they sink. This can be left in the tank indefinitely and the invertebrates will munch on it when they’re hungry.
Have fun! If you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org