Introduction: Gumball Machine Fish Tank

Picture of Gumball Machine Fish Tank

What says 'I love you' better than the gift of a pet goldfish? I know it's not a fuzzy little kitten or a tiny soft puppy but it is a lot easier to take care of. Be unique on Valentine's Day and make a special fish tank that will be remembered for a lifetime.

This old dusty gumball machine I found in the basement needed revival and turned out to be a fantastic home for our new little fish!

You will need the following items to make this fish tank:

-gumball machine
-sheet of glass
-glass cutter
-breaking pliers
-sharpie marker
-glass grinder (or a file)
-safety goggles
-aquarium sealant
-decorative rocks
-aquarium plant

Step 1: Disassemble Gumball Machine

Picture of Disassemble Gumball Machine

Remove all inner workings of gumball machine (or what's left of it). All you need to have is the base, bowl and top cap.

Step 2: Cut and Grind Glass

Picture of Cut and Grind Glass

Using a sharpie marker trace around the bottom part of the glass bowl (of your gumball machine) onto your glass.

Using a quality glass cutter score the glass along the traced line. If you don't have breaking pliers you can try to break the glass with your hands but I highly recommend the breaking pliers for breaking glass. It is easy to cut yourself otherwise.

Once you have a rough circle cut you will need to smooth the edges of the glass. A glass grinder is the fastest and easiest way to do this, however, you could use a file. Either way, make sure all the edges are smooth and not sharp anywhere. You don't want your significant other slicing their fingers when it comes time to clean the tank!

Once the glass circle is cut and edges are smoothed lay it on the bottom edge of the glass bowl to make sure your cutting was accurate. Make adjustments if necessary. The last thing you want is to seal the pieces together and then it doesn't fit on the gumball machine base!

***Wearing safety glasses is always a good idea when dealing with glass. Small glass shards are often times flying around, especially when using a grinder.

Step 3: Seal Glass

Picture of Seal Glass

Once your glass circle is cut you will need to seal it onto the glass bowl.

Using aquarium sealant lay a thick bead along the bottom edge of the glass bowl. Carefully line up glass circle on top of the sealant and press firmly to get a good seal. Clean off excess sealant with a paper towel. Let dry according to sealant package.

Step 4: Finish Fish Tank

Picture of Finish Fish Tank

Add decorative rock and aquarium plants to the bowl. Fill with water and add goldfish!

Give to your loved one for Valentine's Day!

**Please note - a goldfish will eventually outgrow a fish bowl and will need a larger home to stay healthy. However, I was assured by the store I purchased the goldfish from that it will be safe and healthy for about six months (maybe longer) before needing to be moved. This was based on the size of goldfish purchased and the bowl. Make sure the tank is properly cleaned at least once a week.


Pattymouth (author)2012-02-26

I think this is adorable. I've owned lots of fish that have lived long lives in small bowls. If you're worried about size, move him to a bigger bowl when he gets bigger. I don't mean to be insensitive - really - but it's not like you're keeping a brain surgeon locked in a closet. It's a goldfish. If he has any 'thoughts' at all, they will probably be that he's happy to be away from the nasty tank and tapping, gawking kids at WalMart and in his own cozy apartment.

jazziejazz (author)Pattymouth2012-02-26

couldnt agree more.

DIYPetKeeper18 (author)2017-10-10

please don't put fish in this! Goldfish need a minimum tank size of 20-40 gallons depending on the breed you have (look it up) and bettas need a minimum tank size of 2.5 gallons. And how does air get in??? If you want to put something in this, put some fake decor in it or better yet, gumballs! That's what the dang thing was made for! Not fish!!!

Herbruikbaar (author)2016-05-06

Wow, this is really nice!

SydR1 (author)2016-04-27

I may sound dumb with this question cause there obvious air flow... Lol so I'll apologize in the beginning! (It's late after a few margaritas ?).. Anyways, I have owned many Betta fish growing up, all living in fish bowls.. With this type of bubble gum tank/environment, where does the fresh air circulation come from? Was there a step I over looked?

Thinking this idea would be great for my boyfriends kids!!

Appreciate any insight into doing something cool like this.. His first Betta died right away and I want to cheer him up with a cool unique idea.

Thanks guys ?

TheFishGirl (author)2015-09-17

This is SO in humane.... I have 4 guppies in a ten gallon tank. Bettas need more room than that! Please research before you get an animal!!!

GeorgeO3 made it! (author)2014-11-17

This is the tank I made. 4 Minnows and a bata. They seem to enjoy it.

kenyer (author)2014-09-21

I love this idea. I have a gum ball machine catching dust in the garage that I might turn in a seamonkey-tank like this.

awesomness2002 (author)2014-04-24

High five this is great. Does it work for betas as well?

GMWGumballs (author)2014-03-26

You can buy a fish tank gumball machine at Gumball Machine Warehouse in the pet food machines section. It cuts out the time needed to create the machine since you can buy it suited for a gilled companion. There are also holes in the top so you can feed in an air pump if that is needed.

PutABirdOnIt (author)2014-01-25

It's an older posting, but still...PLEASE don't give live animals as gifts or put a goldfish in something so small and stagnant, unfiltered water.

I think this would be a cute idea to grow gel beads for the kids or make a terrarium with some cool air plants.

Iselilja (author)2013-08-23

This is amazing! I bought the exact same gumball machine to convert it into a fish tank and once the fish outgrows the tank I'll be using it as a terrarium :) thank you!!!

jtmck26 (author)2013-08-01

How tall is this gumball machine

amonj02 (author)2013-07-03

What would happen if you pulled the thing that lets the gimbals come out?

wold630 (author)amonj022013-07-04

I guess it would be time for sushi!

Kidding, really. It's all sealed on the bottom.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-08-20

Gosh, this is cute! I would love to have a Beta fish in one of these :)

Lindseylou.422 (author)2012-07-21

My boyfriend has made something like this, by converting a gum ball machine into a small tank. There are ways to add a filtration system to it that you can't see it from the outside.

And fyi, you need 1 gallon of water per inch of fish in your tank.

Lindseylou.422 (author)2012-07-21

Love this ible! If you don't like it then don't make it.

komecake (author)2012-06-11

Even for a betta, this is small. It can be done, but they will be much happier and healthier in at least 2.5 gallons. I have mine in a 5 gallon now and his color changed completely and he is so much healthier in a bigger tank.

grannyjones (author)2012-02-28

A wonderful setting for a single betta.
They live very well in small bowls--just don't put TWO in the same container!

mr monoply33 (author)2012-02-27

I might have to do this. I have the same machine, but the mechanism is jammed with some shards of metal I can't pull loose. Mines on a four foot iron stand.

Pattymouth (author)2012-02-27

Well, world630, your amazing instructable has proven quite enlightening! Personally, I love it, but i guess you now need to get busy and make something bigger for us to argue about:

Keep the 'ibles coming!

thevoid (author)2012-02-27

Insert quarter recive sushi!

Nasubi77 (author)2012-02-27

I have to chime in on the "THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA" camp because goldfish need sooo much more room than this, but that is only a fraction of the issue.

Any tank or container should be cycled before you add fish and after it is cycled, you have to keep checking the water for Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates to make sure they are all within the correct parameters. The smaller the tank, the harder it is to keep within these parameters, ESPECIALLY with goldies since they are so messy.

And comets do not average 6 inches...more like 12" or more.

Please people, do your research BEFORE you ever get your first fish. It is not as easy as putting them in a bowl with some water. These are not disposable pets.

stickboybenafer (author)2012-02-27

Just a comment to the recomendation of the fishstore "expert," most fishstore employees are simply that....employees. They generally don't know much about what they are doing, and what they do know is hearsay that is also false. Trust the fish ENTHUSIASTS.....don't put a fish in this bowl.

annahowardshaw (author)2012-02-23

Very cute project, but I hope that anyone thinking of using it for fish will research how to properly care for them.  One goldfish should have a 20 gallon tank and 10 more gallons per buddy (and goldfish are social animals).

More info:  Animal Welfare Act 2006,, aquariumguys.

So, seriously, a 30 gallon tank for 2 goldfish? I'm speechless.

I was surprised too! But the more I've read, the more I think we should reevaluate the common view of goldfish care (and suggest people research more themselves before buying them). 

If you want to see something really crazy, check out these trained goldfish!  They do remember some things after all...

oldboy2003 (author)2012-02-26

This. Is. Awesome. If you do this with one of those full size machines where the gum balls spiral down, I will worship you(and so will all those people complaining about the size of the tank).
Of course, anyone like me who can't keep fish alive in proper tanks shouldn't attempt this, but it has given me an idea for a cool terrarium. (I have the exact same gumball machine)

vinsslaurie (author)2012-02-26

Nice concept, I've always liked original aquarium/vivarium ideas, especially when it involves recycling.

Having worked with fish and exotic animals for two years now, I will support everyone who's told you this aquarium is unfit for a goldfish though. Switch your fish for a betta fish instead, they don't require filtered water and can manage to live in a smaller area than a goldfish.

a1t2h9y1 (author)2012-02-26

I think this is a cute way to give fish as a present, but not as a permanent home for the fish.

todell1 (author)2012-02-26

this is a very bad idea, for fish. there is no means of a filter, and it cannot be more than 10 litres in volume. completely inadequate for goldfish. it may work for shrimp

ashbegash (author)2012-02-24

This is such a great idea!! Oh, and I like your fish! :)

stellamerteuil (author)2012-02-23

I really like this idea, but I worry it's too small for a goldfish. I'd recommend a betta.

Biggsy (author)2012-02-23

I love this , welldone

A special Biggsy high five for you

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi, I'm Jen! In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, cake decorator, and Etsy shop owner. I also can't stop ... More »
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