Introduction: Light Bulb Shrimp Aquarium

Picture of Light Bulb Shrimp Aquarium

I know, I know, there are already two instructables (to the best of my knowledge) about making a light bulb aquarium, but mine has step by step instructions with pictures for every step

Step 1: Get Your Materials

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you will need:


1 globe light bulb
1 coat hangar
1 4" long peice of 2x4
.25 lbs of aged aquarium gravel
1 bottle water conditioner
1-3 ghost shrimp


1 Hammer
1 pair of needle nosed pliers or tin snips
1 screwdriver, or skinny scissors

Step 2: Copper Connector Removal

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Use your needle nosed pliars or tinsnips to remove the copper connector on the end of the light bulb

Step 3: Break Glass

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On the end of your lightbulb, there is black glass. The best way to get that out, is to put your screwdriver or skinny scissors into the little indention where the copper connector used to be, and twist back and forth to crack the glass. Be careful, the glass shards are extremely sharp, and extremely painful once they are lodged in your hands.

Step 4: Break Glass

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After you have removed all of the black glass, look into the stem of your lightbulb. You will see two things. A skinny long tube, and glass covering the stem. Point the stem away from yourself, and gently, with the screwdriver/skinny scissors, break it. It is pressurized, and will, on ocasion send a shard flying. then you can insert the tip of your tool, and give it a gentle rap with your hammer to break the glass that seals the lightbulb.

Step 5: Remove Protrusions

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Remove the extra points and protrusions on the inside of the stem.

NOTE!: do not attempt what i am doing in the picture. It is extremely stupid, but it was the only way i could illustrate the point that there was a lack of obstructions in the stem.

Step 6: Cleaning

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Take your lightbulb to the bathroom to clean it out. There is a dust in the bulb that coats the inside. To the best of my knowledge,it is non-toxic, but probobly isnt the best thing for your lungs. Fill it halfway with water, cover the stem with your thumb, give a couple good shakes, and rinse. There may be some stubborn bits that "wont come off", but you can get those easily with an old toothbrush.

Step 7: Clear

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Now your lightbulb should be crystal clear

Step 8: The Stand

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Now this is when the coat hangar comes into play. Use your tinsnips to cut off the staight part on the bottom of the coat hangar.

Step 9: Bending

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Bend your wire into a rough shape, like this. Make sure you get a corkscrew at the top, that closelt resembles the threads on the lightbulb.

Step 10: Dog Leg

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Make sure you dog-leg the bottom end of the wire, and then staple it thusly to the 2x4.

Step 11: Screw!

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Screw your lightbulb into the make-shift corkscrew on your threads. Be very carful not to screw to far, you you will end up cracking the glass.

Step 12: Add to It

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Put in about 2 or so inches of AGED aquarium gravel. The gravel doesnt have to be aged, but it will aid in biological filtration, due to the beneficial bacteria that grows in the substrate. Then fill it to within 1/2" with water treated with chlorine/chloramine neutralizer. Then you can add 1-3 ,depending on their size, ghost shrimp to the tank. You can feed them a SMALL pinch of very crushed fine fish flake, once every three days. Due to the extremely small bioload that ghost shrimp contribute to in their habitat, water changes do not need to be frequent, about once every two weeks to keep the ammonia at bay. Use a dropper every couple days to vaccume up all of the uneaten food at the bottom. And There you have it!

P.S.: DO NOT even think about putting a betta in this light bulb!

Step 13: Oops!

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As expected, you might mess up a few times, as did I. Its a trial and error process, so dont get discouraged.

Step 14: Fin!

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Well, now your done. You can use it as some weird sort of modern art(i still dont understand that crap), put it on your desk at work, or put it into your room as a nice addition to your 55 gallon green severum tank.



awesomeguy22 (author)2016-11-23

Shrimps are small

chrystopherlewis (author)2009-07-05

I wish you wouldn't put any living creature in this I believe you know about shrimp more than I but I hope it isn't too small :) Thanks for writing "DO NOT even think about putting a betta in this light bulb!" :) Betas around the world thank you :)

Can i put a 5 bettas in a 10 ft clear light bulb with a sponge filter a led light live plants and a marimo moss ball ?

pass-the-beans (author)2010-11-06

I made this in my spare time today for some feeder fish I picked up. It made for a good 3 or 4 hour decoration piece.

Xixfas (author)pass-the-beans2015-11-29

No no no no no no no no. That bulb is way too small for fish and you capped off the air supply with those corks.

Yonatan24 (author)Xixfas2015-12-14

But that comment is only too late by 5 years

Yonatan24 (author)Xixfas2015-12-14

I think there are way too many geniuses around here

Jcastellon (author)2015-03-05

I would like to do this, maybe ill put it in my 20 gal once i set it up

nkohlheim (author)2015-01-19

I'm really sorry for every animal that has to live in this thing. yes it's cute and all but it is just too small!

grace6 (author)2014-12-12

you can also put salt or sugar in the light bulb and shake it around to get the white powder stuff out of the light bulb. great job on the 'ible :)

The-minecraft-builder (author)2014-11-27

I was thinking about doing a similar design using a larger transparent light bulb and a female beta (siamese fighter fish)

the crafting guy (author)2014-05-05

hi, I have just made one one of these and I was wandering how you would put the shrimp in:-) thanks

ewalsh5 (author)2014-02-24

This is a cool idea. But instead of shrimp, could small snails work too. And if you can put snails in ,
How many is to many

miwin1000 (author)2013-09-29

I like the idea of putting plants in it, hydroponics is great. Not live creatures tho...too small, not enough air, hard to clean...just not right for the living. Maybe a worm or snail...
But thanks for the instructable tho...I like it

sonny08jms (author)2013-06-25

i was starting a project yesterday and i just used a few sheets of toilet paper & the bulb 1/2 full of water shake well and rinse it out and it removed all of the dust

CaptnPorridge (author)2013-03-11

Concerning the coloring dust;If you don't have an old toothbrush, or want to make it easier on yourself, get some salt (about half to a whole teaspoon, put it inside the bulb, cover up the end with a paper towel or the like, shake, then add water, then shake again, and most, if not all except around where the thread mount is connected, should come off.

taria (author)2012-06-02

I think you did a great job. Very good intructable, very well written, despite the comments below.

I think this would make a great herb display. put a couple along a board and put some herbs into them. Nicely done. Giving me plenty of ideas to work off of.

Sponzyparadox (author)2010-10-11

Umm I know this is kinda obvious, but how about just use a clear lightbulb?

taria (author)Sponzyparadox2012-06-02

you do have a valid point but some don't have the clear ones at home and I think this person was just letting you know that if you don't have the 'clear ones' you have a way of cleaning it out as an option. :)

I know for myself I have no clear ones at home and really don't want to go buy a clear bulb just to try it out. :)

SIRJAMES09 (author)2012-02-16

on another instructable, there was a guy who used sand & water to "scrub" the inside of the light bulb to get the white film out. you may want to try that next time,,,

Just a thought

beeingdana (author)2011-08-17

Sea monkeys (brine shrimp) might be able to find this a suitable home.
I apologize if someone already suggested it.

KWightArmstrong (author)2011-08-14

I've been really interested in making vases/aquariums/terrariums out of bulbs lately. Apparently it looks like fish and/or possibly shrimp are a bad idea as far as living animals go. Does anyone know about, or oppose, tiny aquatic snails for such a habitat?
I thought they might enjoy cleaning the inside glass and or rocks of the globe, under the stem of a bit of Pothos plant.
But I don't actually know much at all about keeping aquatic plants or animals. I'm not sure what these 'aged' rocks are that were suggested either. I'd love a little lesson or more info on any of this if you all would oblige. Personal e-mail message would be great too, even. Since I'm new here, and I don't know if I can subscribe to these comments for email notifications in case of replies.
Write to me here:

Sponzyparadox (author)2011-06-19

I made the instructible, I found using a very small drill bit, then a larger bit. I then broke the glass with an awl and then finally a really large bit about 1/2" or so. rest And used it to grind out the made taking out the inner glass much easier. Other than that rinsing the inside of the bulb with water took care of the white dust.

nerfgunsr-us (author)2010-04-08

 what is the powdery stuff and how is it safe for shrimp

eulaliaaaa! (author)nerfgunsr-us2011-05-24

I think that it is powdered aluminum. It should be washed out. You want to see them anyways. :)

disturbedandmore (author)2011-04-08

can I put a small guppy in one?

I would think so.

EbolaZaire (author)2011-02-16

I like the previous suggestion to make this a live plant aquarium. Anybody know of some good small plants to use? Possibly with the biggest lightbulb I can find.

Robot Lover (author)2010-10-29

I have to be honest, I don't care about this conversation. It's pointless, your not going to change peoples minds by commenting, and to that, I don't know why I am even commenting. But, the shrimp living in the lightbulb are most definately better off in the lightbulb than the ocean, because shrimp in the ocean are getting caught and sold for peoples eating enjoyment and they are also getting eaten by other animals. The shrimp in the lightbulbs are gurranteed to get food everyday, don't have to worry about getting caught and especially not eaten. My hat is off to you. Good job!

Mjem24 (author)2010-08-13


spongeguau (author)2010-05-23

can make small crustaceans?

HubertF (author)2010-04-05

the powder (step 6) is toxic!   Not a good idea to put an animal in there no mater how well you clean the thing!

zernie (author)2010-03-22

master lurtz is right.

If you can get hold of a tiny amount of concentrated nitric acid, it works wonders on removing just about any encrusted crud from glass and ceramic. I used to use it to clean lab glassware with stubborn burnt on bits.

WARNING You don't need much. But it is extremely corrosive. Not the stuff to get on your skin or god forbid in your eyes.

sdhardie (author)2010-03-21
I'm not sure I'd put a fish or shrimp or anything in there, but it might make a great little live plant garden!
sibiria (author)2009-09-19

I think this just as cruel and wrong as the biocubes or whatever those things are... I breed shrimp and fish and I would never put shrimp into anything without good filtration and in less than 2.5 gallon. I also would not trust any light bulb to keep a living thing in. This is just so wrong in so many ways, then again I just like giving my pets the best life possible no matter how small they are but thats just me.

charchar2 (author)sibiria2010-03-21

i agree!!!!!!a, because of the lateral lines and all, and b, because if this glass dust could harm you, and you left some in the bulb, imagine what it would do to a fish/shrimp. i also try to give my pets the best life possible no matter how small they are. you aren't alone...

sibiria (author)charchar22010-03-21

it's so sad to see people actually trying to do this without any research or knowledge or understanding how it affects the living things they put in there.  :(

darkclaw42 (author)2010-03-20

This might be one of those 'rare instructbales I actually do'. I like it, I just dont know where I'll get the shrimp from. Im Cajun, I never raised any shrimp either, I just ate them. Bet their easy to take car eof though.

kiffer360 (author)2009-02-23

I am trying this with a much larger bulb, but for some reason, the white powder is well attached to the inside of the glass. I can get it out, but that requires using a toothbrush to dislodge the dust, and the bulb is so large that the toothbrush will not reach the inside curve. I have done this before with a smaller, more normal bulb, and it worked fine. Salt, water, dish washing detergent, and airsoft bb's have all been used by me in an attempt to remove the powder, and nothing works. does anyone have any suggestions?

sn0manX (author)kiffer3602010-03-09

put salt in the water

mg0930mg (author)sn0manX2010-03-09

He said he used salt....

minerallad (author)kiffer3602009-05-28

Get some coarse-grained salt (like kosher salt), and put about a tablespoon of it in the bulb (assuming it is just a standard-sized lightbulb). Then, get some isopropyl alcohol (at least 70%, you want to use the highest percentage of alcohol available, as it will not dissolve the salt), and pour it into the lightbulb, until a slurry is made from the salt/isopropanol. Cover the top of the bulb with your thumb, and shake it vigorously. Pretty soon, the powder will start to come loose. Purge the bulb with water, and if there is any powder remaining on the bulb, repeat the salt/isopropanol wash. It has worked for me every time I've done it.

master lurtz (author)kiffer3602009-03-21


Geosync (author)2010-02-28

Be advised, a typical guideline for aquariums is "1 inch of fish per gallon."  This might be a responsible and appropriate addition to this Instructable.

stetson nall (author)2010-02-17

hi i did it

BECKBERRY (author)stetson nall2010-02-27

Hi i didnt do it!

BECKBERRY (author)2010-01-26

I have a grumpy, old and not to mention LAZY betta fish.

minipancho94 (author)2009-09-03

I want to do something like this with dwarf puffers but because how sensitive to ammonia and polutants they are ad the lack of room for a filter and heater I was wondering if someone could come up with something similar to this idea but be able to hold a dwarf puffer or 2 if you can thanks

Don't dwarf puffers grow to about one to two inches long? I'm pretty sure the rule of thumb is one gallon of water per inch of fish. If you want to add a filter I'd do something like a cannister filter, or a filter similar to this one. Have the in take and out put pipes run along the wire stand that holds up the bulb. It would definitely look awesome but I don't know how good it is for the fishes or fish.

i didnt mean a light bulb just something small that i could put up like that i have very little room to put a tank unless its eaither pretty small or can be mounted on something

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