A Low Maintenance/self Sustaining Ecosystem and Aquarium!




About: I like science but I love art. I am also a brony. I like doctor who and I am also geek.

self sustaining ecosystems have always interested me and I thought that its just a simple ecosystem so i am making this instructable I hope you like it.
I decided to add a bottle garden (one plant in a bottle or any airtight container) to a self sustaining ecosystem to add to the look
WARNING: this project contains live animals and no animals were harmed in the making of this nor should they ever be.

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Step 1: Part One:

be sure to get some distilled water or you can get something that makes tap water ok for fish (the yellow bottle on the right.)
aquarium gravel or sand is good too.
Go to hobby lobby or any store that might sell vases and get a small jar or whatever that will fit into the second jar, the second jar must be very large or atleast large enough to fit the small jar in it and have enough room for fish and plants you can also get the glue gun and glass glue from there.
What is going to happen is you are going to put the smaller vase/jar into the bigger container.
you can also have decorations but i prefer the natural look.
(NOTE:be sure to wash everything very thoroughly)

Step 2: Planting the Bottle Garden/terrarium

I bought this simple Venus fly trap terrarium from lows, it came with everything, plant, soil, and all i needed to do was put it all together and water it.

Step 3: Evaporation Drainage Hole (optional)

Now this is something you can do if you want.
Its to keep the temp at a steady level for the bottle garden.
but its mostly for giving it water more easily but it wont really need it because most of the water wont evaporate and it will stay hydrated.

I used the pointy drill and i placed it on the glass then started to lightly tap until it got harder and harder then it broke a little hole, I broke a bigger hole by placing the regular twisty drill and I hit it hard then i rubbed it around the edges like I was sanding it and the hole kept getting bigger so that's how i did it, but be sure to do this on a newspaper to make sure the glass didn't go anywhere.

Step 4: Double Container

HAH the fun has been doubled!
You are now to add the small container unto the large container by glueing the smaller ones bottom into the large one.
put a glob of glass glue on the bottom of the small glass jar as close to the middle as possible.
add hot glue around the edges of the bottom last and put it on quick because it will dry quick again get as close to the middle as possible.
give it a couple days because glass glue dries slow.

Step 5: Placing Gravel and Water

you can get gravel, shrimp, snails, small fish and all plants at almost any petstore. be sure to either get distilled water or get some of that petstore water purifier.
(NOTE:always makesure that the plants animals and everything else you are getting is for freshwater fish!)
Now pour the gravel around the vase in the middle

Step 6: Add the Water

...add the water.
after you get youre distilled water or made tap water safe for fish and you have the gravel in place add the water.
Be sure to not have it go past the line of the small jar so if you need to open it the water wont go inside it.

Step 7: The Shrimps

get some shrimp that are small and be sure they like to eat algae. You can get some snails and maybe some small fish but be sure the fish eat algae. the bigger the tank the bigger you're fish can be.
When you get you're shrimp or whatever be sure to place the bag into the water so they can match the temp in the tank. wait about 10 to 15 minutes then place them in the tank.

Step 8: Plants

The best plants are plants that provide good cover for the shrimp whenever they shed their exoskeleton and also whenever they give birth.
Shrimp for some strange reason they really like moss balls.
moss balls float so the pet stores will tie it to weights but they cut it off so you can simply add a weight so it doesn't float.
another thing that you need are algae wafers, the algae isn't growing yet so this is just for now and maybe later.
The plants will help aerate the water. and the moss ball is mostly for fun.

Step 9: Enjoy Nature!

You're done! remember to keep it in filtered sunlight or else there is to much algae and the shrimp as well as everything else dies.

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    36 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    It looks like you used a peacock fern in your setup, from what I've seen those are a scam and actually don't survive underwater for very long as they are land plants. How is the setup surviving so far?

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Well, you can use plastic jars like cookie jars or pickles jars. Just make sure you wash them with soap and warm water. It's best to wash it several times to get a smell (like pickle juice smell) out.


    5 years ago on Step 8

    I don't understand... Why is the venus fly trap in there? What is the function of it?

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Nothing. Its just good for non-aquatic ecosystems.

    Rcl101Raquel Abston

    Reply 1 year ago

    Well, it depends on the size of the cointainer and the size of the animals. Its best to search other sites for help.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    where does the tubing come in? how does the water and shrimp on the outside effect the plant on the inside?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I think the plant in the middle is more for decoration, but if the top of the jar is sealed it can supply oxygen for some time before it dies due to lack of Co2. The tubing can help Oxidize the water if your into that.


    3 years ago

    You should really complete the nitrogen cycle before adding live pets


    4 years ago

    I, Teri Encinas, would like to purchase one of ecosystem and aquarium. How?


    4 years ago

    do you have to take care of it in anyway after you are done


    5 years ago on Step 9

    let's say one of the shrimp dies... do you leave them in there? do the others eat its remains? or do you remove it?