Tank Pets Other Then Fish

Keeping an aquarium at home isn’t always about gazing at elegant, brightly colored fish darting through the water. Some enthusiasts prefer non-fish residents, exploring a different realm of aquatic pet ownership.

From easy-to-care-for aquatic snails and intriguing crustaceans to vibrant amphibians and graceful jellyfish, these alternative tank pets offer an equally fascinating world for those looking to broaden their aquarium horizons.

Aquatic Invertebrates

Aquatic invertebrates are a diverse group of animals that can make fascinating tank pets. Their care requirements, behavior, and aesthetics can vary greatly, but they all add a unique touch to an aquarium. Here are a few examples:

  1. Shrimps: Cherry, Ghost, and Amano shrimps are popular choices for freshwater tanks due to their small size, vibrant colors, and interesting behavior. They’re also beneficial for the tank environment as they help control algae and consume detritus.
  2. Snails: Aquatic snails like Mystery, Nerite, and Apple snails are quite common in home aquariums. They are typically easy to care for, help to control algae, and provide an interesting contrast to other tank inhabitants.
  3. Crabs: Freshwater crabs such as Red Claw and Fiddler crabs can make interesting additions to an aquarium. They need a slightly more complex setup than shrimps and snails as they require access to both water and a dry area.
  4. Crayfish: Also known as crawdads, crayfish are basically small freshwater lobsters. They are active and intriguing to watch, but they can be aggressive and may not be suitable for tanks with smaller or more timid species.
  5. Starfish and Sea Urchins: These are mostly saltwater creatures that require a marine setup. They have specific care requirements, but can add a lot of character to a tank.
  6. Jellyfish: Jellyfish are becoming increasingly popular as pets, but they require very specific tanks (circular with no corners) and care due to their delicate nature.
  7. Anemones and Corals: For marine tanks, anemones and corals offer a unique aesthetic. They are considered sessile invertebrates, meaning they attach themselves to a spot and remain there.

Each of these invertebrates has its own set of care requirements and suitability to different tank environments. It’s important to research thoroughly before adding any of these creatures to your aquarium to ensure that they are compatible with the existing setup and other tank inhabitants.


Small Amphibians

Small amphibians can make delightful and interesting tank pets. They add a different dynamic to the traditional aquarium setup and are fascinating to watch. Below are a few examples of amphibians that can thrive in a tank environment:

  1. African Dwarf Frogs: These small, fully aquatic frogs are popular in the pet trade. They require a freshwater setup and are generally peaceful tank inhabitants. It’s important to provide a variety of hiding places, as they can be shy.
  2. Newts: Many species of newts, like the Eastern Newt or Fire-Belly Newt, can make great tank pets. These semi-aquatic creatures require a setup with both land and water areas. Their diet consists of small invertebrates like worms and insects.
  3. Salamanders: Certain species of salamanders, like the Axolotl (which remains in its aquatic larval form throughout life), can make unique and entertaining pets. They have special requirements in terms of temperature and diet, and their environment must be kept clean to prevent health issues.
  4. Pipa Pipa Frog (Surinam Toad): These are fully aquatic frogs with an unusual appearance. They require a larger tank with plenty of hiding spots and a diet of invertebrates and fish.

Remember, every amphibian species has unique requirements for diet, tank setup, and care. It’s crucial to research each species thoroughly to ensure a suitable and healthy environment. It’s also essential to source your pets responsibly, ensuring they are not collected from the wild and are captive-bred instead. This helps protect wild populations and the health of your pet.

Arachnids And Spiders

Insects and arachnids can make fascinating and relatively low-maintenance pets, offering a unique alternative to traditional pet species. These creatures often require smaller living spaces compared to larger pets, but their needs for specific environmental conditions, diets, and care should not be underestimated. Here are some examples:

  1. Tarantulas: These are among the most popular pet arachnids. With over 800 species available, ranging in size, color, and temperament, there’s a tarantula to suit many pet owners. It’s crucial to research each species’ needs, as some are more challenging to care for than others.
  2. Scorpions: Emperor and Forest Scorpions are commonly kept as pets. They require an environment that mimics their natural habitat—warm, with plenty of hiding spaces.
  3. Stick Insects: These interesting creatures are known for their remarkable camouflage abilities. They require a well-ventilated enclosure with plenty of foliage for feeding and hiding.
  4. Mantises: Praying mantises are predatory insects that can make fascinating pets. They’re relatively easy to care for, needing an appropriately sized enclosure and a steady supply of small insects for food.
  5. Millipedes and Centipedes: Millipedes are docile detritivores and make easy-to-care-for pets, whereas centipedes are carnivorous and can be more challenging to keep.
  6. Beetles: Some beetle species, like the Hercules and Stag beetles, are kept as pets due to their striking appearance. Their needs can vary widely depending on the species.
  7. Ants: Ant keeping (formicarium) has been a long-standing hobby. Observing the complex social behavior of ants can be captivating and educational.
  8. Spiders: Besides tarantulas, other spiders such as jumping spiders are also kept as pets. They are smaller, active, and known for their curious nature.

Each of these creatures has its own unique set of requirements, and it’s crucial to understand these before bringing them into your home. They also have varying lifespans, from a year or less for some insects to a decade or more for some tarantula species. Finally, always source your pets responsibly, ensuring they are bred in captivity rather than captured from the wild.

Lizards As Tank Pets

Lizards can make fascinating and rewarding pets, offering a range of sizes, behaviors, and care requirements that can fit various lifestyles. They can thrive in tank-like environments called terrariums, which should be carefully set up to mimic their natural habitats. Here are some lizards commonly kept as pets:

  1. Bearded Dragons: Known for their friendly and laid-back nature, bearded dragons are a popular choice for a pet lizard. They require a desert-like terrarium with heat lamps and UVB lighting, and a diet of both insects and vegetables.
  2. Leopard Geckos: These small, nocturnal lizards are easy to care for and make great pets for beginners. They also require a heated terrarium but unlike most lizards, they do not need UVB lighting. Their diet consists primarily of insects.
  3. Crested Geckos: These arboreal geckos are known for their eyelashes and prehensile tails. They thrive in a vertical terrarium with plenty of climbing space. They eat a combination of insects and a fruit-based diet, often available as commercial crested gecko food.
  4. Blue-Tongued Skinks: These large, docile lizards are known for their distinctive blue tongues. They require a larger terrarium with a basking spot and UVB lighting, and they eat a varied diet of vegetables, fruits, and proteins.
  5. Anoles: Small and active, anoles are interesting to observe. They prefer a vertical terrarium with plenty of foliage. Most commonly kept is the Green Anole, which needs a diet of small live insects.
  6. Chameleons: Known for their color-changing abilities and unique eye movement, chameleons are beautiful but generally more challenging to care for. They require a well-ventilated terrarium with plenty of climbing space and UVB lighting.

Each lizard species has its own specific requirements for temperature, humidity, lighting, and diet. It’s crucial to thoroughly research any species you’re considering to ensure you can provide the necessary care. It’s also essential to handle these creatures gently and minimally, as many lizards can become stressed with excessive handling. As always, choose captive-bred specimens to support ethical pet trade practices.


Snakes As Tank Pets

Snakes can make fascinating pets for those willing to meet their unique care requirements. They come in various sizes, colors, and patterns, and each species has distinct needs in terms of diet, habitat, and handling. Here are a few examples of snakes commonly kept as pets:

  1. Corn Snakes: These are often recommended for beginners due to their docile nature, manageable size, and relatively simple care requirements. They need a secure tank with a heating element and eat a diet of mice.
  2. Ball Pythons: Known for their docile nature and tendency to curl into a ball when stressed, Ball Pythons are a popular choice. They require a warm, secure tank environment and eat a diet primarily of rodents.
  3. King Snakes and Milk Snakes: These snakes are known for their vibrant colors and patterns. They need a similar setup to Corn Snakes and Ball Pythons, with a secure, heated tank and a rodent-based diet.
  4. Garter Snakes: Garter snakes are small, active, and have simpler dietary needs, which can include worms and fish in addition to rodents. They also require a secure, heated tank.
  5. Boa Constrictors: Boas are larger and can live a long time, making them a significant commitment. They require larger enclosures, heat, and a diet of appropriately sized rodents.
  6. Hognose Snakes: Known for their upturned snouts, Hognose snakes are generally small and have a docile disposition. They require a secure, warm tank environment and eat a diet of small rodents.

Each snake species has specific requirements for temperature gradients, hiding spots, and diet, so potential owners should research carefully to ensure they can meet these needs. All snakes should have secure enclosures, as they are escape artists. They should be handled gently and infrequently, as excessive handling can cause stress. Also, most pet snakes eat a diet of rodents, which are usually fed frozen and thawed. Prospective snake owners must be comfortable with this aspect of care. As always, choose captive-bred snakes to promote ethical pet trade practices.

Herimit Crabs

Hermit crabs can make engaging and entertaining tank pets with their fascinating behaviors and unique needs. Contrary to their name, hermit crabs are social creatures and thrive best when housed with a few of their kind. They’re often seen as an easy pet suitable for beginners, but they do have specific care requirements that need to be met to ensure their well-being.

  1. Housing: Hermit crabs are often housed in terrariums with a mix of sand and coconut fiber substrate that allows them to dig and burrow. They also require a variety of shells to move into as they grow. Their habitat should include hiding spots, climbing opportunities, and a shallow dish of water for soaking.
  2. Temperature and Humidity: Hermit crabs are tropical creatures and need a warm, humid environment. The temperature should ideally be between 75-85°F, and the humidity should be 70-80%. Both of these conditions are crucial for the crabs’ health and their ability to successfully molt.
  3. Diet: Hermit crabs are omnivores and scavengers. They can eat a wide variety of foods, including commercial hermit crab food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein sources like cooked meat or fish. It’s also crucial to provide a source of calcium, like cuttlebone, for their exoskeleton growth.
  4. Handling and Behavior: While hermit crabs can be handled gently and infrequently, it’s important to remember that they can pinch if they feel threatened. Observing their social interactions, molting process, and shell-switching behaviors can be quite entertaining and educational.
  5. Lifespan: With proper care, hermit crabs can live up to 10 years or more, much longer than people often expect.
  6. Species: The most commonly kept species as pets are the Caribbean hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus) and the Ecuadorian hermit crab (Coenobita compressus), each with slightly different care requirements.

It’s important to note that hermit crabs are often taken from the wild for the pet trade, which is harmful to their populations and can cause stress for the individual animals. If possible, seek out adoptable hermit crabs in need of a home rather than purchasing new ones.

Cleaning Up Old Tank

The repurposing journey of an old fish tank begins with its complete emptying. You need to remove every trace of its aquatic past, including water, substrate, and any decorations or equipment. This stage paves the way for the transformation of this former aquatic haven into a new home for terrestrial or amphibious inhabitants.

Cleaning comes next, and vinegar becomes your ally here. A solution of equal parts water and white vinegar can effectively remove stubborn mineral deposits and hard water stains. Armed with a non-abrasive sponge or scrubber, you’ll scrub every inch of the tank, focusing particularly on corners and crevices.

Rinsing follows, a crucial step that ensures every trace of vinegar is washed away. Warm water should be used, and multiple rinses are advised. Once fully rinsed, the tank must be left to air dry. This final drying stage allows for the evaporation of any residual vinegar.

When you’re sure the tank is clean, undamaged, and safe, the real transformation begins. You’ll tailor the interior to your new pet’s needs, adding substrate, decorations, and perhaps equipment like heaters or lights. Remember, this new home should be left to “cycle” before introducing your new pet, allowing for environmental stabilization and adjustments to tempe

About The Author

Ellie McDaniel is an experienced aquarium pet owner, whose expertise infuses her informative articles. She shares her deep understanding of aquatic pets, their care, and maintenance through engaging and insightful writings.

Ellie’s knowledge and passion for aquarium pets shine through her articles, providing an invaluable guide for fellow enthusiasts. Her practical experience resonates with readers, making her a trusted resource in the diverse world of aquarium pet care.