Can You Have an Aquarium Without Any Fish?

4 min read

Although not a common occurrence, some aquatic hobbyists prefer to have an aquarium without any fish. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Some fish enthusiasts choose this option with the hope of easier tank maintenance and less time spent on taking care of the aquarium.

Having an aquarium without any fish is possible. Your tank, however, might not look as attractive and exciting as when you have colorful fish in it. Nevertheless, keeping an aquarium without fish is possible.

aquarium without any fish

What Is a Tank Without Any Fish?

A tank without fish means that, obviously, you won’t keep any fish inside, but you can have plants. This is called a “planted aquarium”.

How Is a Planted Aquarium Maintained?

Maintaining a planted aquarium is not much different than maintaining a tank full of fish. However, it is less time-consuming, and you don’t need fish food. Cleaning will also be much less since you won’t have fish waste and food remnants gathering around.

Let’s look more in-depth at how exactly a planted aquarium should be taken care of.

  1. Aeration and Cycling

Whether or not there is a fish presence in your aquarium, aeration and water cycling remain just as important. Both will still be the main components in keeping your plants fresh, healthy, and thriving.

You have to add the same amount of nitrogen compounds fueling beneficial bacterial growth and achieving the right chemical balance of the environment.

Aeration and the right water flow are also very important. Your plants will need oxygen to survive.

Same as when you have fish, place your aquarium in a bright location with access to daylight. Keep the lid of the tank always open so oxygen particles from the air can easily access the water.

Ensure water movement through a pump. Provide enough water circulation to keep the aquatic environment in a healthy balance.

  • Cleaning

Although the amount of cleaning and time spent on it will be much less than when you have fish, you will still have to clean and keep an eye out for unwanted algae or any signs of harmful components.

When noticing brown spots, aka dead spots, on the tank’s wall, brown water, or unclean pebbles, take measures immediately as any uncleanliness that remains in the water for too long might turn poisonous for the plants. Moreover, your aquarium will not look as nice and welcoming.

  • Your Plants

Plants will be much easier to take care of compared to fish (they practically take care of themselves) but you will need to provide them with some basic means to survive.

Since the plants are not in their natural environment, they will not have natural access to basic nutrients they would normally get from the water bottom or the water itself.

You will need to provide them with those nutrients and basic food appropriate for aquatic plants. Pellets or solutions are good options. Make sure you provide the right food for the right plants.

What Can You Keep in Your Tank Other Than Fish?

There are lots of options when you don’t have fish in your tank. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Rocks, pebbles, and stones come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and there are plenty of fun things you can do with them.

You can paint them in colors, smiley faces, make them look like houses, draw flowers, and anything that comes to your mind. You can also create formations, structures, and scenes.

Legos are a great idea for your tank and provide limitless opportunities for formations and color displays.

You can construct impressive displays out of the elements and give your aquarium a different and unusual look. It is also very easy to change the display regularly.

Chances are since you don’t want fish, you probably would not want any other aquatic animals. However, some other cool critters that you can introduce to your aquarium are:

Snakes, live corals, anemones, shrimps (they come in many options such as ghost shrimps, red cherry, blue tiger, crystal shrimps), frogs, crabs, aquaponics, geckos, and lizards. Just make sure that if you choose lizards or snakes, they are the right types that naturally live in water.

shrimp in an aquarium

Turtles, freshwater snails, and small octopuses can also be good options, just make sure that they can live in water all the time.


Having an aquarium without fish is perfectly possible. You can have a “planted tank” filled with water plants, a variety of decorations, and other aquatic animals.

You will need to provide basic aquarium care such as proper water circulation and aeration, cleaning, and chemical balance. Also, make sure you provide your plants with the proper nutrients that they need. Ensure enough access to light and oxygen.


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Written by:

Pet Aquariums

Have you any questions?