Crafts Gardening Plants Projects Seasons Winter

DIY: Indoor Water Garden

 A few weeks ago, the kids started asking if they could keep some fish.
I hadn’t had fish in years, but I knew how to do it. For years, growing up, I had such fond memories of my Dad teaching me to raise tropical fish. Some weekends, just the two of us, would sneak away and drive 40 minutes to the best fish store around. There my eyes would gaze upon guppies, tetras, algae eaters and angel fish. On the way home, my lap would overflow with a few plastic bags filled with fish, air, and twisted tightly with rubber bands. And so it went for years.
In college my roommates and I had goldfish. In my twenties, I took up the hobby of keeping a salt water reef aquarium when I lived in Southern California.  Forget about the television, those days were ones where I would come home from work and enjoy seeing the invertebrates swaying in the currents and Nemo and his friends exploring their world.  After so many wonderful memories, how could I say no to the kids?
So off to the store we went, we picked up a couple of betta fish and some aquatic plants.

Gather the Indoor Water Garden Supplies

  • glass jar- check out Home Goods for great ones like theses!
  • small aquarium stones
  • live plants
  • fresh water conditioner for aquariums
  • betta fish
  • water
  • net
  • colander
  • accessories

If you are looking for plants like the ones I used try:

Cryptocoryne wendtii
Anubias barteri
Sanderiana variegated (Dracaena Sanderiana)
Marimo Moss Balls
Red Luwigia

Add the Base Layer

Begin byinse out the glass jar with distilled vinegar, followed by a rinse with fresh water.  Then rinse the gravel as well.

 Add the Stones

Layer in a few inches of stones to the bottom of the glass jar.

Fill with Plants and Accessories

Next, settle in the plantings and accessories.

indoor water garden
Tuck the plant roots into the aquarium gravel.


indoor water garden
An overhead view

Add Water and Let it Sit

Add water to the garden and the water conditioner at this time and let it sit for a bit. The water will be cloudy at first. The sediment needs to settle.


Acclimate Your Fish

Next, in a small container with the water from the store, float your fish in the glass jar in order to acclimate the temperatures. The water temperatures need to be the same prior to adding your fish. If not, you could cause shock and kill your new friend.


After a couple of hours, set your little betta free!

Within a couple of hours, we had assembled some pretty amazing betta habitats.

Indoor Water Garden Care

The aquarium stones create a filtration and waste management bed. Allowing the live plants take up the fish’s waste as nutrients and help to keep the water clean. All of this helps to keep the upkeep way down. I change out the water approximately once per month. The garden should receive bright indirect sunlight.
So, without further ado, I introduce to you, Silas and Fishy!



UPDATE: March 19, 2018

I have received many messages and email that this post is no longer on HGTV’s website. Since I have been informed that it will no longer be on their website, I have decided to share the instructions on this post so that you can create a lovely indoor water garden of your own like these two!

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