Make A Mini Shot Glass Aquarium

So we are a few weeks into the new year… My goals for cutting out alcohol and eating cleaner have been going whale! I’m kidding, but I have been serious about just having an overall better mindset with these things as well as a few others this year.

I think I owe a big portion of my clarity to these little Make Projects. The therapeutic process of building these worlds and watching them grow has made this year’s commitment, very manageable to say the least. To honor this state of being, I decided to make a mini aquarium in a shot glass.

If you aren’t familiar with what a bantamarium is, I strongly recommend you take a look at this deep dive I put together. In a nutshell, it’s a concept I’ve been working on where we bring a diorama to life. The goal is ultimately to make photo-realistic vivariums anyone, no matter the skill level, can make!

Bantamarium: Everything You Need To Know

A Shot on The Rocks!

I’ve noticed a number of you feeling a bit intimidated by the sheer scale of detail and complexity with some of my recent projects. So here’s an aquarium build I think anyone could do in a couple of minutes. The components can even be mixed and matched with other materials for a completely different look.

Making A Mini Aquarium in a shot glass

So in today’s project, I want to incorporate a sea stack into the design. For that to work, I will use our nano bantamarium jar. The difference is subtle but the extra volume (4 ounces compared to a traditional 1.7-ounce shot glass) will allow me to make this possible. Let’s break down the material list so you know what you’ll need to replicate my miniature aquarium:


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Rustic Boat Pier Decor:

At the time this tutorial was written, I offered these models unpainted and unassembled. we are proud to announce that our terrarium decor has been improved since then and is now available completed with color. If you so choose to add personalized details, these models are still paintable. Just remember to properly seal them with an aquarium-safe sealant and allow it to cure before use.

Since this enclosure is so much smaller than my usual vivariums, I will dress the surrounding area with the models. It adds a sense of scale and looks super photogenic. I also think separating the model set into multiple projects is a good way to increase the value of this terrarium decor.

Making The Worlds Smallest Aquarium:

Let’s start with our hardscape which, in my case, will mimic a sea stack. You could use any type of vivarium rock or even aquarium-safe driftwood for this. Just make sure it’s small enough to fit in the enclosure. The more narrow the better! I will be using one interestingly shaped lava rock. I love working with these porous stones as they’re great for absorbing water and growing epiphytic plants.

Making a hardscape for a mini aquarium

Super gluing a small piece of slate rock to the bottom of the hardscape will help with keeping it balanced. I do this often with my driftwood hardscapes as well to keep them from floating once I add water. While the glue is curing we can move on to the enclosure and prepare it for assembly.

This shot glass holds about 4 ounces of water and my plan will be to fill it halfway so that the hardscape is emerging from the water. This will allow me to have a small terrain area moss might do quite well on.

I am going to put down a very thin layer of eco-complete aquarium gravel as my substrate base. Not only will this help balance the uneven slate rock, but it will also provide an additional place for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Once we test fit the hardscape, we will need to attach our terrain foliage to the stone. I took a small piece of black thread and used it to wrap tiny bits of carpeting moss around the lava rock. After securing the moss to the stone we can place it back in the aquarium.

Adjust the hardscape accordingly until you’re satisfied with the position. Add a thin layer of sand until the slate stone is completely covered and you have an even layer of the substrate.

To finish the overall look and feel of our miniature island, I added a sunken boat and a few pieces of java moss. This gives off a really clean seawater look and helps add character to the mini aquascape.

Mini Aquarium Decor

Best Mini Aquarium Plants

We’ve already covered my choices for aquarium plants but you could get really creative when it comes to deciding on plants for a scape this size. The best plants for mini aquariums are typically going to be mosses and some aquarium grass species.

I used Java moss and a coon carpeting moss because they’re low-tech and grow fast. This helps with absorbing nutrients from the water keeping it clear and clean longer.

Mini Aquarium Animals

This can turn into a very controversial topic within the fish community due to the scale of a fish tank this size. In my personal opinion, there are still plenty of aquatic species that can live a comfortable life in something this size. The best animals for a mini aquarium are going to be microfauna that doesn’t reach more than a few millimeters in size. A snail, pond scuds, sea monkeys, and brine shrimp are good examples of suitable mini aquarium animals. I don’t recommend fish or any size for this type of setup.

Mini Aquarium Care

If you really want an easy, low-maintenance miniature aquarium, it will be best to not put any animals in it at all. In fact, by not doing so, you shouldn’t even have to change the water at all. Just top it off as it begins to evaporate and wipe the glass.

Mini Aquarium Care

A light pruning might be necessary for the moss as it begins to fill in. I personally enjoy the natural look of an overgrown enclosure. It’s the mini aquarium that feels like it’s constantly changing when things start to take over.

Final Thoughts

I promised this would be an easy aquarium to make and hopefully, I delivered on that promise. This mini aquarium in a shot glass is a very intriguing piece of artwork to sport in an office or living room… and a great conversation starter! If you all enjoyed this type of living diorama, let me know… I have a shelf full of alcoholic glassware I’d love to do something with…

If you’re interested in seeing updates on how this as well as other enclosures progress follow me on social media. If you’d like to get your tall tweezers on one of these limited edition vivarium decors yourself, check them out in our shop.

Old Rustic Boat Pier Set
Coastal Mediterranean Village Decor
Glamour Campsite Decor Set
Cozy Cabin Decor

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