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Make a Container Water Garden

Make a Container Water Garden
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If you’re looking for a centerpiece that lasts longer than flower bouquets, make a container water garden. A vase filled with aquatic plants and colorful fish can add tranquility and peace to a space while injecting a pop of color to your home, deck or sun room.

Tabletop Water Garden
Tabletop water gardens add both color and tranquility to a space.

Container Water Garden Supplies:

  • Container. Any container that holds water will work. If you want to use colorful aquarium gravel, think glass. Use your imagination and be creative.
  • Rocks and/or aquarium gravel.
  • Aquatic plants — you can find these at most plant nurseries. Some great options are water lilies and water lettuce.
  • Fish. Male Beta fish are an excellent choice as they are beautiful with lacey fins and come in jewel tones from ruby red to indigo.
    Caution: Male Betas are fighting fish, so only use one male Beta fish per water feature. A few small fancy goldfish will also do well.

Instructions to Make a Container Water Garden:

  1. Clean the container to be used as a basin and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Place aquatic plants with roots on the bottom and stabilize with rocks or gravel, depending on the size of the plant.
  3. Fill ¾ of the container with water. As the water is filling, layer rocks and/or gravel around the plants to obtain a natural look.
  4. Choose a spot that is bright but does not get direct sunlight, as the water tends to evaporate quickly and can overheat, killing the fish.
  5. Let the water stabilize for 24 hours before adding fish.

Container Water Garden Maintenance:

  1. Feed the fish a small amount every day or two as directed on the fish food package.
  2. Add more water as it evaporates. If the water becomes cloudy, remove the fish and empty the container. After cleaning and rinsing the container thoroughly, add fresh water that has been sitting for 24 hours before re-introducing the fish. Because the plants thrive on the fish waste in the water, cleaning should not be required very often.


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley (Fleming) Wigglesworth is an award-winning freelance journalist from Maine specializing in maritime topics and the commercial fishing industry. She is also a certified Maine Master Gardener who writes gardening articles on a regular basis for Yankee Magazine. Her work can be found in the following publications: The York County Coast Star, Portsmouth Herald, Bangor Daily News, Yankee Magazine (online), National Fisherman Magazine, Commercial Fisheries News, Tourist News, Points East Magazine, Coastal Angler and The Maine Lobstermen's Association’s “Landings.” Follow Shelley on Facebook.
Updated Monday, March 19th, 2012
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