How to Make An Ant Farm with a Fish Tank

Making your own ant farm can be an amazing and very rewarding project.  You have to make sure that you are using the right materials to ensure that your ants do not escape and that they will prosper.  It is best to use a fish tank as the enclosure so that you will be able to readily see the ant farm activity.

Picking the Right Tank for Your Ant Farm

You need to pick a tank that will not leak and that can deal with moisture.  The dirt in the ant farm should not be totally dry since most species of ants prefer to live in a moist environment.  You can use an old fish tank or aquarium that you may already have laying around. Or you purchase one online. I recommend the starter aquarium by bettlity ( available on Amazon).

Some people use a plastic conditioner.  Using plastic is fine as long as you have tested it to ensure that moisture does not leak out of the container.  I would suggest that you add water to it overnight and then seal any areas that might be leaking.

Preparing the Tank for the Ants

Thoroughly clean your tank.  You need to remove any bacteria, fungus or any other materials that may be dangerous to ants.  No need to add harsh chemicals to clean your tank. Certain cleaners can just end up poisoning your future ants. Just wash out your tank with dish soap and warm water.  Make sure to rinse out the soap and to hand dry it afterward.

It actually is best to let it sit for a few days before adding the ant farm dirt to ensure that it has completely dried out.

You should also invest in a piece of plexiglass to add to the top of the aquarium so that it will be harder for your ants to climb out of the tank.  You do not want to totally seal the top of the tank since the ants do need air to breathe.

Filling Up the Ant Farm Tank

Now comes the fun part, filling up the tank.  The trick is to add a mixture of moist dirt and sand.  If you were to add only sand, your environment in the tank would dry out super quickly and this is just going to end up frustrating your ants.

Ants need to have some moisture present so that they stabilize their tunnels.  It is the same principle as within a mine shaft.  If the shaft is too dry or unstable, it will collapse in on itself.  So, do yourself a favor and make sure to have a mixture of dry and damp soil so that your ants can safely build their tunnels.

Make sure when you add the dirt and soil that you do not dirty up the sides because that will prevent you from viewing the activity on the surface of the ant farm.  Also, having dirt on the sides is just going to increase the opportunity for your ants to climb outside of the tank.

Regarding how much sand you wish to add

That is totally up to you.  Some people just add a few inches into a tank.  Personally, I would add enough to fill fifty percent of the interior of the tank so that your ants can create numerous tunnels.

Have Fun Adding Unique Twists to Your Ant Farm in a Tank

You may have seen ant farms that are strictly dirt in a tank.  Why not make life more interesting for your ants and yourself by adding in items that they would encounter in nature.  For instance, the ground surface outside is typically not flat.  Add in some hills and valleys to the surface of the farm. If you are interested in getting an ant habitat that comes with an led light, click here to view the habitat by Eviva Sciences.

Besides making the surface more mountainous, you could add in some twigs and rocks to the surface and also within the soil.  These items will be scoured by the worker ants since they tend to search out food on a constant basis.

Another interesting option is to create a small lake on the surface of your ant farm.  This is done by adding a small cup to the surface and partially burying it so that just the opening remains on the surface.  I would be careful though, you do not want to use a large glass since ants do need a way of escaping if they were to fall into your manmade lake.  It is almost guaranteed that ants will fall into your lakes.

Can Ants Climb the Glass in an Aquarium? If so, how do you prevent them from climbing out of the Ant Farm?

It is possible for ants to climb the glass of your ant farm tank even though it might appear to be totally slick. I have read in a forum that the species Myrmica  Rubra is very adapt to climbing slick surfaces. You will need to add a substance to the lip of your tank so that your precious ants will stay within the ant farm.

Here are a few solutions:

  1. Add some baby powder to the top of the tank.  Some people suggest to dap the surface with rubbing alcohol to the surface first, but that may add some traction for your ants to climb out of the tank. Just add some powder to the top portion of the tank using your index finger. The oil from your finger will help the powder to stay in place.
  2. You could also add some vaseline to the top edge of your tank.  Ants will find it difficult to by-pass and they mostly will just turn around and stay within the tank.

Do You Need a Queen Ant for Your Ant Farm that is in a Tank?

It is not crucial to have a queen ant for your homemade ant farm in a tank, but it will make your colony last longer.  Without a queen ant, you will just have worker ants working pointlessly.

How are you going to find a queen ant?

You can actually buy ants online.  For instance, click here to purchase two tubes of ants for a total of 60 ants by Nature Gift Store, available on Amazon.

Here are some methods for obtaining a queen ant for your ant tank:

  1. You could simply try to find one on a nearby sidewalk.  You are probably thinking that it is not possible, but it is.  Your first step is to find out the length of the typical ants that you can see that are of the same species.  Then locate one that has a much larger abdomen and thorax and that is essentially larger than the other ants that you will see.
  2. Another method is to outright buy one online.  You just need to do a search online for “buy queen ant” and then add your country after it. You just have to ensure that the species that you are paying are native to your location.  There have been raids on companies that are selling queen ants that are of species that are forbidden in certain countries.

How Long will Your Homemade Ant Farm Last?

Your ant farm in your aquarium is not going to last forever.  If you do not have a queen ant, the colony will slowly die off.  The queen is the only ant that can reproduce. On average, an ant farm will last 3-4 months at most.

Nevertheless, if you were to start with just a queen that is laying eggs, you could grow your own colony.  You could then technically have a homemade ant farm in a tank that would last for years.

Concluding Statements on an Ant Farm in a Fish Tank

If you have an empty fish tank, instead of letting dust take it over, turn it into an ant farm.  You will get a lot of joy out of watching the ant activity by seeing how the ants work and interact.  If you are lucky enough to capture a queen ant or adventurous enough to buy one, your pleasure state will be extended into years instead of just months.

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