How to Make an Aquarium into a Hamster Cage

What You'll Need
food bowl
water bowl

Are you in need of a hamster cage? If you are going to acquire a pet hamster, you will need to get some sort of home as well. If you already have a decent sized aquarium, you can convert it into a hamster cage with minimal trouble. However, if you do this, you should be aware of how to do it properly, and the advantages and disadvantages that using an aquarium as a hamster cage can bring. What follows should help you convert your old aquarium into a cage for a hamster.

Step 1 - Choosing Materials

In order to effectively turn an aquarium into a place that a hamster can live, you will need to use the correct materials. The aquarium you use should have at least 1 square foot of space, but more is always better. If your aquarium is smaller, you may be better off simply purchasing a cage at the pet store.

You will also need a lid for your cage, both to keep your hamster in, and other animals out. Your lid should be made of fine wire mesh, or plastic with holes, as it needs to be very well ventilated. Weighing the lid down to keep it shut tightly is a good idea.

The bedding you select to line the cage with is also important. You should never use fluffy bedding, such as cotton, as it can choke, strangle, or cause lethal digestive problems for your hamster. You should also avoid cedar and pine wood chips or shavings. Other wood shavings work great, and should be available at your local pet store.

The furniture you add is more or less a matter of personal taste, but the minimum requirements are listed. Do not use a hamster wheel with gaps or holes, such as a wire wheel, as this can injure your hamster. You can use any small structure as a shelter — there are commercial products available, but your hamster will be just as happy making a nest inside a small (unscented, clean) cardboard box.

Step 2 - Getting Ready

Clean out the cage thoroughly using a mixture of water and a small amount of bleach. You want to remove every trace of whatever animal lived in the aquarium previously, if any, and make sure that your hamster does not get any dirt or germs from the aquarium. Once it is clean, rinse the aquarium thoroughly and let it dry.

Step 3 - Assembling

Line the bottom of the cage with the bedding of your choice. You need a layer that is multiple inches thick — enough for the future occupant to dig through and move around. Expect to change this bedding weekly. This can be the main drawback, from your point of view, of an aquarium as a hamster cage — emptying it out and scrubbing it weekly is a lot more work than doing the same thing for a wire cage.

Step 4 - Finishing

Now that your aquarium is set up, it is time to add the hamster's furniture. Put in the food bowl, water bowl, shelter, and wheel on the inside.

Water bowls are slightly problematic, as a hamster can knock them over, making a mess and leaving the bottom of the cage damp. You should check frequently to make sure this hasn't happened, and replace the water bowl and the wet bedding if it does. Being wet can cause health problems for your hamster.

Finally, place your ventilated lid on top, and weigh it down if necessary.