how to make a bonsai tree for aquarium

If you want to take your aquarium decorations to the next level, an underwater bonsai tree is a great option. Today’s article will explain everything you need to now on how to make a bonsai tree for an aquarium without breaking the bank.

How to Make a Bonsai Tree For an Aquarium?

To make a bonsai tree for an aquarium, you should buy a natural tree driftwood piece, and then cover the branches with a carpeting plant called Monte Carlo.

If you are more of a visual learner, you can watch my video below that shows how to make an aquarium bonsai tree.

Step 1: Buy Driftwood

The first (and probably most important step) is to buy a piece of driftwood that will serve as the bonsai tree base. While I usually recommend products from amazon, I could not find any good options that were reasonably priced. They were either way too small, or cost over $100.

Luckily, I went to Etsy and was able to find a huge inventory of driftwood trees. I ended up choosing the one below, which only costs $55. The tree is 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide. You can check it out here.

bonsai tree aquarium

The tree was delivered in only 3 days, and I was very impressed with the quality. My piece looked exactly like the pictures from the product page. I was also happy to find out that this was real wood and not plastic.

aquarium bonsai tree driftwood

Step 1.5: Boil the Driftwood

boiling bonsai tree

If you buy a driftwood tree that is real (I recommend you should), then you will need to boil the driftwood before putting it into your tank. You can skip this step if your bought a fake piece of driftwood.

The reason you need to boil the driftwood is because the wood holds a chemical called tannins. If you place the wood directly into your aquarium, the tannins will leak into the water and cause your aquarium water to be yellow.

You should boil the driftwood for at least 30 minutes to help release the tannins from the wood. For a more in depth guide, check out my article on how to prepare driftwood for an aquarium.

Step 2: Buy a plant

Along with driftwood, you will need to decide what type of plant you will use as the leaves for your tree. The two main options are moss plants and carpeting plants. I personally prefer carpeting plants because they look a little more realistic.

I decided to go with a carpeting plant called Monte Carlo. It is pretty cheap, and I also bought it here on Etsy. This is a good plant for beginners because it doesn’t have complicated light/CO2 requirements. It should be fine if your tank get natural sunlight, and then you will only need to add CO2 to your tank every couple of weeks.

bonsai tree plant for aquarium

Step 3: Attach Plant to Driftwood

aquarium bonsai tree aquascape

The next step is to attach the plant to the branches of the driftwood. It is important that you don’t rush over this step. You want to try to get the plants tangled within the branches so that they can not be easily removed.

I made the mistake of rushing this the first time, and the next day I had to take the tree out of my tank and reattach all of the plants because I didn’t make it secure enough the first time.

If the plants keep drifting off the branches, you may need to glue parts of the plant to the driftwood. Just make sure that you use a glue that is safe for aquariums.

Step 4: Weigh Down the Tree

Just about all pieces of driftwood are going to float when you put it in water. Therefore, you will need to find a way to weigh it down. A simple trick is to attach it to a rock with a hair tie. Luckily, the driftwood piece that I bought had a big opening near the base of the tree where the rock fit perfectly.

Below is a picture of how I attached the rock to the tree.

how to put bonsai tree in aquarium

You can also use your substrate to help keep the driftwood secured.

Step 5: Put it in the Water

aquarium bonsai tree

The last step (and most exciting), is to put the tree into your aquarium. As far as placement, I would suggest that you put the tree far away from the filter. This is because the filter might push too much water on the tree and cause the plant to detach.

I also suggest putting the tree in a place where it will be able to access natural sunlight to help it grow.

bonsai tree in turtle tank

Whether you have fish or turtles, you pets will probably be pretty interested in the new addition to the aquarium. My turtle likes to sit on the branches, while my fish love swimming circles around it. It’s fine if your turtle eats the plant, but you should keep an eye out to make sure they don’t eat the branches. If your turtle continues to eat the branches, you might need to remove the tree since it can cause digestion issues.

Now I’m going to answer some frequently asked questions about making bonsai trees for an aquarium.

Can a bonsai tree live in an aquarium

While they can technically live underwater, real bonsai trees will have a tough time surviving an aquarium. Luckily, you can easily replicate a bonsai tree by using driftwood and a carpeting plant.

How much does it cost to make an aquarium bonsai tree?

The cost of your aquarium bonsai tree will depend on the size. If you have a small budget, you can make a 5-6 inch tree for under $40. In my case, it cost me around $60, but my tree is 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide.

You could also buy an artificial bonsai tree for around $20, but it will not look as realistic if you don’t use live plants.

I hope this helped explain how to easily make your own aquarium bonsai tree. Best of luck!

aquarium bonsai tree large

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