When you think of aquariums, you probably imagine a tank full of water with fish swimming in it. Believe it or not, aquariums can actually be used as hamster cages as well. Aquariums can be found for cheap at a flea market or garage sale. You may even have one of your own gathering dust in the storage room after the family goldfish died.
Before using an aquarium as a habitat for your hamster, you have to know its strengths and weakness. Let’s cover the strengths first. To begin, your hamster can’t gnaw his way through an aquarium the way he can a wire cage. Also aquariums can pretty much completely block air flow with its side walls which is ideal in cold climates where a chilly breeze may harm your hamster. Unfortunately, this strength is also a weakness; in warmer climates your hamster could suffer a heatstroke.
Since the walls of the aquarium cage allow no air to pass through, it means that ventilation is poor. This can result in an accumulation of ammonia fumes within the aquarium. Ammonia fumes are the result of a chemical breakdown of urine, and it is harmful to your hamster’s respiratory system. You will have to be diligent and clean up the cage routinely before any harm is done. On the topic of cleanup, aquariums are typically quite large and heavy, so you might find it troublesome if you ever need to move it around.
How big should an aquarium cage be? At a minimum, you should be looking at a 10-gallon (4L) tank, and even that might not be enough. Your pet hamster will be happier in that same 10-gallon tank if it was linked to a larger cage system. How is this done? Purchase and use a ventilated tank topper that can integrate with a regular 10-gallon aquarium so that it can connect to a larger cage system.
Tubes are then inserted through round holes in the topper, which then lead to additional modules. With an expansive setup like this, your hamster will have lots to places to explore and make his home. However, if he is stuck in a small aquarium with no freedom to explore, he will develop obsessive compulsive behavior like running around aimlessly or clawing at the cage walls. Make sure your hamster isn’t bored and try your best to expand the aquarium cage.
To help with that, please read this article to learn more about the types of add-ons you can add to the hamster cage to spruce it up.