You can use a fish tank for a snake. However, reptile enclosures use different glass enclosures compared to fish tanks. You can base your snake enclosure on a fish tank for various types of snakes but will need to make a few adjustments, such as an opening at the top.

This article will help answer the question: can I use a snake tank for a snake? I will also show you how to adjust the tank in order to make this possible. Your pet needs a conducive enclosure; therefore, you will want to stick around to the end.

You Can Use a Fish Tank as a Snake Enclosure

Fish tanks or aquariums are not the same as terrariums, although they may appear to be so. Many fish tanks are airtight and made of thick glass to withstand water pressure. On the other hand, terrariums are lighter and have a few openings to allow air circulation and drainage.

However, to use a fish tank for a snake, you  need to make a few adjustments.

How to Use a Fish Tank for a Snake

  1. Understand your snake’s species. Most snakes will be comfortable in a fish tank since they do not mind their reflection, some reptiles do, like chameleons. However, this depends on the snake's species. If your snake eventually grows quite large, you might consider it a better option to use a reptile enclosure since most aquariums are relatively small.
  2. Make an Opening at the Top. A fish tank is enclosed to keep water within. For this reason, you will need to make an opening at the top to make it suitable for a snake. Note that snakes are good at escaping, so ensure the opening is small enough for air circulation but not enough for the snake to escape.
  3. Consider the Tank’s Internal Temperature. Since a fish tank is made of thick glass, the temperature outside will from the temperature inside. Do not assume that the fish tank will adapt fast enough because it's a warm season. You will need a thermostat for temperature regulations or have a bulb that provides both heat and light.
  4. Make It Comfortable. The items normally found in fish tanks are not the same as those needed by a pet snake. Therefore, you will have to add climbable items and hides, a food dish, and a water trough. Add substrate or any other flooring that suits your snake, such as artificial grass or a carpet.

Differences Between Aquariums And Terrariums

There is a big difference between an aquarium and a terrarium. The obvious one is that aqua stands for water and terra for land, but trust me when I say that there is more. The two will differ in the following ways:

  1. Strength and Density. Whereas a terrarium is built to contain reptiles, manufacturers produce aquariums with water pressure in mind. Fish may not be strong enough to break a glass enclosure, but the water inside it might. This makes aquariums thicker in glass density compared to terrariums and vivariums.
  2. The Size. Here, the difference is relative. However, in most cases, aquariums are bigger compared to terrariums. This is because terrariums can contain smaller reptiles, and not all snakes are large. However, there are bigger terrariums as well.
  3. The Weight. You can tell the difference between a fish tank and a reptile enclosure by lifting it. The former will be much heavier because of the glass density. This way of telling only works if you have a sample to compare the enclosure to.
  4. The Waterproofing. Since aquariums are built to hold water, aquariums are waterproof, while vivariums and terrariums are not. You can tell the difference in this case by pouring water into the vessel. If it leaks, it is meant for reptiles. Make sure that there is not just a small opening causing the leaks, if so, it might just be a faulty aquarium.
  5. The Openings. The only opening an aquarium has is one for draining and refilling water. On the other hand, the enclosures made for reptiles need openings for air circulation. They will have a few holes and probably a top opening, especially vivariums. Most terrariums come with openings towards the front. This makes it easy when one wants to access the animal. Aquariums do not.

What to Look for in a Fish Tank for a Snake

If vivariums are not available to you, it might still be okay to use a fish tank. However, when you are looking for a fish tank or seeing if the one you have might be sufficient, pay attention to the following factors:


Fish tanks come in different sizes. Choose a tank that suits your snake in regards to it's size. Make sure it will have enough room to move around and climb walls. Remember that the enclosure size needs to be sufficient to add compliments such as hides as well.


Even though the fish tank that you have in mind might be easy to craft into a DIY snake enclosure, you will still need a few adjustments for the opening and a few holes to improve air circulation. You should make sure that the fish tank does not come with permanent decorations, which might interfere with your preferences.


You should keep in mind your projected budget. Remember, you might have to get a few items after buying an aquarium to adjust it to suit a pet snake. However, the advantage of using an aquarium over a terrarium is that aquariums are often cheaper due to accessibility. Getting a custom-made vivarium will generally be more expensive.

When Fish Tanks Are the Better Option

There is no doubt that snake enclosures will often be a better option since they are crafted for their specific purpose. However, some situations will beat this logic, such as the following:

  • When finances are constrained and getting an aquarium might be cheaper than getting a new enclosure.
  • When you have kids who might hit the glass layer of the enclosure.
  • If you already have an aquarium and want to reuse it.

Types of Snake Enclosures

The choice of snake enclosure is a matter of preference. It, therefore, helps to know your options. It might surprise you that fish tanks and terrariums are not the only snake enclosures available.

  1. Wooden Enclosures. These are among the most available and the cheapest options you will come by. They are excellent for the DIY enthusiast. You only need to know how to use a hand drill and screws to make yourself an ideal wooden snake enclosure. You might install a glass face from where you can observe your pet. However, remember that wood can rot. If you are making the enclosure yourself, you need to apply some adhesive on the wooden surface and allow it to dry before using it as an enclosure.
  2. Plastic Enclosures. Plastic vivariums are increasingly becoming a go-to option for snake owners. They are lighter than wooden enclosures and more comfortable to clean. They also do not rot like wood, therefore, you will enjoy more longevity. The disadvantage of plastic enclosures is that some plastics are not snake-friendly. If you have a suiting plastic enclosure, ensure that the plastic is safe for snake use.
  3. Converted or Pure Glass Enclosures. Snake enclosures with at least some glass are the most preferred since you will be able to observe some of your snake's activity. Being able to see the snake through the enclosure makes it easier to notice any abnormal behavior and address them in time. You can also go for a converted glass tank snake enclosure. Instead of converting from a fish tank to a reptile habitat yourself, you can get a professional to help you out at a small fee. Another option would be to visit second-hand shops or display shops that have people who specialize in such conversions. This option is one of the cheapest and smartest. Firstly, you pay almost half the price you would have for getting a new aquarium. Secondly, since aquariums are already ideally cheaper than terrariums, you save twice as much as you would have if you picked a new fish tank.

Final Thoughts

Truthfully, snake enclosures provide better access and are often more comfortable for the snake. However, when you do not have much to work with, a fish tank could come in handy.

You will only need to make a few adjustments to ensure that you provide the comfort your pet snake deserves. Now over to you. Is a fish tank the most accessible, and does the situation seem urgent? If yes, go ahead and craft it to make an ideal enclosure.

At the end of the day, the availability of said habitat and the comfort of your pet snake is what matters, not the text on the label.