16 Bonsai Tree Aquarium Ideas For Your New Tank!

Transform your aquarium into a captivating underwater landscape with these 16 bonsai tree aquarium ideas!

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced aquascaper, this guide will inspire you with stunning setups that range from simple to intricate designs.

Discover how to create beautiful bonsai tree aquariums that will not only enhance the aesthetic of your tank but also provide a serene environment for your aquatic life.

Dive in and explore the endless possibilities for your next aquascaping project!

How To Build Your Aquarium Bonsai Tree

bonsai tree aquarium ideas
bonsai tree aquarium ideas

There are several ways to build the bonsai hardscape feature for your aquarium.

Typically, this involves attaching moss or aquarium plants to bonsai driftwood, but some people find it easier to use fake aquarium plants for their bonsai tree.

It’s important to note that bonsai driftwood prices vary widely based on the level of detail in the wood. Some pieces can be as low as $30, while others can be as much as $100.

The video below provides different methods for building an aquatic bonsai tree that you may find helpful.

Beginner Bonsai Tree Aquarium Ideas


  • Cheap
  • Easy


  • Don’t Look The Best
  • Minimal Real Plants

Many beginners opt for fake aquarium plants for the foliage on their aquarium bonsai because they are easier to attach to driftwood and don’t require ongoing maintenance.

While beginner bonsai tree fish tank setups are simple and affordable, they often look basic and less natural.

Additionally, without real plants, you will need to use a filter in your aquarium to help purify the water and manage nitrogen compounds.

If you have the time and budget, it’s often worth skipping directly to the intermediate style of aquarium bonsai trees, even if you’re new to this type of aquascaping.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

The bonsai tree aquarium above is likely the simplest option, featuring a very basic, minimalist design.

As shown, you would use fake plants both in the substrate and as the foliage on your bonsai tree, with inexpensive plastic plants being the best choice.

As long as you have a suitable filter and perform regular partial water changes to maintain water quality, you could keep a small fish in this type of tank.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

Although this bonsai tree aquarium may appear advanced, it’s actually a beginner-friendly design. The most challenging part of the setup will be finding the bonsai driftwood.

This type of scape works well with both fake plants and live moss, providing plenty of options.

Java Moss is a great plant choice for this tank, as long as you trim it once or twice a month to manage its growth.

Adding Java Moss to hardscape is surprisingly simple—some aquarium-safe super glue is usually sufficient to secure it.

Since moss feeds directly from the water column, there’s no need to spend money on substrate, keeping your costs down.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is another very popular, beginner-friendly method for creating your first bonsai aquarium, and it can be more affordable than you might think.

To replicate this setup, simply get some cheap, fake lawn grass and cut it down to size to serve as the carpet in your tank.

Depending on the specific fake lawn grass you purchase, you might need to trim the blades to achieve the desired look.

You can then cut smaller pieces of the fake grass and glue them to your bonsai driftwood to act as the leaves on the tree.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This type of bonsai aquarium is probably the most challenging and expensive among the beginner-friendly options, but it’s still a fantastic project for someone new to the hobby.

Finding the perfect driftwood and rocks may take some time, so consider working with what’s readily available to get your project started.

Once again, Java Moss is an excellent choice if you want to use live plants for this bonsai tree setup, but you’ll need to trim it to manage its growth.

Depending on the amount of Java Moss you include, this setup could double as a decorative shrimp breeding tank, a popular option right now.

Bonsai Tree Jarrarium Ideas


  • Cheap
  • Easy
  • Small And Easy To Display


  • Minimal Live Plants
  • Difficult To Keep Livestock
  • Larger Jars Are Hard To Find

Jarrariums (tiny aquariums in jars) are a relatively new concept that has seen rapid growth in popularity within the community in recent years.

Due to their small size and lack of filtration, most people set these up as a type of Walstad shrimp jar, which requires plenty of live plants to work effectively.

However, with a bonsai tree jarrarium only using a small amount of moss in its aquascape, it’s generally best to use these as decorative pieces and avoid adding any livestock.

Even so, they can be a great project for those looking to try their hand at a bonsai tree tank and can help build experience for future endeavors.

Another potential issue with this style of tank is that it can be very challenging to find suitable bonsai driftwood pieces that fit into these small jars.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is probably the easiest style of bonsai jarrarium you will find, as it uses fake plants and makes a great decorative piece.

The most challenging part of this setup is finding bonsai wood small enough to fit into the jar. You might consider alternatives like 3D prints, but these can be more expensive than the wood.

Once you find suitable wood, glue your fake plants in place, fill the jar with water, and enjoy your creation.

One tip for maintaining a jarrarium is to perform at least one 100% water change per week. This will prevent nitrogen compounds from building up and significantly reduce the chances of algae forming.

Other than that, this type of bonsai jarrarium is pretty much set-and-forget.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

These larger, wider jars can be challenging to find and may cost as much as a 5 or 10-gallon tank, so many people overlook them.

However, just like the other bonsai jarrariums featured in this article, you can create a beautiful aquascape in these larger jars.

While fake plants are the more beginner-friendly option, using live plants can transform this size of jar into a functional shrimp jar.

I recommend using some type of moss for the green on the bonsai tree leaves and considering Monte Carlo for the carpet. However, Monte Carlo can struggle with low light and lack of CO2, which are difficult to achieve in a jar.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is another beginner-friendly bonsai jarrarium aquascape that effectively uses fake plants.

You could add regular river pebbles to the base of the driftwood to enhance the detail since finding a single piece of driftwood that looks like this can be very challenging.

As with other jarrariums that use fake plants, I don’t recommend adding any livestock to this setup. Many people don’t realize how sensitive shrimp can be to ammonia in their tanks. Without live plants, issues often arise, so it’s best to use this jar solely for decoration.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This larger style jar can work well as a shrimp tank if you add the right plants.

To achieve this, set up the initial bonsai scape as shown in the photograph and then plant some stem plants in the background.

Limnophila Sessiliflora would be perfect due to its underrated benefits for shrimp. Its rapid growth rate helps purify the tank water and provides additional grazing space and food sources for your shrimp.

Java Moss is highly recommended for any shrimp tank and would be ideal for the leaves on the bonsai tree.

Using Eleocharis Pusilla for the hair grass will also help purify the water and provide more grazing space for your shrimp.

Intermediate Bonsai Tree Aquarium Ideas


  • More Live Plant Use
  • Look Beautiful


  • Higher Costs
  • Difficult To Create

The intermediate bonsai tree ideas offer more possibilities but also require a higher skill level.

While some people still use fake plants at this level, it’s often for maintenance reasons, as fake plants don’t require regular trimming.

Generally, if you have the time for regular trimming, live plants are recommended for all of these setups, especially if you plan to keep shrimp.

If you’re more interested in creating a bonsai-themed fish tank, you can usually add a filter and regularly feed the fish, even if you use fake plants in the tank.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is one of my favorite bonsai fish tank ideas and can be relatively easy to recreate if you have the budget.

Finding a large piece of bonsai driftwood for this style of tank can be expensive, often being the limiting factor for this type of aquarium.

If you can find a suitable piece of bonsai wood, simple river pebbles work well for the base, along with a regular rock for the supporting hardscape.

I recommend using Java Moss for all the greenery in this setup, regardless of the livestock kept in it.

With regular trimming, the moss used for the leaves of the bonsai and on the rocks can achieve a look similar to the one in the photograph.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This type of driftwood is extremely rare and often much more expensive than regular bonsai wood, so this project will test your budget.

There has been some debate about whether this is truly a bonsai-style aquascape since traditional bonsai trees don’t have as many branches and green areas as this particular setup.

However, these scapes look amazing and are becoming increasingly popular.

While some people use fake plants due to the maintenance required to trim the moss on all the branches, I believe this is a missed opportunity.

If you’re going to invest in this expensive bonsai wood, why not go all in and use real plants?

Most types of moss will work for the leaves on the branches. You can use Cryptocoryne Wendtii for the plants in the back left, Eleocharis Pusilla for the hair grass, and Marimo Moss Balls for the foreground.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is another stunning bonsai tree aquascape, but finding such perfect wood is challenging.

Instead of waiting for the perfect piece, start with what you have available and begin your scape.

I recommend using lava rock for the supplementary hardscape in this tank as it’s light, inexpensive, and its porous nature can increase the available surface area for beneficial bacteria.

River pebbles or large gravel should work well for the substrate, though other options could also be effective.

As with the other scapes, some type of moss will work well for the foliage in this aquascape. Java Moss, Christmas Moss, or Flame Moss are all good options.

Once your moss is glued in place, allow it to grow out and establish itself. Trim it once or twice a month as needed to maintain its shape.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is another beautiful bonsai tree aquascaping idea that works well with both fake and live plants.

As you might guess, I always opt for live plants in my tanks, but those short on time and unable to trim their tanks regularly may choose to use fake plants.

This setup would work well with the same system I described earlier in the article.

If you prefer the fake plant route, get yourself some cheap, fake lawn grass with the color and texture you want for your bonsai tree. Cut it down to size to use as your carpeting plant, then trim it to achieve the shorter look shown in the photograph above. You can also cut sections of the fake lawn grass to size to use as the leaves on your bonsai tree and for additional plants around the aquarium.

If you opt for live plants, most types of moss will work well for the leaves on your bonsai tree. Helanthium Tenellum could work well as the carpeting plant in this type of aquarium, with Cryptocoryne Parva being a great option for the smaller, detailing plants around the base of your bonsai tree.

Advanced Bonsai Tree Aquarium Ideas


  • Best Looking Option
  • A Real Test Of Skill
  • Great Talking Point For Guests


  • Time Consuming
  • Expensive
  • Difficult To Maintain

These advanced bonsai fish tank ideas require significant skill and experience to create, and they come with a higher price tag compared to the other setups discussed.

Depending on the specific setup you choose, they may also require extensive maintenance, making them unsuitable for most people.

For most readers, one of the earlier options in the article would be a better fit.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This is one of my favorite styles of aquascaping with a bonsai tree. It features rocks as the base with the driftwood positioned on top.

You can use different types of moss to achieve varying colors and textures for the bonsai tree’s leaves.

Although not shown in the photograph, you can also add smaller epiphyte plants on the rocks for additional detailing.

Since the moss and plants feed from the tank’s water column, you can use sand as your substrate with minimal issues.

However, the cost of bonsai driftwood with such intricate details is significantly higher than other examples covered earlier, so I would only recommend this setup for experienced bonsai aquascapers.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

Here’s another beautiful bonsai tree aquascape where the driftwood for the bonsai tree base is placed on some rocks to enhance the overall look of the scape.

While fake plants could work in this setup, if you manage to find the hardscape needed for such a stunning tank, using real plants is highly recommended to fully capitalize on its beauty.

You have a couple of options for the carpeting plant for this scape, but I would suggest Monte Carlo or Helanthium Tenellum.

Most types of moss should work well for the leaves of the bonsai tree. To add more detail, try to find moss with a slightly different hue and texture from your chosen carpeting plant.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This next tank features one of the most intricate pieces of driftwood I’ve ever seen. It may be easier to find a 3D print resembling this driftwood than to wait for real wood that matches the desired look.

Regularly trimmed Java Moss works perfectly as the leaves of the bonsai tree in this aquascape, though other types of moss can also be used effectively.

You can also use Java Moss for the base of the driftwood by attaching it directly to the wood or anchoring it with small rocks and pebbles.

The unique substrate look in this tank can be easily replicated by adding a layer of sand to the base, placing small river pebbles on top, and then covering them with more sand.

Overall, this is a stunning aquascape that truly stands out.

bonsai tree aquarium idea

This final bonsai tree fish tank is a true masterpiece, showcasing stunning beauty.

The harmonious use of carpeting plants, rocks, and driftwood seamlessly ties the tank design together.

Helanthium Tenellum should work well for the carpet, provided it is properly maintained.

Most types of moss will also be suitable for the leaves on the bonsai tree.

Overall, this is an exceptional piece, definitely suited for advanced aquascapers.