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Etching a Fish Tank

With this simple craft, you can etch a design onto a glass fish tank using our templates or your own design.

Source: Martha Stewart


Resources: All fish tank accessories available at pet and aquarium stores. Check manufacturer instructions on package for installation instructions. We put beta fish in our tanks. If you would like more than one beta fish in a single tank, make sure to separate them using a piece of glass (available at aquarium and pet-supply stores). Be sure to clean the tank weekly, and replace 10 percent of the water once a week.


  • Etching a fish tank: 2 1/2-gallon fish tank

  • Contact paper

  • Bone folder

  • Double-sided tape

  • Craft knife

  • Armour Etch glass-etching cream

  • Paintbrush

  • Sponge

  • Setting up a fish tank: Aquarium rocks

  • Filter

  • Air pump

  • 2 1/2 gallons bottled or tap water

  • Plastic or live (hornwort or kabamba) plants

  • Light fixture

  • Tank cover


  1. Install light fixture on top of tank and secure with cover.

  2. Install filter and air pump.

  3. Add a layer of aquarium rocks about 1 inch high.

  4. Add plastic or live plants.

  5. Add water to fill tank enough that you cannot see the water line. If you use tap water, rather than bottled, allow the water to sit for 24 hours.

  6. Introduce fish to tank.

  7. Peel off remaining contact paper. Repeat process for other sides of tank, if desired.

  8. Using a craft knife, cut along lines of template carefully, making sure to cut through the contact paper below.

  9. Remove template. Peel off outer edge of contact paper, leaving the middle shape intact.

  10. Paint glass-etching cream onto exposed glass. Allow the cream to etch the glass for about 5 minutes. Using a sponge, carefully wipe off the cream under running water.

  11. Attach template to one side of fish tank, over the contact paper, with double-sided tape.

  12. Enlarge and print the decorative frame or shark template. Cut template to size.

  13. Clean tank thoroughly under running water. Cover all sides -- or the sides you have chosen to etch -- with contact paper. Tip: Use a bone folder to smooth the contact paper as you apply it.

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