The Frog Tank
Blue Water Bottle
I made this tank from a lexan five gallon water bottle--you know, the kind at the office, the oasis that became the source of so many Dilbert jokes. I used a razor blade to saw off the top, about a half inch from where it begins to curve, and then I removed the neck entirely. The top acts as the lid; you can see it in its inverted form at the very top of the tank.
A mixture of black and play sand makes a thin substrate, along with a scattering of gravel. A sponge filter tuned to the lightest aeration provides biological filtration. The plants you see are plastic and are suction-cupped to the side, hiding the heater and the airline tubing.
I built this tank with one inhabitant in mind--my "Grow a Frog." If you don't recognize the name, Grow a Frogs can be bought in toy stores. You buy the small tadpole container, some food, and your "ticket," which is then mailed to the company. You receive your tadpole via mail in a few day's time.
I bought my Grow a Frog kit my sophomore year in college. I received the frog instead of the tadpole due to cold weather and shipping risks. However, I got the tadpole a few weeks later. It promptly died. I sent for another one, and that one died two a few weeks later. I gave up at that point on the tadpole and focused my sole attention on the rapidly growing frog.
The frog was only a little larger than a dime when I got her out of the Styrofoam shipping box and introduced her to the tiny tadpole home. This was in the fall of 2001. She's now grown to the size of my fist, and I doubt she'd even fit in the tadpole quarters in which she grew up.
Grow a Frogs are actually African clawed frogs. Unlike their small, fish-friendly cousins, African clawed frogs will make a meal of any fish that can fit into its mouth. I've lost full-grown male bettas to my adult frog.
These frogs thrive in stagnant environments. They can live without any aeration because they breathe oxygen straight from the air. Water disturbance interferes with their lateral-line system and their ideal environments call for as little agitation as possible.
My tank is near a window so the water is naturally green from the algae. I try to change out 75% of the water once a week, but this only stalls the algae for a few days. ACF's prefer dark, nasty water, so my conditions are near ideal. I would like to give my two frogs more space, but unfortunately, that is impossible at the time being due to my living situation.
I originally housed my frog with a vicious rainbow shark in a little Grow a Frog "Tube Town" system. This tank was made up of two tanks connected by two clear tubes. The frog soon maxed out in size and could barely fit into the tubes. The shark had to be sealed into one of the two tanks due to its constant harassment of the frog. The shark was not far behind the frog in size, and that shark has been the only fish that was not eaten.
I have to say for myself I didn't know any better about housing a rainbow shark in such cramped conditions. However, the fish lived for three years--I accidentally killed it when I did a water change that was too cold--and grew to a good 3 inches in length. The only filtration I had was biological, and I rarely changed out the water. Also, amazingly enough, the rainbow shark survived a week without power--a week without water agitation. As much of a nasty asshole as that fish was, it was a blow to lose him to my own stupidity after it had been through so much.
2006 update: I moved the frogs into the 3 gallon eclipse sometime in 2005.