Aquarium advice

Oddball Aquatic Pet Ideas 2023

Empty fish tank ready for some oddball species

If you are looking for an oddball species to stock your tank then look no further! In this article I will go over some oddball aquatic pet options for your fish tank. 


African Dwarf Frogs

These tiny peaceful frogs, otherwise known as Congo frogs, stay small, reaching an adult size of around 2 inches. Unlike African clawed frogs, African dwarf frogs are relatively peaceful and stay much smaller. I have seen these frogs kept in tropical community setups long term although care must be taken when setting up your tank so that they can easily climb to the surface for air. They will try to escape so a tight fitting lid is a good idea. They are not the most agile swimmers surprisingly and are slow to find food, ensure they have enough time to find and eat during feeding time. I have seen these tiny frogs thrive on a diet of bloodworm and sinking carnivore pellets. A tank which is at least 60cm in length is a good size to keep a few of these interesting creatures!



Axolotls are very popular, and it is easy to see why, they have big smiles and come in a variety of colours. In terms of aquarium setup, they should not be kept with fish as they are a choking hazard and avoid strong lighting and gravel substrate. Most axolotl keepers opt for fine sand or bare bottom as gravel can cause impaction or choking. Ensure there is nothing in the aquarium which they can get stuck in their mouths, they quickly inhale their food and can easily choke on larger objects. These grow very fast; I have seen them grow to full size within 6 months. I always think it is a good idea to offer them lots of dark caves to retreat to. Axolotls need a coldwater setup. If you are in the UK, room temperature is generally okay, but care must be taken to keep the tank cool during the summer. Keep your water parameters in check and they should reward you with their great personality.


Musk Turtle or Three Stripe Mud Turtle:

A highly underrated aquatic pet in my opinion, usually people keep turtles in inadequate setups, or they purchase species which grow extremely large then wonder why they are running into problems. With enough research turtle can make rewarding pets. Please keep in mind turtles are messy eaters so you will need a good level of filtration. Stir clear from keeping larger species unless you have a very large custom turtle tank or indoor pond, diamond back terrapins, snapping turtles and Cooter turtles all grow far larger than most off the shelf aquariums can handle. Always think about the adult size when you are purchasing a turtle.


Musk turtles and three stripe mud turtles are a fantastic choice as a single turtle can live happily long term in a 200litre tank for example which is far more manageable than some of the larger species. They stay a lot smaller than other turtle species reaching a maximum size of around 5 inches. They spend a lot of time walking along the bottom of the tank and are generally slower and less active than larger species of turtle. Do your research into their care requirements as these are long lived pets which can live over 50 years. They require a basking area where they can completely dry off, with both a heat lamp and UVB lamp above them. In terms of feeding there are some great ready made turtle pellet options, avoid feeding them live fish as these can contain parasites or other unwanted toxins. I have owned a three stripe mud turtle for a long time now and he has become part of the family, he is very interactive and a joy to watch, they are always up to something. Once they get larger than a few inches they will start to eat plants so keep this in mind if you are planning a planted tank as long term this may not work.


Pro tip: Turtles smell ... FALSE! This is something we hear a lot about turtles, usually from people who are inexperienced. The bad smell will be due to overcrowding, overfeeding, aquarium size or inadequate filtration. Follow the guidelines and be sure to cycle your tank thoroughly just like you would a fish tank before you add your turtle. This will allow beneficial bacteria to grow in your filter which will break down ammonia and nitrite. I have never noticed any smell coming from my mud turtle’s tank. Lastly while it is true musk turtle have their name because they can release a musky smell in the wild if they are threatened, I have not noticed this happen in captivity while working with them.

Pro tip: In general, it is best to keep turtles separately to avoid aggression as they age.


Blue Crayfish

If you have a large aquarium and want to try something other than fish look into blue crayfish, they are sometimes also known as blue lobsters. They have a bright blue colour and can be purchased relatively cheaply. Keep in mind they can grow to around 30cm in length and are opportunistic feeders, so it is not advised to keep any fish with them. They will shed their shell as they grow and are a lot of fun to feed. In terms of setup requirements, it is very similar to setting up a tropical aquarium, ensure there are some hiding spots for them to use.



Yes, believe it or not, you can keep seahorses in a saltwater aquarium! Although, seahorses are not for beginners and require an experienced hobbyists who has done lot of research. Saltwater aquariums are very different in setup and appearance when compared to more common freshwater aquariums. Seahorses, like all saltwater tank inhabitants require pristine water quality, the tank must be well cycled. Seahorses need structures and branches to hold to and feel safe, they also do not do well in constant high flow. A healthy pair may even breed in good water parameters. It is recommended to keep them in a species only tank as they will not do well if they have to compete for food with other fish. Do you research, put the time in and keeping seahorses can be a rewarding experience.



AQUAnatur was created by an established UK aquarium installation and maintenance company near London which has been running for over 25 years! Our team are very experienced and happy to help offer advice with any aquarium questions. We are always available via phone or email Monday-Friday, feel free to contact us, we would love to help! AQUAnatur supply a range of aquariums and aquascaping products. If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us via phone or email.

By Alasdair McPhail

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