DIY Project Accessories, Gumball Machine Fish Bowl

This Gumball Machine Fish Bowl is sure to get some compliments in your home!  It’s a fun and quirky addition to a living room or child’s room, and it’s very easy to make.

The biggest challenge with the project is finding a great gumball machine at a reasonable price.  I found this gumball machine on Ebay, but I’ve also seen similar ones at garage sales and flea markets.  Brand new gumball machines can also be found online, but they tend to cost quite a bit more.

I do recommend that you use a metal and glass gumball machine, rather than plastic.  Okay, go find that gumball machine, and then hurry back!!

Gumball Machine Fish Bowl, learn how to make this yourself!

Project Cost:  Approx. $45 (including the fish!)


Materials required to make a gumball machine fish bowl

1.  Large gumball machine with metal, removable top.  The machine needs to be at least 16 inches tall, and hold at least a gallon of water.  Smaller gumball machines will not hold enough water for a fish to live comfortably,

2.  Circle of glass, cut to size needed (see Step 5 for more details),

3.  Silicone aquarium sealant,

4.  Decorative clear glass marbles (These are available in the fish department of most pet stores.  However, they are considerably cheaper at a arts and craft store),

5.  Plastic aquarium plant with suction cup bottom,

6.  Betta fish.

Tools & Supplies:

Tools and supplies required to make a gumball machine fish bowl

1.  Screwdriver (look at the top screw on your gumball machine to determine the type of screwdriver required),

3.  Paper towels,

4.  Mineral spirits,

5.  Razor blade.


1.   Using your screwdriver, unscrew the long, threaded metal rod holding the metal top onto the gumball machine.  Remove the threaded rod completely.

2.   Remove the metal lid, and carefully lift off the glass globe.

3.   Remove the inner workings of the gumball machine.  This may require the additional removal of screws, depending on the type of gumball machine you’re working with.

4.   Once you have your gumball machine disassembled, you will keep the metal base, the glass globe, and the metal lid.  The rest (the inner workings, threaded rod, etc.) can be discarded.

5.   Take the metal base and the glass globe to your local glass supplier, and have them cut a circle of glass that fits over the bottom opening of the glass globe.  You will also need to ensure that this glass circle fits inside the metal base.  There should be a narrow lip just inside the top of the metal base that the glass sits on.

6.   Turn the glass globe upside down.  Place a steady bead of silicone aquarium sealant along the top edge of the opening.  Try to get the bead of silicone as even all the way around as possible.

7.   Gently place the glass circle on the silicone.  Press down firmly and evenly to ensure that contact is made all the way around, and to be sure that there are no bubbles in the silicone.  However, do not press too hard!!  A layer of silicone MUST remain between the glass globe edge and the glass circle.

8.   Set aside and let the silicone dry completely (about 24 hours).

9.   When it’s completely dry, fill with water and check for leaks.

10. Use the razor blade to remove any excess buildup of silicone, and to remove any silicone that may have gotten on the glass globe.

11. Set the glass globe onto the metal base, and place the plastic plant and glass marbles inside the glass globe.

12.  Add water and fish (in that order!), replace metal top on gumball machine, and enjoy!

Helpful Hint:

It may take a bit of practice to get the glass circle placed on the glass globe correctly.  If it doesn’t work out the first time, simply clean all of the silicone off of the glass circle and glass globe using paper towels and mineral spirits.  Then try again!


  1. rjl1213 says

    2 major questions they didn’t discuss how many gallons will it hold also what kind of filtration does it have since its a closed top

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  3. britt says

    Betta fish need a water temperature of 75-85F in order to survive. Unless the ambient temperature in your house is always 75+, which is probably not the case, you need to add a heater to the aquarium. Unless, y’know, you don’t care if your fish dies and are just using him as a disposable piece of decoration…

    I feel like “Put a betta fish in [insert quirky container here]” projects just encourage idiots to be irresponsible pet owners.

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  6. alyss says

    god… this is animal abuse. such a small home – and a bowl as well! fishes cant take the break of the light by such a glass.

  7. Heloisa says

    I loved the idea! so very cool! But I just read about what happened to your fish and I feel sorry for you! My bad!


  8. Michaela says

    I can tell from the picture and from your descriptions that I have the same type of gumball machine! And I’ve been looking to do this for college. Since I’m not well acquainted with many glass cutting places, is there any other medium that I could possibly use? Thanks for any help.

  9. Mary Rogers says

    What a cute project!! I am seriously considering doing this. Having had many beta fish, the normal life span seems to be about a year. I have had one live for three years though, in a simple fish bowl. Unless your home has extreme temperature fluctuations, no heater is needed and they do not need an aerator. But, they do need distilled water for water changes. And the size of a normal gum ball machine is more than adequate. Have you seen the small plastic cups they live in at pet stores?

  10. Jewel says

    At first glance I thought, “awesome idea! I have that gum ball machine! I should do it!” But after some thought… It makes me think of chewing on a fish instead of the bubblegum I love.

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