Tropical Fish Aquarium by Ilda Dias

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Sitting at the orthodontist’s office waiting for my daughter, I couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful tropical fish swimming in the fish tank. That’s when inspiration struck me! Why not make an aquarium out of paper? Who wouldn’t like a low maintenance, NO cleaning, NO feeding, NO mess kind of aquarium? ME! This is the perfect gift for those that are too young, or too busy to take care of a real one!

SVG Collections Used

Box Cards SVG Kit
Gift Boxes SVG Kit
Seaside SVG Kit
Surf Shack SVG Kit
Tropical Friends SVG Collection
Wet N Wild SVG Kit

Supplies Used

  • AC Cardstock
  • Bazzil Cardstock
  • Clear Acetate sheets
  • Black seed beads
  • Sequins
  • Double sided tape
  • Scotch Quick-dry glue
  • Scotch ATG gun and glue
  • Hot glue and gun
  • Battery operated LED string lights
  • Glass beads or rocks for the bottom of the Aquarium
  • Scissors


Box Cards SVG Kit (Plain Box Cards - Rounded Flaps)
box_card_rounded.svg *read instructions prior to sizing* 0.750" H x 6.290" W Clear Acetate (Cut 7)
Gift Boxes SVG Kit (Tall Gift Box)
bottom.svg 3.790" H x 8.209" W Clear Acetate
lid.svg 9.369" H x 9.369" W Black
side1.svg 10.750" H x 8.210" W Clear Acetate (Cut 2)
Seaside SVG Kit (Fish Card)
fish_bottom.svg 2.113" H x 2.470" W Purple
fish_middle.svg 1.879" H x 2.166" W Orange
fish_top.svg 2.891" H x 2.600" W Yellow, Orange, Purple
Surf Shack SVG Kit (Making Waves Scrapbook Page)
fish_bottom.svg 2.441" H x 1.266" W Light Yellow
fish_top.svg 1.942" H x 1.266" W Dark Yellow
Tropical Friends SVG Collection
gray.svg 2.479" H x 2.000" W Light Blue
white.svg 2.364" H x 2.000" W Black
black.svg 0.832" H x 1.820" W Black
black.svg 0.728" H x 1.593" W Black
orange.svg 1.491" H x 1.820" W Orange
orange.svg 1.305" H x 1.593" W Orange
white.svg 0.818" H x 1.797" W White
white.svg 0.716" H x 1.573" W White
coral1_bottom.svg 1.566" H x 2.000" W Purple
coral1_top.svg 1.488" H x 2.000" W Light Purple
coral2_bottom.svg 2.751" H x 3.000" W Coral
coral2_top.svg 2.598" H x 3.000" W Yellow
bottom.svg 4.250" H x 1.000" W Dark Green (Cut 2)
top.svg 4.111" H x 1.000" W Light Green (Cut 2)
bottom.svg 6.530" H x 1.250" W Dark Green
top.svg 6.315" H x 1.250" W Light Green
(Tropical Fish)
blue.svg 0.992" H x 2.000" W Blue
turquoise.svg 1.280" H x 2.000" W Aqua
yellow.svg 0.468" H x 2.000" W Yellow
Wet N Wild SVG Kit (Extras)
coral_bottom.svg 6.412" H x 3.443" W Hot Pink
coral_top.svg 6.315" H x 3.443" W Light Pink
crab_bottom.svg 1.210" H x 3.229" W Red
crab_top.svg 0.373" H x 3.229" W White
fish_bottom.svg 1.568" H x 2.000" W Beige
fish_top.svg 0.321" H x 2.000" W White
shell_bottom.svg 1.937" H x 2.000" W Pale Pink
shell_top.svg 1.876" H x 2.000" W Dark Pink
starfish_bottom.svg 1.250" H x 1.306" W Pale Yellow
starfish_top.svg 1.164" H x 1.306" W Peach
Basic Shapes Library
rectangle 10.000" H x 3.750" W Blue (Background)
circles 0.315" H x 0.315" W Eyes


  1. Open the side1.svg from the Tall Gift Box. Resize. Cut 2 out using clear acetate.
  2. Open bottom.svg. Resize, cut out and assemble box. Use double sided tape or an ATG gun to glue the sides of the box together. I didn’t use too much tape as I did not want to see the tape through the acetate, most of my tape was placed in the corners and as close to the fold line as possible.
  3. Open the lid.svg. Resize, cut and assemble. Repeat for the base of the aquarium. Slide one lid onto the base of the aquarium. Set aside the top lid.
  4. Cut out your rectangle (background) for the aquarium. Set it aside.
  5. Cut out and assemble all fish and plants as indicated in the chart.
  6. To create the floating inserts, open up the box_card_rounded.svg from plain box cards. Un-group and delete the box card and one of the inserts. Group the insert and cut lines back together. Resize and cut out.
  7. Lay out your fish and plants flat on the background (rectangle) as you would like to see them inside the aquarium. Remember to leave the top and the bottom areas (approx. 1 Inch) empty as these areas will not be seen once the base of the aquarium and lid is on.
  8. Using double sided tape, attach the fish and plants to the inserts. Start with the bottom front elements, work your way backwards and upwards, creating various layers, depth and height in the tank.
  9. Slide your background into the back of the aquarium. Attach any coral, fish or plants you may want to glue onto it first.
  10. Fill the bottom of the aquarium with glass beads or rocks.
  11. To attach the floating inserts to the tank, start by selecting the front lowest insert. Bend the tabs on the insert back. Place a piece of double sided tape on each tab along the edge of the cut lines. If your tape has protective paper on it, leave it on until you are ready to attach it to the tank. With scissors cut off the excess plastic (I cut about half of the tab off, as I did not want to see the long tabs glued onto the side of the aquarium). Remove one the protective papers from one of the tabs and attach the insert to one side of the bottom front on the aquarium. Remove the other protective piece of paper from the adhesive and attach to it to the other side of the aquarium. Try to stay as level as possible. Repeat this method working your way toward the back of the tank and then gradually up toward the top.
  12. Add random sequins to imitate air bubbles throughout the tank.
  13. This step is OPTIONAL, but SO cool! To the inside of the lid, hot glue a battery operated LED string light pack. Make sure you do it in such a way that it does not interfere with placing the lid back onto the tank. I secured my lights with a twist tie so that they don’t dangle into the aquarium. (See picture). Another thing to think about is making sure you have access to the on and off switch and are still able to change the batteries if necessary. The lights I used turn on for 6 hours every 24 hours so I don’t have to touch a thing. Love automation!

Design Tips

Ilda Dias - SVGCuts Design Team Member

  • Select papers that are vibrant in color. Look at images of tropical fish and coral reefs for inspiration!
  • Do not limit your aquarium to being a rectangle shape. How about a hexagon, octagon or even a cylinder shape. Have fun with different designs.
  • Put as many fish in the tank or as little as you like. Make a school of them, possibilities are infinite!

I could see these aquariums at the office, at school, or like I am using it, in a child’s room as a night light. I hope this project has inspired you! I know it won’t be the last one I make, especially since I don’t have to clean it!

13 Responses to “Tropical Fish Aquarium by Ilda Dias”

  1. Liz May 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Totally cool, and my kind of maintenance, lock the door and leave, LOL!! Nice work!

  2. Catherine May 27, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    This is so clever! I want to make two of these, one for my classroom and one for my son’s room. Super cute.

  3. Natalie May 27, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Oh my!!!!! Is there any chance that this will be offered as a kit?????

  4. Becki Wagner May 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Brilliant, Ilda! This is definitely on my to do list

  5. Renee Lortie May 27, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    I so want to make this for my work desk. You guys are so creative.

  6. Cindy May 29, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    This is such a cool idea!

  7. Ana June 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    This is absolutely AWESOME…. I am definitely going to make one or two or three of these!!!!!

  8. Mellisa June 8, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    Hi there,

    I am trying to recreate this for Father’s Day and so far the only one not matching up for me is the Gift Box “Tall”. Is this either the 9x9x6 or the Big Bag. How do I get my lid to wrap around the aquarium like the pictures shown above and even than my acetate doesn’t match the width of the lids sides? There seems to be a huge gap between the width of my two acetates and even my basic shapes rectangle does not match up with the black lid.

    Can someone please help explain what I am doing wrong. I have read the directions several times and still cannot make heads or tails with the lid.

    Thank you very much for your time.


  9. lisaviolet June 11, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    I want to make this for my vet’s office. I printed out the instructions and am going down the checklist for all the needed kits. I’m looking at the material and size for each step.

    I come to “BASIC SHAPES LIBRARY”. I check my kits. Not there. I search the website. Not there.


    I finally figured it out. D’oh!

    I can hardly wait to get started. I love this so much.

  10. Ldybg93 (:|:) June 14, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    Omigosh, this is amazing!!! What a great imagination you have. Adding this to my must-make project list. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Sarah June 16, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Where did you get the led lights from?

  12. Grandy July 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Question, I am new to this, and this is a really great project, but do I have to buy all those kits listed at the beginning to make this project?

    Or are there .svgs available to download just for the aquarium.

    Thanks for your help.

  13. Sandy July 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    I am trying to do the aquarium but have problems putting in the exact measurement numbers. I will not let me keep the three digits past the decimal point, it rounds up and only leaves two number there. HELP getting frustrated.