How to build a large ant farm

Updated November 21, 2016

Ant farms are both educational and fun. Watching ants behind glass lets you observe the inner workings of these industrious labourers of the insect kingdom. Store-bought ant farms are inexpensive and the easiest way to set up an ant farm. However, if you want a larger ant farm, you can make your own using a large, glass fish tank, soil and ants found in your yard.

Clean the inside of a glass fish tank using soap and water. Allow the fish tank to dry completely. You can use any size fish tank you desire.

Fill the fish tank two-thirds full of soil. Either dig soil up from your back yard or use potting soil from your local garden supply store. Do not pack the dirt down.

Cover the outside of the aquarium with black paper. Use either construction paper or poster board. Tape the paper or poster board to the sides of the fish tank up to the soil line. This keeps the ant farm dark, replicating the environment the ants have underground.

Place the ants on top of the soil in the fish tank.

Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar on top of the soil. This is food for the ants. Add additional sugar daily. Alternatively, give the ants honey instead of sugar.

Keep the ant farm in a cool location. Leave the black paper on the side of the tank for two to three days. Remove the paper to observe the tunnels of the ants. Return the paper when you are done.

Place 1 tbsp of corn syrup in a clean, upturned jar lid. Place the lid inside a shoebox.

Place the shoebox outdoors where it will not be disturbed by outdoor creatures, such as on a deck or under a porch.

Check the box daily. Remove any ants you find by removing the lid and dumping the ants into the prepared ant farm.

Add more corn syrup to the jar lid. Place the lid back in the shoebox. Repeat the process daily until you have all the ants you desire.


To keep the ants inside the fish tank, put a screened fish tank lid on top.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass fish tank
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Soil
  • Black construction paper
  • Tape
  • Ants
  • Sugar or honey
  • Corn syrup
  • Jar
  • Shoebox
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author