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Can You Put An Alligator In A Fish Tank? | 8 Important Things To Remember |

Pet alligators will suit you only if you are an experienced reptile keeper because they require a lot of special care. But, can you put an alligator in a fish tank?

Yes. You can. But, that depends on the age and size of your alligator.

Believe me; you can be an experienced pet handler without knowing much about alligators. The Internet has full of resources to learn how to raise an alligator in captivity.

We will talk in-depth about alligators in a fish tank. As we already told you that you actually could raise an alligator in a fish tank, we also covered how to set up your tank for your pet alligator.

Can You Put An Alligator In A Fish Tank

Can you raise an alligator as a pet?

If you are an experienced reptile keeper, then why not? If you know the needs of reptiles and how to care for them, raising an alligator will not be a problem. But, if you are a novice, we don’t recommend doing so.

However, your local authorities may have banned you from keeping exotic pets like alligators at your home. In that case, you can’t keep an alligator as a pet in your home. 

As far as we know, only five states in the United States allow you to own alligators as pets. Those are,

  • Nevada
  • Alabama
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina and 
  • Wisconsin

However, in some states, you can own an alligator with a license or a permit. So, before buying an alligator, check the legal status of keeping reptiles in your local area.

Are alligators good pets?

No. Alligators are terrible pets because they are unpredictable. You can’t predict the behavior of an alligator, and you don’t know their reaction to unknown people, surroundings, or environment.

Alligators are wild animals who have not been domesticated. They are dangerous because they are good predators with massive bodies, strong jaws, sharp teeth, and powerful tails. Even a small alligator can tear your skin if it attacks you.

Alligators live in swamps and marshes that are their natural habitats. They prefer to live alone because they don’t want any interference from other predators or potential prey.

So, as a pet owner, if you try to handle your alligator the wrong way, it may attack you with its claws and teeth.

If you have an alligator as a pet, you should know that their natural lifespan is 50 to 70 years.

So, if your alligator has been with you for several years and it’s not trained well, then maybe it will attack you someday. So, as you see, you are dealing with freaking dinosaurs.

Can you keep an alligator in a fish tank?

You can keep an alligator in a fish tank only if it is a baby alligator. Adolescent and adult alligators require much larger enclosures because they can grow for more than 12 feet in length. Baby alligators are not much dangerous as they can’t harm you.

So, if your pet is a baby alligator, you can keep it in a fish tank of at least 75 gallons. The size of a large fish tank isn’t enough to accommodate your pet alligator.

You have to provide it with much more space.

The size of the water area of your fish tank should be two times bigger than the alligator’s length.

So, if your alligator is one foot long, then the water area must be at least two feet long. This means your tank should be at least 4 feet long or 75 gallons larger.

Do pet alligators stay small?

No. Pet alligators grow just like wild alligators. Although a length of a newborn alligator is less than one foot, it doesn’t stay at that length for long.

Alligators grow about one foot per year. So, it will take only about 12 years to reach their maximum size. Once they get 3 feet mark, you will have to transfer them to a pen.

Can a baby alligator hurt you?

Since it is a baby, it isn’t aggressive as adult alligators. And also, it hasn’t developed its muscles and sharp teeth.

However, if you take it out of the tank and hold it upside-down in your arms, then maybe it will bite you because this is their natural behavior when they feel threatened.

However, a bite from a baby alligator doesn’t do much harm. The teeth of a baby alligator are very sharp, but their jaws aren’t powerful.

A bite from a juvenile can hurt you more than an adult because its jaw muscles aren’t developed yet.

Can an alligator survive in freshwater/ saltwater?

Yes. Alligators are primarily freshwater animals. Alligators spend most of their time in freshwater swamps, marshes, and lakes.

However, they are also capable of surviving in brackish water, a mixture of saltwater and freshwater.

Alligators can swim in seawater without any problem because they have particular organs that filter out the salt from their body. However, they can not live in saltwater habitats.

Get to know them

How old can an alligator live?

An alligator can live up to 70 years. However, healthy alligators can live as long as 100 years.

How big can an alligator get?

Alligators grow for more than 12 feet in length. The longest alligator ever recorded was 19 feet 2 inches long.

What do they eat

In the wild

Alligators are opportunistic predators. The preferred prey of an alligator is fish, turtles, and different mammals.

However, they also feed on crocodiles, birds, amphibians, and other reptiles.

Although their primary diet includes fish, these animals have a strong sense of smell that allows them to hunt prey even in murky waters where it becomes hard for a human eye to distinguish objects from the background.

In aquarium

In captivity, you can feed them with lean chicken pieces, beef hearts, red meat, and you can also provide them with dead fish. 

How much can an alligator eat?

An adult alligator can eat as much as 80 pounds of meat in one meal. However, a baby alligator will eat only one pound of meat in one meal.

How to Set up Alligator Tank

Setting up an alligator tank requires much patience and care. First of all, you will need at least a 75-gallon tank for a baby alligator.

Things to consider

Since these are wild animals, you will have to set up your tank to mimic their natural habitat.

Alligators are reptiles that live in freshwater habitats. Therefore, you will have to provide both the water layer and land layer for them to thrive.

As alligators grow by one foot every year, you will have to change the tank to a bigger one in the first two years.

So, you should upgrade the tank to a 120 gallon one in the second year. By the end of the second year, your alligator would be about 3 feet long. 

No commercial tank is large enough to house a 3 feet alligator. So, after then, you will have to move your pet to a pen. Then a large enclosure.

Water parameters

In captivity, Alligators require warm fresh water to thrive. So, First of all, fill your tank with warm freshwater and dechlorinate it to remove any harmful minerals.

Be sure to leave about half of your tank empty because we have much to add to this tank. The water temperature should be around 75F.

The bottom of the tank

Add a layer of silica sand to the bottom of the tank. The layer should be uneven and packed to one side to provide landside to your alligator.

It’s like creating a small beach on your tank. One-third of the tank bottom should cover the land area, and two-thirds of the tank should cover the aquatic area.

Then add some rocks all over the tank, including the aquatic area, to help your baby gator easily move around.

Filtration and other equipment

First, you have to cover the tank with an electric heater because alligators are cold-blooded animals. So, they need to be able to eat warm-blooded prey so that they can digest it easily. 

Set the water temperature to 75F and also install a thermometer the constantly check the temperature. The enclosure’s air temperature must maintain between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You also have to install a submersible water filter inside your tank because alligators produce a large amount of waste. The best choice is a canister filter.

Plants and decorations

You will have to provide them with a place where they can climb and bask in the sunlight. You can also install fake vines inside the tank because alligators love to hang on things like this.

Choose rocks carefully for your alligator tank because alligators are attracted to shiny objects like stones and metals.

Alligators are also known for their fondness for shiny food dishes. So, you will have to use a dark glass bowl instead of a metal one.

You will need to install fake plants inside the tank because real ones require a lot of maintenance and can be harmful for your alligator if they are wounded.

Alligators are territorial animals, so it is a good idea to have a lot of hiding places inside the tank.

Tank lid

You should install a screen lid specifically designed for reptiles over the tank. This screen lid can provide necessary ventilation and allows UV penetration as reptiles need it.

It also ensures a safer secured enclosure for your alligator. Add an 18*48 inches screen lid to accommodate the size of your 75-gallon tank.


You will have to install two lights in your gator tank. Both lights should be installed on the screen lid, facing down. You can do this with the help of dome lamps.

Place the 150w heat bulb along with UVB bulbs over the land area of the tank. UVB bulbs simulate sunlight and for the alligator to absorb UVB light as they need it.

Place the 75w heat bulb over the aquatic area of the tank to keep that area warm but not too warm. Alligators also need a cooler side of the tank to roam around.

Special tips

Alligators in captivity have been known to cause injuries and even death when they attempt to attack their owner. So, you will have to wear heavy gauntlets when working with your alligator.

You should also change the water in the aquatic area every two weeks to prevent spreading germs and bacteria to your alligator.

Change all the sand in the tank every three months. It is also a good idea to have two sets of everything just in case one breaks down.


You can put an alligator into the fish tank only if it is a baby alligator. Unlike fish tank setups, setting up your alligator tank requires more time and patience.

Even though you provide the best enclosure in your fish tank, you will have to move your baby alligator to a large enclosure within three years as they grow enough to outgrow any enclosure.  

Alligators are also hazardous animals and can cause death or severe injuries to their owners if they mistake you as prey.

They are also known to cause death by killing their prey through biting. So, we recommend you never keep your alligator in your house as a pet.

Credit to Reptilia

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.