How to Grow Bulbs in an Aquarium


Bulbs are easy to grow the first year. The flower and plant are in their embryonic states inside the bulbs just waiting to get started under the right conditions: warmth, light and moisture. Spring bulbs are easy to start. Narcissus, sometimes called paperwhites, look like miniature daffodil bulbs. Unlike daffodils, narcissus bloom three or four flowers on a stem. One bulb will grow more than one stem of flowers and they don't require pre-chilling.

Step 1

Test the aquarium to see if it is still water tight by placing it on brown paper bags and filling with water. If it leaks the water marks on the paper bags will be obvious. Sometimes the joints dry out and the tank starts to leak if it isn't kept filled with water.

Step 2

Scrub the tank with a solution of 1 tbsp of household bleach to 1 quart of water. Rinse well. The bleach kills any algae, mold or bacteria that could taint the water later. Remove any water marks by rubbing with white vinegar on a towel. Let the tank dry.

Step 3

Rinse the glass pebbles to remove any dust. Put a 3-inch layer of pebbles in the bottom of the tank. The roots of the narcissus will grow through the pebbles and use them as an anchor.

Step 4

Place the narcissus bulbs on top of the pebbles. Space the narcissus one-half of an inch apart. Their sides should not be touching. Add more pebbles until the bulbs are almost completely covered with just their tips showing.

Step 5

Put the tank in a dark cool place. Fill with distilled water to cover one-half to 1 inch of the bottom of the bulbs. The bottom of the bulb should always be in water. The bulbs will start to grow roots within 10 days to two weeks. Once the roots have started growing move the aquarium to a sunny window. Always keep the roots in water by adding more to compensate for evaporation and plant growth. The bulbs should bloom within six weeks of planting.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't be tempted to plant in an aquarium that has a leak at the top. Once the bond begins to break the leak can travel downward quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium
  • Brown paper bags
  • Bleach
  • Scrub brush
  • White vinegar
  • Paper towels
  • Glass pebbles or sea glass


  • Iowa State University: Forcing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs
Keywords: force spring bulbs, flower bulbs aquarium, force narcissus bulbs

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.