Browse: Hamster TailsHuHam BondContestsArticlesFeatured Hamster HomesCute PicturesWeb Highlights

Stars of HH: NekoMario

The Great “Tank vs. Bin” Debate

by HoppingHammy on May 23, 2008


This seems to be a popular, and oftentimes hot-topic on the forum here, so let’s take an in-depth look at some of the features both of these housing options offer, and let YOU decide which is better.

Let’s start with a tank…

(HoppingHammy’s tank set up for her hamster, Creampuff)


  • Clear visibility
  • Chew/escape proof
  • Elegant to display


  • Heavy
  • Breakable
  • Expensive

To elaborate on some of these points, a tank can be a very beautiful piece to display in your room, and is especially great for those who enjoy taking photos, since the glass is so clear. They come in a variety of sizes to best suit the space you have, though the bigger you get, the heavier it is to lift…which could result in a crack if you aren’t careful moving and cleaning it.

Most tanks are just plain and simple, but the United Kingdom sells a brand called “Perfecto” that comes with permanently attached glass shelves. This can be good to add more room for toys and give climbing opportunities, but might also be a detriment and chew up precious floor space…not to mention it might make cleaning more awkward too.

The price, in US$ for a tank (plain with no shelves) and lid combo, averages around $25 for a 10 gallon and $45 for a 20 gallon long. Given the fact that you buy a solid, mesh cover with locking clips, a tank is virtually escape-proof for those who might have an extra naughty “Houdini”.

When compared to any plastic or wire cages on the market, it is a bargain considering the amount of floor space you have, but when compared to the price of a bin, can drain your pocketbook much more.

So let’s look at a bin now…

(wiffy’s bin set up for her hamster, Neko)


  • Cheap (need I say more?)
  • Customizable
  • Lightweight


  • Harder to view hamster
  • Can look a bit cheesy
  • Not completely chew/escape proof (unless made correctly)

For those who are on a budget, but wish to give their hamster/s as much room as possible, a bin is the way to go. The amount of floor space you can give, for the price, is probably the #1 advantage of these, in my opinion, as well as the fact you can customize them to suit your needs. Shelves, or smaller shoe-box sized bins, can be added in and bolted to the sides, tubes can go up and around the perimeter, or you can just leave it plain for an all-across, one level. You can also add on smaller bins and connect them via tubes as well as create a double-decker apartment.

Keep in mind, though, that most bins are slightly frosted and can make viewing your hamster a bit difficult, and depending on how you construct it can also mean the difference of whether your hamster escapes or not. Some hamsters, given the time, might chew their way out if they find a ridge or drilled hole to sink their teeth into. It’s best to find a bin with smooth, rounded edges and keep drilled holes out of their reach if your hamster is prone to chewing.

All-in-all, bins can be a spacious, and affordable housing choice.

A final thought to leave you with…

At the end of the day, it’s not about which housing is better of the two, it’s about finding what is most suitable for YOU and for your hamster’s needs. Debate solved! ;)

Up next? Comparisons between wire and plastic cages. Stay tuned…


To construct a bin, check out this pinned topic which has helpful links on construction:

To view a chart showing popular aquarium sizes and dimensions, click this link:

      Email     Print     Share with the web: bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

{ 1 trackback }

Debate continued....Plastic vs. wire cages | Hamster Hideout Blog
July 28, 2008 at 10:35 pm

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 hammyhamsters May 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

nice article HH!

2 hamsterluver98 May 23, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Amazing article HoppingHammy…I think I may buy a bin for my next hamster(s) :wink:

3 TriAngel May 24, 2008 at 12:06 am

What an excellent article!! :up:

4 Chippy May 24, 2008 at 2:28 am

Great article! I myself, having used both, like the tank way better. It provides better defense from my cats, and just seems way sturdier. It’s really heavy though!

5 Kiki_Hammy May 24, 2008 at 3:40 am

Nice article,HH!!!! :D
I have a 10gallon tank myself,and its pretty heavy :\ But my mom thinks Kiki could get out of a bin,and it would look bad xD I still love ‘em,though!

6 Heidithehamster May 24, 2008 at 9:12 am

Haha Hoppinghammy you know all too well the personal debate I have gone through over this topic. I agree with all your points, both pros and cons. Great article indeed! :-)

7 Tom May 24, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Great article hoppinghammy your a very good writer :D

8 Elvisthehamster May 25, 2008 at 1:23 am

erm,,my 10 gallon was $10 at walmart. not on sale……fare from $25.

Good article though!! :lol:

9 Elvisthehamster May 25, 2008 at 1:24 am

Also forgot to add this to my last post::

Tanks are draft proof, and my 10g is actually quite lightweight. :D Its not like you fill it with water. lololol :lol: :lol:

10 Josh May 25, 2008 at 6:59 am

I’ve always used a glass tank for my hamsters. They’ll always be happy with them as long as you take them out and spend time with them often. :-)

I often let them spend the night in a large habitrail complex I have, or take them outside. Nothing makes little Mouso seem younger than a little bit outside. :D

11 HoppingHammy May 25, 2008 at 9:00 am

Elvisthehamster: The price estimated includes a screen cover to go on the tank. ;) Wouldn’t want an escapee!
And you are right that tanks are draft proof, and depending how they’re made, a bin can also be the same way.

And yes, 10 gallons are manageable to lift, but a 20 gallon long is MUCH harder. :-)

12 dusty May 26, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Great article! :up:

Both options have their pros and cons so get what you feel is best for yourself and your hamster. I’m sure this article will be helpful to those who are making a decision as it points out some important features to look out for.

13 Laura May 27, 2008 at 12:23 am

Great article – my vote is for bin cages though!

14 wiffy May 27, 2008 at 12:56 pm

great article with a nice overview of the pros and cons for each type of housing :up:

I was wondering, will plastic tanks (like the one I’m using for Nikole) be an economical compromise between the too (clear view, cheap & light)?

15 HoppingHammy May 27, 2008 at 8:51 pm

^I think you are right about that, wiffy. Unfortunately I have never come across a plastic tank that is larger than a 10 gallon size. :( I hear that the plastic ones scratch very easily after a short while, but I don’t know since I don’t own one.

It *would* be a great thing, though, if they made those in larger sizes! 8)

16 Meowmies May 28, 2008 at 12:37 am

That was a very well written and well considered article! I think it is a fair comparison and will probably help people decide which is better suited for them.

I can’t decide between the two myself, after owning and using both. You can’t beat the clear visibility of a beautiful tank, but I also love the adaptability of bin cages which are also pretty good for viewing. One of the big benefits of bin cages for a person with not much space is that they can be adapted to be stacked with side ventilation – otherwise I wouldn’t have had the space to adopt Pompadour! :P

17 melrohner May 28, 2008 at 3:04 am

Great article HH! I used to ALWAYS use aquariums, but since making my first bin I’ve been converted to a bin fanatic! I have to point out one more pro of the bin – they’re alot easier to clean. Not just because they’re lighter, but I always have shavings get stuck in the rim of the aquarium. Plus water gets up in the trim, and it takes forever to dry out. I don’t have any of these problems with a bin, plus since it IS lighter it’s easier to move around while cleaning.

18 Laura November 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Great article! :)
I prefer bins as they are easy to clean, come in a large size range, and they are very cheap ^_^.

19 Caramel_my_hammie March 28, 2009 at 5:40 am

I <3 it! i would say i like the tank pic better ’cause on the top its like a S.A.M cage and i love those things! (also it makes it look cooler!) LOLZ!! :D Later!

~Caramel~ :P

20 Caramel_my_hammie March 28, 2009 at 5:42 am

HI!!!!!! LOLZ, ROFL, LOLZ!!!!!!! :D :-) :( :o 8O 8) :lol: :x :P :cry: :evil: :twisted: :roll: :wink: :up: :down: :oops: :halo: :idea: :| ::-*: :!: :?: :$: :vangry: :XO: :mrgreen:

21 Caramel_my_hammie March 28, 2009 at 5:45 am


22 susie February 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

Hi, I really liked the cage you made with the aquariums and habitrail. I was just wondering what things you used, such as how many of each kind of tubes and dens etc??? Also, about how much did it cost you for the habitrail?

23 ceetee June 14, 2010 at 4:12 am

I prefer bin cages, myself. With glass tanks there is there are those strips of silicone in every corner. If the silicone gets chewed away then it could eventually put the structural integrity of the tank at risk or expose a sharp edge of glass, plus it might not be good for the hamster if they actually ingest some of the silicone

Target, Wal-Mart, and Lowe’s are carrying some very simple shaped, CLEAR bins right now. Very clear and they don’t look tacky :)

24 Flowtech Plastics August 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

This is the best post and The cage is looking awesome and Two of the above are the best one.. have fun..

25 Cathy June 7, 2012 at 6:07 am

I know this article was written a while ago but Im hoping someone might have an answer….. how do you make a 10 gallon aquarium cover have the hole for the habitrail tubes to connect it to the ovo that is waaaay too small by itself

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: