Unique Alternative Pets for Apartment Living

By: Morgan Wagner

Living in an apartment doesn't mean you have to forego the joys of pet ownership. While traditional pets like cats and dogs may not be ideal for an apartment dweller with space constraints, allergies, or a busy schedule, there is a whole world of unique and alternative pets that can make wonderful companions and thrive in an apartment home! Below are some unconventional but charming and low-maintenance pet options that are well-suited to apartment living.

Land Hermit Crabs

Looking for a low-maintenance, hypoallergenic pet? Hermit crabs just might be the perfect fit for you! Land hermit crabs are very easy to care for and can be both a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

These small, fascinating creatures require a comfortable enclosure, such as a glass aquarium or a plastic terrarium. Provide a substrate of sand and coconut fiber for burrowing, along with some climbing structures and hiding spots. Hermit crabs also need access to both freshwater and saltwater pools for drinking and bathing. It's important to offer a varied diet of commercial hermit crab food, fresh fruits, vegetables, and occasional treats like dried shrimp. You'll also want to provide shells of different sizes for them to change into as they grow.

Hermit crabs are easy and compact critters for apartment living!

a close-up of a hermit crab's face peeking out from its shell

Freshwater Aquarium Shrimp

Many apartment communities have restrictions with keeping large aquariums due to concerns around weight and leaks. However, there are some small aquatic creatures that thrive in small tanks! One of those creatures is shrimp. Shrimp can thrive in tanks as small as just 2 gallons! It can be a delightful and rewarding endeavor to create your own unique ecosystem with an aquascape in a small tank and watch your pet shrimp contribute to this tiny, thriving environment.

Not only are shrimp fascinating creatures that are easy to care for, but they also come in a variety of species with vibrant hues and captivating patterns! Some beautiful shrimp species to look into include: the Crystal Red Shrimp, Blue Velvet Shrimp, Taiwan Bee Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Sunkist Orange Shrimp, and Yellow Goldenback Shrimp!

When it comes to caring for shrimp, ensure that the aquarium is properly set up with suitable substrate, plants, and hiding places for the shrimp. Shrimp can eat shrimp-specific food, as well as occasional blanched vegetables or specialty treats. Avoid overfeeding to maintain water quality. Shrimp are sensitive to copper, so be cautious with any medication or plant fertilizers that contain it.

A small tank of shrimp can be a living decoration for your apartment space!

Three small Crystal Red Shrimp crawl on pinecones and water plants in a tank
three tiny crystal red shrimp crawling on pinecones and greenery in a tank

Marimo Moss Ball

Did you know you could keep a moss ball as a pet? While Marimo is often referred to as a "moss ball", they are actually a rare growth form of aegagropila linnaei in which the algae grow into large green balls with a velvety appearance! The species can be found in a number of lakes and rivers in Japan and Northern Europe. Whole colonies of Marimo balls are known to form in Japan and Iceland!

These fascinating aquatic plants are not only aesthetically pleasing but also incredibly easy to care for. Simply place them in a container with clean water and gentle lighting, and they will thrive! Marimo moss balls require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal choice for busy individuals or those new to plant care. They provide a calming and natural ambiance to any living space and can even serve as a source of relaxation as you watch them slowly float and rotate in the water.

With their small size and ability to thrive in compact containers of water, a Marimo moss ball is perfectly suited for apartment life!


Keeping snails can be a fun and unique experience. These small, fascinating creatures are low-maintenance and offer a captivating glimpse into the world of mollusks!

Snails are extremely low-maintenance and require a suitable enclosure such as a small tank or terrarium with a substrate that allows them to burrow and hide, along with objects like rocks and logs for climbing and exploration. They thrive in moderate temperatures and prefer a humid environment, which can be easily accomplished by misting their enclosure once per day. Snails are herbivores and can be fed a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. It's important to provide them with a calcium source, such as cuttlebone or crushed egg shells, to support their shell health and growth.

Snails can give you the perfect excuse to add a touch of flair to your apartment home with a beautifully designed terrarium!

A round garden snail crawling on a green leaf