Apple iMac Fish Tank

Over the holiday season, Kristjan and I decided that we’d make a fish tank inside two iMacs and join them together with a 15cm diameter pipe. Don’t ask how we came up with this idea – like all the best things in life, it was a slow build up ideas over drinks.

For the ‘build you own fish tank enthusiasts’ amongst you, I’ll go into geeky detail later, for those of you who just want to marvel at fish swimming inside two pieces of iconic technology joined together here is the end result


 

And here’s a video of our Siamese Fighting Fish (yes just one – don’t worry he has some Tetra pests friends)

The #1 question we get asked is do the fish go through – and yes they do – many many times a day

Fish in Tube

 

Now we’ve got the boring pictures out of the way, we can get onto how we did it.

First of all we don’t have a workshop at Lucidica so a lot of the challenges we had to overcome were made harder by not having a workbench or the correct tools

If you have any questions then drop us a line, but here are all the geeky details

20 Steps to build your own iMac fish tank
  1. Buy 2 iMacs (ebay is good) along with some Perspex/acrylic sheet, and acrylic pipe
  2. Rip out the innards of the iMacs with relative ease – think to yourself I’ll have this done in no time
  3. Try various ways to ‘score and snap’ the acrylic with varying degrees of success
  4. Realise you have at least 3 essential tools missing such as a ‘scorer’
  5. Perfect(ish) the way to break the acrylic, but realise getting a totally clean edge is nearly impossible
  6. Go an buy a Makita electric planer – a frightening tool, but essential for getting decent flat edges – this image is quite
    literally how you should not do DIY
    , but somehow it worked out
  7. Over a period of 2 days slowly build the tanks up inside the iMacs – again think to yourself you’ll have this done in no time now
  8. Realise the difficulty in connecting two separate tanks with a pipe, the walls of the tanks slope away from each other so you need to cut actually an ellipse by hand into the side
  9. Realise at least three things you should have done differently and that you need at least 4 things you don’t have
  10. Realise that your ‘perfect ellipse’ made by hand somehow doesn’t fit around the pipe tightly – “Kristjan must have measured it wrong” you think in your head – nevertheless you need to find a way to fill gaps
  11. Call around 6 DIY shops who have no idea what plastic cement is – finally decide to call a hobby shop and speak to someone who knows what you’re talking about
  12. Go and buy some ‘industrial solvent/plastic cement’ – Tensol 12 – this stuff packs a punch (open the Windows)
  13. Using the ‘Tensol 12’ and shavings of acrylic mixed together to make an ‘acrylic putty’ to fill the gaps made by Kristjan’s poor measurements
  14. Find ingenious ways to hold the tank(s) together while things set
  15. Build a stand for the iMacs (we used plywood and fake grass) so that it holds the tanks in place.
  16. Put everything in place, realise again your helper has made measurement errors and use the Dremel to sand things so they fit
  17. Bask in the glory of what should be finished, leave it to fully dry for the night and return the next day to test water tightness
  18. Come back the next day and actually discover it holds water
  19. Get some LED light strips, a timer switch and a LED controller, attach around the back for lighting
  20. Start to buy stuff for the tank (see Fish Tank Tech Specs) remember to cycle the water before putting any fish in
Top Tips on building an acrylic/Perspex fish tank
  • A scorer (not a knife) is the best thing for breaking acrylic
  • You need clamps to break acrylic
  • You need to get as perfect an edge as possible – for this a planer is a must
  • A Dremel for any ‘odd’ fitting/joint is awesome
  • Plastic cement is ideal for tight fits
  • Make a ‘putty’ of Tensol 12 and acrylic shavings to fill any larger gaps
Fish Tank Tech Specs
  • Holds about 45 litres of water
  • We have 1 male betta and 6 neon tetras, we might add a couple more
  • A Fluval 106 filter, restricted to ~50% flow so the betta is happy. We have the intake and the outlet on different sides so there is small current between the tanks, but this allows better water circulation
  • A mixture of live and artificial plants
  • The LED lights are simple 5050 RGB strips stuck around the inside of the back of the iMacs

 

When not building totally awesome fishtanks Lucidica provides IT support to small businesses based in London