Introduction: Making an Online Fish Tank Webcam!

Picture of Making an Online Fish Tank Webcam!

Step by step guide for modding the case of an IP camera so that it can be attached directly to a Fish Tank.

The reason this is needed is because webcams usually are designed to be put in front of the subject, or need a stand. However with a Fish Tank cam it needs to be hidden away taking up as little room as possible

Step 1: Get Your Parts

Picture of Get Your Parts

1. Get an IP webcam (this means that you dont have to have a PC attached to it to get the images onto the web) The one i chose was an Orite IP cam 200 - you can pick these up for less than £50

2. Get a project box from Maplin/Radio Shack - the one i got cost about £3

Step 2: Take the IP Camera Out of Its Casing

Picture of Take the IP Camera Out of Its Casing

1. Unscrew the two small phillips screws on the underside of the box
2. Pull the box apart
3. Unscrew the final philips screw which attaches the PCB to the case

Thats it, the camera is free!

Step 3: Cut the Project Box

Picture of Cut the Project Box

1. Carefully cut a hole in the project box that will take the cable - make sure that it fits nicely and the box closes fully
2. Cut a hole in the front of the box so that the lens can see through it

Note:/ I found that by using a craft knife the font hole was easy enough to make (you do need to be careful though). The wire hole is easily made with a junior hack saw

Step 4: Now Install the Electronics

Picture of Now Install the Electronics

Fairly self explanitory!

I have used two large lumps of bluetack (you could also use Sugru) to hold the camera in place, this allowed me to adjust its angle inside the case easily

Step 5: Play With the Angle + Then Screw the Top on

Picture of Play With the Angle + Then Screw the Top on

This took a while, first of all get the focus correct then keep playing with the angle of the camera until you can see enough of the tank.

Once done attach the box top

Step 6: Firmly Attach It to Your Tank

Picture of Firmly Attach It to Your Tank

I used lots of bluetack!

Step 7: View Your Tank on the Web!

Picture of View Your Tank on the Web!

Now just port forward your DSL IP address on port 80 to the webcam.

There are lots of other bits to do on this, including the firewall setup, the camera setup, and the webpage (if you want one) etc etc but i havent gone into detail on this project.

Step 8: Update - Wide Angle Lens!

Picture of Update - Wide Angle Lens!

I've found a wideagle lens that fits, i bought this from (Stock code MW64U) for about £13.
This gives a far wider view of the tank.


MasterMediaXD (author)2008-11-02

I think your web cams are bust! they all are blank I think its like a blacky grey colour! there are 4 people online on your site! and its within 11-9 in the UK I know because I'm from the UK

billytkid (author)MasterMediaXD2008-11-02

Hiya, they were sort of - the blue tack was crap so they fell of onto the floor! I've just stuck them back on, so all should be up and running now! Enjoy the fish! ;)

MasterMediaXD (author)billytkid2008-11-16

Yep they're working again its 11:10AM 16th November 2008 exactly and the lights aren't on yet! I can roughly see the fish! tell me from the picture attached are the lights on?

and how do you get the cameras hooked up to the internet on your site? did youuse a media encoder please tell me!

redneckobsessed (author)2008-04-09

ha, make one for a fireplace around x-mas time and sell it to ppl with x-mas tunes in the back, u could get rich lol!

Sandee (author)2008-03-02

Very nice - but mine work just fine on the outside of the tanks too. But, great post, I might just try making one like this.

jpldude445 (author)2008-02-16

you should modify this camera by putting plexiglass on the cameras lens and seal around the pprogect box and then stick it inside the tank!

jmdepch (author)2007-12-30

I love this kind of hacks like webcams e usb ports

bobrob5k (author)2007-08-27

hi all, in ur instructable when u have finished making the webcam u say "There are lots of other bits to do on this, including the firewall setup, the camera setup, and the webpage (if you want one) etc etc but i havent gone into detail on this project." well srry to be a bore and sounding like a real noob but i need that information so if its not too much trouble please could u direct me to somewhere where i can get that information from please cheers

billytkid (author)bobrob5k2007-08-29

Hiya, to be honest in this part of the project there are so many things that can be different depending on the equipment that youve got, but ill try to help!

1. Setup of the camera - Ive got 2 cameras now but basically you assign the camera an IP address on your LAN. (To check its working put the IP address in you browser and you should be able to see the camera output - nb this will be inside some form of webpage already, which is hosted on the camera).

2. Once this bit is working you will then need to port forward on your firewall from your external IP to the internal address, i do this on a different port for security reasons. So my outside address for the camera is http://mydslipaddress:8080 this translates to internal IP address port 80 (the camera). Once youve done this get a friend to put your public ip address : 8080 into his browser to see if he can see the camera. This will NOT work from your home network.

3. Build a nice webpage - For that you need to read a book, or many websites out there. As a simple start use the Lycos Webmonkey ( its a bit old but teaches you the fundamentals.

4. The iP cam youve got will have a number of options to stream the video, either using the built in web page (boooo, looks crap), or you can take a stream from the page and put it in a nice applet (either Java or Activex), you will see on my site Ive used both so there is browser interoperability). Once you know the options on your cam just embed it into your nice page.

5. Sit back and see the people who visit!

I know this isnt enough info to do it, but hopefully enough to get a rough idea.



timgautrey (author)2007-08-15

I have a webcam set up here which I have linked through a dynamic host here

you will need to log in as fish and password law. Set the refresh rate at 0.1 and enjoy!

timgautrey (author)timgautrey2007-08-16

sorry, wrong password. should be "lore" not law!

billytkid (author)timgautrey2007-08-16

Hiya, ive just tried this but it wont let me in - any ideas?

gigman (author)2006-07-25

I thought of doing somthing like this with a bird house. But this is really cool! Have you thought of trying attaching one of those cheap $10 wide angle lenses to the camara so you could see more of the tank? Great idea and great instructable!

billytkid (author)gigman2006-07-25

Hiya, yea I bought a wide angle security door lens and played about with it for a while, but couldnt get the optics right (which is a shame), ill give it another go when ive got some more quiet time! Thanks for the feedback

codfillets (author)billytkid2007-02-24

Nice. Ive thought about doing this but never had the chance. Now that I do, is there a way you can use a standard webcam instead of the ip-webcam? I have a few extra usb webcams and want to use an old IBM laptop I have lying around. Any links or something that would help?

tomc3uk (author)codfillets2007-08-02

You can set Skype to auto answer calls with the webcam on, so all you'd have to do is call the Skype on your laptop from another computer.

codfillets (author)2007-02-25

Is there a way to make this from a non ip-webcam? I have a laptop I would like to hook the usb webcam, any links, suggestions?

frollard (author)codfillets2007-06-21

just...use a webcam, sit it next to the tank.

Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)2007-05-09

I like the idea. I do not have any fish though, last time I did I came back from vacation and half had eaten eachother and the rest were covered in fuzz, belly up. My neighbor was supposed to take care of them... oh, and when I visit your website I allways forget there's a time differece and it's too dark to see. :(

rocketbat (author)2007-03-17

im going to do this for my bearded dragon! great instrctable!

codfillets (author)2007-02-25

Is there a way to make this from a non ip-webcam? I have a laptop I would like to hook the usb webcam, any links, suggestions?

AlexTheGreat (author)2006-07-25

i would try this if only i had a driver for my webcam, i searched forever but i cant find a driver for an ibm webcam

PSPerson (author)AlexTheGreat2007-01-17

did you try ibm's web site??

AlexTheGreat (author)PSPerson2007-01-18


FROOZ (author)2007-01-03

i was gonna do this but was gonna make it waterproofed and rotateable from the source computer... i thnk there is an instructable on makeing a 90degree horizontal/vertical rotational webcam

Bad Donut (author)2006-10-01

You should code some software that takes the webcam images and makes it into a screensaver. That would sell for a lot of money.

[Removed by author]

billytkid (author)Bad Donut2006-11-28

Good idea, i havent done that yet but i have made a google gadget so you can have it on your homepage - that works pretty well! Go to to add it to google!

crapflinger (author)2006-11-28

could also be cool to waterproof the cameras (maybe by sealing them with some form of epoxy...or by placing them inside sealed boxes/containers) to have multiple "in-tank" cameras...that people could select from...if you're hosting the video on a webpage at "the diver guy cam", "the sunken battle ship cam", or "the little bubble treasure chest cam"

billytkid (author)crapflinger2006-11-28

Hiya, i havent done the in-water cam but i like the idea! Ive now got two cams though, one at each end of the tank!

Jesus10555 (author)2006-09-30

haha, neons

Joe857 (author)2006-08-15

Ah, I wish I lived in your time zone.

earthling (author)2006-07-25

you should look into some polarizing material instead of the wide angle lens. It will be much easier to retrofit and the impact should be much greater. It will probably allow you a clearer, higher contrast view of the tanks contents as it *should* allow you to eliminate a lot of the glare issues.

billytkid (author)earthling2006-07-26

Hiya, i like the idea, however there shouldnt be any real glare issues as the box is pretty much stuck right to the side of the glass. If you really think itll do something (ill wait for the reply) ill head over to ebay and pick up a poarizing lens! Will

Hornpipe2 (author)billytkid2006-08-07

Pull a lens off a pair of polarizing sunglasses. Much much cheaper, and for webcams, probably just as nice.

billytkid girlf (author)2006-07-25

My boyfriend is a big nerd...

billytkid girlf (author)2006-07-25

my boyfriend is a big nerd

About This Instructable




More by billytkid:Squeezebox Duet Aerial UpgradeBuild a Living Roof / Green RoofAux cable installation for a Cabasse Auditorium 6CD system - fitted in Renault cars
Add instructable to: