Turn Your Old CRT Computer Monitor Into A Fish Tank ! ! !

Picture of Turn Your Old CRT Computer Monitor Into A Fish Tank ! ! !
Talk about a great screen saver! I've been wanting to do this build for a while now. Just about every time I see and old CRT computer monitor by the side of the road on trash day I think to myself ...that would sure make a cool looking fish tank. So here is my first attempt at turning and old computer monitor into a fish tank.
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Step 1: Gather your materials.

Picture of Gather your materials.
An old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) computer monitor
Plexiglas (I use 1/8 inch)
Two part epoxy
Clear bathroom/kitchen grade silicone caulk
Paint for the background of the tank
Duck Tape
Hot Glue
Permanent markers
Expanding insulation foam

Safety glasses or face shield
Thick work gloves
Utility knife
Rotary tool with cutting bit
Speed square
Measuring tape
etc. ...whatever works

Step 2: Removing the CRT

Picture of Removing the CRT
I began by removing the old speakers attached to the side of the monitor by unscrewing two bolts on each side. I then promptly plugged then into my ipod. They worked great giving me amplified music to work by.

Next I removed four screws that held together the plastic housing, opened it up, and removed the monitors guts...very interesting stuff. The Cathode Ray Tube its self was attached to the very front of the plastic housing with four more metal screws that I, of course, removed (make sure you save all the mounting screws as you will need them later).

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StephanieR32 months ago

I've actually been planning on doing a planted (maybe aquascaped) tank in an old monitor for an art project at my university!

However, unfortunately this fish won't survive long in this small of an environment. If you had a way to filter and heat it, it appears to be probably 3-5 gallons and could hold a betta or possibly a small school of something like white cloud minnows (maybe?). You could even use it to breed gorgeous cherry shrimp and make some good cash selling their babies! But goldfish get extremely large and have no stomachs (meaning they don't digest food well and foul your water very very quickly) so they need big tanks with lots and lots of filtration. That's why they don't live as long in bowls (they can live to be 20-30 years in tanks and ponds, sometimes even more!). I have one fish that is the same as this little guy and her body is the size of a softball and her tail alone is almost a foot long! Not trying to judge, just trying to spare you and your adorable little girl the heartache of losing a pet. Been there, done that, learned my lesson! They're very easy to care for once you have the equipment. If you could find a way for it to hold the weight, a larger television might be able to hold a cool tropical community or maybe even your goldfish if it's at least 30 gallons. That would be super awesome!

agulesin3 months ago

Nice project!

Can you add a Warning about smashing CRTs near the start of the article, something like this:

"Wrap the CRT in a heavy blanket to prevent glass shards from flying when you smash the tube. Be careful when unwrapping it afterwards as glass can be embedded in the blanket"

Also might be useful to add a note about breaking the pip off the back of the tube, I've never heard that before.

Better be safe than sorry! :-))

bradster5 years ago
what about cleaning the fishes water?
The open port he made in the top of the monitor allows for cleaning. Can use a vacuum pump to pull most of the water out of the tank for heavy cleanings. Only in the case of a full tank failure or a bad case of Ick does one need to drain all of the water, so no worries. One suggestion I would make on this part is actually to spray the outside of the tank Plexiglas with a lubricant that wouldn't damage the paint before putting the foam around it. This would allow for the tank to be slid out the front of the foam after it set, just in case more major maintenance is required.

I'd use plastic sheeting around the tank, before the foam, instead of lubricant. Finding a lube that wouldn't damage the paint might be a little tricky, or expensive. Plastic, safe for sure, and cheap.

Josh289 months ago
great idea but the crt is made of leaded glass and that stuff you were cleaning off was probably phosphorus. Plexiglass is definitely the way to go for both your health and your fishes :-)

you need to discharge the cathode ray tube or you could get a shok of over 3000 volts

steliospc1 year ago
VISOR monitor recycling
steliospc1 year ago
build mame EMACHINES 770 DESKTOP PC PENTIUM 4 WINDOWS XP INCLUDES RESTORE DISCS 570 & 770 Chicony Electronics KB-2961 Wired Keyboard Samsung 3 Button Optical Mouse PS/2 - NEW (X7-01) monitor parckard bell speakers parcard bell
Actually, that would be a good idea for a wasp enclosure too.
How do you feed or clean the fish tank? Do you have to unscrew it and take out the tank each time? Or is their a Hole in the top?
Could the same be applied to a small Television?
or a big television? i found a 52" Sony on the street and it was *'*FREE!!!*'* because it had 2 busted circuit boards, so lucky me :3
And I would assume so, because it's essentially the same thing on a larger scale. It would certainly be more of an ambitious project, though.
mason01904 years ago
Would this work with one of those gargantuan 56" Sony flatscreens? I have one in my garage (free at a garage sale because two circuit boards were fried) and was waiting for a project like this.
You could actually do that! THere are actually very thin aquariums out there! Check this out:,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1440&bih=813&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=7490070703706333955&sa=X&ei=ViP4TeSaNYfEgAfJtKSkDA&ved=0CFQQ8wIwAA
I meant one of the old-school CRT ones that took up about two refrigerators'-worth of space.
Lol, that'd look so cool. Heh, but I don't think using a flat screen television would work too well (Too thin). Unless it's a chunky one, with the big tube in the back like old school  TVs, then theres possibilities.....

But I think I'd rather buy/swap out the new cirucit boards and have a big flippin' TV. But thats just me...
hahah - very nice project, my man.
Fail whale3 years ago
:-p this looks like a great, i havent tried it yet but im gonna try to
SIRJAMES093 years ago
if you build the whole thing out of Plexiglas, what do you need the inner workings of the monitor for?
can't you just build a tank that fits inside the "outside parts" & call it a day?

Keep in mind I would have no idea on how to build this had I not seen your instructable...

I like the way you explained everything, it was easy for me to follow & looks really awesome!!
Ickletas3 years ago
Great build. The only modification I would make would be to put in underwater L.E.D's for the lighting, this would mean you could fill up top the top of the "screen"
cclark-13 years ago
Awesome project! Didn't Pee Wee Herman have an old box style TV that was a fish tank on his Saturday morning show? If so, I have been coveting it ever since. I have an old CRT monitor that I'm going to start taking apart today and next pay day, hit up the pet store for the silicone and such.

As for the disposal of the dangerous parts, you may actually want to to check with your local Best Buy or we have a store around here that people donate computer pieces so that kids can learn computer repair skills. I'm sure they would have a recycling area for that.
Nxtfari5 years ago
Where did you dispose of the CRT?
It CAN be a tricky thing.   You could ask your local TV repairman, & he'll "make it safe for disposal" for you,  or you could just take a pair of pliers and break of the tiny knub at the very back of the tube. There will be an inrush of some air,  it is a vacuum after all, and then it won't implode anymore, and the trash man should have no trouble taking it then.   YMMV,  so consult local laws, and someone for safety tips on how to disable the tube for safe disposal.
red9er Goodhart3 years ago
Although that is good advice, there is also toxic chemicals in CRT's (mercury?) and so you have to take them to a recycling center if u wish to be environmentally responsible.
Goodhart red9er3 years ago
Yes, you're right, still it is best to "disable" thier implosive nature so the center will accept it.
IIRC it is mostly LEAD, but that is still a toxic metal....
rangkale3 years ago
great!!! love this :)
brennacs6 years ago
nice instructable :) i always wanted thought about doing something like this. so i know this is random, but is that a cf that screws into a standard light socket? i've been looking for one this shape for a project i'm working on and cant find one anywhere.... :(
IKEA sells bulbs that shape... 11W, 600Lumen IIRC
anpelleg3 years ago
What brand of dremil is that? mine is a lot bigger and not as nice
tinker2343 years ago
nice be funnny to print the windows desktop and lamate love fish there cute just have to get my cat away
Floyd_Droid5 years ago
Lets be honest... This is an extreme waste of time, money and effort. If you take the amount of money spent + put a price of time it took to create it... you could have bought a very nice aquarium.

If one still feels compelled to build something like this I would suggest NOT to use the CRT and building the tank directly inside the monitor shell with plexiglass. So that your not risking injury breaking the CRT cleanup and so forth.

But most importantly is to consider that most fish are very sensitive to chemical contamination: WD40, Glass Cleaners etc... not to mention the phosphor and gases + God-knows-what-else. Unless you want to have a tankfull of goldfish and black mollies... go right ahead. Marine fish would not survive in such conditions.
You could say that fish keeping in general is a waste of time money and effort. Not to mention natural resources since in order to keep your fish humanely, you should be doing large weekly water changes.
unless your aquarium is extremely overstocked, and tiny anything more than 20 percent every other week is extremely stressful for the fish
It's obvious to anyone that read the article that you skimmed it because there is an instructable about safely disassembling a CRT monitor. They evidently not used the CRT because the surface is flat. Flat screen monitors use lenslike glass and a flat sheet of glass to do it. That means the fish would look distorted. There is a screen inside every CRT to ceep the electron beam from spreading out too much and/or go off center. So you can't put the fish inside the CRT because shadow masks have miniscule holes in the sheet. Aperture grilles, wich have better picture, have wires instead of miniscule holes, so the water will leak a lot faster. My grandma's CRT monitor has controls on the front, so I can put those controls on the fish tank. They are not simply a menu button, there is contrast, brightness, input format and power as physical switches to put in the tank, so I can turn it into a very nice aquarium. The menu will be an easy feeder where the food will come out of the "electron guns" made of brass. There is my message for you.
You have no DIY in you at all. Get off of the internet. NOW!
Yikes!  Chemical contamination!? 

Does that mean the goldfish isn't safe to eat? 
thats not the point.
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