What to do with a dead outdated PC??? Turn it into an Aquarium!

I had an old outdated dead PC laying around and seeing how I wasn't using it for anything I decided to turn it into an aquarium. For a long time now I always wanted to somehow get a real aquarium into a  PC.  It all started when I found a glass block called the 'Krafty Block' at a local Hobby Lobby. It was small enough to fit in my dead PC, hollow, and water tight.  And so the project began working everything around this block. During the build I replaced the power supply to power up the Neon Light and Air pump and to my surprise the PC booted up!!! Sweet!!! A  PC and Aquarium in one.  The PC is too old to really do anything with but I have a Web cam hooked to it that sits behind the fish tank looking out at people looking in. Want to build one? Here is how I did it.

Special Note: No fish were harmed in the making and use of this instructable. The PC is on during display purposes only and is otherwise turned off . The water stays a steady 78.4 deg. when "ON" and Bettas are a tropical fish and thrive on heat. My fish has been living in the PC for a while now.  Also note that the PC doesnt vibrate much at all when "ON". I encourage you to please make sure you do your research if using any live animal in your project. Thanks


This instructable deals with water and electricity of up to 110V AC being in very close proximity to each other. I made sure that my aquarium was well sealed in case of the PC was bumped causing the water to slosh around. Please exercise extreme caution when attempting to put any type of conductive liquid near high voltage/high current devices. Also note that before beginning this project I let my aquarium, block filled with water, sit in the PC with the PC turned on for 24 hours to see if the block would build up any moisture. Mine did not but that's not to say that yours will not due to certain geographical areas or conditions. Please be careful and if there is any sign of moisture build up disconnect power and do not continue this project. By building this project your assume all liability.

Step 1: Parts and Tools List

Here the Parts/Tool list I used. Amazing how much stuff when you write it all down.

Qty Part Source


4 Zinc Bolts (Will cut to size) (Lowes)
1 1in Hose Clamp (Lowes)
2 1/4in Wing Nut (Lowes)
1 2ft Long 1/4in wide course threaded rod (Lowes)
2 1/4 Washers (Lowes)
4 1/4 Nuts (Lowes)
2 1/4 lock washers (Lowes)


1 Satin Green Spray Paint
1 Satin Purple Spray Paint
1 Satin Black Spray Paint
2 Multi Purpose Primer Spray Paint

Building Material:

1 2ft x 2 ft 1/4in expanded PVC ex. Sintra (I got some free scrap from a local source)
1 2ft x 2ft 3/4 MDF Wood (Does not have to be MDF) (Lowes)


1 1' ft long 3/4"in width PVC Pipe (Lowes)
1 3/4" in PVC Pipe Coupler (Lowes)
1 11/4" in PVC Cap (Lowes)


1 Krafty Block (Hobby Lobby)
1 5-15Gallon Air Pump (Walmart)
1 Air Pump Air Line (Walmart)
1 Check Valve (Should come with pump) (Local Pet Store)
1 5in Bubble Stone (Walmart)
1 Bag of aquarium rocks (Walmart)


2 Wire Caps (Lowes)
1 110V Lighted SPST switch (Radio Shack)
2 Insulated Female Disconnect Connector (14-16Gauge) (Lowes)
1 15in 12V Black Neon (Automotive style) (Local surplus electronic store)
1 Standard 6ft Extension Cable (Walgreens)
1 "Female" PC Power Supply connector (Pulled from scrap equipment)


Safety Glasses
Dust Mask
Drill Press
1/4in Wrench ( Will need two)
Bench Grinder (May not be needed but makes life easier)
Brad Nailer
1in and 5/8in Brad Nails
3/4 in Hole Saw
1 1/8 in Hole Saw
2 in Hole Saw
2 1/2 in Hole Saw
400 Grit Sand Paper
120 Grit Sand Paper
Sanding Block
Metal File (Can use sand paper)
1/4in Drill Bit
3/8in Drill Bit
5/16 in Straight Bit for Router
3/8 in Round over Router Bit
Router Circle Jig
Hot Glue Gun
Tape Measure
Air Compressor
Air Nozzle
Soldering Iron
Compass (Kind you use to draw a circle)
Straight Edge
Miter Saw


Misc size Zip Ties (Lowes)
Bag of 1in x 1in Mounting Bases for Zip Ties (Lowes)
Roll of cork (Local Hardware store)
Weather stripping (Lowes or Automotive Store)
Double sided mounting tape (Lowes)

<p>Hi, I've added your project to the &quot;<strong style="">A Collection of New Uses for Your Old Computer</strong>&quot; Collection</p><p>This is the link If you are interested:</p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/A-Collection-of-New-Uses-for-Your-Old-Computer/">http://www.instructables.com/id/A-Collection-of-Ne...</a></p>
no offense but that tank is disgustingly small for that poor fish!
beta fish prefer really small tanks actually his is bigger than what i had for mine
Its actually a myth that bettas prefer small tanks. They love to swim from one side of a large tank to the other side. They go great in a community aquarium as long as you don't put 2 or more males together. I know, I am a major tropical fish hobbiest.
Why would any fish, that comes from outside originally ever want to live in a tiny space? Doesn't make any sense to me. That can only be a myth. <br>No personal ofense intended.
That tank is definitely bigger than most bettas get access to. Great project.
does it get too hot for the fish?
where did u get the sillicone packs?
i get mine from various packages <br>
This is GREAT! Although in one picture it looks more like a Cat TV set.....lol<br />
dude yeah! haaha that pic is hilarious! lol
How do you clean the tank and change the water? I would be worried about splashing the computer.
The tank is sealed via weather stripping attached under the lid and is screwed down via wing nuts. You can slosh the tank back and forth without any water being spilled. And yes, the PC does work despite what cdousley stated. You simply shut the PC down normally, remove power, open the cover, remove wing buts, remove lid, and remove the tank. The whole process takes less then 5 minutes. Thanks, Patrick
this project is very cool and unique. one of the best !
Poor fish will get so much <strong>RF&nbsp;</strong>and other EMF noise :( I bet it will die much faster than ordinary aquarium fishes.. animal rights protectors? anyone?<br />
Hi,<br /> Please note that this PC is used for display purposes only and is usually turned &quot;OFF&quot;.&nbsp; Your more then welcome to check the health of my fish by checking out fishy cam <a href="http://redirectingat.com/?id=487X782&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ustream.tv%2Fchannel%2Fpc-aquarium-by-patrick-becker" rel="nofollow">www.ustream.tv/channel/pc-aquarium-by-patrick-becker</a> . As far as&nbsp; EMF/RF I wonder how much is coming off of the UV/Incad lights, water heater, and water filter that are on most of the time on normal aquariums.<br /> <br /> Thanks,<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Patrick<br />
The ordinary aquarium appliances don't emit much noise. What you can't really say about the memory and peripheral bus of a PC. The power lines must be really noisy too ;) especially those connected to the hard drive and cd.<br /> <br /> Not that I care much - but fish doesn't talk, so we can't really say how it feels. And not that it needs it's brain undamaged for some hard work - so we won't notice a thing ;)<br /> <br /> But if it (and it's successors) do die faster than average - you may publish a research article or smth.. &quot;<em>Dependence of goldfish lifetime length upon power line noise induced by hard drive activity in a home PC</em>&quot; ;)<br />
&nbsp;Well, first off all, many people live next to cell phone towers that transmit in the kilowatts, and there isn't a scientifically identifiable difference in their lifespans, plus there's the fact that water absorbs a huge percentage of high-frequency radiation. I'd say that the fish has bigger things to worry about, such as the fact that the tank is completely sealed.
First, cell phone towers don't transmit kilowatts. If they did - everyone would get fried :( A 1KW microwave oven is by itself a dangerous thing (though it operates at 2.4 GHz or so), and you say kilowatts (i.e. several of them).<br /> Second - the E of electric field rapidly decreases with distance, so standing away from a tower at 1 meter is very much not the same as standing away for 10 cm (at 10 cm you cover almost the half of a thin antenna's horizon - i.e. take through this part of it's emitted power).<br /> Third - the power of radiation plays role only when thermal effects take role. There are other possible non-thermal effects on living things, that aren't studied yet (but everyone's happy with their cellphone, why-fry and bluetooth, etc.). The non-thermal effects don't need a powerful electric field, sometimes it's even more dangerous for a living thing to stay in a weak one.<br /> Fourth - various studies (and my personal experience) indicate that pulsed noise from electric devices(computers, SMPSs, etc) and microwave radiation, especially with prolonged exposures does disrupt the normal functioning of animals (including humans).<br /> <br /> Finally, water isn't like an endless sponge in all that ;) And the PC cover acts like a Faraday cage, and with the hole for the water tank you get something like a directed antenna, with everything flowing out from the inside through the tank.<br /> <br /> You can do a study - make another one and keep it off (except the light and water pump). And then note the differences in fish's behavioral patterns ;) You may get a Nobel prize ROFL<br />
oh cool.
;-)<br /> <br /> Thanks, Patrick<br />
no offense but your &quot;uhhhs&quot; are super annoying<br />
Yes, to be honest, that anoyed me too, almost 1/3 of what you said was an uhh. If we tell ya this kind of things they are not to bother you. Consider it as an aid for your next video ok :) Now Your case looks awesome! I liked it so much. You should add to the instructable the cost of the materials and the brands. Pliiiiz&nbsp;:p<br />
I appreciate the honesty/feedback. I was a little nervous making the video as noted in the video comments and video itself and didn't notice at first until after it was posted. Definitely going to watch out for that next time. Thanks for the compliments on the project. Look forward to making some more.<br /> :-)<br /> <br /> Patrick<br />
This is really cool. My class mates and I are going to build one but we only have a dead pc. Does it matter what kind of fish we have?
awesome idea first look i thought a hole fish tank in an old pc but a working pc also love it :)&nbsp;I think you should now slip a small 7&quot; lcd behind the tank run it of the second screen output and give that little&nbsp;guy a new&nbsp;background every day!!
but wouldn't that hurt the fishes eyes? lcd screens are pretty bright...
hi!, how you cut the glass block??? Wich tool did you used?<br />
Hi, The Glass block already had an opening cut/molded out. You can purchase one at your local &quot;Hobby Lobby&quot;. Its called the &quot;Krafty Blok&quot; <br /> <br /> http://shop.hobbylobby.com/store/item.aspx?dep=50&amp;cat=77&amp;subcat=27&amp;GroupId=0&amp;&amp;IsOnSale=0&amp;IsFeatured=0&amp;IsNew=0&amp;ItemId=81254<br /> <br /> Patrick<br /> <br />
you are amazing <br />
wow this is a really nice project keep it up :D
Thats so awesome. A +
Hi............<br /> <br /> Licked u r concept a lot....<br /> <br /> But inside the PC there <style type="text/css"><![CDATA[p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0.0in; font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: Times New Roman; } div.Section1 { page: Section1; } ]]></style><span style="font-size: 12.0pt;font-family: Times New Roman;">should</span> be heat and that may worm up the fish tank water and it may harm the fish....<br /> <br /> what u say??????<br />
Good question. Before I started the build I left the Glass Block in there for a couple days to check for moisture and see how hot the water would get. This is the main reason why I chose to use a Betta fish in the block instead of something like a small gold fish. Betta fish are tropical and therefore thrive in warmer waters.&nbsp; Water stays about 79 F. Also note the PC isnt on all the time. <br /> <br /> Patrick
hmm...........<br /> <br /> okayeee...Good Work...Keep it up.. <br />
Actually, that would save from having to buy a heater<br />
Nice work! You should post the feed from the webcam online!<br />
Thanks, I am interested in doing that. Anyone know of a good place to do so without making people sign in to view?<br /> <br /> Patrick<br />
Ustream.tv&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; ?<br />
<a href="http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pc-aquarium-by-patrick-becker" rel="nofollow">www.ustream.tv/channel/pc-aquarium-by-patrick-becker</a><br />
&nbsp;Justin.tv works well to
&nbsp;I vote u but handel your fish well<br /> Like i do(my goldfish are 6 years old now)
Special Note: No fish were harmed in the making and use of this instructable. The PC&nbsp;is on during display purposes only and is otherwise tuned off . The water stays a steady 78.4 deg. when &quot;ON&quot; and Bettas are a tropical fish and thrive on heat. My fish has been living in the PC for a while now.&nbsp; Also note that the PC doesnt vibrate much at all when &quot;ON&quot;.I encourage you to&nbsp; please make sure if you use any live animal in your project to do your research. Thanks
Thank you<br />
That gives a whole new meaning to &quot;water cooled&quot; computer!&nbsp;&nbsp;Awesome!<br />
&nbsp;i now have to do the reverse of this. motherboard encased in plexi, submerged in my tank. sure would save on having a heater!
Someone did that ages ago when water cooling was a new idea. He actually removed all unnecessary connectors and sockets from the board and installed CPU, RAM and modded video card, with external cabling hard wired then epoxied the whole thing. Basically used the aquarium as a cooler. No fans onboard - just heatsinks. Power supply was exteneral and I think the hard drives were encased in plexiglass. I don't recall him having fish though. <br /> <br /> I have seen PC fish tanks a few times though over the years though I prefer not to have any animal in a very enclosed space, even fish. It's why I don't have pet fish or birds.<br />
thanks&nbsp; nice work<br />
Totally entertaining and beautiful concept.&nbsp; <br /> N<br />
Thanks<br /> <br /> Patrick<br />

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