Suspended Gel Faux-quarium




Remember those Wonder World toys? The ones where you would mix a packet of powder with some distilled water and get a small tank of gel. Then you'd take the little fish, mermaids, whales (or star wars ships, yeah, look it up) whatever, and suspend them in the gel. You could add or remove bubbles, move them around, add blood, and all kinds of fun stuff. Well recently I found myself wanting to recreate my childhood. I also live in a place where we can't have any pets, so my girlfriend and I decided to create what I'm going to call a faux-quarium. It's easy, its fun, and its cheap.

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Step 1: Supplies

You're going to need:

- a container

- some hair gel (my 16oz bottle came from the dollar store)

- any item that you want to suspend in space

- tweezers or toothpicks or any other poking device will work

- gravel, seaweed, accessories, etc. (optional)

- eye dropper (optional)

Step 2: Prepare Your Container and Add Gel

Place your gravel or other chosen substrate on the bottom of the container. Don't forget to add it first or you'll never get it onto the bottom. Once this is done start adding the gel. We made the mistake of blasting it into the container with too much force which added a LOT more bubbles than I would have liked. I didn't have an eyedropper to suck the bubbles up, so I tried moving them around with a toothpick which failed miserably. I suggest trying to avoid the bubbles by unscrewing the top and letting the gel flow into your container of its own accord. Unless of course you're going for a lot of bubbles, in that case, blast away. The container I got from the dollar store miraculously happened to be 16 oz. just like my hair gel.

Step 3: Add Items!

Begin adding items to your gel. The easiest way is to use some long tweezers or kitchen tongs, although these could introduce more bubbles. I used a toothpick, which can make it difficult to position things exactly how you want them but it works if you have the patience for it.

I chose to do an aquarium and add fish, but there's no reason you couldn't do dinosaurs, airplanes, spaceships, or whatever else you can think of. Be creative!

Step 4: Cover It Up and Add Some Lights!

Once you have everything where you want it you can put the cover on. I don't think the cover to my dollar store bug cottage is airtight, so I expect the gel might start drying up. I'll most likely put some plastic wrap over the gel underneath the cap to see if I can avoid that.

One of the best parts about these things is that they look great when you light them up. Whether you add lights underneath your tank, under the lid, or just backlight it, it will look fantastic.

Step 5: Put It Somewhere Fun and Enjoy!

Now you can put your fun new faux-quarium somewhere where it will attract plenty of attention and look sweet!

If you have any questions feel free to ask and PLEASE post pictures if you decide to make your own!

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    9 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    To remove the bubbles you could put the tank after you have everything settled and where you want in a vacuum chamber. This would remove the bubbles without having to do a lot of work. You can make a home made vacuum chamber with a large pot and lid with something rubber to seal the edges. then use a home vacuum to remove the air. Just keep it running and let things suck.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm a vaccum. That's a nice idea! Too bad I just threw away a vacuum storage container, that would have worked nicely. I'll see if I can rig up something to give that a shot.


    5 years ago

    Amazing! I love it!

    As a child i lived in the Netherlands and we didn't have Wonder world toys. After seeing them in a childrens' tv program I always wanted one. And now (decades later) i can make my own. Thank you!

    I did this as a kid too! I love how you can recreate it with hair gel, that would never have occurred to me. Awesome project, thanks for sharing!