Fish Condo – Main Project Report

The main goal of this project was to create a double fish tank for my two betta fish, Coach and Doug. Betta fish are known as Chinese Fighting fish, and they cannot be held in the same container. Because of this, I wanted to create a single fish tank that could hold both of them without allowing them to physically get to one another.

I designed a fish tank that could hold both fish, one on the outside and one on the inside. I wanted to make the tank out of acrylic and have a wooden base. I was planning on cutting the acrylic on the laser cutter and then securing it using caulk. I was also planning on pumping water from the outside shorter tank into the inside higher tank so that the water would rush over the top and create a waterfall.

Laser cutting the acrylic went smoothly. I was able to get all 8 sides of both tanks. I then used superglue to attach the parts so that they would be held in place while I used the caulk. I caulked all corners both inside and outside of the tank so I could ensure that no water leaked.

I ran into my first challenge when I realized that the “water” pump that I had purchased was in fact an air pump. I had to change my idea of the waterfall into a curtain of air. I used a hot needle to create holes along the length of the pump tube and this created a curtain of air bubbles along the back of the tank.

My next challenge came when the tank had its first of many leaks. I get all of the water and decorations into the tank and then the next day I realized that the level of the water was much lower. I realized that the water had leaked throughout the night all over my table. I had to empty the tank and wait for it to dry so I could add more caulk in the areas where it was leaking.

The leaking continued to be an issue. It seemed every time that I fixed one spot, another spot would spring a leak. I still have yet to put the fish into the tank because every time that I fill it up there is a leak.

Today, I ran into the final problem. Coach died. Yeah the fish that essentially inspired this entire project decided it was time to go to the big fish tank in the sky. I will continue to complete the project in his memory but the purpose is very different now that he is gone.

I am still wrestling with this stupid tank to get it to stop leaking. I am considering taking it apart and trying from the beginning but I know how frustrating that can be.

I was able to get the project completed under budget. My budget was originally $100. I was able to only spend $58.

Acrylic ($13)

Pump ($10)

Decor ($35)

Caulk, Wood (free from ITLL)

In regards to future improvements, there are many that I would make. Firstly, the base of the tank is currently made out of wood. I coated the wood in silicone to ensure that it did not get wet, but like literally every single part of this project, that did not work. I just coated it a second time so hopefully that will stop the leaking. I originally planned to put a piece of acrylic on top of the wood (it was too thin to support the weight of the water) but the piece that I had set aside with my name on it was stolen. Also, I would use acrylic cement, which melts the acrylic together, to create a watertight seal and then used the silicone as a secondary measure. I believe that this would have fixed the leaking problem. Finally, I would not have used live plants. I constantly forget how difficult it is to keep plants alive in even the best conditions, and with the constant leaking of the tank I have had to take them in and out a few times.

I have seen the entire project together and I am very happy with how the aesthetic turned out. Having two geometric designs surrounded by natural, living plants looks great to me and really accomplishes the modern/naturalistic aesthetic that I was going for. The bubbles also create a dynamic element as they move the water and cause the plants to sway as they would in the ocean.

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Joseph Coulombe
    May 8, 2019 6:53 pm

    It’s unfortunate that Coach passed before you finished this project. Working with sealant can be difficult since sometimes it takes a lot of time to cure and if it has impurities it can be even more difficult to reapply it.

  • Brittany Callin
    May 8, 2019 5:38 pm

    It’s so sad the beta fish died! And I’m sorry about the water leaking problem, but I really love the solution you came up to deal with it though. It was creative and created a very cool aesthetic!

  • Andre Gruber
    May 6, 2019 12:27 pm

    Its crazy how many unexpected problems can come up when working on a project. I think you did a good job with working through it considering the constraints you had. What are the next steps you’ll take with this project?

  • Jaehyung Lee
    May 5, 2019 9:40 pm

    I understand your struggle. I had the same water leakage problem on my senior design project. I hope your fish went to heaven.

  • Nicole Maggio
    May 2, 2019 2:52 pm

    Its unfortunate to see how many issues you ran into with this project. I’m also sorry about Coach. Even though your initial idea turned out to be too problematic to get done in time, I think what you came out with is super nice!

  • Brandon Smith
    May 2, 2019 2:34 pm

    Rest in peace Coach. Thanks for not dissing me too hard on my project. I like the aquarium but it’s unfortunate you had problems with leaking. Good idea using the LEDs it definitely adds an interesting aesthetic to the water. Hope Doug is doing well.

  • Ibrahim Alhajji
    May 1, 2019 11:16 pm

    Hi Taylor,
    Great work on your aesthetics. the fish tank looks very nice. You seem you have had lots of issue doing this. so, i encourage you to complete your work and finish it. it will feel very good at the end.

  • Xavier Corr
    May 1, 2019 1:08 pm

    It looks like you ran into a lot of issues. Working with water can be extremely frustrating, since it requires a tight seal throughout all your components. I think the look of your final product is pretty interesting. I don’t think it aligns with what you described for your initial aesthetic, but this has an aesthetic all its own. I reminds me of a music video/ album cover oddly enough, the juxtaposition of the dark sand with the plants and the lights is just an interesting texture. I think you did a good job despite all the difficulties.


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