Better than Fishy Screensavers: Aquariums with Built-In Electronics

AquariusPC Aquariums with Built-In Electronics

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Everybody knows that water and electronics go together about as well as vinegar and baking soda. Drop your iPhone in water and you’ll end up with a several hundred dollar paper weight. Well, that’s only half true. It is definitely the case that some electronic equipment will short out underwater, but specially designed equipment can operate just fine while wet. There’s are countless ways to incorporate electronic systems into an aquatic display. Do you want an underwater computer or a sunken digital clock? No problem! All you need is the right type of gear.

Take, for example, the AquariusPC, a computer-aquarium hybrid.

To be fair, these are more computers than they are aquariums. Computers can run into heating problems, and some computer rigs have built-in water cooling systems. Normally, a computer has a copper panel that sucks up heat (copper is very heat conducive), and then a fan cools the copper to keep the overall temperature down. Water cooling systems pump water along the copper to cool it down even more quickly. The AquariusPC takes that concept to a whole new level by dumping the whole computer rig into liquid.

Water-Cooled Computer System

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But don’t go off and stick your computer in a fish tank. The AquariusPCs doesn’t actually contain water, but pharmaceutical grade mineral oil instead. The liquid cools the computer just as effectively as water would, but “the resistance to current flow of mineral oil is extremely high due to the few free electrons.” Unfortunately, that means that you can’t turn your AquariusPC into an aquascape — it would instantly kill any living organism that was introduced to it.

If AquariusPCs can’t be turned into aquascapes, then why bring it up? Well, the whole point of the story is to draw attention to the fact that you can still incorporate electronics into your tank. Most tanks already have filters and pumps installed as part of the rig, so clearly you can introduce the right sort of equipment into your aquascape.


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For example, you could conceivably install a computer screen or digital display in the center of your aquarium. You wouldn’t have much trouble introducing the Taka LCD TV, which is completely waterproof. For other devices, though, the easiest way to install the rig would be to encase the device in some sort of acrylic or plastic “bubble” so that the device never has to touch a drop of water. That would keep your electronic device safe from the water (and your fish save from the electricity), all while leaving an easy surface to scrub free of algae.

The other advantage of encasing the electronic device inside of a transparent shell is that it won’t warm up your aquarium quite as much. Computer screens and digital displays don’t typically generate a bunch of heat, but you would want to be careful that you’re not warming up the water too much with the device. You’d also have to worry about chemicals leaking into the water. You wouldn’t want to poison your fish with tiny plastic or metallic particles.

The possibilities are pretty much endless. As long as you isolate your electronic device from the surrounding water, then you can build just about anything. You could check your email inside of your aquarium, transform your aquascape into a clock, or even watch your favorite TV shows alongside your fishy buddies. You could even hook up the electronics to your electric eel and have a fish-powered digital display!

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