Trying something unique and looking for advice.

nickjones799
  • #1
I have an old 20 gallon tank I used when I was little to house my goldfish, typical child thing to do. Now that I am older and have began to take marine biology classes at my school I have decided I want to start my own tank, however I want to try something fun. I am an engineer and love to build custom things, I have an old computer in which I am planning to build my new fish tank. Here is the plan:

I plan to take my old 20 gallon and use it as the main tank, I then hope to build myself a water bridge in order to allow fish to swim freely over into my computer tank. The computer tank will be small somewhere around 5 gallons and I hope to not only integrate it into the computer, but use the tank as a way to cool down the computer as it runs very hot, in turn which will heat the water for my fish keeping them happy. After doing some research I have come to a stand still on how to accomplish a few challenges.

1. For the small custom tank would you recommend acrylic or glass? It will be my first time ever building a tank so I would prefer to use whatever material is cheap and easy to work with.

2. Once I determine the water temp that is held constant by the heat of my computer what fish will be easy to care for, while being clean and still fun to watch, I would also like to have some hardy live plants in there to provide oxygen, remove ammonia, and help to liven up the tank.

3. Any tips or tricks you could give me to make sure I have a success with this tank, I am aware of all the variables and I am in no way very knowledgeable on aquariums specifically, however I do understand the biology and necessary ecosystem required to keep a healthy tank, my goal is to make the tank almost self sustaining to later be shown at my schools science fair

Edit: This will be a freshwater tank as I worry about salt corroding any parts of the computer if a leak was to spring
 
bstickler7
  • #2
I'm not any help but this sounds awesome I want to know how every step goes
 
Aquaphobia
  • #3
I'm intrigued! Not sure how much I can offer by way of advice but definitely going to follow and learn

FWIW:

1. Probably glass. Though there are some advantages to acrylic that may balance it out.

2. Not goldfish, guppies or Plecos! Smaller fish, like CPD's or Endless, are good choices I think.

3. Don't overstock it. Have patience. Don't act on any advice given at a LPS until you've done your research!
 
BravetheBetta
  • #4
This sounds interesting!

I do see one problem though. Your computer will run as a heater of sorts for the tank. What happens when it's off, will you run a heater? How will you deal with temp fluctuations? Any instability will stress out your fish, leaving them much more susceptible to disease, and temp is a big one
 
MommaWilde
  • #5
This sounds interesting!

I do see one problem though. Your computer will run as a heater of sorts for the tank. What happens when it's off, will you run a heater? How will you deal with temp fluctuations? Any instability will stress out your fish, leaving them much more susceptible to disease, and temp is a big one

There could be an adjustable heater as a back up for when the computer is off. Maybe keep it in the 20 gallon side?
 
BravetheBetta
  • #6
There could be an adjustable heater as a back up for when the computer is off. Maybe keep it in the 20 gallon side?

yeah, that would be better, but think OP said that it would be the 5G side.
 
vikingkirken
  • #7
Yikes, I would be SOO freaked out about mixing electronics and water like that... it sounds like a cool idea, but how will you ensure there are no fish (or the computer, or you) getting fried?
 
soldieroffortune1974
  • #8
Using the aquarium as a heat sink is an interesting concept. Glass , ceramics and acrylic are generally used as an insulator because the energy transfer properties are relatively low.

In order for something of this nature to work as intended, I see you needing to incorporate aluminium, brass and/or copper to initiate the energy transfer of heat to the water.

I can see a dozen plausible ideas and a dozen catastrophies! but that's half the fun!

Design and integration, as well as the more technical issues you might run into, I can help with. Or point you in the right direction. What looks good on paper, doesn't necessarily translate to real world practicality.

Definitely sounds like an interesting project.
 
s hawk
  • #9
Been following this thread and want to see the results. I second the need for a safe metal. My question though becomes flow rates. How fast does the water need to go through the computer? What does that flow rate mean for the tank?
 
soldieroffortune1974
  • #10
. My question though becomes flow rates. How fast does the water need to go through the computer? What does that flow rate mean for the tank?

The question on flow rates would be determined by the OP's method of energy transfer and constant temperature.

2. Once I determine the water temp that is held constant by the heat of my computer
 
s hawk
  • #11
Sorry didn't read it
 
nickjones799
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Quick update sorry it's been a few weeks I've been very busy with school so the tank got put on the back burner righting I'm currently working on making the smaller tank and I'm planning to you an aluminum sheet to transfer the heat into the tank as I have done research finding copper while more conductive can effect fish poorly. As for the computer being off I have no plan to turn it off I'm a tech nerd and have tons of old computers and this is just one of those so the plan is to have it running constant under a small load to keep the tank heated. As for the fish I'm going to start with some goldfish for the first month or so to be sure it's all running smooth before starting the real community. I'm planning to get a few cherry barbs and one or two badis I'm still looking for some type of cleaner that would work well but I'll try to be better about keeping this updated.
 
nickjones799
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Fettuccini
  • #14
Acrylic is incredibly expensive, glass is your best bet if you're looking to go the cheaper route.
 
BravetheBetta
  • #15
also, I probably don't need to tell you this, but goldies are 1) coldwater fish, ergo need cooler waters than heating obviously cannot provide, and 2) 20G is nowhere near enough space for even a single fancy goldie, let alone any of the common varieties. you'd be better off with a school or two of tropical fish.
 
nickjones799
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
also, I probably don't need to tell you this, but goldies are 1) coldwater fish, ergo need cooler waters than heating obviously cannot provide, and 2) 20G is nowhere near enough space for even a single fancy goldie, let alone any of the common varieties. you'd be better off with a school or two of tropical fish.
Yes I'm aware the goldfish is just to help cycle the tank. However I'm actually starting to lean toward doing some cooler water fish, but I'm very confused right now, surprisingly without a heater my tank is staying at around 72 degrees.
 
emerald6
  • #17
You could do (I'm just throwing in some species that might work for the tank's temp; not all are compatible)

WCMMs
Platies
Neon tetras (be careful with neon tetra disease)
Peppered cories
Gold barbs
Paradise fish
Rosy minnows (must be quarantined)
Flagfish
Common guppies (not fancies; if you get feeder guppies, you must quarantine them)
Zebrafish (includes glofish)
Clown pleco
Java moss
Elodea
Java fern
Anubias
Pothos (put roots in water, leaves must be dry)
Lucky "bamboo" (ditto with pothos)
 
_IceFyre_
  • #18
This sounds so cool!
I don't have any experience with this type of thing, but my only concern would be that the heat from the computer would make the water temperature fluctuate rapidly and it could stress out your fish.
 
Ski
  • #19
Be careful with the height of the tanks - you don't want the 20 siphoning into the 5 and overflowing it.

Pics when done please.
 
Mootang
  • #20
If your sure aluminum is safe go get a universal transmission cooler at a auto parts store and use that for heat transfer.
 
TwoHedWlf
  • #21
You'll want to have the PC water cooling with antifreeze or similar to stop algae growth, then a heat exchanger in the tank.

My concern would be less how to keep the tank warm when the computer is off or idle. Easy enough to put in a heater. I'd be more worried about how to cool the tank when the PC is working hard. If you've got the heat from the CPU and GPU going into the tank you're talking a couple hundred watts of heating easily. With only 25 gallons of water you'll be warming it up by 4-5°F per hour.
 
nickjones799
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Update: I began just trying to set up the 20 gallon alone to see if I could even keep the fish alive without any variables. I just came home from a trip and all 3 of my mollies have died and for now this project really seems like it's never going to go anywhere. I have already spent much more money than I had wanted to on everything, and I really see this as a huge waste right now. I will update if I decide to try again in the future.
 
emerald6
  • #23
Mollies are not as hardy as they were, let's say, around 40 years ago (I wasn't alive back then, but that's what I hears). In addition, mollies are not even suitable for 20 gallon tanks. If you like mollies, go for platies instead.
 
nickjones799
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
Mollies are not as hardy as they were, let's say, around 40 years ago (I wasn't alive back then, but that's what I hears). In addition, mollies are not even suitable for 20 gallon tanks. If you like mollies, go for platies instead.

I actually believe they were platies however they all have died since and now just a few fry are left.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
24
Views
652
86 ssinit
Replies
51
Views
3K
Lakoza1
  • Locked
2 3
Replies
113
Views
3K
JRS
  • Locked
2
Replies
61
Views
2K
Zentuckyfriedchicken
Replies
32
Views
1K
smee82
Top Bottom