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Tip of the day:How to Convert an Old TV Into a Fish Tank

Posted by ILL Natured_gr on September 26, 2007

How to Convert an Old TV Into a Fish Tank

Have you discovered a dinosaur of a TV set in your attic? It sure can’t compete with today’s flat-panel units, but it doesn’t have to head straight for the junk pile — if you’re creative. Here’s how to make it do something those plasmas will never pull off: turn it into a fish tank!


1. Rebuild the cabinet out of MDF/Craftwood so that it allows for a flip lid.

2. Stain it with an acrylic estapol satin stain.

3. Attach the original legs to the finished cabinet.

4. Stain or lacquer all the surfaces multiple times to ward off any effects of condensation (the formation of water droplets) in the enclosed space.

5. Build in some ventilation at the back to discourage condensation within the cabinet.

6. Get a tank that is slightly wider and taller than the screen. If your T.V. console won’t fit a standard tank size, you can have a custom one built to fit. Make sure that you leave enough room for the reflector/light (about 6 cm). A remote ballast light is a good idea, as it takes up very little room and you can get the tank and water level higher than the top of the screen.

7. Mount the powerboard outside the cabinet at the back (in case of water spillage or condensation issues).

8. Place the air pump inside the cabinet to suppress the noise. It can be mounted outside if there is not enough room.

9. Fill and cycle the tank properly and introduce the stars of your show — the fish!


* Make sure you have finished building the cabinet before you start inserting the tank.

* Wire the light for the fish tank through one of the controls on the original television. This may require you to take out one of the original controls.

* Build the tank to exceed the width of the screen rather than just cover it, and you will have a larger volume of water and be able to hide the filter and heater.

* Use the extra space inside as storage space for the food and cleaning tools.

* Cool backgrounds are the key to a great T.V. aquarium. You can use an underwater scene (which can be found at most fish-pet stores), or you can make a custom one of a television show you like. (Get the measurements and the picture, then head to your nearest print shop and have them print it for you.)

* For colder areas, insulating the box is a good idea. This will help maintain a constant temperature.


* You may want to take the old TV to a repairman and have him remove the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube). While the contents of the CRT are not normally dangerous, the air vacuum inside can cause shards of glass to fly if its glass skin gets cracked or breached in some way.

* If you use your existing TV stand, make sure it is strong enough to cope with the weight of the water.

* TV tubes up until about 1960 do not have integral implosion protection. These can be extremely dangerous, because they can implode very violently. You’ll notice a label on all tubes that are less volatile that says something like, “This tube provides integral implosion protection.” If you don’t see that, don’t mess with it.

* Be sure you are ready to take on the responsibility of owning fish. They are more work than you’d think!

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