Mineral Oil Fish Tank

I’m thinking of building a computer in a fish tank. It would be filled with mineral oil. No fish that I am aware of can live in mineral oil.

But what if I floated a significant amount of oil on top of the water? Could I put the computer in the oil and (living) fish in the water? One problem that comes to mind is feeding the fish. Any other pitfalls? How about other aquatic life? Octopus?

Fish need oxygen.

Could I use a bubbler?

Most oxygen exchange occurs at the water surface. Bubblers are used to create turbulence at the surface. Also I don’t think you could prevent the fish from ingesting or swimming into the oil without a water-tight physical barrier.

You could put the computer in the bottom of a tank with the oil, seal it off completely with glass, and have a regular fish tank on top.

Better yet, build a double-walled tank. Put water and fish between the inner and outer walls, and the inner walls can contain the oil and the computer.

Won’t the computer get hot in the oil?

The oil is non-conductive, circulates, and acts as a coolant.

Yeah, but you’d likely get a buildup of crap at the oil water interface. After a couple months that’d make the setup decidedly uncool looking; plus it’d be hard to clean.

Computer in Mineral Oil. :cool:


Thats neat!

Have you made sure that all your components (which will include a fair bit of plastic) are compatible with long-term submersion in oil?

I mean, you don’t want to be bringing your motherboard into solution.

That’s what I keep coming back to. It’d be nice if there were a way to pull off a decent illusion with it. I’m thinking a strategically built cabinet/shelf/stand could allow me to have fish on each side with the ability to swim narrowly in front of the computer. I’d just like to be able to hide the glass partitions and minimize refraction changes

This is probably not the answer you’re looking for, but here goes:

A relative of mine once bought a fake aquarium. It used real water, but the fish were plastic and weighted to stay at certain levels. Magnets moved around in the back that were just strong enough to drag the fish around in the fake water. Looked halfway decent from a distance.

You might have to adjust the buoyancy of the fish to work with oil, but the concept should be sound.

The bubbles would float up through the water, then up through the oil, inevitably carrying a little water with them, right onto the electronics.

I might think that the fake fish magnets* would F up the computer somehow. Maybe I am wrong.

*great band name

The CPU might put off enough heat to support tropical fish, or to even melt them. The article above mentioned 70 degrees C, thats pretty damn hot.

It would be pretty cool to attach a vertically-mounted tube to the heatsink - open at both ends - the warmth should set up a convection current. Multicoloured plastic beads just heavy enough to sink in the oil could be added and they should form a sort of fountain effect through the tube.

Not to burst your bubble (ha) but fish poop, a lot. Plus you have to deal with algae growth and bacteria (even the good kind) that tends to make the water somewhat cloudy on occasion. It’s hard enough to keep my standard 55 gal tropical fish aquarium clean enough to keep me satisfied.

Cool idea but I doubt that it’s really feasible.

Deep frying in oil floating on surface of aquarium http://www.ohgizmo.com/2007/03/29/japanese-deep-fryer-has-aquarium-within/

(The article does note the fish were probably just for a demonstration.)

Okay, time to get a little more creative.

Consider Habitrail, those tubes through which pet rodents run. If you had a main water-filled tank off to the side for the fish, with the bubbler and food and plants and all the things that fish need, then you could run a loop of transparent piping through the computer’s tank, and set up a gentle current so that it would remain aerated as fish passed through.

If you get the refractive indices of everything just right, you could make the transitions between the different transparent domains look almost invisible.