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Aquarium Sculpture is a filtration system for desktop mini fish tanks. Aquarium Sculpture is designed as a desktop sculpture to pair with a mini fish tank to decorate small spaces such as an office or an apartment. 

Project Type

Individual Project


3 weeks


Industrial Designer


SolidWorks Modeling, KeyShot Rendering, Design Research, Human-Centered Design, Sketch

Design Process





Filter is the essential device for an aquarium. It is responsible for moving and cleaning tank water, making it safe for fish to live in. There are not many different types of filters, and most of them are not designed to pair with the aquarium for display. Therefore, aquarium hobbyists always try to hide the filter for their mini fish tanks. It makes me wonder whether I can design a filtration system that is meant to be displayed like a desktop sculpture.


Competitive Analysis



Sponge Filter

  • Cost: Low

  • Setup: Easy

  • Maintenance & Cleaning: Easy

  • Fit any shape of fish tank

  • Filtration Efficiency: Low

  • Difficult to be hidden in a mini fish tank 

Internal Filter

  • Cost: Low

  • Setup: Easy

  • Maintenance & Cleaning: Easy

  • Filtration Efficiency: Low

  • Difficult to be hidden in a mini fish tank

  • It may not fit into fish tanks with shapes other than a rectangle

Hang-On-Back Filter

  • Cost: Low

  • Setup: Easy

  • Maintenance & Cleaning: Easy

  • Filtration Efficiency: Medium

  • Difficult to be hidden in a mini fish tank

  • It may not fit into fish tanks with shapes other than a rectangle

Canister Filter

  • Filtration Efficiency: High

  • Fit any shape of fish tank

  • Easy to hide the inflow/outflow pipe

  • Cost: High

  • Setup: Intermediate

  • Maintenance & Cleaning: Intermediate

  • Need a space/aquarium cabinet to place/hide the canister filter


Generate Insights

  • The canister filter will be the best option as a desktop sculpture to pair with mini fish tanks for display.

  • Aquarium hobbyists have to find a way to hide the canister filters currently available on the market as they are not designed for display. Therefore, a delightfully designed canister filter that can be displayed alongside its paired mini fish tank may have a promising market potential.


Functional Map

Some equipment are essential for maintaining a healthy freshwater aquarium. They include a filter, a heater, and a light. Based on my experience, interviews with a few aquarium hobbyists, and information I found online, I made a functional map to demonstrate functions that can be integrated into this design project.

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Inspiration & Sketch


3D Modeling & Prototyping



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Aquarium Sculpture is meant to be enjoyed as it is on display alongside the fish tank.

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Aquarium Sculpture and filtering media are packaged in a recycled cardboard box covered with a frosted transparent plastic shell, allowing customers to be visually enticed by the product inside.

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Aquarium Sculpture has a temperature controller to keep the water temperature steady in the fish tank. The UV light sterilizing function of it can eliminate the algae when the green water issue happened in the fish tank. The pH/TDS meter will monitor the water quality in the tank.

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The current water quality will be shown on the control knob. Users can also set temperature/ flow rate/ UV light timer to adjust the water quality by turning the control knob. For remote control, they can set up wifi connection and login information using the Aquarium Sculpture mobile phone app.

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There are two lever locks on two sides of the lid, making it easy for users to open and close the lid. The lever locks also provide a strong and secure seal to prevent leaking when the filtration system is working.


Aquarium Sculpture comes in a number colors and material finishes. These design choices were derived from the inspirational images for different user groups.

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A variety of color and material may be applied to Aquarium Sculpture for special occasions or co-branding.