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Acrylic case / mineral oil / fish

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November 8, 2010 12:21:36 PM

Hello :hello:  ,

Long time reader, first time poster.

I am planning a low powered mITX build for running 24/7 and happened to stumble upon an oil cooling topic. While the two have nothing to do with each other, I liked the idea of an oil cooled mITX build, even if it isn't practical or cost effective. So after some reading, i found acrylic tanks are best for storing oil as the edges are chemically bonded, unlike glass, reducing the chance of leaks.

I couldn't find anything small enough for an mITX build, so I've been considering making my own. Now here is where things get weird. If I'm going to do it myself, I come up with all kinds of crazy ideas. One question I always came across while researching oil cooled pc's was "but does it have fish?!". Of course not, they'd die. Unless you do something like this:



The tank in a tank idea is something I'm quite familiar with. I used to have 2 fighting fish, using the tank in a tank idea it gave the illusion of them being together, but can't be placed together as they'd kill each other. I want to apply the same idea to this computer, having the mITX pc submerged in mineral oil within the inner tank, and water / any fish suited to a low volume of water on the outer tank.

I've thought about it for a while, the inner tank wouldn't hold much oil as i wanted to limit its size, however an mITX wouldn't generate much heat to start with so it could be passively cooled or I could use a single radiator. I would have to consider the outer tank heating up a little also, as there would be some oil->acrylic->water heat transfer. Perhaps tropical fish! Joking.

Is there any limitations to doing something like this? I have a feeling I'm overlooking something since I cant find anyone else who has tried fishes + computer before.
a b ) Power supply
November 8, 2010 4:59:32 PM

This is a cool idea. My friend has dabbled in the idea of heating a fishtank by watercooling the PC and exchanging water with the tank. Of course, the issue is keeping the temperature constant for fish and I don't know much about fish and temperature.

Another thing to consider is the ability of the acrylic to transfer heat through itself to the fish part of the tank.
Since most fish are pretty sensitive to temperature, you might have to do some math, then experiment and set it up to be folding 24-7 or something to maintain a temperature.
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November 8, 2010 9:12:17 PM

Me and my friend actually had a similar idea, just on a bigger scale. But heat dissipation could be an issue but considering the low power set-up you are planning, it should be fine but all the builds I saw always employed at least a small rad to cool the mineral oil.
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a b ) Power supply
November 9, 2010 2:19:27 AM

the oil filled computer concept is interesting , but not worth it except as a curiosity

Why not just use an air cooled computer in your tank within a tank ? Might be possible to use the tropical fish tank as a heat sink of still
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November 9, 2010 1:07:21 PM

Outlander_04 said:
the oil filled computer concept is interesting , but not worth it except as a curiosity

Why not just use an air cooled computer in your tank within a tank ? Might be possible to use the tropical fish tank as a heat sink of still


Few reasons.

If i go with an air cooled inner tank, it risks water splashing over into it. I could seal it off, but then air circulation would be an issue. If i stick with Oil, water will sink to the bottom before it hits anything important.

Other reason is just the look. Correct me I'm wrong, I never studied physics, but:

(eye) air -> water -> air (object)

Will appear more distorted than

(eye) air -> water -> Mineral Oil (object)

Since mineral oil's refraction index is similar to water's. Or am i way off on this one?
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January 31, 2011 5:05:33 AM

The fish would likely die from the heat I know its not going to boiling water but the temperature of the water determines the maximum oxygen content of the water. The only way I could see this working is if you managed to keep the surrounding oil at room temperature also you need to run a filter/oxidizer running to the part for the conditions to survivable for the fish.
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February 1, 2011 11:43:15 AM

colosis said:
Hello :hello:  ,

Long time reader, first time poster.

I am planning a low powered mITX build for running 24/7 and happened to stumble upon an oil cooling topic. While the two have nothing to do with each other, I liked the idea of an oil cooled mITX build, even if it isn't practical or cost effective. So after some reading, i found acrylic tanks are best for storing oil as the edges are chemically bonded, unlike glass, reducing the chance of leaks.

I couldn't find anything small enough for an mITX build, so I've been considering making my own. Now here is where things get weird. If I'm going to do it myself, I come up with all kinds of crazy ideas. One question I always came across while researching oil cooled pc's was "but does it have fish?!". Of course not, they'd die. Unless you do something like this:

http://img838.imageshack.us/img838/135/fishiescomputeridea.png

The tank in a tank idea is something I'm quite familiar with. I used to have 2 fighting fish, using the tank in a tank idea it gave the illusion of them being together, but can't be placed together as they'd kill each other. I want to apply the same idea to this computer, having the mITX pc submerged in mineral oil within the inner tank, and water / any fish suited to a low volume of water on the outer tank.

I've thought about it for a while, the inner tank wouldn't hold much oil as i wanted to limit its size, however an mITX wouldn't generate much heat to start with so it could be passively cooled or I could use a single radiator. I would have to consider the outer tank heating up a little also, as there would be some oil->acrylic->water heat transfer. Perhaps tropical fish! Joking.

Is there any limitations to doing something like this? I have a feeling I'm overlooking something since I cant find anyone else who has tried fishes + computer before.

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I am not going to tell you it cant, or shouldnt be done, but just look at it from another view. Lets assume that you will have 100% seperation of fish area from pc area. Water for the pc parts is bad, oil for the fish is deadly. Everyone here is looking at this from the pc perspective. I want to look at it from the fish perspective. You will also need to take into account the fish needs for this setup. What kind of filtration do you need for a specific fish. The habitat area for the fish will be a big factor in the fish selection. Certian fish need a certian volume of water to live in. Ove rcrowding can be deadly. The biggest factor I see with this setup will be heat in the fish side. Almost no fish can survive in 80+farenhite. One possible solution to this would be to use some sort of sump setup for the fish side. you can have a larfer volume of water under the tank stand for filtration and cooling. I would suggest befor you build this setup that you would visit a GOOD aquarium / fish store and talk over the fish needs with a good reputible dealer. Sounds like an interesting idea, I would just hate to see you loose fish needlesly.
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a b ) Power supply
February 1, 2011 11:56:25 AM

enzo matrix said:
This is a cool idea. My friend has dabbled in the idea of heating a fishtank by watercooling the PC and exchanging water with the tank. Of course, the issue is keeping the temperature constant for fish and I don't know much about fish and temperature.

Another thing to consider is the ability of the acrylic to transfer heat through itself to the fish part of the tank.
Since most fish are pretty sensitive to temperature, you might have to do some math, then experiment and set it up to be folding 24-7 or something to maintain a temperature.


Well, it's simple. Underclock in summer, overclock in winter. Keep the water a nice and stable temperature... :D 

I'm waiting for him to OC too roughly, and boil the poor fish to death lol
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