Pictures can be found at


Unlike most Macquarium people, I have little love for Apple. I deal with people (who are probably reading this document) who have a rabid love for the company. I tried the whole Apple thing and it was just too useless for me. I could only be dazzled by Expose a few times before I just found too eyecandyish. So that's where I'm coming from with my Macquarium... to turn a Mac into something less useless. If you read some of the other instruction sets, they probably say that only a bitter PC user would say such a thing.

They're right.

Seriously, though. I did my Macquarium because I saw a show on TV about tropical fish and I'm just that impressionable. It's the "herd mentality" of PC users, I suppose. I had a tank when I was younger, but present circumstances didn't allow me to have a 10 gallon tank again. Space issues. Too much junk. You know the drill. So I looked at small aquariums. Bleh. Where's the challenge in buying something? So I googled small tanks and somehow it lead to a picture of a Macquarium. I had just graduated, so I had some time on my hands. I set off to buy one and the rest is history.

Stuff You Need/Costs

Sadly, stuff costs money unless you have your own personal mafia. The Macquairum is certainly not the cheapest way to get a tank. Of course, you could go cheap on some parts but if you like Apple, you're already used to paying a hefty premium for stuff. Suck it up and spread the dough out for good stuff.

You'll need (to buy, most likely):

ThingCostWhere you get it
A Macintosh all in one. I don't know what the Mac dweebs call them. I used a Mac Classic (circa 1991). $21 (incl. shipping) eBay -- just be sure you're prequoted a sane shipping rate. Damn sellers inflating costs.
Plexiglass. 1/8" is fine. I ordered 5 - 12"x12" (1 extra) and 1 - 12"x24" sheets and a acrylic scoring tool. That includes 1 extra sheet of 12"x12". I was afraid I'd screw up. $25 (incl. shipping) Check out US Plastics. Fast shipping, without inflated rates.
Acrylic bonding stuff (Weld-On #3) and applicator. It says what kind of applicator you need on the site. $20 (incl. shipping) RPlastics. I wish they were more realistic with shipping. It was half the cost!
Silicon sealant (in small 4 oz tube). Easier to control than HUGE ones. Besides.. you'll barely use a quarter of this.$4Pet store
Light. Fish like to see stuff. It can get dark in a Mac without a light. Hell, just using a Mac gave me that SAD thing. I used a light called "Warm & Brite" by Hagen. It's made to fit those plastic critter houses. $9Hard to find online; check your local pet store.
Filter. I used the "Elite Hush 5" by Hagen. Get spare filters and charcoal, since you're already paying for shipping. $14ish (incl. shipping and supplies) Try 4 Little Pets. I got most of the fish stuff from them and shipping was fast and somewhat reasonable.
Heater. Tropical fishies get cold. Brrr. I bought the "Compact Mini" 25W submersible heater. You can hide it easily in the tank. Get a thermometer, too. You'll want to know if you're cooking them.$15ish (incl. shipping) Buy it with your other stuff from where ever you get the fish stuff.
Gravel. Needed so good bacteria can grow in your tank. 1 - 5lb pound bag is *just* enough.$4Local pet store. Please don't get stupid and ask to have rocks shipped. Unless the rocks are special rocks. In that case, I want some.
Water conditioner/food/etc$4ishLcoal pet store.
Crap. Fishies like crap to swim around and look at. How much you spend on your junk is up to you. I got someone's old Spongebob stuff for $10 shipped which included a background, air pump, 2 plastic characters and stickers.Up to youUse your imagination

For the astute observer, you'd see that total is around $120. I told you it isn't cheap. I wasn't kidding.

You'll need tools, too:


Assuming you got all that stuff, you're ready to make this Mac into something useful. There are 4 screws holding the Classic together, 2 in the upper handle and 2 in the lower corners. You need that Torx bit to get them out. Of course, you generally won't have a long enough driver to get in there. So, if you have removable torx bits, use the pen trick. Pop the ink part out of a disposable pen, shove the bit in there and then use plier to slowly turn the hold thing. The screws should come out with that. Initially opening the thing after you have it unscrewed can be a pain. Slowly work it off. I held up over my bed so that if the CRT fell down it'd be ok. It's time consuming because you don't want to mark up the plastic or the bezel. Try to just use your fingers. Screw drivers and the like will make ugly indentations on the plastic. And, if I were to see those marks on your Macquarium, I'd mock you.

So you got that off. Great. Unscrew it all. You can look at my disassembly pictures. It's really pretty easy. If you see a screw, unscrew it .Rinse and repeat. Seriously. Your boss could even handle this.

Be careful of the CRT. Everyone complains it holds a gazillion volts and could shock you back to being a caveman. I don't know. I didn't really touch it and it was fine. Don't be an idiot.

Prepare the Shell

See all those crappy plastic protrusions? Yeah, they got to go. To maximize the tank capacity, you'll going to have to get rid of them. Look at the pictures to see which ones get ground down. Generally, all of them do.. except for the teeth around where the CRT was. You need those to reattach the bezel. Use the dremel but don't go on the ultra fast setting. It'll bite into the plastic then jump off and mark up the outside and I'll mock you for your inability to control your tool. Do it slow, or use the hack saw blade. Also, remember: friction generates heat. Those cutting wheels going through plastic get hot, which will start to melt the plastic. You can also burn yourself on hot plastic. If a Mac managed to physically hurt you.. yes, I'd mock you.

You'll want to cut the handle out of the shell. This is a pain in the ass and best accomplished by using the hacksaw blade. Or not. I used the hacksaw blade. If you're a rotary tool god, then by all means. Look at the pictures of how the cut goes. You'll need to cut out the handle and that back angled piece. Most plans will not cut the angled back piece, but if you want to use an outside filter (like I do, to maximize tank capacity), you'll need the tank to get pretty close to the back of the Mac shell. After you cut it out, go over it with the Dremel to straighten the lines and make it pretty.

See that plastic flange in the inside, bottom of the case? Yeah, rip it out. Damn thing. Be careful, here. It's damned sharp, especially if you pull on it. I know. It cut me. Go ahead, mock me. See if it doesn't get you. It's held on by those plastic melty spots. You can grind those down with the Dremel and then pull. Carefully. Leave the volume control thing. It's fine. Now that you have that flange off, hot glue gun in the torx screw in their holes. It's for appearances. YES, the appearance of the back of the tank you'll never see. Look, you're an Apple person, right? Things must be just so. So do it. Now, take your rotary tool and cut the motherboard where the ports are. You can go about a half inch from the back of the board to get the connectors but not have to cut through much (if any) metal. A dust mask might be useful here as that motherboard is nasty when ground. It'll be an L shaped piece of connector; the main connectors in the back and the two small nubs for the volume controls. Hot glue gun that in place.

Make the Tank

Crash course in acrylic work:

The dimensions:

Of note is that the sides are cut from 1 piece of plexi. That is so they will have complementary angles. The Mac angles backwards slightly, so we're going to try and follow that angle. Measure out a rectangle 18" x 9 3/4". Cut that. (First do the cut for 18", then then cut 9 3/4". That will make the cuts shorter.) On the resulting rectangle, mark 9 1/2" out from non-adjacent corners on the long side. Right. So if you're looking at it, with the longer edge going east to west, mark 9 1/2" along the top edge from the NW corner. Do the same from the SE corner. Draw a straight line between them. When you cut along this line, you'll get a a piece with 2 90 degree corners and one that has a slight slope to it.

As you get the pieces done, mark which side they are, which side is inside the tank/outside where the front/bottom is, etc. It makes life easier. You're not a pansy if you write notes on the protective film on the plexi.

You may want to sand the edges so you get a tight fit between all seams. Tape the edges of the protective wrapper back about half an inch so you have access to the seams.

Make sure you get how the pieces go together before you start bonding. You'll feel really dumb if you don't and you screw it up. Lay the bottom piece in front of you, the 8 1/2" in front. That's the front of the tank. You'll now want to attach the back on top of this piece. Get a helper. It REALLY helps for this back piece. Sit the back piece on top of the bottom, all the way to the back edge. It should be the same width as the bottom. Get the pins and then start bonding. Your buddy will want to hold the piece for you while you apply the bonding. Pull the pins. Then you can take over holding it as flush as possible. Get a level or square to help hold it vertical.

I'd give that seam a day to cure. You'll end up pulling a little on it to get the sides on and it could snap if it hasn't set up for a little while. You'll now do the sides. Lay a side down, with it's inside face up. Get the bottom/back piece and lay it on top. You'l be bonding 2 edges at the same time. Make sure the front angle is where it should be and then bond the side to the bottom and back. You can tug on the back piece a little to get it to match up. It may be helpful to have someone hold corners again. After its stuck, do the other side. This is the last time you'll easily be able to get these seams. Hit them with the bonder again if you feel like it.

Do the front. You should be in the groove now.

Let it sit now for a day or two.

Silicon sucks to work with. And you're going to work with it. While the bonding should form leak-proof seams, that only works if your cuts were perfect. Were they perfect? Right. So we're going to seal the tank with silicon. Cut maybe the 2nd notch of the plastic applicator tip and use the to do the down seams. You hold the tube at about 45 degrees and push the tube, while pushing forward. It's intending to push the silicon in the corner. Then, do the bottom. It's a pain.

Let the silicon cure for at least two days. It'll smell like vinegar. It sucks.

Now, fill it. Tip: don't use a bathtub. The slant of the bathtub could cause one end to appear leaky just because you thought you were filling a balanced tank and it really wasnt. I wouldn't trust a tank until it holds water for 2 days. Mark on the side of the plexi where the water line was and recheck it. You might want to keep the tank of a paper towel. Be smart :)

If it leaks, add more sealant.

Finishing Touches

So you still have some stuff to do now. Assuming your tank holds water, you'll need it to do measurements. Put it in the shell and make sure it fits. It better. You might notice it needs a stand. Use 6 normal CD cases. It should be exactly 2" tall. Use those cases for the rest of the mockup.

Attach the filter to the back. If you got the Elite Hush, it should fit right in the center where the handle was. Measure how much it sticks into the tank. Measure the top of the tank (L and W). Use these measurements to make a lid. Make the L and W slightly bigger than the actual tank. That way you can just use the sides of the shell and the filter and bezel to keep the lid in place.

Mock up the placement of the light with the lid on. If you got a light similar to mine, you'll probably need to cut more of the case away... up to 2". Do it. It ain't going to cut itself. You will also probably want to trim the light down. The extra tab on it (you'll know when you see it), any big protrusions, etc. I even cut the light holder down and then hot glued the socket in the fixture. After you're please with the placement in regards to the filter and on the shell, cut some small plexi strips and just hot glue them to the top of the shell. You can then sit the light on that.

"So how will I feed the fishes?" Right. Good question. I cut a small access hole in the lid underneath the light. Go do that.

So, you're probably not brave enough to trust CD cases to hold about 3 gallons of water. Good call. Build a wooden platform. It's not hard and wood is cheap. Try to give the tank as much support as you can, but leave some access down there for wires and air tubing. Look at my pictures for ideas.

Setup the Tank

You've made it! Wash the gravel. And again. And again and again until it's clean. Dump it in. Attach any backdrops to the tank. Mount the heater in the front of the tank. Make sure you can't see it with the bezel in place. Run the heater power wire up a corner and down the side, underneath platform and out where the power switch used to be. Add the thermometer. Basically set up the tank :) One tip: get a level and make sure the tank is flat. If it isn't, level it. Because there isn't much tolerance in the tank height, it's important you can fill it up. If the tank is tilted, something other than your fish might get wet. It shouldn't be off much, so just use cardboard.

And.. wait. If you have tank treatment stuff (removes chlorine and such), do it. You'll still need a few days for the water to stabilize. Make sure the heater keeps the tank at a sane temperature. (Your thermometer will likely have a safe zone listed on it.. between 70 and 80 F.) Make sure the filter works. Blah blah blah. You should probably let it sit at least a few days to a week.

Buy fish! Not a lot. Just a few. The tank needs to develop bacteria to help breakdown fish wastes. If you buy too many, the fishies will get sick. Try 3 or so. But not gigantic fish. Maybe 1 goldfish or 2 guppies or something. Don't go wild. The tank needs to get used to the changes.