Make An Aquarium Out of An Old Television

Many of us have old analog television sets sitting in the garage or attic not doing a darn thing except gathering dust and possibly housing critters you’re better not knowing about. So why not take it out of storage, dust it off and make it into something useful and in high definition? A TV aquarium or terrarium might only receive one channel, but at least it will be educational. Directions below…

What you’ll need:

  • One old console television
  • An appropriately sized aquarium
  • Surge Strip, 3 prong plug kit, 10′ of electrical wiring rated for 110V, On/Off switch, electrical tape, and wire nuts
  • Florecent fixture (this fixture can be a standard unit from Lowes or Home Depot or can be a power compact unit
  • Circular saw, screwdriver, sander, wood finishing equipment
  • Handle and 2-3 small hinges for the lid, small wood screws



Find an old console television set

Carefully take the back off the television set

Be VERY careful as you remove the electronics and the television tube. Do not break the tube since it has a vacuum on the inside it could shatter all over the place and over you. Also remove all of the control knobs like the volume, channel change, contrast, tint, ect. If the on off switch is in working order and you wish to continue to use it you may. Just be sure that it’s location and size will not interfere with the placement of your aquarium.

Measure the size of the opening that you have just made. Your going to need to know the height, depth and width of the area just vacated by the “boob” tube. Also inspect the sides, top and bottom of the console. You may need to add supports to the console to handle the weight of a full aquarium.

Build up your supports if you need them so that the bottom of your supports are almost even with the bottom of the opening where the tube used to sit.

Most console sets will accept a standard 20 Gal aquarium. If not then your going to need to have your tank custom built or your going to need to build your own.

If you do need to build your own only the front need to be glass since the tank will only be visible from the front.

Dry fit the aquarium in to the console and check to see how much room you have from the top of the tank to the inside top of the console.

You’re going to need approximately 2 – 2 1/2″ of room to add your light fixture.

Once you have verified that there is enough room for the tank to sit inside the console. Measure the distance that the side of the aquarium are from the outside edges of the console. Your going to use this measurement to mark out where the top needs to be cut. Also measure the distance from the back of the console unit to the back of the aquarium. Ideally you will want 4 – 6 ” of room behind the aquarium till the back of the console unit. Lastly you going to need to take the measurement of the distance from the front of the console to the front of the aquarium.

Transfer all these measurements to the top of your console unit. Add 1/2″ to all of the measurements. This will give you room to take the glass lid off the aquarium and will also allow you to have full access to the aquarium once its up and running. (This was something that was learned from our first Television tank.) It is crucial that your 100% sure of these measurements as the next setup will be to mark and cut the door in the top of the console.

Once the measurements have been put on the top of the console and you have used a straight edge to connected the marks use a circular saw or some other wood cutting tool to cut the opening into the top of the console unit.

Attach the hardware to the lid and add a “stop” so that the lid is flush with the rest of the top when it is closed. We are not ready to install the lighting yet. We will do this a little later on.

Do another test fit of the aquarium to verify that the lid is large enough and also located in the correct location. At this point the only way to go back if it is not correct would be if the top lid was to small

Once the location and size has been confirmed your ready to wire and affix the lighting unit to the top of the console. Use your small wood screws to put the affix the fixture to the lid. Route the electrical wire so that there is enough slack so that when the lid is open your not putting stress on the wire connections at the switch or at the fixture. Use a staple gun if you have one to attach the electrical wiring to the lid and also to the side of the console. Route the wires so that they are not dangling.

Place the surge strip in a location that it can be mounted to the side or bottom of the console unit. Plug your on/off switch into the surge strip and verify proper wiring.

Paint the back and sides of the aquarium or use a back drop on three sides of the aquarium to hide the wires and the back of the console unit.

Insert the aquarium into the console unit. Slowly fill it up with water to verify that your supports will hold.

Your done!!!! All that is left now is to personalize your Television Aquarium with components and fish of your choice

Instructions via VA Fish Freak

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