Happy Fish

A device to expand the life expectancy of the short-lived, pet fish.

November - december 2016

Internet of Things

For this personal project I set out to uncover the best solution for increasing the life-expectancy of our short-lived, pet fish. As owners, could we be doing something better to avoid this?

I led the entire concept and design for this project. This concept allowed me to learn more about research, product design, working with new 3D software, and 3D printing.

Are some fish really only supposed to live for a week?


Could we be doing something different to keep them living a longer, fulfilling life?

This concept first initiated after years of friends and family going through the loss of their pet fish earlier than expected. Having a fish as a pet takes a lot of up keep and knowledge. Most fish as pets average about a 6 - 12 month lifespan when they are supposed to survive many years! I saw this opportunity to dig into more research and uncover a way for us to use IoT to help solve this problem.


What can we learn about fish life expectancy?

In the beginning research phase, I sought out specific signs we can look at to track if a fish is happy or not. It's hard to specifically identify if something is happy or not without clear communication or visible signs. One thing we can determine is the environment factors and specific characteristics that can translate the healthier and more comfortable environments to happiness.

happiness = longer life

1. Feeding to Eating time

The time a fish swims to eat its food from when you drop it in the tank can determine their energy. The faster the time, the more energetic and healthier the fish is.

2. Maintain Water Temperatures

Proper temperature levels create a comfortable environment.

3. Clean tank

A clean tank will keep a good amount of oxygen allowing a fish to be healthier.

3. maintain proper ph

Like temperature, proper pH creates a comfortable environment.

What's the life expectancy of common freshwater fish?







sword tails

10 to 30 years

2 to 5 years

3 to 5 years

10 years

10 years

25 to 35 years

3 to 5 years


Let's hear from fish owners

After obtaining a good amount of research, I decided to hear directly from fish owners. For this I led 8 interviews with people that have previously owned and lost their fish within the past 10 years.

1. What kind of fish did you own?

2. How long did your fish live for?

3. If it passed, what was the reason for its death?


Overall, all 8 fish owners lost their fish way before they were expected. The most common problems found has been over feeding the fish and changes in water.


Overfeeding affects the water quality and creates a toxic environment.


Tropical fish prefer warmer water temperatures between 72° and 80°.


Freshwater fish do best when the pH is between 6.6 and 7.8.

The experience