The Worlds Most Amazing Fishtank.

The original website of these photos is located at http://www.fishighway.com.

I remember visiting this website a few years back, but that was when my wife and I were really into fish rearing. At one time, we had 11 aquariums in our house! It became such a hassle to keep everything fed, and keep up with water changes that we no longer have that many tanks. As a matter of fact, we only have a single 75 gallon tank right now, and we are trying to sell it…fish and all. 🙂

Like I said earlier, I remember this site from a few years back, and happened to see it still in my favorites menu. I thought everyone might enjoy the looking at these photos, and examining the physics required to sustain such a masterpiece.

And here is the FAQ from fishighway.com:What is a Fish Highway?
Imagine a means for fish to swim out the top of your aquarium, up to the ceiling, across the room and then down into another tank. That’s a fish highway. Click here to see an illustration submitted in 1877 for the first one patented in the US. Today they’re made of acrylic plastic, the same material used for many custom built aquariums.

Why doesn’t the water spill out of the highway?
The highway tube is completely sealed except for the openings at each end which are submerged below the tank water levels. Like a large drinking straw, when the air is sucked out of the tube the water rises inside it and will stay there unless you let the air back in.

Do the fish swim in it?
Do the fish swim in it.

Does it harm the fish?
As the fish swim higher the pressure drops a little but it’s only slightly lower than the pressure pressure in the tank.

How do you fill it?
When the air is sucked out of the sealed tube the water from the tanks flows into it. Eventually, after all the air is removed the tube is filled with water.

How do you clean it?
Water flows through the highway continuously so the tank filters clean the water in the highway. Algea is removed using cleaning magnets for acrylic tanks.

How does water flow through the highway?
Water is pumped through a separate pipe from one tank to the other using a small pump. As the tank water levels change (one rises and the other falls) flow is induced through the highway by the force of gravity.

46 thoughts on “The Worlds Most Amazing Fishtank.”

  1. Fill a straw with water, put your finger on the top of it then lift it out of a glass you will see a similar situation

  2. Isn’t this essentially the same effect as a barometer? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barometer Then to ensure the water doesn’t leak out during a humid day or during a cold day, they just adjust the pressure at the top of the tank? These are just educated guesses, but indeed that is a very cool tank.

  3. I think you will find is that this tank is on a boat (first image gives a hint). The water has been pumped up and is at a lower pressure (sealed also). Much like what happens when you lift a drinking glass from your washing up water. When you hold the glass upside down and lift, you seem to be pulling water from the sink. Presto! They have pumped this water from beneath the boat, the openings in the underside of the boat provide the ‘seal’.

  4. Look at the reflection on the first picture… this is no boat. Its obviously at some kind of statium like aquarium, like maybe Sea World? The tank is sealed at the top.

  5. Okay, sure.. someone has thought the straw idea, but really, think about it.. there is water below the holes.. and several holes, in the same tank. What keeps it from rushing into one and out the other?

  6. Supposing that it is air tight/ sealed in some way, the water in the tank cannot come out because it would create a vacuum. Since a vacuum is lower pressure than the air pushing from the outside, the water stays put. It is basically a shoving match between the air (the openings for food) and a near vacuum (the space above the water in the tank). Since the air has greater pressure, the water stays put. At least that’s my take on it.

  7. @ Alan Clifford

    There’s more than one holle in the side of the tank, I’d say air can easily get in at the top. And if it was sealed at the top as you say, they wouldn’t be able to fill it up in the first place.

  8. Well, maybe not a boat…per say, but if the aquarium is in a building next to or over a pool it’s the same thing. Regardless, it’s simply greater atmospheric pressure than water pressure. A storm surge is not only wind piling up waves… Low atmospheric pressure also raises sea level. I learned all about this from a bit** named Katrina. OY!

  9. The tank must be sealed, the previous poster that commented that the water cannot get out because it would cause a vacuum in the tank is right. The openings are not holes exactly in the tank, they have curves on the outside that allow the water to rise on the outside of the tank a little bit so the air would have to go into the water DOWN to the hole and then up to get in the tank(sort of like the U pipe under the sink). The best comparison is a office water cooler, water only comes out when you take water from the bottom, if you ever replaced the bottle in one the only thing keeping the water in the bottle is that it sits in a little puddle of water so air can’t enter the bottle. Same idea here.

  10. The tank has a horizontal, transparent divider located at the feeding through level (my guess is the divider is set just below the level of the two bolts shown in the 8th picture) The section above the divider is filled with water, but the lower section doesn’t see the upper water column’s pressure.

    For those who speculated this worked like a straw, the holes where the fish come through are too large to sustain capilarity, and the water will come out due to water column height. The only way to keep the water level steady in the feeding through is to have the tank have exactly the same pressure as the pressure in the feeding through, and this means the upper water column has to be isolated.

  11. Ya that sounds like a good theory but that divider isnt there in the pictures, anything thick enough to support that about of water would be visible, not to mention that if you look at the larger pictures there would be a gap in the fish where the divider was.

  12. It is the same as the ‘fish tube’ concept as the previous poster linked to. The ‘feeding’ holes are at the same level as the top of the tank; therefore the water does not come pouring out. The tank above is exactly the same as the ‘fish tube’ concept. This is evident in the first photo, as you can see steps that lead to a lower level where the ‘feeding tubes’ are. Additionally you can see on the left side of the first photo, the open top of the tank. Pretty cool concept. I too, would like to know where this is at.

  13. I am a parent with over 20 years’ experience with the worst that could happen if kids are involved.

    Imagine, if you will, a child has a flexible tube toy purchased at a store in the same theme park. Ribbed, 1/2″ diameter, a green one that looks like a snake. Next: For some random reason, the child inserts the straw into the feeder. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the end of the tube inside the tank gets above the level of the water in the feeder, air is going into the tank and water is going to come out … all of the feeders. And if the physics are just right, and the child gets some sloshing going in the feeder bowl, you could get the soda bottle glug-glug effect, and then you’ve got a lawyer’s paradise. People slipping and falling, fish biting kids, stingrays skewering men in the chest.

    Don’t even get me started on seismic or terrorist activity degrading the integrity of the seal at the top of the tank. I have a feeling I’m going to start having bad dreams again. Please tell me I’m wrong.

  14. Note that the tank is above where you walk, as well. You can see it from outside, as there are windows above the ‘walk-through’ area, and pictures from inside show not a reflective ceiling, but fish up there.

    It is certainly not an optical illusion or anything. The water levels are where they seem to be. I’ll buy the sealed tank concept, but I’d have to see all the factors that go into making it work in person.

  15. very simple solution, chamber where people are viewing/feeding is pressureized, people enter/leave through a pressure door or revolving sealed door.

  16. Where is this fishtank located? Perhaps the place the tank is at (park, aquarium, whatever) can provide some information as to how it works.

  17. This is simple, it isn’t pressure though which is why most people aren’t understanding (from digg). When there is no way for air to get in the tank through the tank it forms a vacuum (not pressure). This vacuum is what keeps the water from flowing out of the tank.

    As much as people on digg didn’t like this comparison it is the same as sticking a straw in liquid covering one and with your finger and pulling it out. Presto, you’ve created a vacuum in the straw that is preventing the water from leaving. Very basic physic.

  18. Its definatly the sealed top creating a vacuume keeping the water in. Its the same principal as the fish tube.
    Try this: take a straw and fill it with water. put your finger over the one end and lift it up, then bend the bottom so thats angled up as well. You just recreated the same forces that this tank is using. If the sealed top of the tank was opened (or if u removed your finger from the top of the straw, all the water higher than the highest point of the lower bend will run out.
    And as for the guy saying that straws work on capilarity action you’re mistaken. Only the smallest of straws could work on capilarity. We’re talking far smaller than even one of those stirrer straws that you mix drinks with. Straws (and this fish tank) work on the power of air pressure and the vaccume

  19. from the reflection in the window in the first picture, it looks like there is a large (olympic) swimming pool, along with stands at the back
    the pool is empty. The facility (aquarium) looks like it has not been used for a while (the hand rails are rusted & feeding holes have not been cleaned, and there are other spots which are “dirty”), or not a large amount of tourists have been through, yet the keepers are taking care of the fish. green vegetation and sunny like weather shows that there should be water in the pool(unless it, or the drain/pump system was being repaired/cleaned), yet the water is not there. You could say that someone just bought out the complex, and is fixing it up, then why would they put the fish in the tank before cleaning everything.
    This could be a boat, a fish selling boat, since there is no decor/vegetaition in the tanks (they get the fish from the sea and put it straight in there and sell them out of there–go to a market and youll see other fish we eat in the same type of enviorment), and the rusted peices ( rails, metal fences) could mean that the salt water rusted them up, and if the aquarium was stationary, then there should not be so much water on the floors, then again it could be that the guy in the pic just finished moppin….the inside of the facility has too much of a “nice” setup to be a boat(tiles, seating, doors) but then again this is probably not in america, and who knows where it is..
    Also the bolts that hold the aquarium together look like something that would be used on a boat or some kind of moving structure.
    but who knows, it could be somekind of 1/2 in the water structure, and thats the reason that you can have the fish feeding holes.anyway this is not in america, not a lot of tourists visit, its not an aquarium (normal people woulod putcorral, and rocks and other stuff with the fish), and it could be just a place to buy fish, but why right by an olympic size swimming pool???? yea also we need a physics major to explain in detail the pressure thing.

  20. Wow Seargent York:

    Here is what you wrote:

    ” And if the physics are just right, and the child gets some sloshing going in the feeder bowl, you could get the soda bottle glug-glug effect, and then you’ve got a lawyer’s paradise. People slipping and falling, fish biting kids, stingrays skewering men in the chest. ”

    Way to poke fun at a great tragedy. Way to bring something awful and use it an example in your pathetic analysis of what probably wont happen. Your 20 years of parenting experience obviously didn’t teach you any respect or common courtesy.

    BTW, I am sure whoever made this tank and designed it hired high school physics students to build it and didn’t think to put some professionals on it to make sure things like that didn’t happen. Keep dreaming your nightmars because they were there long before you saw this website.

  21. GEEZ SGT YORK!i
    Calm down. There are a lot of variables there. Especially the Terrorist scenario.
    What do you think these people are thinking?
    “Screw the FBI! Let’s hit the Aquarium!”

  22. My guess is that it is indeed sealed tank. There isn’t any filtration system that we can see. Instead the fish and water are removed at night and fresh is pumped in with temp seals placed on the feeding area while pumped in.

  23. I enjoyed the analyses of you all regarding this clever and innovative attraction, and thanks to the originator. Good find. It just seemed like a good place to put in some dry humor. Or dark humor. You pick. This is a mental exercise, right? I just wanted to join in the fun.

    Kevin: Wow. Sorry. Are you a parent? I guess 20 years of it has dulled my sense of humor a bit, eh? Or maybe sharpened it. You pick. You said “tragedy” instead of “tragedies” but all of them would be, wouldn’t they?

    OK. Forget the kid stuff. Physics only. I’m pretty sure the air would go through the tube into the tank. Of course, you’d have to blow into the tube to get an air siphon started. (Warning: graphic mental image follows.) But you’d want to be careful that you didn’t collapse a lung in the process.

    If I get voted off the island, I’ll go.

  24. For those dismissing the straight straw example as too simplistic, that’s somewhat true. If you filled a tube with water, plugged both ends, and drilled a hole in the side, water would simply pour out the hole. That’s because air can come in at the top of the hole, at the same time water leaves the hole. However, if the hole led to bottom of a cup, so that water pouring out would have to be higher up than air going in, then it the water would stay in the tube. The reason is simply that for any amount of water to come out, air (or something) has to go in to displace it. Air isn’t going to be sucked downward through the water to do this.
    —–
    | |
    | w | -open-
    | a |/ /
    | t /
    | e |—-/
    | r |
    |—|

    A bird cage water feeder operates on this principle: at the bottom of a bottle, there’s a cupped opening from which the bird can sip. When it removes enough water, then the water line is low enough to allow a bubble of air into the bottle…which causes an equivalent sized bubble of water back into the cup which keeps it filled for the bird. The suggestion of bending a straw upward once filled would also demonstrate the principle.

    Look again at the photographs, and you’ll note that the circular holes in the aquarium are a centimeter or two below the lip of the cup affixed to the side. You could remove water from the cup, or blow some air into the hole with a straw, and it would let a little water leak out of the tank, but as soon as more water went in to the cup to refill it, it’s done leaking. If you really wanted to empty the tank, down to the level of the hole, I’d suggest removing those phillips-head screws!

  25. If water wants to get out of the tank, there will be a huge volume of vaccume made in there which wants to suck everything in; but there is no other holes in the tank except those which water is coming out of it!!! so no water can get out; actually water wants to get out but exactly the moment that it wants to get out, the no media volume (the vaccume) in the tank sucks it back!!! if there was/were a single (even not very big) hole on the top of the tank, the vaccume would suck the air in and water would get out!!

  26. all of these tanks are in hitler’s brain. just look at the reflections and ponder the law of bendystraw physics. clearly hitler’s brain.

  27. I never could understand why people are so dee dee dee, I mean quick to dismiss something as a hoax just because they don’t understand it. If you want to understand why it works, go study physics or engineering. Anywho, if you want to test it at home, go to your local hardware store, buy a couple five gallon buckets and 10 feet or so of 1.5″ clear tubing. Go home and fill the buckets full of water. Submerge the hose in one of the buckets such that all of the air is out of the inside of the hose. Now, put your thumb over one end of the hose, pull it out of the first bucket and stick it below the fluid level in the second bucket. Being careful that both ends are below the fluid level in their repective buckets, lift the middle of the hose as high in the air as you can, and magically the water stays in the hose indefinitely. As added fun, pour more water into one of the buckets (ie one bucket has more fluid than the other) and watch the fluid levels mysteriously equalize. Ooooooh…must be an optical illusion…..

  28. I think your cruel. keeping fish too big for the tanks swimming back and forth back and forth back and forth…. what a life…. why don’t you install a bear sitting on a beach ball smoking a cigar with a chain around his neck. don’t give me any cr@p about fish growing to the size of their surroundings or ‘they’re feeding so they’re happy’ cr@p. your keeping fish in un-natural environment and they cannot be happy, would you be?!?

    let’s all chill and watch fish swim up a vertical tube, then back down again, then back up again etc etc … cretins

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