Thinking Out Of The Fish Tank

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Most large institutions have cleaning problems, and most of them keep the ‘dirty work’ hidden from sight. They prefer to do their cleaning in the middle of the night when it’s totally invisible to the general public. But an Osaka aquarium with a unique set of circumstances thought completely out of the box and is turning their cleaning ‘problem’ into a new way to attract and please visitors.


The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Basec on the dual themes of “Ring of Fire” (the Pan Pacific Volcanic Zone) and “Ring of Life” (the Pan Pacific Life Zone), its facilities have a total capacity of 11,000 tons of water.

Keeping all the underwater environment clean and presentable is a major challenge, especially without disturbing or damaging the fish and other sea dwellers. Instead of hiding the cleaning process from the aquarium’s visitors, they worked together with the Osaka based Robot Laboratory to create a tank cleaning robot.


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The 3 foot long robot crawls along the sand floor of the aquarium on tank treads (what else would you expect?). In addition to cleaning apparatus, the robot is equipped with a television camera that provides a video feed that can be displayed at the aquarium store, or in the restaurant.

The aquarium management also plans to put the robot to good use studying the tank eco-system, behavior and health of the fish, and other practical use. 

Related links:

Yomiuri newspaper article March 4, 2006 (Japanese)

Robot Laboratory project report (Japanese)

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan website (English)

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