Tropical fish are expensive. Common costs of a salt water fish tank set up run into thousands of dollars. It require a lot of maintenance for feeding the fish, water changes, water testing and chemical balancing.

Small businesses  with large fish tanks are not set up to deal with the level and complexity of maintenance, and/or the cost of hiring the fish tank cleaning service.

My role
  • User Interviews
  • User Personas
  • Wireframes
  • Customer Journey
  • UI Design
  • Prototyping
Length of project

2 Weeks

Tools used
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Flinto

Project Requirements

With the problem defined we came up with a solution — create a phone app with the device prototype that would work using the Internet of Things principle.

Aquaria is a testing, feeding and filtering system and a phone app combo, fish tank owners can easily feed their fish, turn on a backup filter in case of an emergency, and test chemical levels in the water without needing to be physically present. Aquaria simplifies the fish tank owner’s life and improves the life of their pet fish.

To do so successfully, the following things were required of our team:

  • Conduct user research and a competitive market research of analogue products
  • Create user survey
  • Build user personas based on our research findings
  • Design features
  • Create task flows
  • Build app wireframes
  • Conduct user testing to assess usability
  • Design UI
  • Produce an app prototype and a device concept


We’ve conducted thorough research of the potential competitors. There were not a lot of similar products on the market at the time. The product that came the closest was Seneye water testing device, that allows you to automatically upload chemical level readings into the cloud, but it doesn’t allow for any other functions.

Based on our research we have concluded that there was no comprehensive device and app combo that would address user’s needs in one convenient place. Yet there is great need for a well–rounded fish tank care device.

One of the discoveries was that leasing a tropical fish tank is a popular choice for businesses,  however requires an installation fee, ranging from $200 to $600 on average, plus a monthly fee averaging $150-$300, depending on the size of the tank.

The research indicated that our primary users would be small businesses like restaurants and dental offices, that would seek to reduce these costs. This discovery influenced the development of user personas, app features and task flows.


I’ve created a survey and sent it out to our target users. Based on the their responses we created our user personas.

Screen Features and Task Flows

We started ideating on what would our “pod” look like? What are the functions of the “pod”? What should we keep in mind?

Then we thought about what what the features and functionalities UI should have and what it would look like.

The ability of quickly drawing and erasing was extremely helpful. It kept us flexible and thinking.

User Testing

To test our assumptions for the logic of screen layout, taxonomy, I’ve created 2 simple prototypes in Flinto and have distributed the link to download the prototypes onto a few users’ phones. The test was built around the following tasks:

  1. Feed the fish remotely
  2. Check ammonia levels in the water

After a couple of rounds of testing, we’ve worked out some kinks around naming conventions, but overall the user tasks were very simple and straight forward.

Design System

We have created a small design system. We wanted the color palette to feel reliable, serious but fun at the same time. We chose primary colors that are reminiscent of deep sea, selected accent and secondary colors, and designed our own icons.


App Screens

After a couple of rounds of user testing and working out a design system, we fleshed out the screens. Then we tested again for good measure. We created these using Google Material Design Guidelines.

Device Prototype Concept

Food compartment
Food dispenser
Chemical sensor and dispenser
The device is waterproof, Bluetooth Low Energy enabled, uses rechargeable battery

Mobile App Prototype

I have created a prototype to illustrate the interaction as well as get the app tested by the users.

What I've learned

I have learnt the importance of market research. Though there was no analogous product on the market at the time, we have estimated the cost of the device to be quite high, based on the technology used — around $300. We felt that with this price point our device would be most suited for businesses, since there is greater interruption of care for fish and high costs of cleaning service.