An Aquarium Hood with Filter, Heater, UV Sterilizer, and Light

part of "A Rich Person's Guide to Aquariums" by Philip Greenspun, updated October 2009

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This is a design for a product that does not exist, but which would be very popular with anyone who wants an aquarium that can be viewed from four sides. This design puts all of the plumbing and hardware for an aquarium in a hood above the tank. Aside from the esthetic advantages of not having heaters or pumps in the water, keeping all of the plumbing within the horizontal confines of the aquarium ensures that there is no possibility of leaks or spillage.

The current product that is closest to this design is the Marineland Eclipse Bio-Wheel Hood, which combines a fluorescent light and a filter, but no heater, UV sterilizer, or automatic fish feeder. The Marineland design also does a poor job at mechanical filtration, which results in unsightly small particles floating around the tank. So the aquarium ends up slightly cloudy, cluttered with a heater, and with at least one extra power cord coming out the top.

The engineering for improving on the Eclipse hood design starts with LED lighting. An array of LEDs on the bottom of the hood will run at a low voltage, generate almost no heat, and take up almost no space vertically. It then becomes possible to add a layer on top of the LEDs with the filter, heater, UV sterilizer, and fish feeder.

The first component in the top of the tank should be a canister filter. These tend to be provide the best possible mechanical filtration and keep the water clear. The canister should be easy to remove, open, and refresh with a disposable cartridge containing filter floss and perhaps some activated charcoal. The sale of these cartridges should provide a good revenue stream for any company that is successful at making hoods. After the canister filter, the water should flown through a UV sterilizer and then an in-line heater. All of these items are available right now as standard products, but they tend to be packaged as cylinders rather than as flat boxes, which is what you would want to keep the height of the hood to a minimum. A separate area of the hood should be devoted to an automatic fish feeder very similar in design to the Eheim autofeeder, which rotates a food-filled cylinder several times a day.

An in-line power supply, similar to those used by laptop computers, should transform the line voltage into the low voltage used by the LEDs and the fish feeder. The cable going from the power supply to the tank should carry both low voltage and standard line voltage. The line voltage will be used by the heater, the UV sterilizer, and possibly the filter pump.

The light

As of late 2009, LED lighting could be slightly more expensive than fluorescent, but should eventually be cheaper due to the lack of a ballast. The LEDs need not be bright enough to grow plants, a specialized home aquarist activity, just bright enough for viewing the fish.


The hood should be available in sizes to fit standard size aquariums, e.g., 12x24" (fits 15, 20H, and 25), 12x30" (fits 20L and 29), 13x48" (fits 55 and two for double-sized aquariums), 18x36" (65 and two for 125 or 150), and 18x48 (75 and 90).


Marineland is able to charge an enormous premium for their combined hood/light/filter, roughly double the price of the separate components. As noted above, selling cartridges every month for the life of the aquarium provides a lucrative revenue stream.

Why I wrote this

I wrote this design document in hopes that an aquarium products manufacturer will build it so that I can install one in my kitchen.