I've always kept fish and it was a steep learning curve in the early days - trying to maintain a tank properly, making sure my fish were healthy and had a clean tank. Fish keeping isn't as easy most people think - you'll know yourself if you've ever kept fish. There's important bacteria in the tank that need to be maintained, plus there's the weekly water changes and smelly filter cleaning needed to maintain a healthy tank.
After extensive research, speaking to many fish tank owners and experts I decided I'd design something that takes the stress out of keeping tropical fish and makes fish keeping simple, beautiful and above all enjoyable. After over three years of research and development, plus 18 months of testing I have designed Avo - a self-cleaning fish tank.
So what makes Avo better than all other fish tanks?
Avo is packed full of technology and clever design features that make it really, really easy to keep fish. Here are a few of the things that make it so special.
1. Self maintaining filtration system
No water changes. The fish, plants and bacteria work together to create a balanced micro-ecosystem. The harmful ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are removed from the water meaning the water never needs changing.
No filter cleaning. I've perfected a filtration system that is both natural and self-maintaining. The filter system is a moving bed filter system, this means the filter cleans itself so no filter cleaning ever.
2. Automated Lighting and Heating
Often fish tanks get algae, this usually means that there's too much light and too many nutrients (nitrate) in the water. Avo's plant specific LED lighting is automatic, which prevents algae. The light emitted is plant specific, providing the wavelengths that the plants need to photosynthesise and grow, making sure they are cleaning the water efficiently.
Avo's lighting produces some wavelengths of light that our human eyes can't even detect. To us they appear as three colors fading on and off automatically at different times of the day - soft red light in the morning, daylight white in the day and cool blue in the evening.
But don't worry if you want total darkness when Avo is on there's an override switch to turn the lights off until the next day.
The heating is taken care of too, a temperature of 27°C (80.6°F) is automatically maintained. This is the perfect temperature for most tropical fish. The heating elements are also cleverly positioned to create convection currents, helping the nutrients get efficiently to the roots of the plants.
3. Clever design features
Avo has some other unique design features that make it really easy to use.
Modular plating system. There are 7 individual pots for plants that slot neatly into place around the filter system. This makes it really easy to care for the plants, they can be lifted out for trimming or easily rearranged to change the look of the tank.
Magnetic light for easy access. The light looks pretty swirling around the bowl, but it does make it a bit difficult getting fish and plants into the tank. We've thought of this and the light is held in place by super strong neodymium magnets, plus a clever connector. If you need to get things in and out of the tank the light removed with an easy twist and snaps back into place.
4. Good things come in small packages
Avo is a nano aquarium holding 15 litres (3.5 gal) of water, this is the perfect size for your desktop, coffee table or nightstand and is just right for beautiful tropical fish such as a bettas, shrimps or guppies.
5. The perfect betta tank
Avo makes the perfect betta tank. These beautiful fish (also known an Siamese fighting fish) are from Asia and live in pools of water and rice paddies in the wild. This means they're happy in nano sizes tanks with a recommended minimum tank size of 10 litres. Betta fish also like a temperature of 25-28°C, lots of plants and a slow moving current. With the automated heating system set to 27°C, a modular planting system and 15 litres of water, an Avo fish tank is betta heaven!
Where we're up to
As you can see from the photographs we have a working aesthetic prototype. We've been testing a working prototype for 18 months now so we know that the product works long term. Right at the moment we're finalising the design for manufacture - consolidating parts, applying draft angles and preparing the little details of the product so it can be manufactured both efficiently and to the highest standard.
The next stage is where you will come in, the design is 99% ready and we'll soon need to get going and make some fish tanks - this is why we are Kickstarting - we need the capital to pay for the tooling.
Where will the funding go?
The funding will pay for the tooling, materials and production of the rewards. The pie chart below shows the breakdown of the £100,000 and what the money will be spent on.
What's the time plan?
If all goes to plan and we have no setbacks Avo will be delivered to your door in March 2015, The chart below shows the projected time plan.
A bit about Noux
My Name is Susan Shelley and I am the founder and director of Noux. I studied Industrial Design at University before going to work for a design studio in London. I left work in the design studio in 2013 to focus my efforts on developing Avo. I'm passionate about design, I believe products should be both beautiful and functional, good design should make life both richer and easier. I believe Avo embodies all of these qualities.
I'm not developing Avo alone, there's a team of folks. We have a top engineer who used to engineer at Dyson - he's helping us perfect our design for manufacture and assembly plus some of the more complicated features of Avo. We've also got experts in marketing and PR helping us to tell the world about Avo, plus we have an accountant who is guiding us through the confusing world of tax and managing finances. I know that one person can't do everything so getting the experts on board has saved me a lot of time and potential mistakes!
The Avo + starter kit
The Avo tank + starter kit includes
One white Avo fish bowl with integrated lighting, heating and filter.
One air pump (to power the filter)
Seven modular plant pots
One bag of gravel in either black or white
Seven fertilizer tabs (to boost plant growth)
Unfortunately there are some additional shipping charges when delivering outside of the UK. Please see below for the amount and add this to your pledge, if you are unsure of what to add on then please get in touch.
UK Shipping - Free
EU add £12 / €15 / $20
USA/Canada/Rest of Europe add £25 / €31 / $42
Australia/China add £30 / €37 / $50
Rest of world add £45 / €56 / $76
Risks and challenges
VAT. We're in the UK so we've taken steps to ensure that Value Added Tax (VAT) of 20% is already calculated into the price. I know a lot of projects in the UK have stumbled on this hurdle. This is also great news for international backers because you don't pay VAT, but we've used this 20% to reduce the cost of international shipping!
Manufacturing and assembly supply chain. We've manufacturing and assembling in China. This has the advantage of reducing the cost and meaning we can get Avo to you at the best possible price. However, there are increased logistical challenges. We're using a Chinese manufacturer that is UK managed, this means the tooling is costing a little bit more but it also means that the risk is reduced. The UK management company have a Chinese presence and will be able to handle the translation, quality control and are working with their trusted Chinese suppliers.
Unforeseen costs. There could be unforeseen costs such as the price of the tooling, the costs of materials or shipping going up. This could but a temporary spanner in the works. We have a 10% contingency but if prices really start to shoot up there are other avenues we could tap into to raise more capital such as angel investors and government backed new business loans. this could delay us for a few weeks.
Not at this stage. We chose 15 litres as it is a great starter size and this volume of water is light enough so that the tank doesn't need a special stand. It's also just the right size to fit on a coffee table or desk. We do plan on making two bigger Avos next year so watch this space!
Yes, the heater will be on less. However the tank will still work as the main mover of water is the air coming up through the centre of the tank and displacing the water moving it downwards into the plants and the filter. We highlighted the convection currents caused by the heater in the video as this is something that we're doing very different to other fish tanks, but it's more or a bonus system and the tank will still work without it.
Avo will come with a choice of UK, US, EU and AU plugs. If there are any other countries that there are multiple backers we will also offer this as an option. A questionnaire will be sent out at the end if funding is successful, asking for your preference of plug.
Sorry no :( Avo is a tropical fish tank and goldfish are cold water. They also need a lot more water than most people realise (around 100 litres) as they grow very big. They're also really dirty and poop loads, so the filter will struggle to keep up with the volume of waste a goldfish produces. Plus they'll eat all your lovely plants.
Yes, if you want to do this then I recommend around a total of 15 cm of fish (without tail) and then a 10 - 30% water change every 1-2 weeks. Equally if you don't want live plants in Avo a partial water change will remove the build up of nitrates that the plants would normally remove.
Ahh the wooden Avo. This is my favourite too. It was one of the early material concepts, but when it was all worked through just turned out too difficult to mass manufacture. We could have wooden Avo's individually made but it's time consuming and expensive. In the future we may do a special edition but for now it's on the back burner.
GIFT EDITION. Want an Avo for a Christmas, wedding or birthday gift? We will send out a gift wrapped product booklet + gift voucher in September 2014 for you to give now. Then in March 2015 the lucky recipient will receive a gift wrapped Avo fish tank + start up kit.
One Avo fish tank and start up kit + a day with our innovator/industrial designer to work on your product, brand or business idea (includes travel within the UK mainland. Innovation day must be redeemed by August 2015)