When you sell appliances for a living, getting people into your store rather than the other guys is extremely important. In Dean Eaton’s case, owner of Rochester Appliance, there are five “big box” stores nearby, so he’s always trying to set himself apart from the competition. Although you might be thinking this means giant inflatable men, or a “Price-slashing President’s Day Sale,” in this case it means displaying a large fish tank made out of a dishwasher.
Eaton started apprenticing at his store when he was 15 years old, and eventually was able to buy it, take it over, and expand from just himself to 18 employees. Naturally, he knows “a little bit” about appliances, but putting fish in a dishwasher was new territory. On the other hand, aquatic appliances isn’t a totally new endeavor, as Eaton did put fish in a washing machine a a few years ago though.
If anyone was going to pull this off, it seems like he, along with Jeremy Stowell, an employee who’s been at the store for five years, were the right people to for the job!
The build, as outlined in his imgur set and in an abbreviated version below, started out with Eaton getting his hands on a “scratch and dent” model that wasn’t worth fixing (at least not in the traditional way). From there, the front door was removed and replaced with a cardboard template that would be used to cut the new door out. This template was then used to cut a 1/2″ piece of acrylic to the correct size. The acrylic was finally finished with a power sander and sanding blocks to get it to fit correctly.
After everything was cut out, the inside of the dishwasher was sealed with silicone. This might seem unnecessary since dishwashers are meant to contain water, but a dishwasher is meant to seal spraying water, not the constant pressure of sealing water inside like a jug. Eaton notes that if you try something similar, anti-bacterial silicone shouldn’t be used as it’s bad for the fish.
The front acrylic window was then installed. As this “tank” would weigh over 500 pounds when filled, the acrylic couldn’t just be stuck on to the dishwasher with silicone. They used a 1″, 90° piece of aluminum to act as a trim piece, then bolted it on securely, adding silicone to keep things sealed.
With the original door off, the bottom looked a little unfinished, so Eaton’s father-in-law bent and cut a piece of metal to put on the bottom. It’s cut to say “America,” which is the theme of the tank. Finally, after making a wooden stand for this new tank and adding more aluminum trim, the dishwasher/fish tank was ready to display.
Overall it took about 60 hours of combined work for Eaton and Stowell to finish this project. They did work when business was slow, so the job took them around 3 months.
Besides the physical build, it’s important to note that Eaton consulted with a local pet store to make sure he was creating a good environment for the fish. According to him:
A lot of people may not realize that keeping a fish tank in working order can be complicated. I don’t want to make a mistake from the lack of knowledge on the subject and kill the fish. I check in with the store close by to make sure the water is testing fine. I’ve learned a lot but I don’t think you can be too careful.
As for the results, Eaton reports that the fish “love the tank,” and as seen in the video here, they can often be found swimming across the air bubbles (which come out of the spray arm jets). Perhaps even more importantly, he says that:
It’s a great kid neutralizer. In the past when parents were shopping, kids would run around and slam dryer doors. Now they’re silently glued to the tanks. Everyone wins.
Photos and video by Dean Eaton