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How I use my Makerbot 3D printer for feeding seahorses

By Shane Graber - Posted Jun 11, 2012 11:00 AM
Feeding seahorses is sometimes a challenge especially if feeding prepared foods. Print a simple seahorse feeding station with a 3D printer and make it that much easier.
How I use my Makerbot 3D printer for feeding seahorses

A 3D printed seahorse feeder printed with a Makerbot Cupcake 3D printer.

In my previous installments, I introduced everyone to the idea of 3D printing with my post “Could your next protein skimmer be 3D printed?.” Next I showed how a 3D printer could help with fragging coral in my article “How I use my Makerbot 3D printer for fragging coral.” My latest post explains “How I use my Makerbot 3D printer for marine fish breeding.” In this installment, I will show how a 3D printer can print a customized feeding station for seahorses.

A while back, I learned of this interesting seahorse feeder from ATB:

ATB Seahorse feeder attaches to a floatation device and allows for leisurely feeding for seahorses.
ATB Seahorse feeder attaches to a floatation device and allows for leisurely feeding for seahorses.

This feeder attaches to 1-inch plastic pipe that has a piece of styrofoam secured at the top. This allows the entire assembly to float in a seahorse tank. The aquarist then thaws mysis, brine shrimp, ghost shrimp, etc, in tank water and then slowly pours it down the pipe. The thawed food sinks down the length of the 1-inch tube and lands in the base. Seahorses can then attach to the outer ring with their tails and feed at their leisure.

While not complicated, this whole assembly could take a while to put together from parts sourced from the local hardware store. Pipe, tubing, and flat acrylic are required along with a fair amount of cutting and gluing.

Not with a 3D printer. Modeling the prototype takes under an hour. This model throws in a customization that I particular enjoy: each seahorse gets its own hitching post:

A model of the seahorse feeder in OpenSCAD.
A model of the seahorse feeder in OpenSCAD.

Printing the model takes 1.5 hours:

The seahorse feeder being printed from the ReplicatorG printing software.
The seahorse feeder being printed from the ReplicatorG printing software.

And the finished result is ready to use in your seahorse tank after a bit of clean-up. The photo at the beginning of this post is the resulting prototype printed on my Makerbot. Total cost: maybe $2-$3 in plastic. I have provided the model on Thingiverse for those of you wishing to print one out for yourselves.

What would you print if you had a 3D printer?

Author: Shane Graber
Location: Indiana

Shane has kept saltwater tanks for the last 12 years, is a research scientist, lives in northern Indiana, and is a proud Advanced Aquarist staffer.

Website: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/.

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