The right fish for the right tank.


The client and brief


  • Identity design
  • Product design
  • Prototype design
  • Iconography

Tools used

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Lucid Chart
  • Sketch
  • InVision

Aquabuildr is the first-ever fish-pairing app designed to help customers find the right fish for the right aquarium. Before Aquabuildr, users would have to decode out-dated pet store pamphlets or hours of online research to build the right tank.

The scope of this project was to design a kiosk prototype to market to leading pet specialty retailers. The prototype needed to display how the product could filter fish based on compatibility. It was also important to walk users through what a first-time fish buyer would experience in choosing any number of fish for their new aquarium. It must be easy-to-use, get the customer to check out easily and purchase quickly.

view prototype
A look at some of the user flow process using paper and pens.

Challenge 01 - the identity:

How might we create an identity that could represent fish, both saltwater and freshwater?

The identity needed to be modern and visually represent fish, both saltwater and freshwater. Through the conceptual phase, an icon design was chosen over a traditional logo to provide more flexibility to the identity as the startup grew. Using color to represent the different types of fish helped tie the design together as fresh and salt water colors wrap around a water icon.

view brand guide

Challenge 02 - user flow and wireframes:

How might we think through all variables so the MVP can be as effective as possible?

Working with a startup is a great responsibility. It was my job as the UX designer to ensure that I consider the most valuable features are packed into the MVP so the client could go out and win as they try to raise capital. Critically mapping out the core features would ensure potential investors could see the full vision. I then translated those core ideas into pencil wireframes that would help lay the iPad interface framework. (see above image for user flow)

Challenge 03 - first time experience:

How might we create a welcoming experience for new customers.

The first-time user experience is designed around providing a moving carousel of available fish with bright colors to draw in customers. Pre-built aquariums present curated experiences to enable quick sales for customers who don’t want the hassle of looking at each fish and tank but still want the satisfaction of an aquarium purchase.

Challenge 04 - compatibility:

How might we pair the right fish with the right tank, every single time?

The greatest challenge for the UX and UI was to find an efficient way to display available fish in inventory, pair compatible fish with one another and offer packages for fast purchasing. Since the design was for a touch screen interface, I designed large touch points and stripped away all unnecessary elements to create an effortless experience for the consumer.

Challenge 05 - Intelligent notifications:

How might we create better educated owners and more return customers?

Carefully crafted notifications ensured customers would be aware of problematic fish combinations and provide useful fish recommendations. These notifications helped create better-informed owners and reduce fish deaths.

Conclusion - Fish pairing perfection:

Finally, a way to find the right fish for the right tank.


  • Jefferson VanBloem  -  Content & project mngr.
  • Ben Meyer - Early exploration
  • Lawrence Sowell - Early exploration

The end-result provides customers with the power to effortlessly purchase compatible fish while also being educated about their new pets. Benefits to store owners include: reduced dead fish returns, decreased staffing requirements, and lower employee training expenses.

This app also provides added value via regular educational emails to the customer with proper care instructions based on their purchase history. This regular communication also keeps the Aquabuildr brand in mind for customers. In the end, it increases brand loyalty and results in a higher rate of return on future purchases.

view prototype
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