Media Centre

Press releases

Award-winning designer launches the world’s first self-maintaining tropical fish tank

Suzy with an early Avo prototype.

Loughborough University PhD Design student Suzy Shelley is close to launching the only tropical fish tank that requires no filter cleaning or water changes.

Suzy, who graduated from Loughborough Design School with first-class honours in 2011, was inspired from her own experience of tropical fish keeping. Avo is the result of three years of research and development and 18 months’ testing: “I’ve kept fish for years and found it a steep learning curve” said Suzy. “A well-maintained tank is the key to healthy fish, but this means frequent water changes, cleaning smelly filters and algae build up. I wanted to design something that takes the stress out of keeping tropical fish, to make it a simple, beautiful and above all enjoyable experience,” she added.

Suzy’s 15-litre fish tank is packed full of innovative technology that make water and filter changes a thing of the past. The filter never needs cleaning or changing because its continuously moving bed recycles older bacteria into plant food, creating space for new bacteria to grow.

Avo also features automated LED lighting specifically optimised for plant photosynthesis and growth, which promotes clear and healthy water. Avo’s unique lighting has the added aesthetic benefit of producing soft red light in the morning, fading to daylight white, to cool blue in the evening.

Avo is the flagship product of Suzy’s premium pet accessory brand, Noux, which she has developed with the support of the Studio, Loughborough University’s graduate commercialisation hub.

Suzy has just launched a crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds in order to go into mass manufacture. Supporters can pledge £5 to contribute to the campaign, or for £200, receive their own Avo fish tank and starter kit for £150 off the RRP.

Megan Powell Vreeswijk, Loughborough’s Senior Commercialisation Fellow and Head of the Studio, said: “Suzy is a role model for graduate enterprise who produces innovative and beautiful work. A self-maintaining fish tank is an ingenious idea and I urge as many people as possible to help Suzy bring Avo to market.”

To date, Suzy has funded the development of Avo with prize funding including The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity Award for Manufacturing and Technology and the Marketest Award at the University’s Think BIG Awards and a Special Recognition Award at the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 14/151

1.  The Studio provides access to the resources, expertise and knowledge to help Loughborough graduates develop sustainable businesses. Since its launch in 2011, the Studio has supported 22 businesses, 15 of which are now registered, 8 are trading and 5 permanent jobs have been created. To date Studio companies have won 31awards and will turnover an estimated £130K this year. A royalty agreement means its members pay a percentage of their sales turnover when they start trading, which long-term, means the Studio will become self-sufficient.

2.  Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.


Anna Leather
Marketing Manager (Enterprise)
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224