No one would have thought that you could make a game out of raising fish in a fish tank, but PopCap’s Insaniquarium was a master at it. The original game was released more than 10 years ago, but has now been adapted for iPhone under a new name — MyAquarium.
The objective of the game is to raise guppies, which essentially poop coins that go into your “bank”. The more you feed them, the bigger they grow, and the more their coins are worth. To complete each level, you have to earn enough to buy three eggshell pieces. This will give you a Pet, which you can then utilise for the next level. However, alien intruders will sometimes show up and kill your fishes, and if all your fishes die, it is game over for you.
It’s a tough game, and it gets tougher and more intense as you go. But the beauty of this game is that you can play it any way you want, and learn continuously as you progress. To get started, here are some tips to make you a serious pro at MyAquarium.
(Note: there are Android versions of Insaniquarium available, but they are all structured differently. These tips are specifically written for the iPhone game.)
Always invest in food and defense
A good trick to use when building your aquarium is to think of it as an income-generating business. The guppies are your money-makers, and before you can earn any money, you have to first spend money on upgrading and protecting your money-makers. So when you earn enough, invest in upgrading the quality of your food first.
You should also upgrade the amount of food you can have, which is indicated by the number next to the food type. This controls the amount of food that you can have on the screen at any given time. For example, if your food amount is limited to 1, you’ll have to wait for the one piece of fish food on the screen to be eaten before you can feed your other fishes. But with a controlled feeding pattern, you shouldn’t need to upgrade this to more than 3 or 4.
While upgrading your lasers may be expensive (it costs $1000 per level), it becomes a necessity especially when you meet Destructor, an innocent-looking robot that fires rocket-launchers that kill 2-3 fishes at a time. Don’t scrimp on safety, as this could mean that you will have to constantly replace the fishes that you painstakingly upgraded.
Always feed from the top
Much like the way you would feed real-life fishes, the fish food in this game will gradually fall to the bottom of the fish tank. Your fishes must eat them before the food gets to the bottom; once this happens, the food will disappear. So if you want to reduce food wastage, start feeding your fishes from the top of the screen (or tank) to give yourself more time.
Always have food around
Always keep the flow of food going. While food may cost a bit of money, it’s definitely worth the cost as this will make sure the guppies don’t die just because they didn’t get enough food.
If your defenses are weak, it’s better to have more fish
From time to time, intruders will come in and try to destroy or eat your fish. But the rule of thumb is not to get too attached to your fishes, and remember that the level only ends when all your fishes die. So when your defences are weak, it’s best to buffer your game by getting as many fishes as possible.
Risks and returns
Like in a game of business, Insaniquarium offers a few ways in which you can go about increasing your cash flow: high risk and high returns, or low risk and low returns.
Going big will mean incurring more risk — guppies may not get fed and die, and you will have your hands tied feeding and collecting your coins as you go. You also spend much more on upgrading your many fishes and may experience more wastage when your food goes uneaten or coins stay unpicked. However, you can choose your pets — like Meryl or Clyde — to help with creating more coins and collecting them.
If you’d rather go the slow-and-steady route, then focus your efforts on a few good fishes, and invest in the best defences to protect them at all cost. Once your cashflow is sustainable, farm them slowly and surely until you finish the level.
Both strategies work, and it really depends on how fast you want to complete a level.
Pick your pets wisely
With every level cleared, you get a new pet with new powers. Ranging from collecting coins for you to fighting monsters, each pet can help your game in some way. However, you can only go into a level with 3 pets, so you’ll need to pick wisely.
The pets you pick should be tailored to meet the challenges that you will face, such as a new type of intruder, or the strategy that you’re going for. But other than that, you should pick pets that complement each other. For example, Meryl, who sings to make guppies drop more coins, should be matched with Clyde, who can help pick up the extra coinage. Prego can also be matched with Wadsworth, who can protect the baby guppies that are constantly introduced.
There are pets that may clash with the other fishes you can buy in the game. For example, the Star-Catchers — octopus-like creatures that have holes on their heads — thrive on collecting stars and producing diamonds. However, fishes like Clyde can get in the way of the Star-Catchers as they collect stars, causing them to die.
If upgrades aren’t showing up, buy something else
The main goal of each level is to get the eggshells that show up in the corner of the screen. Once you’re able to pay for all three eggshells, the level ends. However, the option to buy the eggshells will only appear if you buy something specific. So if you realise that the eggshells are not showing up, then try buying the available products to make it show up.
End the level as soon as you can!
It’s easy to get lost in the motion of maintaining and collecting coins, but keep in mind what the end goal is — to complete an egg, get a new pet, and move on to the next level. This will also help your game should you choose to play the Time Trial version, where the goal is to make as much money in 5 minutes as possible.
If you ever thought fishes in a tank could be boring, think again!