& Technical Support
Haven't yet received or lost your serial number
On a Mac? The mac version is new and we have a separate support page for mac problems.
Having trouble activating your full version
Change of address
We have divided this troubleshooting guide into 3 sections. Click on the appropriate section for your problem.
· Download & Installation Problems - if you can't get the darn thing to install.
· Start-up Problems - the screensaver installed, but it won't run.
· Operation Problems - if it runs but doesn't look/work right or it crashes.
You also can browse our forum to see if your particular issue has been addressed.
Download & Installation Problems
The download page gives me the option to Run or Save the file. What should I do?
That is up to you. If you choose 'run' it will Install Dream Aquarium over the internet. However, the installation quits for some reason, you will need to re-download the file to attempt another install.
'Save' gives you the option to save the installer file to your hard drive, using hard drive space and adding to the already millions of files scattered randomly about your hard drive.
However, if you can find it again you will be able to install Dream Aquarium anytime in the future, even when you're not online.
Microsoft warns me that this type of file is unsafe to open.
Yes, it does that with most installer files. Dream Aquarium does not contain spyware or other nasty things. Hey, trust us!
I get a warning that I need Administrator privileges to install software.
Sorry, we can't help you there. You only have limited authority on that computer. Talk to your boss.
I get some other error why this won't install.
If you have some other installation issue, please tell us about it.
How do I start Dream Aquarium?
There are 3 ways to start Dream Aquarium:
a) Start Menu - this is the button in the lower left corner of your Monitor. Left-clicking on it brings up a menu. Click again on "All Programs" and then find "Dream Aquarium" in the list (probably the last item on the list). Clicking on "Dream Aquarium" will pop up another menu - click on the newly revealed "Dream Aquarium" and it should start. If it doesn't, try the Display Properties method.
b) Desktop Shortcut - This is created as an option during the install.
c) Display Properties - Can be run either from the Control Panel or by right-clicking on an empty spot on your desktop and choosing "Properties". Go to the "Screen Saver" tab (middle tab) and Dream Aquarium should already be set as your default screensaver. It may take a few moments, but you should see a tiny little aquarium running in the preview window.
I get a warning that "DreamAquarium.scr has encountered a problem".
This is called a crash, and we would definitely like to know about it. In the event of a crash, our error reporting program should start up automatically. Sending us this report will help us solve the problem. Please include your email as well.
Dream Aquarium has given me some kind of Error message.
If Dream Aquarium cannot find everything it needed to start up, or if you computer falls short of its requirements, Dream Aquarium should give you an error message in a little error window. Here are some possible error messages and what they mean:
"Error: Could not find gdiplus.dll"
This .dll is required on Windows 2000 for doing certain graphics. Go to our Windows 2000 download page for further instructions.
"Couldn't open tank, couldn't find species, couldn't find ..."
Errors like this are usually the result of a bad install or mangled update. The best thing to do is un-install, and re-download the latest version from our site and re-install.
"Error: Sorry, this screensaver is not supported by your graphics card."
This one usually means you're out of luck. It means your graphics card isn't capable of running the aquarium. Sometimes a driver update can fix the problem, but it's unlikely. Time to upgrade!
When I try to open Dream Aquarium, it opens up in a text editor with scrambled characters and the text "This program cannot be run in DOS mode."
This is caused by your .scr file type (file extension) being set incorrectly. Often this problem is caused by Audodesk or Autocad being installed - these programs inappropriately take over the .scr file type which is reserved for screensavers. Run this script to clear the problem. If that doesn't work or you are on vista, try this script. They will not affect the operation of Autocad/Autodesk.
Dream Aquarium works fine from the shortcut, but when it kicks in as a screensaver I just get a black screen, or it doesn't kick in at all as a screensaver.
Are you on a laptop on battery power? You may have inadvertently changed a setting in the "more stuff" section. It an option called "When on battery:" and you probably want it set to "Run Aquarium". We have this option for people with laptops who want to conserve their battery by not having the aquarium run when on battery power. You can run this script to correct the problem.
If it still does not kick in as a screensaver, try the following procedure:
-Go to your Dream Aquarium install directory. This is usually C:\Program Files\Dream Aquarium
-In that directory is a file called Dream_Aquarium.scr. COPY (do not move) this file to C:/WINDOWS. The most reliable way to do this is to right-click on Dream_Aquarium.scr and then choose COPY from the menu, then go to C:\Windows and right-click and PASTE the file.
-Now in your Display Properties/Screensaver tab, choose Dream_Aquarium as your screensaver (note the underscore) rather than Dream Aquarium.
Dream Aquarium doesn't work, and doesn't give me any kind of error.
We would definitely like to hear about this. Please read the section on Reporting an Error.
"I just updated using your update feature, and now Dream Aquarium doesn't work."
Please let us know right away if you experience this problem. If this happens, it's possible the auto-updater failed to copy the correct files over.
The best idea is to download the latest full installer and reinstall.
If that doesn't fix the problem, please send an error report (include your email address) and/or contact us.
Some other issue not covered here? Please Tell us about it!
Dream Aquarium may start up properly, but fail sometime during it's run. This may take the form of a crash, strange graphics, or some feature not working properly.
There's black bars along the top and bottom of my screen, what's wrong?
Nothing is wrong. Those bars are called letterbox strips, and they are used to frame the aquarium into a shape similar to a high-definition television or movie screen. You can adjust the letterboxing (and get rid of the bars) by pressing the 'L' key while the aquarium is running.
Dream Aquarium runs REALLY slowly.
This is likely because your graphics card isn't powerful enough to meet the demands of the aquarium. Aside from a graphics card upgrade, you might want to try some of the following:
- often your graphics card can be set for different levels of performance/quality. Open your Display Properties and go to the 'Settings' tab. Choose 'Advanced' and in there (depending on the graphics card) you should find controls for your 3D acceleration. There will likely be many setting which govern the performance & quality. We recommend shifting the controls towards performance/speed rather than quality. These settings will likely only affect games, not your standard applications.
- To change the display resolution, go to you Display Properties (Screensaver tab). Hit "Settings" and then "Monitor Settings". Choosing a resolution lower than your desktop may help graphics performance - go 16-bits as well.
My aquarium doesn't run smoothly. The movement is irratic, or pauses every few seconds.
If you have a decent graphics card but find the playback to be intermittent or jerky (occasional pauses versus just slow) it likely means that you have other programs running on your computer which may be interfering with the smooth playback of Dream Aquarium. These can be things like anti-virus scans or a web-browser left open but playing an animation. By default Dream Aquarium runs at a low priority so that any time another program wants to run, Dream Aquarium will pause to let it run. To change the priority given to Dream Aquarium, press ENTER when the aquarium is running, then go to "More Stuff" and click on "Run Priority" until it is set to "Normal" or "Above Normal". We recommend the "Normal" setting.
I had the aquarium running, but then I changed some setting and now I just get a black screen or it doesn't start.
Are you on a laptop on battery power? If it runs fine from the shortcut, you may have inadvertently changed a setting in the "more stuff" section. It an option called "When on battery:" and you probably want it set to "Run Aquarium". We have this option for people with laptops who want to conserve their battery by not having the aquarium run when not plugged in. You can run this script to correct the problem.
It's possible you accidentally changed tanks to 'blank screen'. If you hit the enter key or right mouse button (while the screen is black) it should bring up the menu. Navigate to "Aquarium Settings" and then "Change tank" and select a new tank.
It is also possible you may have changed a setting in "Display Properties/Screensaver Tab". Additional monitor settings for Dream Aquarium include the ability to turn off hardware rendering and for multi-monitor setups, to disable monitors. Make sure you have your monitors set to "Show screen saver on this monitor" and that hardware rendering is enabled.
When I press ENTER to bring up the aquarium menu, I can't see my mouse pointer.
This is caused by the Windows 'mouse trails' option enabled. Go to your control panels -> mouse preferences and uncheck the 'mouse trails' option.
I have the full version of Dream Aquarium (I can add any fish), but after a few minutes the screen goes black.
This is likely because of your monitor power settings. Open up your "Display Properties", go to the "Screen Saver" tab and at the bottom will be a button called "Power".
Here you can set how long it takes before your monitor is shut off.
I have a dual-monitor setup, and when running as a screensaver it flashes black frames, alternates from screen-to-screen.
This is due to a problem with Windows 7 which relates to the "On resume, display login screen" option in your Windows screensaver settings.
Unfortunately, so far we have been unable to come up with a fix. You do have 3 work-arounds though:
a) Uncheck the "On resume, display login screen" option. We realize this may not be an option for security reasons.
b) go to your Windows screensaver control panel and click the "settings" button, then choose "monitor settings" and choose to only display the screensaver on one of the monitors.
c) in the same "multimonitor settings" panel as in b), to choose a 16-bit display mode for one of the monitors if your desktop is naturally 32-bit color (typical setup). For some reason having a different color depth for each screen prevents the problem.
We understand if none of these fixes is suitable and we can offer a refund if you're just running on the one machine.
Dream Aquarium works fine for a while, then without warning it locks up my computer.".
On some older machines, Dream Aquarium may cause your graphics card or processor to overheat and crash. This will likely cause a system lockup. The best way to determine if this is the problem is to eliminate all but one fish in your aquarium and see if it still happens. If it no longer happens with fewer fish, this means you're pushing the graphics card too much. We recommend reducing the number of fish in your tanks, and sometimes opening up your computer and vacuuming the fans will help or eliminate this problem.
Dream Aquarium works fine for a bit, but then it crashes and/or I get a warning that "DreamAquarium.scr has encountered a problem".
We would definitely like to know about it. Please read the section on Reporting an Error.
Dream Aquarium doesn't remember the changes I make to my tanks even though I have the full version.
The first thing to be aware of is that by default Dream Aquarium has 6 tanks which rotate every minute and every run, so one possibility is that it IS saving
your changes, but the tank you changed just isn't being shown right now. One way to check this is to press the 'page up' key to cycle through the tanks to see if yours is there.
Pressing shift-s will bring up the sequencer page which allows you to either make it always show a single tank, or you can delete tanks you don't want (or add new ones).
If you've checked all this and are sure that Dream Aquarium isn't saving your changes:
On WINDOWS, go to the Windows screensaver control panel. With Dream Aquarium selected as your screensaver, click on "Settings" and make sure "Save changes to tanks" is CHECKED.
On MAC, go to the Dream Aquarium options sheet, click the "Settings" tab and make sure the "Save the changes that I make to my aquariums" option is CHECKED.
The above option prevents unwanted users from changing your settings.
You can also resolve this issue (on Windows) by running this script
There's something strange about how the aquarium looks on my computer.
We would definitely like to know about this. Press ENTER while the aquarium is running and go to "More Stuff..." and then "Report a Problem"
Some other issue not covered here? Please tell us.
Reporting an Error
Because we want Dream Aquarium to be as good as possible, we wanted to make a good way to find out about errors. If dream aquarium crashes it should automatically run an error reporting application. Please include your email address so we can inform you of a fix to your problem.
If the program isn't crashing but is acting or looks strange, go to the main menu (hit enter when aquarium is running) go to 'More Stuff...' and then 'Report Crappy Graphics'. Please include a description of the problem so we know what to look for.
Tell us about a problem you've encountered
If you have a problem that's not covered here, please contact us.