Troubleshooting & Technical Support

Common problems:
Haven't received your serial number? Lost it?
Having trouble activating your full version?
Change of address?

    On a Mac?  See our Mac Support page.

For Windows, 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.

Windows Download & Installation Problems

1. 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.

2. 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!

3. 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.

4. I get some other error why this won't install.
If you have some other installation issue, please tell us about it.

Start-up Problems

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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:

13. "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.

14. "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.

15. "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!

16. 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.

17. 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 the aquarium never starts even though it works from the shortcut, it may be from a variety of causes. You should check the "minutes of delay" your screensaver is set to (usually a setting in the same system preferences/control panel where you set which screensaver to use). If this time delay is set higher than your monitor standby delay, you will never see the aquarium run because your monitor will turn off before the aquarium ever starts.
On windows, open your screensaver control panel and make sure the "minutes" (how many minutes until the screensaver starts) is set appropriately. You would need to set your "minutes" to a lower number, or increase the time before your monitor goes to standby (set in "Power Settings").
If your delays are set appropriately but the screensaver never starts, the next thing to determine if the problem is with dream aquarium specifically, or if the problem affects all screensavers. It's important to understand that screensaver aren't responsible for "starting themselves" after the specified time - it's the operating system which initiates the screensaver. If your operating system isn't trying to start the screensaver, you would need to investigate the reason for this. A google search might reveal possible reasons.

If it's only dream aquarium, we would recommend an uninstall, reboot, and reinstall using ONLY THE LATEST VERSION downloaded directly from our site. We can't troubleshoot older versions of the aquarium. Get the latest version from here. If it still won't start and the problem only happens with Dream Aquarium, you should send an error report (START menu -> All Programs -> Dream Aquarium -> Report an Error) and then email us..

18. Dream Aquarium doesn't work, and doesn't give me any kind of error.
A good first step is to uninstall and then reinstall. If the problem persists we would definitely like to hear about this. Please read the section on Reporting an Error.

19. "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!

Operation Issues

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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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) You might want to try setting the screensaver for OpenGL mode instead of directX. When you run the aquarium, it ask if you want to switch back to DirectX, choose "No" to stay with OpenGL.
d) If it doesn't perform well in OpenGL, then 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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. 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 it's possible your changes ARE being saved, 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 add tanks or delete one you don't want. To keep your aquarium on the same tank indefinitely, under 'Slideshow:' choose 'Stay on current tank'.
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. In later versions of windows this option has become rather buried. We would recommend you run Dream Aquarium, then choose "More Stuff" and then "windows Screensaver Settings" which will open up the screensaver control panel. In that control panel, make sure Dream Aquarium is selected as your screensaver and then click the "Settings" button. In the panel that follows, make sure "Save changes to tanks" is CHECKED.
You can also resolve this issue (on Windows only) by running this script

- Open your Mac System Preferences / Desktop & Screensaver, make sure Dream Aquarium is selected as your screensaver, then click "Screen saver options". Click on the "settings" tab and make sure the "Save the changes that I make to my aquariums" is CHECKED.
- Some users report that making changes from the System Preferences "Preview Mode" ARE NOT saved, but that settings made after the screensaver kicks in naturally DO save (i.e. wait for the screensaver to start after the set idle time and make changes THEN).
- Also, after making changes on the mac we recommend exiting via the ESC key rather than other input methods - the reason being that some methods of mac user input (such as gesture commands on tablets and the magic mouse) will force the aquarium to quit prematurely, before the changes have a chance to be saved.

If the "Save changes to my aquarium" option doesn't work, please contact us and relay your experience (what worked or didn't work) so that we can better track and diagnose strange behavior and hopefully make fixes.

31. The aquarium looks really zoomed in. What's wrong?
This situation has two different possible causes.
a) If you're using a single monitor, you might be on a "follow fish" camera mode which tracks a single fish around the tank, and looks zoomed in. Usually pressing the "L" key a few times (cycling through different camera modes) will solve the problem.
b) When using multiple monitors, a "zoom effect" is an unavoidable side effect of trying to display an aquarium designed for display on a single monitor (approximately at a 16:9 ratio) on an effectively much wider display (two or more side-by-side monitors). For more information about why this happens and some workarounds, click here.

32. 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.

Tell us about a problem you've encountered

If you have a problem that's not covered here, please contact us.

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