10 Crazy Aquariums
Give your finned friends somewhere to swim in style—and add a centerpiece to your living space with ideas from these watery habitats
Believe it or not, in the United States, there are more pet fish (171,700,000 freshwater and 11,200,000 saltwater, according to the American Pet Products Association) than dogs and cats combined. Most of them live in humble abodes—either a small glass bowl or, at most, a rectangular tank shared with plastic pink castles and fake plants. But some fish like to swim large. We've compiled a list of the most over-the-top tanks for your water-bound companions, from a bowl that gives constant social networking updates for goldfish to a cage that brings creatures from sky together with those from under the sea. Sure, most would look out of place in the average home, but if you're a true enthusiast it may be worth it.
If you are long on love of aquatic life but short on space, this tank may be for you. The Spacearium (available in 5-, 6-, and 8-foot versions) is a slim 12- to 14-inches thick and has an elliptical shape, which allows for 360-degree views of the fish inside because there are no awkward edges or angles. It doesn't require a stand and can be hung from the ceiling or on the wall, creating an eye-catching architectural element in any room. Its filtration system is remote-mounted, adding to the sleek look. Suitable for fresh or salt-water environments, it is made of lightweight acrylic and costs anywhere from about $4,900 to $8,400.
Life in a fishbowl must get mighty lonely. Designer Bruno Fosi tackles your scaly friend's woes with this fish tank prototype, which is hooked up to a modified Chumby—an interactive device that gives you real-time updates from friends on social networking sites and other online information. The system uses the Chumby's accelerometer, compression sensors, and microphone to allow movement and vibration in your fish's bowl to be felt by a friend's fish if it is also hooked up to the Chumby. A built-in webcam lets you keep tabs on your fish or other fish in the system, and the modified Chumby also monitors the bowl's environment and automatically releases food as needed.
Some fish are isolationists, and some like the excitement of a bustling community. The Silverfish Aquarium from Octopus Studios caters to the socially inclined by connecting individual tanks via tubes. It's also a fun alternative to a boring tank. Each system is handmade in France and includes filtration, lighting, decoration, and more. The unit measures 4½ feet tall by 4¼ feet wide by 3½ feet deep, and lead time on orders is about six weeks. Prices vary.
Usually fish and birds are worlds apart, but this clever prototype created by French artist Constance Guisset brings them together. Duplex is an aquarium/plywood birdcage with a special thermoformed bubble that allows the bird to fly to a perch that is at eye level with the fish, allowing both to get a peek at life from a whole new perspective. It is 21½ inches in diameter and 70 inches high.
Normally the only time fish see a toilet bowl is under very sad circumstances. The Fish N Flush is a playful way to bring aquatic life into your bath with a 2.2-gallon aquarium that is completely separate from, but next to, the toilet's tank. Able to hold both fresh and salt water, the aquarium can accommodate all types of fish, but smaller ones are recommended. The tank is made of impact-resistant acrylic. It runs about $149.
Sitting in a cube eight hours a day is enough to make anyone miss daylight, so imagine spending 24 hours in a tiny tank in a corner. The Intelligent LED Light, available on all biOrb aquariums except Baby biOrb (SpyOrb is shown here), replicates a day's lighting. Within a 24-hour period it goes through four cycles—sunrise, daylight, sunset, and moonlight. It lasts 50,000 hours and can be concealed under the aquarium's lid. It's available for about $105.
Just because your fish doesn't see the big, wide world doesn't mean you can't introduce him or her to seven continents and five oceans. This glass aquarium with an aluminum alloy base has an LED light that, when illuminated, shows an outline of the world map. It holds a ½ gallon of water and comes with an 0.8W LED light. It's about $49.95 from Wrapables.com.
For fish lovers, no work of art could be more inviting than the calming blues of an aquarium. The AquaVista 500 helps give fish the recognition they deserve by putting them in an attractive frame. The wall-mounted aquarium comes with filtration, an air pump, lighting, and a heater that are controlled by a built-in, side-mounted LCD display panel. It holds 6.6 gallons and measures 26 inches long and high by 4½ inches wide. Several decorative wood and plastic frames are available, as are various background scenes of the sea. It's about $329 from TropicalFishStore.com.
This miniature ecosystem, which can accommodate both aquatic fauna and flora, is a great way to incorporate nature into your everyday life in an aesthetically pleasing way. The Eco-Desk from Azoo has a special filtration system that requires changing of the water only once per year (though the filtration system should be checked once a month). Fish are fed through a feeding dispenser in one corner. Made of aluminum and tempered glass, it is available in five sizes in silver, piano white, piano black, and a painted wood pattern. It's about $1,165.
Taking a cue from nature, the Floating Garden from Duende Studio capitalizes on the relationship between fish and plants. The water from below gets pumped up to the top and hydrates the plants and also fertilizes them with nitrates found in the fish droppings. The clean water then cycles back down to the happy fish below. Any type of plant can be used; one side is dedicated to plants that need more water and the other side to those that need less. The garden measures 12 inches by 15½ inches and can be used on a 23½-long tank. It is currently available in limited edition at prices ranging from about $5,700 to about $7,100.