Home aquariums have come a long way from the idea of the lonely fish tank in the corner of a room. Instead they are now considered serious interior design features, that not only enhance the aesthetic value of your interior, but also combat stress, improve your mood and reduce blood pressure.
So whether it’s a traditional flavor or something a little more contemporary in style, a home aquarium is the kind of unique feature that will provide your home with an inspiringly new focal point.
With that let’s cast a collective fish-eye over home aquariums, shall we? To see what we can see.
Freshwater or Saltwater?
Before we can begin any kind of meaningful discussion on the subject of aquarium styles or themes, a perennial question needs to be answered. Namely, do you plump for a freshwater or saltwater aquarium?
The Case for Freshwater
Freshwater tropical aquariums are an ideal starting point for the budding aquarist. Visually arresting and colourful, they are, generally speaking, easier to maintain than their saltwater cousins.
A freshwater tank can accommodate much of the aquatic life found in rivers, lakes and streams—both in terms of fish and fauna. This allows for a rich and varied ecosystem, containing plants, rocks and sands. A formally pleasing balance, fit to grace any interior design.
Fish at home in freshwater aquaria include betta fish, cichlids, goldfish and tetras, to name but a few.
The Case for Saltwater
If you want to recreate the look of the ocean in your living room, then a saltwater aquarium is the way to go.
A saltwater tank can provide home to all manner of tropical marine fish, as well as corals, sponges, live rock and anemones. In terms of vibrancy and colour the effect can be dazzling. The flip side is that they generally require a little more maintenance and equipment, such as specialized lighting, than their freshwater counterparts.
Start up costs can be a little higher too.
Fish varieties that are suited to saltwater home aquariums include clownfish (think Nemo), damselfish and dwarfish.
In essence there are two types of fish community. Those that coexist happily in the same waters and the semi-aggressive kind. Semi-aggressive tanks are characterized by individual fish from different species. It’s worth remembering that multiple fish from the same species is something to be avoided. Diversity is the key to a healthy and harmonious ecosystem.
Aquariums come in all shapes and sizes, with enough variety to compliment any interior design scheme. Aquariums exist in the form of room dividers, kitchen islands, fireplace surrounds and even headboards, so the possibilities for showing off your creation are as wide as your imagination.
Once you’ve decided on a type of aquarium, and assuming that it won’t be a fish only community, the fun really begins—with aquascaping!
Underwater gardening allows you to really develop a visual theme and essentially adheres to three different schools of thought.
The Dutch style is characterized by a wide variety of aquatic plants arranged to give emphasis to colour, texture and shape. A type of aquascaping that is probably best suited to freshwater aquaria.
The Iwagumi approach is pure zen. Essentially a hardscape, Iwagumi is all the careful arrangement of rocks or stones, the largest of which is known as the Bhudda. This style is perhaps better suited to saltwater aquaria as it can be adapted to accommodate live rocks and reefs.
The natural school of thought is all about mimicking natural habitats like riverbeds and the bottoms of lakes. Think lush, plant rich aquascapes, teeming with life.
Lastly, the hard part. Aquariums in general require continual upkeep. A tank will need cycling to begin with, followed by periodic water changes and fairly regular maintenance of the filtration system. Then there’s the plant life and the gravel to worry about. And that’s even before we get on to the small matter of feeding the fish.
Of course it’s all worth it, if it means bringing the splendour of underwater life into your home. But the commitment required to own a successful aquarium is something to bear in mind.
Not only do home aquaria connect you to the natural world in a direct and inspiring way, they also provide an outlet for artistic expression. Coupled with known therapeutic benefits, is it any wonder that they’re so popular?