If you derive serenity from viewing fish and other marine lifeforms in their aquatic settings, you may consider installing an aquarium for your home, workplace, recreation spot or office. This specially designed transparent tank acts as an artificial habitat for marine animals and plants.
“An ideal aquarium contains water, gravel, sand, both artificial and live decorative plants, ornamental background objects, air-pump, airstone (aquarium bubbler), tubing, filtration system, climate control device, and artificial light,” says Lillian Muthoni, the director of Aquariums Planet, a Nairobi aquarium design and manufacturing firm. “Most have a covering to reduce water evaporation and keep away debris.”
Aquariums are typically made of glass panels joined with silicone, although acrylic and laminated glass types are gradually gaining popularity as these materials are both durable and lighter. While most people associate aquariums with only ornamental fish, they can also be used to house amphibians and turtles, among others.
“Ensure the glass fittings match the size of the aquarium,” says Muthoni. “The larger the tank, the thicker the density glass used to assemble the aquarium. Tropical and subtropical ornamental fish species also require water heating to keep the temperatures at the requisite conditions in their natural habitats.” Barqah Basward, the managing director of Nairobi Aquarium Store, says other than bedecking the home or workplace, an aquarium diminishes stress levels through watching the fish in it, lowers anxiety, calms, entertains, gives family members a sense of responsibility, lights up spaces, and boosts productivity at the workplace due to its relaxing effect.
“In actual fact, fish-tanks are not only décor fixtures that enhance spaces, but also possess a calming effect and relieve stress,” says Basward. Aquariums do not necessarily have to be large to be effective. Small fishbowls filled with clear water and pebbles can work, too. Tanks range progressively in size from fishbowls with a capacity of up to 1.5 litres and holding two fishes, to larger fittings with capacities of up to 20,000 litres.
Versatility of design also offers innovative schemes such as incorporation into walls, coffee-tables, desks, cabinets, television stands, drawers, and trolleys, among other household items. “An aquarium’s installation location is a personal choice depending on one’s lifestyle, type of property and interior design preferences,” says Basward. Due to many aquarium installations being semi-permanent, understand the advantages and disadvantages of fitting locations. Here, a few suggestions, and what we think of them:
Regardless of whether in the home, workplace or office, aquariums mounted near the front entrance are visually pleasing and inviting to visitors. Furthermore, those who practise some doctrines believe placing aquariums near entrances obstructs negative energies and brings good luck. However, be sure to consider the light at the entrance as too much light leads to algae concerns.
The allure of an aquarium in the bedroom is equally as exciting as it is enticing. Envision getting in bed and gazing at beautiful fish swimming about within their exquisite backgrounds. It creates an atmosphere that is both tranquil and warm, making sleep peaceful. Consider, however, the little amount of attention the fixing will get in a bedroom compared to a more communal setting.
The advent of apartments has come with small dining spaces within the kitchen, and so the cooking space is emerging as a significant common area in the home. An aquarium can enhance this space as well as offer uniqueness in decor.
Aquariums work well in kitchens as the natural daylight and activities therein from morning to nightfall tend to mirror those that occur in the fish-tanks. The soft lighting of the aquarium in the mornings is also a welcoming spectacle as one readies breakfast.
Many modern custom-made kitchens emphasise on visual aesthetics, and this makes it crucial that both the design and inhabitants of the aquarium complement the backdrop of the kitchen space.
A fairly modest aquarium with somewhat bold fish which are instantaneously visually impacting work well in this case.
Electrical outlets, lighting, temperatures and heat must be considered when installing the aquarium here because temperatures vary throughout.
Placing an aquarium in the dining room makes it the focus of the room, thus creating a spectacle, adding an aesthetically attractive plan to the area, and, according to experts, boosting eating habits.
The aquarium similarly helps in artistically defining the room by being a piece of art that looks magnificent and luxurious to visitors.
Reef aquariums are particularly suited to this setting as they contain an abundance of life whose splendour one just has to sit, perceive and ingest. The aquarium’s lighting cycle in this setting may be set to give varied impressive displays, especially when there are guests in the home.
Typically in this setting, in bigger homes with equally vast spaces, aquariums may be used as partitions between the living or dining room and adjacent ones such as kitchen.
They may also be installed in decorative walls or as showpieces within the lobby, where they range in profile, style and size. An aquarium in the lobby has the same effects as in the dining room as both spaces serve near-similar purposes in the house. Whether partitioning an open space, built into an existing background, or free-standing, an aquarium in the lobby is a beholding spectacle. To many, when considering an installation in the home, these spaces usually top the list of ideal locations.
The thought of being in a bathtub with an in-built aquarium creates the feeling of swimming in the ocean surrounded by fish.
But heat, light and steam from showering or bathing can stimulate the growth rate of algae, creating an imbalance in the tank which could be a challenge.
Limited space in most bathrooms as well as fewer electrical outlets may pose a challenge in this setting, hence it’s somewhat untenable.
Another downside is that this installation’s full fixing process may be challenging.
Aquaspacing with fish: Different ways to bring the oomph and aaaw to your outdoors space
Aquariums should naturally be installed in communal spaces to enhance them, and outdoor fountains are emerging as beautiful aquariums complete with desired aquascaping and fish. Aquascaping styles for different aquariums and the inhabitants ideal for them include;
Goldfish aquariums: A first choice for many and usually containing bright goldfish whose colours dominate and create an attractive display in the tank. Goldfish such as Ryukins, Ranchus, Shubunkins, and Lionheads, alongside artificial plants, are ideal in this plan. Neutrally-coloured gravel or pebbles inside the tank offer a combination which attractively contrasts with the vivid colours of the goldfish, enhancing the tank’s splendour.
Walstad method aquariums (Natural planted tank): The goal of this design is reconstructing a completely natural ecosystem, thus producing a visually appealing scenery where plants and fish complement each other’s requirements.
In this setting, plants act as water purifiers in place of normal filters. Nutrients from fish-food and mulm integrate in the soil to nourish the plant-life, with carbon-dioxide produced by fish and bacteria similarly consumed by the vegetation producing oxygen for the fish in return. Its placement of hardscape and plants is random, making it dissimilar to other designs as it strives to recreate the way things are in their natural settings rather than organised systematically.
The aquariums are often low-maintenance and, by design, low-budget, using normal soil and demanding fewer water changes because of their plant density.
African cichlid aquariums: They usually contain fish such as L. Victoria Cichlids, L. Tanganyika Cichlids, L. Malawi Mbuna, and Utaka Cichlids, among others. Do not mix these groups of fish due to their characters and dietary habits as some may be cannibalistic. Both set-ups, however, usually consist of large quantities of rockwork and a fine substrate or sandy gravel. The fish dig, so careful attention should be paid when setting up the rocks to avoid likely collapses. Artificial or live plants may be placed in the tank too.
Dutch style aquarium: They simulate an underwater garden through their characteristic diverse plants with multiple shaped leaves. They typically create a feel of raised terraces, known as Dutch Streets, hence their name. Their floors can be covered using either a fitted carpet or vegetation, with taller plants lining the back of the tank. Typically, they’re usually smaller, devoid of hardscape and ideal for offices and hanging on walls. Schooling fish such as Congo tetras and Angelfish are the most suited for these aquariums.
Planted aquariums: This type of aquarium puts emphasis on plants and limited fish inhabitance. An ideal planted aquarium would feature a background of faster growing plants such as Hygrophilas, a middle ground of Echinodoruses and groupings of Cryptocorynes in the foreground. Other decor is minimised due to space requirement of the plants, and is usually limited to a few pieces of driftwood. Fish choices could be guppys, smaller tetras, gouramis, rasboras and angelfish. It is also prudent to include algae-controlling fish such as Siamese algae eaters, Pencilfish and Livebearers.
Community aquarium: They comprise a broad plan of aquariums containing a mix of fish and plants originating from different geographical areas, with emphasis placed on colour and hardiness. Follow basic rules for compatibility of inhabitants and also focus on temperature, water chemistry, size, and character — for example, varieties of gouramis, tetras and rasboras could be combined with a range of hardy aquatic plants. Hardscape material such as root-wood, smooth pebbles and gravel may be added to complete the scheme.
Reef aquarium: This type of aquarium prominently displays living corals and other marine life-forms as well as fish that play a role in preserving the setting. However, reef aquariums are not very common in the country and are usually found minimally in the coastal regions due to their saline nature. They require mildly intense lighting and slightly unsettled waters. Careful consideration should additionally be given to which reef animals are appropriate and compatible with each other. Clownfish, gobies and tangs, alongside different types of corals and sea plants, may be used.
Iwagumi style aquarium: It is one of the most popular aquascaping styles and is characterised by a series of stones arranged according to the golden ratio. There should always be an odd number of stones to prevent the layout from balancing, since human eyes always try to see a ‘split’ in symmetrical layouts. It contains at least three stones — a larger ‘father’ stone and at least two secondary stones — with the possibility of more, so long as the total number remains odd.
These may imitate a natural landscape, with a common theme of simplicity, open spaces, limited colours in plants and stone, and the amount of varying flora and fauna kept low to ensure minimalism.
Biotope style aquarium: This design of aquarium seeks to emulate a natural environment, including water conditions, flora and fauna and even the hardscape. These tanks are generally easier to establish and maintain, since not much research is required to determine whether and how the flora and fauna are compatible as they co-exist in the wild. Different types of fish may thus be used as they exist in their natural habitats.
Nature aquariums: They are also among the most common. With attention to alignment and grouping of hardscape and aquatic plants in order within the tanks, they seek to recreate landscapes underwater, depicting submerged miniature forests, mountains, hills or valleys. The tank may be designed to slant towards a direction. Cardina japonica and Amano shrimps, Red and Black neon tetras, Otocinclus, Rummy nose tetra and Harlequin tetras are commonly used.
Paludarium aquarium: This aquarium scheme combines water and land inside the same tank and may represent habitats such as rainforests, jungles, waterfronts, swamps and even beaches. Part of the aquarium is usually submerged underwater while part of it remains above. The substrate is built such that part of it rises above the waterline with the tank being only partially filled with water allowing the water-plants to grow with their roots submerged but their tops in the air and sometimes the plant entirely submerged. Alternatively, plants that float on the surface of the water, can be used.
Wild jungle aquarium: It combines elements of both Dutch and Nature styles and plants are left to adopt a natural, rough look. This design usually has minimal visible hardscape, as well as limited open spaces with bold, rougher leaf shapes used to provide the wild, untamed appearance. Jungle style aquarium schemes do not follow clean lines, or employ fine textures and the jungle cover effect is achieved through combining darker substrates, floating plants and tall plants, blocking light, and creating a flecked outcome.