Fish tanks aren’t just for countertops anymore. As television shows like Animal Planet’s “Tanked” and Nat Geo Wild’s “Fish Tank Kings” have shown, people are getting more and more creative about how they display colorful characters from the under the sea.
These days, instead of tanks being displayed next to a wall, they’re now oftentimes placed inside a wall. And instead of tanks being part of a room, they’re now oftentimes the entire room.
“(I’ve seen homeowners) renovate a closet, and basically put an aquarium inside the closet, and then cut a hole in the wall so they can view it from both sides,” says Chris Johnson, owner of Aquariance, Inc., which provides aquarium services to Brevard County residents. “I’ve also seen homes where the owners actually built a small room to the outside of their living room or dining room with the same idea.
“One of the most unique fish tanks I’ve seen was a 120-gallon fish tank that was put on a platform that was on wheels and fitted into a fireplace. So, instead of seeing a fireplace, they saw a fish tank about six inches off the ground.”
Of course, wanting to set up something majestic like that, and being able to afford it, can be two different things. Setting up a saltwater tank filled with just water and fish can be affordable. However, the more features you put in it — such as live coral or rock — the pricier it can become.
Johnson says estimates for really extravagant tanks can be nearly $40,000.
THE BELLS & WHISTLES
Dave MacDonald, who owns Nahacky’s Aquarium in Melbourne with his wife, Lisa, says it’s one thing to have a big tank that is just that “BIG” while a smaller tank that is “immaculate” can be even more impressive.
If you’re budgeting for a tank, MacDonald estimates it will cost anywhere between $20 to $50 a gallon, meaning a 100-gallon tank could run close to $5,000.
“The tank itself really isn’t the big money,” says MacDonald. “It’s the furniture — your ‘standing canopy.’ You can buy a standing canopy for $200 or you can spend $1,000 on your standing canopy because you want it to match your living room.
“It’s like anything else. It’s all a question of what you what. In this business, I have $50 light systems, and for the same tank, I have a $2,000 light system.”
If you want live coral for your tank, there are several things to consider. Do you want green coral, which is the most available right now? Or, do you want to pay more for a piece that is red, orange or blue?
As MacDonald points out, a small frag of coral can run $20 and will eventually grow to the size of the larger coral that sells for $100. The question is, though, do you have the patience to wait two years until that happens?
HERE FISHY FISHY
Then there is the question of what types of fish you want to stock your aquarium.
“We like to combine hardiness with inexpensive when you’re first starting out because we don’t want people to take on more than they can handle and have a big financial loss,” says MacDonald. “We have little damsels that are all of $5 each. We have clown fish that are $15 each. These are hardy, saltwater fish.”
As you get more experienced maintaining your aquarium, you can graduate to different types of fish. Johnson mentions a wrasse fish, which can run in the $80-to-$90 range, or a parrot fish, which can go for $60 to $80, depending on the size.
A purple tang fish, which could once be purchased for $60 to $80 several years ago, now costs $150 or more because it was overfished and is now much harder to find.
Whether your tank is unique or not, maintaining a healthy environment for all of the organisms that call it home is essential. So if you’re going to put one in your home, why not make it a showpiece?
“I try to encourage people to put tanks where they spend time, because the tank is kind of like a large television,” explains MacDonald. “In fact, the shows in the tanks are much better than a lot of the TV we get on cable.”
For more information on Aquariance, Inc., call (321) 473-4207 or visit Aquariance.com. For more information on Nachaky’s Aquarium, call (321) 723-5340 or visit NahackysAquarium.com.