Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, August 21, 2021

Long ago and several States away, I once kept a home aquarium or two. I never went extreme with my tanks, partly because I didn’t want the hobby to become all-consuming, and because I was renting and didn’t see the sense in installing virtual design elements into living spaces that I didn’t own.

Had those two conditions been eliminated, I suppose I would have shot the works, as is on display in some Manhattan luxury dwellings:

But all that movement and fluidity comes at a price. Universally, owners of fantasy fish tanks describe them — usually in the same breath — as very relaxing and very expensive. Aquariums like the [Karin and Alan Wilzigs’ in TriBeCa] tend to cost a minimum of $50,000, plus at least $1,000 a month for maintenance. And that’s before buying a single fish.

In the world of fantasy fish tanks, it is not uncommon to pay $600 for a black tang or $5,000 for a pet shark, or to have service people on call 24/7 in case a fish gets sick or dies, which could contaminate the entire tank.

I think I spent around $300 to set up my largest tank, a 30-gallon freshwater, nearly ten years ago now. Definitely an eyecatcher in my smallish apartment, and not an awful lot of maintenance (especially compared to saltwater or brackish water aquaria, which tend to require more attention). You can definitely get a nice fish-friendly ambience without spending gobs of cash.

But then, you don’t get neat-o effects like this:

As Mr. Wilzig likes to tell visitors, his [tank] lighting system uses the same software as that of a professional rock concert or a Broadway show… One of the best colors is yellow, he said, because the fish really stand out, but he likes others too. “When you hit the button for red, all of a sudden it’s like the surface of Mars — red fish swimming over a red planet. When you hit white, it’s like the fish are swimming over an arctic ice floe.”

It’s stuff like that that makes me wistful, and stirs me to start visiting pet stores. Definitely on a smaller scale, owing to my environment. Maybe start with a desktop 5-gallon…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/21/2010 08:07pm
Category: New Yorkin'
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