Being a pet is great. They don’t have to worry about being eaten by wild animals, they are lovingly cared for by their owners, and they never have to go hungry. That’s the type of life that most animals in the wild could only dream of.
The only catch is that they have to give up part of their freedom. They lose the ability to swim through the endless depths of the ocean or explore bubbling brooks. Is it all worth it? Probably. If you gave most creatures the choice of living in a small house or risk getting eaten by sharks every single day, I think a lot of critters would probably opt for the small house.
One devoted aquarist has attempted to give his gilled pets a little bit of extra freedom by building a fish highway. He’s got two individual aquariums with a water-filled tube stretching between them. You ever see that cartoon show Futurama that has people and aliens zipping around in suction-powered tubes? Yeah, it’s kind of like that, except that the ride is a bit more leisurely.
It’s really a mutually beneficial arrangement. Fish get to have a little bit more freedom, and the aquarist gets to have a much more dynamic viewing experience. I mean, depending on how close the fish are to the owner, you could have the fish following the aquarist around from room to room, kind of like a doting pooch who’s thrilled that his master has come back from work.
The one downside of such an unorthodox aquarium is that maintenance can be a little bit tricky. The owner of this aquarium has to use special cleaning magnets to scrub the algae off of the tubes — after all, he can’t exactly open them up and scrub the sides with a brush, otherwise he’d end up flooding the room. The other difficulty lies with maintaining enough water in each of the tanks. The aquarium owner explains, “The highway tube is completely sealed except for the openings at each end which are submerged below the tank water levels. Like a large drinking straw, when the air is sucked out of the tube the water rises inside it and will stay there unless you let the air back in.”
With a bit of ingenuity, the owner of this aquarium has managed to overcome most of these hurdles. For example, listen to how he maintains a water flow through the tubes: “Water is pumped through a separate pipe from one tank to the other using a small pump. As the tank water levels change (one rises and the other falls) flow is induced through the highway by the force of gravity.” Pretty clever, eh?
Theoretically, this type of fish tank could be extended throughout any house, no matter how large. Stretching it through multiple rooms would require intense cleaning maintenance and some impressive feats of engineering, but it’s possible.
This type of aquarium isn’t for everybody, obviously. It’s less of a “look at that neat thing in the corner of one room” and more of a “I’ve devoted my entire building and thousands of dollars to making my fish happy.” It fits better in a business space than a home, because your fish could swim by and greet potential clients as they wait to be helped. You might even get a few customers in the door just because locals will almost assuredly spread the word about your kooky aquarium. Building a tank like this would be expensive, to be sure, but it’s an investment that might just pay off in the long term — both financially and in keeping people delightfully entertained.