Get Ready for an Egg Hunt! 3 Tips for Creating an Easter Aquarium

Easter is only two days away. I’m guessing that most of my readers are too old to go on Easter egg hunts, but we can all still celebrate Easter in our own special way. Why not kick off the holidays with an Easter-themed aquarium?

Verdant Freshwater vs Colorful Saltwater

Hmm, this is a tough decision. Easter is all about the happiness of spring, when the flowers bloom and the trees grow back all of their leaves. Freshwater aquariums are definitely the better choice if you want to capture the the true spirit of spring. But on the other hand, Easter is also all about beautiful colors like pink, baby blue, and lavender. Saltwater aquariums are definitely the better choice if you’re going for eye-catching colors, because nothing comes close to the beautiful hues of tropical reef fish.

Personally? I say go with freshwater. It’s just not spring without green.

Bring in Pastel Colors

Figuring out whether or not a color fits in with Easter is easy. Just take any color except for black and then then mix it with a little bit of white. Red becomes pink, orange becomes peach, and purple becomes lavender. Easter uses these bright colors the capture the youthfulness and purity of spring.

Many aquarium fish have rich, intense colors, but you can find creatures with pastel colors if you know where to look. The lavender tang, for example, has soft lavender hues on its lower fins and sunny yellow colors on its upper fins. Freshwater fans can fill their tanks with kissing pink gouramis or light orange goldfish to bring out some springtime warmth.

Hide a Few Easter Eggs

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you boil eggs, paint the shells, and then dump them into your tank. You can, however, get a little bit creative and hide all sorts of colorful treasures in your aquarium. Colorful rocks or glass beads might be a good substitute, and they won’t be glaringly obvious. You can hide these multicolored Easter eggs throughout your aquascape — in caves, hiding under tufts of seagrass, behind rock formations, and wedged into the cracks of driftwood.

Onlookers will be delighted to view your colorful aquarium. They’ll be even more delighted once you tell them that there are 10 Easter eggs hidden throughout the aquascape. This impromptu game will encourage children and adults alike to give your aquascape a closer inspection as they hunt for those coveted eggs.

The great thing about this idea is that you can hide Easter Eggs in virtually any aquarium. Wake up early on March 31st, sprinkle a few colored rocks around your aquascape, and then invite your children to go on a miniature egg hunt before breakfast.

Bonus Tip: Check Your Local Aquariums

If you’ve got kids, then I highly recommend that you check out your local aquarium. Odds are good that they’re running some sort of Easter-themed event. If you think an egg hunt in your home aquarium is fun, imagine looking for eggs that are hidden throughout a shark tank!

Easter Revisited! Building an Easter Island-Themed Aquascape

Last Friday, I showed you how to transform an aquarium into an exciting Easter-themed aquascape complete with a miniature egg scavenger hunt. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that today many of you have refrigerators practically bursting with bowl after bowl of egg salad. But now that Easter’s over and you’re enjoying the delicious end result of all those boiled eggs, I thought I’d spend a moment to talk about that other Easter: Easter Island.

Dotted with legendary moai statues, this international landmark has captured the dreams and imagination of people the world over. Those expressionless stone watchers eternally gaze out across the ocean as if waiting for some promise that will never be fulfilled. Or perhaps they’re not waiting at all — maybe they’re just admiring the lovely natural aquascape. Who’s to say that the builders of the moai weren’t some of the world’s first aquascaping fans? So, in honor of these ancient ocean-loving sculptors, we’re going to take a look at Easter Island-themed aquascapes.

Building a moai-filled aquarium is a combination of several different techniques. First of all, you’re going to have to incorporate miniature figurines into your aquarium. It’s important to make sure that the size of your miniature moai fit with the size of your aquarium. Proportionately large statues will make your aquarium feel smaller, while tiny moai statues will give your aquascape a grandiose scale. You could also include t0-scale figurines of people, trees, and other objects to create a more cohesive sense of scale. The moai in this amateur aquascape below, for example, look fairly small because they’re dwarfed by nearby plants. If the aquascaper had stuck with carpet moss and proportionately appropriate aquatic plants, these moai would feel massive by comparison.

The other thing to keep in mind is that Easter Island is a unique ecosystem filled with local wildlife. If you truly want to create an Easter Island-inspired aquarium, then it’s crucial that you include native species. Don’t let the palm trees and the white beaches fool you — the water surrounding Easter Island is comparatively chilly. The reefs surrounding the island sustain species like the Easter Island pygmy angelfish and the gorgeous femininus wrasse. With fish like these, it’s hard to say what the true star of your aquascape will be: the breathtaking blue-yellow saltwater fish or the miniature models of the iconic moai statues.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Wouldn’t an aquascape filled with tiny moai statues be a little bit tacky, kind of like an aquarium with a plastic sunken ship? Well, not exactly. It’s certainly possible that your aquarium could be tacky if you don’t have professional design guidance, but you can still include props and figurines as part of an elegant aquascape. Craft your moai statues out of genuine stone rather than some cheap plastic knock-off, and you’ll be well on your way to creating an authentically beautiful scene. And if your moai statues came from actual Easter Island rock, then that’s even better!

One is the Happiest Number: Aquariums with a Single Fish

My brother and I are total opposites in a lot of ways. He likes to focus on a single task and give it 100 percent of his attention. I fancy myself as a jack-of-all-trades, dabbling in a hundred different projects. As you might expect, he and I have very different attitudes when it comes to aquascaping. He would rather create an aquascape that focuses on a single, large creature such as an eel or an oscar that dominates the tank. I would rather have a veritable zoo of creatures working together to create a visually complex aquascape.

So, I thought that today I’d get outside of my comfort zone and talk about specialized tanks, which are aquariums that focus on a single creature or just one type of creature. These aquariums offer unique advantages and, if you’re anything like my brother, they will appeal to you with their beautiful simplicity.

The biggest advantage of a specialized tank is that it lets you highlight a single creature. With extremely diverse aquariums, which can have dozens or possibly even hundreds of different creatures, it’s easy to get lost in the complexity. No single creature can grab the spotlight because it’s competing with everything else in the aquascape. Fish in specialized tanks, on the other hand, can truly step forward and shine. Viewers will be able to appreciate all of the subtle details of the aquascape’s dominant inhabitant, and every other feature in the tank can complement or enhance that effect.

The other nice thing about specialized aquariums is that they allow you to highlight oversized or predatory creatures that are normally incompatible with conventional aquariums. For example, let’s suppose that you want an aquarium with a small shark or an eel. If you put a shark or an eel in a reef aquarium, there’s a good chance that these voracious predators would gobble up your prized tropical fish. Specialized aquariums highlight the vicious nature of predators by giving them a lone wolf feel. Viewers will instantly recognize that your predatory pet is too dangerous to coexist with smaller fish, thereby adding an element of danger and tension to your aquascape.

You can also highlight a species of fish rather than a single creature. Keep in mind that many fish are social creatures, which means that part of their identity as a species lies in how they interact with each other. Imagine dozens of near-identical fish flitting around your aquascape in an elegant dance. When one moves, twenty other fish move with it. Your fish move as a single entity, like individual cells working together as part of a larger body. Truly, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Dark and Mysterious: 3 Ways Shadows can Improve Your Aquarium

Should your aquarium be dark and shadowy?

Your immediately response might be, “Of course not — you won’t be able to see the beautiful aquascape!” People tend to think that low light is a bad thing, especially when you’re talking about art pieces. The more light you have, the easier it is for people to appreciate all of the tiny details of the aquascape, right?

Well, not necessarily. In much the same way that artists can use negative space to create more powerful art, aquascapers can use shadows to compose a more organic scene.

1. Create an Organic Look

Nature isn’t perfectly manicured. Trees aren’t divided into the rule of thirds, colors don’t always go together, and it’s generally one big hodge-podge of rocks and plants in a chaotic mess. Many aquascapes, especially natural aquariums that mimic the works of Takashi Amano, mirror the random chaos of nature. Shadows are an important component of natural chaos because they represent the random, overgrown qualities of wild plants. Out in the wild, trees and bushes grow upward and outward to soak up as much life-giving sunlight as possible, leaving large swaths of shadow that are integral to forests and jungles.

Creating pockets of darkness in your aquascape will replicate this effect. Just keep in mind that you can’t create dark areas anywhere — plants and coral need light to survive, so you can kill off some of your aquatic denizens if you’re not careful.

2. Add Depth

Take a look at the empty space in this aquarium. The plants are clumped together in the center of the aquarium, which leaves a doughnut-like ring around the aquascape. This negative space is critical for the aquascape because it allows the central cluster of plants to dominate the scene.And yet, if I were to ask you what part of the aquarium feels the deepest, what would you say? I bet that you’d point at that shadowy cave area on the right side of the aquascape. The cave doesn’t go back very far — just a few inches — but it’s enough to create a feeling of depth that makes the aquascape’s centerpiece appear much larger.

3. Ooh, Mysterious!

Caves appeal to our childlike sense of wonder. Caves are rare and mysterious, calling out to you with the oh-so-tantalizing question, “What could be hidden within those mysterious depths?”

Using shadow to appeal to our innate sense of curiosity will have a powerful affect on your viewers. The shadows tantalize viewers by suggesting that the aquascape hides some sort of hidden gem or mysterious creature. With well-lit aquariums, there’s no real sense of mystery — what you see is what you get. People can take in the whole aquascape at a glance and might not feel the need to investigate.

Twisty passages, caves made of rocks, shadowy overhangs, and dark crevices, on the other hand, are nearly impossible to resist!

The 3 Best Ways to Creative an Active, High-Energy Aquarium!

One of the most appealing things about aquariums is that they’re so beautifully tranquil. All you have to do is look at an aquarium for a few minutes and the stress will melt right out of you.

Of course, what’s calming and peaceful for some is boring for others. Some people enjoy stress — they feel energized by quick movements and daring art. If that sounds like you, then a high-activity aquarium might be right up your alley. Adding quick movements to your aquarium requires a bit of finesse, but these are the three best ways to create an exciting, action-filled aquascape!

Active Fish

Some fish are couch potatoes — or perhaps I should call them gravel potatoes instead. They like to lounge around at the bottom of the aquarium without a care in the world. Other fish like to fancy themselves as the Michael Phelps of the aquascaping world. They dart around your aquariums like they’re in a race with an unseen opponent, weaving in between rocks and plants so quickly that they’re almost hard to follow.

Filling your aquarium with active fish is the easiest way to add some excitement to your aquascape. Fish like rainbow fish and danios are rarely ever still. Take a look for yourself — these piranha and danios dash around the tank like a group of hyperactive children.

Currents and Loose Plants or Coral

The ocean is full of movement. It’s got currents, waves, and tides pulling the oceans of the world in a hundred different directions. It’s hard to capture those forms of movement in an aquascape because a 20 gallon aquarium isn’t going to have storm-tossed waves or lunar tides. What you can do, though, is create false currents with your water pumps. All you have to do is position your pump so that it casts a stream through the center of your aquarium.

The only problem with this setup is that the current will essentially be invisible. You’ll be able to notice it when fish swim through it, but for the most part it will be too subtle to detect. That’s why you have to pair it with loose, flowing wildlife like certain species of coral or freshwater plants. These organisms will flow and undulate in the ever-present current. Just be sure that your plants and coral can withstand the full blast of the water pump; you don’t want the current to be so direct that it pushes away sediment and uproots features of your aquascape.

Bubbles

Fish usually swim along a horizontal plane and plants sway left and right. Bubbles, on the other hand, can add some interesting vertical movement to your aquascape. All you have to do is hide a few air pumps beneath the gravel or behind a rock formation and you can have a constant stream of jittery bubbles rising to the surface. Saltwater enthusiasts will have to rely on a pump, but a properly maintained freshwater tank with lots of plantlife will create bubbles spontaneously. Extremely verdant freshwater tanks will even begin to resemble sparkling water.

Combine all three of these elements together, and you’ll have an aquascape that’s absolutely teeming with activity. Don’t get stuck thinking that aquascapes have to be languid — your aquarium can be as active as you are!

4 Ways to Build a Quieter Reef Tank

Peace, calm, tranquility — if these are the things that you seek, then a custom aquarium is the way to go.

But there’s only one problem: the constant hum of lights and the persistent bubbling of water pumps can kind of ruin your tranquility. Today we’re going to talk about ways to cut down own noise pollution and build a quieter aquarium.

1. Cut Out Unnecessary Equipment

Getting rid of excess gear is definitely one of the easiest ways to silence your aquarium. Some gadgets are necessary for your aquatic life to survive, but other equipment can be removed as long as you help your ecosystem flourish in its absence. For example, freshwater tanks can survive with nothing more than light and food, assuming that you do frequent water changes and monitor the water condition. Freshwater ecosystems can thrive on their own because the plants and animals do a good job of replicating the cycle of life that takes place in nature.

Saltwater aquariums, unfortunately, aren’t quite as versatile. You probably won’t be able to skip out on gear.

2. Hide the Electronics

If you can’t get rid of noisy equipment, then you can always muffle the noise by hiding gear behind thick cabinets or behind furniture. That’s one of the reasons why aquariums built into cabinets are so popular. Not only does the lower compartment hide unsightly equipment, wires, and tubes, but the thick wood of the container also muffles the drone of electronics.

3. Switch to Low-Noise Alternatives

You get what you pay for. If you select a cheap piece of equipment, then there’s a fairly good chance that the hardware will be noisier than one of its pricey counterparts. I recommend that you specifically look for low-noise equipment that will run in near-silence.

Overflow systems are notorious for their noise, so you should follow instructions for building quieter overflow systems.

4. Install Vibration Mats

Aquascapers aren’t the only people who have waged a war against noisy equipment. Computer technicians, car manufacturers, and pretty much every other profession that deals with moving parts has thought up ways to cut down on vibration. Get rubber vibration mats or insulating material from specialized stores like car parts stores or computer parts stores. When installed against fans or noisy pumps, the anti-vibration material will absorb the noise and leave you with a whisper-quiet aquarium.

You might also want to line the inside of your aquarium cabinet with insulating material like foam or rubber. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you could even attach egg cartons to the walls of the cabinet to break up sound waves. The more you do to cut off noise vibration, the quieter it will be.

Like Hanging a Picture: Wall-Mounted Aquariums

If you gave somebody the task of spicing up a living space by adding art, I think it’s safe to say that most people would start by adding framed pictures. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if wall art such as posters, pictures, and paintings make up the most common household art in America. It makes sense — framed pictures have a couple of advantages that other art forms can’t match. They occupy giant empty spaces on the wall to make a living space feel less empty, they take up no floor space whatsoever, and they’re easily visible because they’re at eye level.

So, why not capitalize on all of these advantages by installing a wall-mounted aquarium? It might seem a bit strange at first, but wall aquariums could make a great addition to your home, especially if you don’t want to devote valuable square footage to a huge aquarium tank. Some wall mounted aquariums are only a few inches thick, which leaves more than enough space for other pieces of furniture.

There’s only one catch to wall-mounted aquariums: you’re probably going to have to do a bit of construction. First of all, you can’t just drive a few nails in a wall and expect to be able to hang a 10 gallon aquarium. You’ll need a sturdy installation that will secure your aquarium to the wall, kind of like those wall mounts for flat screen TVs. Second, you’re going to have to power your aquarium somehow. The last thing you want is to install a gorgeous custom aquarium, and then let a visible cord ruin the aesthetic. I highly recommend that you hook up the aquarium’s power in such a way that the power outlet and cords are obscured by the aquarium itself.

Alternatively, you could always have an aquarium that’s built in to the wall itself. Built-in aquariums have all of the advantages of their mounted counterparts, with the added benefit that built-in aquariums tend to look much more elegant and beautiful.

These two types of wall aquariums have a very similar aesthetic, but they send out very different messages about the owner. A wall-mounted aquarium is inherently more ephemeral than a built-in aquarium. Sure, it takes a bit of elbow grease to install a wall-mounted aquarium, but you can still move a wall-mounted aquarium to a new location whenever the mood strikes you. This makes wall-mounted aquariums much more flexible, but the downside is that the mounted aquarium won’t always feel like an intrinsic part of a living space. It might come off as a “tacked on” extra that ancillary to the centerpiece of the room.

Built-in aquariums don’t have that flexibility. You’re pretty much stuck with wherever you put it. That isn’t necessarily a downside, however. By building an aquarium into a wall, you’re making a powerful statement about a room. The aquarium is part of the room, which allows you to use the aquarium as the room’s centerpiece. Plus, a built-in aquarium could pump up the value of your house!

You should consider all of these factors before installing a wall aquarium in your home or office. Both aquariums will provide you with a beautiful aquatic display, but the type of aquarium you choose can fundamentally affect the overall feel of the living space. Either way, these aquariums options are perfect if you want to introduce some aquatic beauty to your living space but you don’t have the floor space to spare.