4 Virtual Fish Tanks for the Modern Aquarist

We’re in the middle of the Age of Information, a time when digital data reigns supreme. While computerized fish do an awful job of replacing the real thing, it might be nice to have the option to watch pixelated fish swim around your computer screen when you can’t get access to a real thing. After all, double-clicking a fish program requires a lot less effort than keeping an aquarium clean and beautiful — and it’s probably a lot less expensive, too.

I thought it’d be nice to share with you some digital alternatives for the truly fanatical fish lover.

Aquarium Screensavers

There have been screensavers of fish swimming across the computer screen for as long as I can remember. The ones from a few decades age were grainy and fairly bare-bones, but the screensavers of today are almost like works of art. Some premium screensavers, such as Sim Aquarium 3D, give you a front row seat into the subterranean world. You’ll probably want to resist the temptation of installing this on your work computer, though. Most aquarists would be more tempted to stare at their screensaver all day then actually get some work done.

Digital Fish Tank

Digital fish tanks are pretty simple. You take a digital device, play looping footage of fish, and frame it so that it looks nice. The advantage is that you can stick it just about anywhere, but it’s a bit kitschy. If somebody comes over to your place and they see one of these things, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to be getting “Why don’t you just get a real fish tank?” thrown at you.

Fish Video Games

They’ve got video games for just about everything, don’t they? This game, Fish Tycoon, turns you into a fish matchmaker. The objective is raise and breed fish to uncover magical breeds. It’s definitely not the prettiest game out there, but it might just appeal to a few oddballs out there who get an unnatural joy out of raising fish.

Fish Tycoon 2

Image: macgamestore.com

Virtual Koi Pond

Of all the virtual tanks I’ve seen, this one is definitely my favorite. It’s so simple and elegant that it actually does a decent job of replicating what it’s like to throw food pellets into a pond, but without all the crazy feeding frenzies. Yeah, I know that that’s half the fun, but this pseudo-game is more about relaxing than getting an exciting show.

I’d love it if I could use this as the background for my iPad, and I dropped food pellets whenever I clicked on the screen. Wouldn’t it be neat to see the koi swim beneath all of the apps and gobble up the food pellets?

Aquariums and the Art of Complementary Colors

What’s your favorite color?

Do you prefer vibrant reds or cool blues? Do you like the Japanese-inspired simplicity of black, white, and brown, or do you want to be surrounded by bright neons and swirling colors?

We all know our favorite color – for me, it’s green. But here’s an even more important question: how many of you know what colors complement your favorite color?

That’s when you get into tricky territory. Complementary colors are a mix of science and art – science because it involves the color wheel and the unique mechanics of the human eye, and art because the most effective color schemes require a touch of creativity.

Claude Monet Complementary Colors

Image source: Artbyarlene.blogspot.com/

That’s just as true for aquariums. It would be unwise to pick a bunch of unrelated fish and dump them into an aquarium because each one looks pretty on its own. Fish, much like the furniture in your living space, need to complement each other in compelling ways to create a visually stunning aquascape.

So, let’s take a look at the color wheel. Essentially, the color wheel takes the three primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, and then mixes them to create a flow of color. The color wheel is an invaluable tool because it allows you to quickly determine complementary colors. You can find your favorite color’s complement by looking at the opposite color on the wheel. For me, green is complemented by red to create festive Christmas colors. You can also create split complementary and analogous color schemes. Just click on the picture below to find out how.

Advanced Color Wheel

Image source: Wallpaper4me.com

But there’s more to it than that. Tertiary colors also come into play to create a complex weave of contrasting colors. A great online tool is this website, which can provide you with a mix of complementary color combinations. Just click your favorite color and voila!

For a good example of the effectiveness of strategic color placement, take a look at this beautiful custom aquarium. First, click on the image to view it in full-size and then take a moment to determine the most predominant colors.

Okeanos Aquarium with Complementary Colors

Image source: Okeanosgroup.com

Clearly, the most dominant color is blue, followed by yellow and purple. The cool blue creates a relaxing atmosphere, but the vibrant, yellow fish create visual pockets of warm color that naturally attracts the eye. And what do you get when you mix blue with yellow? Purple! The purple coral spaced throughout the aquarium naturally highlights the calming blue hues while simultaneously enhancing the sharp yellows.

Now imagine toying with these color schemes and creating a balanced ecosystem wherein all of the species get along peacefully. Developing a truly beautiful aquarium requires scientific expertise and an artistic hand. But when you put the two together to create a cohesive aquascape, the results are absolutely breath-taking.

Talk With Your Fish While You Soak in the Tub: 5 Bathroom-Themed Aquariums

quariums and bathrooms usually don’t go very well together. It’s a bit ironic, considering that water is a common theme between both of them. Well, even though bathroom aquariums are unorthodox, that hasn’t stopped a lot of fish lovers from bringing their hobby into the washroom.

5. Fish Toilet

Fish Toilet Bowl

Image source: Toesmile.com

Of course, the first place to start with a bathroom aquarium is with a fish toilet. These bizarre devices replace the water tank on the back of the commode with a small aquarium. While these aquariums are visually reminiscent of conventional toilets, they actually operate under a completely different system. The toilet you’ve got in your home probably uses the tank in the back to provide the water pressure needed to create a swirling flush. These toilets (if they’re operational at all) will need to use a different mechanism to provide the water pressure. Otherwise, your first flush would send your beloved fish to a watery grave.

4. Miniature Fish Bathroom

Fish Bathroom

Image source: Kidsaquariumsquotes.wordpress.com

When you build your personal aquarium, you can theme it around just about anything imaginable. Sure, you could go for a classic rock and reef structure for a salt water aquarium, or a serene plant aquascape for your fresh water aquarium, but just because everybody else does that doesn’t mean that you have to do that, too. Take this aquarium for example: this is what your bathroom would look like if you plugged your shower drain and let your tub completely overflow.

3. Aquarium Sink

Aquarium Sink

Image source: Toesmile.com

Perfect for people who get bored senseless when they’re washing their hands, this oddball aquarium is part sink, part aquarium. As cool as this aquarium is, I’d be more interested to know how things look from the perspective of the fish. I suppose that they’d get to experience a beautiful cascading waterfall every time you wash your hands.

2. Hydroglass

Hydroglass Aquarium-Shower

Image source: Gizmodo.com

I’m not really sure what to make of this one. Basically, it’s a huge fish tank with a shower on top. You lay face-down on the table, gaze upon the fish, and then let the shower clean your backside. The idea behind it, I think, is to replicate the feeling of swimming. The problem with this device is that it’s trying to combine two things together in a really bizarre way. It doesn’t really fulfill the same role as a shower, because you can’t get a scrub-down while you’re lying on your face. It also doesn’t do a very good job of replicating an aquatic life because, well, you aren’t actually swimming. I think you’d be better off taking a dip at a local lake and then taking a shower, rather than trying to do both at the same time.

1. Poor Little Fish

Poor Little Fish Conservation Aquarium

Image source: Boredpanda.com

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fish that makes me think about environmentalism more than this little goldfish. The way this clever aquarium works is that anybody who washes his hands causes the water to drain out of the bowl. The more water you use, the more water you suck out of the fish’s home. Using the sink forces a person to analyze his own wastefulness and consider the consequences of his actions. Hopefully, this tank will promote a responsible and green lifestyle.

Poor Little Fish Aquarium Blueprint

Image source: Boredpanda.com

I should point out that the aquarium doesn’t operate the way you’d think. It’s impossible to completely drain the fish tank, and the water will be replaced right after the sink is turned off. Also, all of you germaphobes out there don’t have to worry about contaminated sink water. The sink and the aquarium each has its own separate water tank to make sure that the fish’s germs don’t get on your hands, and your hand soap doesn’t poison the fish.

The Grandfather of Freshwater Aquariums: Takashi Amano

Serene, beautiful, peaceful, calming: those are a few words that can describe an aquarium. These words also happen to be a perfect description of traditional Japanese art, which seeks to find beauty in simplicity. While Japanese art and the aquarium hobby might seem like a perfect match, it wasn’t until the brilliant innovation of Takashi Amano that the two intermingled.

A Freshwater Aquarium by Takashi Amano

Image: amanotakashi.net

Amano is probably the single most influential and famous person in the freshwater aquarium hobby. He introduced Japanese gardening techniques such as Wabi-sabi and Zen art to the aquarium hobby to create a completely new wave of planted aquariums. It even has its own name: “Nature Aquarium.” The philosophy behind a nature aquarium is to create a complete ecosystem with plants and fish surviving in harmony to create a perfect living environment for every species.

If you’re wondering what made Amano so popular, all you have to do is check out a few of his aquariums. Like this one, for example:

An Aquatic Rock Garden by Takashi Amano

Image: amanotakashi.net

As I  mentioned earlier, one of Amano’s sources of inspiration is Wabi-sabi, a Japanese art style that seeks beauty in the imperfect, transient nature of objects. Some of the most important qualities of Wabi-sabi art are roughness, simplicity, humility, and asymmetry. When looking at Amano’s aquatic art it’s easy to see how these attributes manifest. His aquariums are simultaneously so beautiful that they border on perfection, yet so simple and natural that you almost think that you are looking at some undisturbed pond out in the middle of a forest.

"Nature Aquarium" Aquatic Garden

Image: amanotakashi.net

And it’s easy to see evidence of zen rock garden art in Amano’s works. The large rocks spread throughout his aquariums are simultaneously centerpieces that draw the eye, yet unremarkable compared to the lush plant life surrounding them. The rocks and driftwood that Amano carefully places throughout his tanks create a sense balance and natural belonging, despite the fact that they are often extremely asymmetrical.

Zen-Inspired Rocks in a Takashi Amano Aquarium

Image: amanotakashi.net

Saltwater aquariums are in stark contrast to Amano’s freshwater Nature Aquariums. Saltwater tanks rely on bright colors, exotic species, and extreme biodiversity to create a visual cornucopia. Nature Aquariums are the complete opposite. Your eye is drawn to the tank, but your gaze is immediately lost in the meandering greens and indistinct plants. It is as if the aquarium possesses a uniform serenity that soothes the eye and calms the mind.

I’ll admit: of all the aquariums that I’ve seen, this style appeals to me the most. These aquariums are the visual equivalent of a back rub. It’s almost impossible to look at one of these things and stay stressed. And for the ultimate visual back rub, here is Takashi Amano’s personal home aquarium:

Takashi Amano's Private Tank

Image: truthinart.wordpress.com

You know — it’s kind of funny. I don’t speak a word of Japanese, but this guy is in the business of communicating messages through art and I understand everything he’s trying to say.

BIG, a Wave of Concrete, Steel, and Lights

BIG Design

It is an interesting quirk of human nature that we adore water. The fact that fountains are popular in every culture and that waterfalls are universally adored are both evidence of this. It’s no surprise that many artists attempt to capture the flowing beauty of water in their art.

Florida Pier Design

When Florida’s St. Petersburg held a competition to determine a winning design for one of their piers, the BIG design team made waves with their ocean-inspired design. Their design entails a complete redevelopment of the pier, which will eventually enable them to build a massive wave-shaped structure. The design is a bit like an enormous O, except that the vertical portions of the building are skewed to replicate a cresting wave.

Florida's BIG

The structure isn’t all for looks. Visitors would be able to enter and climb up through the multiple levels of the bizarrely shaped building. The unique shape will require some creativity when deciding what sort of facilities to place within it, but the designers already have a few features in mind. They intend to add a rock climbing wall, pools, steam baths, and (appropriately) an artificial wave pool for surfers.

St. Petersburg Wave Building

On top of all that, the designers want to make the project as green as possible in order to achieve LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Not only are the designers going to use as much preexisting infrastructure as possible, but they also intend to recycle demolition waste to help make artificial reefs. The wave structure will also use a water cooling system, solar power, and a number of other high tech green gizmos to make the structure as self-sufficient and green as possible.

5 Stunning Ice Sculptures from 2013

Ice Sculpture Art

Ice sculpture art — Image source: Savvystews.com

As I’m writing out this sentence, I’m wearing fuzzy wool socks, I’ve got a thick green blanket wrapped around me, and I’ve got the heat blasting. I don’t know what the weather’s like over in your neck of the woods, but over here it’s f-f-f-freezing. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the cold. As much as I hate needing to wear layer after layer in order to stay comfortable, I have to admit that that winter is absolutely gorgeous with its pristine snow, ornate snowflakes, and glittering icicles. Best of all, winter presents artists with a wonderful opportunity as they explore the world of frozen artwork. Here are a few of the best ice sculptures from 2013.

London Ice Sculpture Festival

London isn’t known for having phenomenal weather. So when temperatures plummet and rain turns into snow, Londers make the best of their situation with their annual Ice Sculpture Festival. This year’s festival (back in pring) included giant frozen crosses, stars, and animals.

London Ice Sculpture Festival — Image source: Examiner.com

MIT’s Ice Wall

The prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently had its 150th anniversary. To celebrate the momentous occasion, MIT architect student Yushiro Okamoto designed and built the IceWall, a frozen installation on the banks of the Charles River. The installation may have been temporary, but it students will be able to experience the beauty of Okamoto’s design for years to come. Each block had flower seeds inside of it, so when spring rolled around the blocks melted and deposited their seeds along the edge of the river.

Russian Land Rover

Ever wonder what Frosty the Snowman drove to work? Russian artists built this Toyota Land Rover during an ice festival in Perm earlier this year.

How do I know that it’s a Land Rover and not some other SUV? Because along with functional tail lights, opening doors, and a frozen steering wheel, the artists also took the time to inscribe the Toyota logo and the name of the vehicle.

Ice Sculpture Car

Russian-built ice SUV — Image source: Blogcdn.com

Ice Art 2013-2014

The International Ice & Snow Festival in Harbin, China is the world’s most spectacular frozen celebration, hands down. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see the frozen wonderland until the festival begins on January 5, 2014. The good news is that we’ve got Singapore’s Ice Art 2013-2014 exhibit to hold us over until then.

Ice Art Festival

Singapore’s Ice Art Festival — Image source: Akamaihd.com

Modeled after the IISF, the Ice Art exhibit is a much smaller version of the city-sized festival in Harbin, complete with frozen buildings, ice sculptures, and snow slides. The Ice Art show is the only chance that many Singaporians will get to throw snowballs. Protected inside of a massive temperature-controlled warehouse, the Ice Art exhibit won’t be affected by Singapore’s sweltering heat.

2013 Harbin Ice Festival

That brings us to the headliner, the real shebang, the creme-de-la-creme: Harbin’s International Ice & Snow Festival. This is all ice:

Harbin ice festival

Harbin ice festival — Image source: Msn.com

Well, not the people. I’m mostly referring to those multicolored castles in the background. Each year, people from all over the world gather in the northern reaches of China to explore an entire town made of ice and snow. The 2014 festival is slated to kick off next month, and it’s sure to blow last year’s display out of the water!

International Ice & Snow Festival

International Ice & Snow Festival — Image source: Inhabitat.com