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.

Natural Style Aquarium

Image source: Adaindia.in

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.

Natural Aquarium with Dark Caves

Image source: Ecteli.com

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?”

Aquascape with Shadowed Plants

Image source: Theaquaticgazette.com

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 Great Wall of Venice: How to Save a Sinking City

In writing about aquatic architecture, I’ve come across some pretty bizarre designs — floating citiesunderwater hotels, and oil rig resorts, just to name a few. Now I’ve got another weird idea to add to the pile: JDS Architects’ Venice 2.0.

You see, Venice is facing the same problem as so many other seaside communities. Rising water levels mean that it’s only a matter of time before Venice goes the way of Atlantis as it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. JDS Architect has a rather unorthodox solution: build another city in the water in a ring-shape around Venice.

The star-shaped ring city would be at a higher elevation than Venice and would therefore act as a dam to keep the water level inside much lower. Obviously, this will require an intense amount of maintenance. The city would need to constantly add new sediment to the ring in order to counteract the constant grinding action of the ocean. Also, they’d need a pump system to regulate how much water is in the inner ring.

JDS Architects' Venice 2.0

Image source: Jdsa.eu

This idea has pros and cons. On the one hand, it would be incredibly expensive to build and maintain, so the city of Venice might want to look to other solutions (such as floating buildings) to save the city. On the other hand, the ring would add a great deal of prime oceanside real estate that could attract businesses and revitalize Venice’s economy. The big question, though, is if the tax revenue from the new businesses would be enough to offset the undoubtedly gigantic budget for this project.

You also have to take into account how the people of Venice would react to this project. I’m sure that the businesses along the ring would love it — they get a view of the ocean and they get to see the ancient city of Venice. But what about the Venetian residents? I can’t imagine that they’d be particularly thrilled about a bunch of skyscrapers blocking their view of the ocean.

Venice Aerial View

Image source: Wikimedia.org

Consequently, it’s kind of a tough call. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and the need to save Venice from the encroaching ocean will force architects and engineers to come up with bizarre or unpopular solutions. No matter how you cut it, somebody is bound to hate Venice’s solution.

How do you think that people of Venice should save their city? Do you think that JDS Architects hit the nail on the head with this ring-shaped island? Or should they strap their ancient buildings to flotation devices and rise with the sea level?

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