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  • March 28, 2005
  • |
  • Posted By Justin @ 12:33 PM

From Goldfish Bowls to Large Tanks, an Aquarium Can Add a Touch of Tranquility

By Valerie L. Merahn

If you are looking for a fun and creative way to bring peace, nature and relaxation into your home, consider purchasing an aquarium. Adding a simple goldfish bowl is an inexpensive way to add life into even the smallest studio apartment.

At a chain pet store such as Petco (four locations in Manhattan, 888-824- 7257, www.petco.com), for as little as $5.99 you can purchase a kit that includes a half-gallon plastic drum bowl, plastic plant, gravel, Betta food and chlorine neutralizer. Just add a goldfish, then find the perfect spot to display your new friend.

For something a bit more sophisticated and exotic, consider a saltwater aquarium. Morris Bareto, manager of New World Aquarium (204 E. 38th St., between Second and Third avenues, 646-865-9604), notes that it is easier than ever to keep saltwater fish, thanks to the availability of improved filtration systems. Aquariums at the store range in price from $150 to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and style. Seventy- to 90-gallon tanks with a curved front are extremely popular.

For something really extraordinary, City Aquarium (132 E. 16th St., between Irving Place and Third Avenue, 212-243-0503, www.cityaquarium.com) can design and build a custom aquarium to exceed your wildest fantasies. With price tags of $10,000 to more than $60,000, these spectacular tanks are works of art. Be warned, however: Installation can be a fairly complicated process.

"The biggest challenge of building custom aquariums in New York apartments is the size of the tank," says Shelly Eversley of City Aquarium. "Unless a client is willing to have window panels removed so that a crane can lift oversized glass or acrylic panels into an apartment, custom residential tanks must have parts small enough to fit into a freight elevator. However, some clients are willing to pay the price of having the tank of their dreams — cranes, special permits and all."

These magnificent tanks are not simply for the living room or family room. Since kitchens are a natural gathering place, and open kitchens are more popular than ever, it is not surprising that there is a growing trend to build custom aquariums in the kitchen.

City Aquarium is currently working on a tank located in the kitchen of a Tribeca townhouse. "This tank will be 144 inches by 12 inches by 30 inches, with a bull-nosed top," Eversley says. "It will be lit by fiber optics and will contain a white driftwood sculpture with South American Discus fish." Of course, an aquarium of this magnitude comes with an equally impressive price tag — about $35,000 initially and $600 a month in maintenance and service.

As children often are fascinated by fish, kids' rooms are also popular settings for aquariums. Eversley cites one current project she is working on for a child's room in Chelsea. "In this project, our client's daughter is in love with the film ‘Finding Nemo.' This custom design will include anemones and clown fish with a Hippo tang (the Dorrie fish in the movie)."

When it comes to selecting your fish, do not rely on aesthetics alone — consult with an expert. While some species are easy and recommended for beginners, others should be reserved for those with experience. Angels, for example, are regarded by many as among the most beautiful fish, but they are extremely sensitive to even small changes in water quality and can be difficult to feed. Other fish may not cohabitate or may be sensitive to light.

If you have your heart set on an exotic species, be prepared to spend money. While you can purchase a goldfish for just a few dollars, Eversley says that some of her clients have fish that cost $2,000 each.

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