Sea of Tranquility

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Modern-day fish bowls have become elaborate structures-even works of art-that bring to life the peace and beauty of nature.

Many of us seek water when we want to relax-trips to the ocean, the lakefront, the neighborhood pool.

It's fitting, then, that homeowners are creating their own seas of tranquility by building elaborate fish tanks. These modern-day aquariums are a far cry from the single-occupancy bowls that once housed Goldie. They have become design elements and focal points, making nature an important element of a room's decor.

"Aquariums are living art, a live painting," says Steve Orr, who has been designing, maintaining and installing aquariums for 30 years and is the service manager for Aquarium Adventures in Dublin. "It's a mix of art and science; you can add a lot of color and excitement to the home."

After two disappointing attempts at operating a saltwater aquarium, Steve Hoffman of Powell contacted Orr for help.

"This was my third and final try at having a saltwater tank," Hoffman says.

With Orr's assistance, Hoffman is pleased with the 180-gallon living sculpture in his basement. Its inhabitants include clownfish, yellow-tailed damsels and shrimp.

Bradley Jennings in Delaware has a 400-gallon freshwater tank in his basement theater, and Aquarium Adventures recently installed an additional 450-gallon freshwater aquarium in his home office, which will house more than two dozen stingrays.

Jennings converted his basement tank, where nearly 60 fish dart back and forth in the 9-foot-long space, from saltwater to freshwater. Among the fish are peacock cichlid and electric blue ahli, both native to Africa. A large, custom-made rock wall serves as the backdrop.

For Eric Harter, purchasing a large aquarium initially served another purpose: room divider. But when he moved to a house in the Short North, he no longer needed to separate areas of his home.

In turn, Harter found a way to incorporate his aquarium into the new decor by transforming some "dead space" into an area of aquatic entertainment.

His 105-gallon saltwater aquarium is perched on a bar area. You can sit and admire the sea life while enjoying drinks and dinner.

Harter's collection includes 11 species from Accent on Aquariums, such as emperor angelfish, yellow tang and percula clownfish.

"It really is fun to just sit here and eat dinner while watching them," Harter says. "This is the perfect setup for it."