We humans have great respect for water. We take sustenance from it. We built our first civilizations alongside it. We even know that we are subject to it.
When man first sought to conquer the world, he left land and sailed the sea. There he encountered beasts and creatures that fueled tales of fantasy. Today, modern day science has lifted the veil covering the mystery that is the ocean. The earth itself is made up of 71% water. This makes the ocean waters and every other body of water the majority natural habitat in the world. Countless species thrive in the water and if we want to see them, then there are only two ways to go about it: the first one being to go to them with the use of scuba gear, and submersible observatories and two, we bring them to us. The latter is the focus of this list.
By building glass enclosures to house aquatic life forms, we are able to marvel at the secret lives of fish. There are a bunch of uniquely different ways to go about creating aquariums and the world is both shocked and impressed at the many crazy ways that man has come up with to create an aquatic environment here on dry land that is suitable (or sometimes, unsuitable) for the fish that we supposedly admire.
11. Fish n Flush
Like any other great invention, the creation of the Fish n Flush tank/aquarium is largely attributed to serendipity. When the engineers were working on a system to stop the problem of tank overflow, they were using a clear tank so they could see where the leak would be and how to stop it. One of the engineers started wondering how cool it would be to have fish in the tank that would stay there. Immediately that night, the working concept of the Fish n Flush was born. Because of how fun and whimsical this bathroom accessory was, the company had gone on many TV shows such as Regis and Kathy, The Today Show and The Tonight Show, to promote their novelty tank.
The second aquarium on our list made a big splash in the news (even though it’s quite tiny) when it hit the store shelves in the later part of 2007, in Australia. The iPond was a speaker built into a small aquarium made to look like an iPod. The tiny tank had a volume capacity of only 350 ml and was marketed as a tank for the Betta fighting fish. Upon its release, they were flying off shelves even at a steep price of $60 (USD). Not everyone was excited with the new novelty pet store item, though. The RSPCA (Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) had condemned the iPond, pushing for it to be banned outright. Another group fighting for animal rights, the Animal Liberation Victoria even called the small device a “torture box.” Arguments against the small iPond include: that it doesn’t provide enough stimulation for the fish which just tortures it with boredom, the fish doesn’t have enough oxygen and that the speaker itself harms the fish because sound vibrates in the water.
9. Microminiature Aquarium
Anotoly Konenko is a Russian artist who is fascinated with tiny things. Ever since 1981 he has made miniature works of art that made the world notice. In 1996 he was acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the man who published the world’s smallest book. Remember, he does this by hand, though he does require a microscope to allow him to see on such a tiny scale. His skill and dedication enables him to write on such small things as a single strand of hair. With his steady hand he has created the world’s smallest functioning Aquarium with a dimension of 30 mm X 24 mm x 14 mm. Because of how tiny it is, only tiny zebra fish or the Pandaka Pygmea could comfortably fit in it.
8. Largest Nature Aquarium of Lisbon Oceanarium
Takashi Amano, the Japanese pioneer of aquascaping, was invited by the Lisbon Oceanarium to create the world’s largest nature aquarium which is measured at 40 m designed in a U-shape. He spent one and a half years creating the idea and the vision of the project before going to Lisbon with his team. One of the crazy things about this aquarium is that its creation only took 6 whole days to complete with his firm vision of what had to be done. On a higher level, another crazy thing about this project is that this is the culmination of a man’s lifetime research and subsequent contribution to aquarium making. Before him, aquariums were dull artificial tanks. Today, those who follow or are influenced by the movement he started, now try and imitate nature in the design of their tanks, especially with the use of live plants and other sea creatures like the Amano shrimp.
7. QUA Bottle Lounge
The QUA Bottle Lounge was a swanky place in Austin, Texas, that not only offered drinks, but a shot of adrenaline as well. The bar featured a 20,000 gallon aquarium filled with sharks and sting rays. The place was reported to be a little pricey, but you have to realize that the upkeep of keeping live sharks and sting rays must have been pretty expensive itself. The aquarium was the center piece of the entire bar and it also doubles as the dance floor. Those who wanted to dance on top of the aquarium were reassured that there was no way the dance floor would break as there were 4 layers of 3-inch acrylic panels that were stacked one on top of the other. The owners of the bar also claimed that the animals were not disturbed nor harmed by the dancing and the music above them. PETA however, were not convinced.
6. Aquadom Radisson Blu Hotel
The Aquadom, housed in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin, Germany, is the world’s largest free standing aquarium at a magnificent 25 meters or 82 feet. The humongous acrylic aquarium holds 1 million litres of salt water and is home to 1,500 tropical fish. The very idea of having a giant aquarium as the marketing point of a posh Berlin hotel seems crazy but it proved to be crazy enough to work. It is the main attraction of the hotel and people can even take a peek inside the giant aquarium with the help of the big elevator through its core. The elevator capacity is 48 people.
5. Phone Booth Aquariums
The Phone Booth Aquariums of France, Belgium, Mauritius and Japan take the 6th spot on our list. Prior to the revolution that was the introduction of cell phones, people all over the world had to rely on public pay phones. Now, most of these phone booths are just relics of a bygone era that litter the streets of major cities. This is why European and Japanese artists have come to the conclusion that the solution for these now antiquated and obsolete pieces of technology lie on them being turned into pieces of public art. In a typical installation, the phone booth is made watertight, filled with water and fish and illuminated with lights.
4. The Golden Nugget Shark Tank
Las Vegas is a place that people visit when they want to experience something that they can’t usually experience where they live. This could be the excitement of winning at a casino or in this case, the pure ecstatic experience of going down a 3 story high water slide (aptly named the Shark Chute) that goes through a large aquarium filled with sharks. Yep, you read that right – sharks. The tank is home to five species of beautiful sharks. These are the brown sharks, sandtiger sharks, the nurse sharks, a zebra shark and the Pacific blacktips. Though the slide is technically encased in glass isolating the rider from the sharks, the experience still creates an immersive feeling that effectively evokes the high of both fear and thrill.
3. Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium located in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the world’s largest aquariums. It is so large in fact, that it houses 4 adult whale sharks. The Georgia Aquarium also allows guests to swim with this giant fish. The guests are reassured that they will be in no danger from these gentle giants since these sharks are filter feeders. This means that they don’t use their teeth (which have devolved into very tiny nubbins), instead they use specialized filter pads to trap krill and plankton. The entire tour lasts about two and half hours with the swim portion lasting about 30 minutes.
2. Monterey Bay Aquarium – Great White Shark
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was unique in that it was the only one of its kind that housed Great White Sharks. Great White Sharks are very powerful creatures that are used to swimming great distances. They are also very carnivorous. These two things in combination make taking care of them in enclosures or aquariums a tall order. The Great White Shark is one of the most feared sea creatures in existence, this is in part thanks to Hollywood imagination, but there is truth in how dangerous they could be especially when a Great White mistakes you for its natural prey, the seal. This is the reason why capturing this ace predator is on the crazy side.
1. Kori No Suizokukan – Frozen Aquarium
And now the craziest aquarium comes right out of Japan. It’s an aquarium that goes against everything an aquarium stands for. It’s a little morbid if you really think about it. It also more closely resembles the frozen section of your local supermarket more than an aquarium. It’s the Kore No Suizokukan. It’s a large walk in warehouse that is filled with ice blocks stacked together forming a series of ice walls. What is crazy about this is that each ice block holds within it a type of sea creature or several sea creatures that have been freeze blasted to preserve them. You can see their perfectly preserved silhouettes and dead eyes right through the translucent hazy finish of the ice. If you really want to be creeped out by this crazy installation art, you just need to realize that you are surrounded by dead animals that are made to look like they’re alive – now that’s crazy.