As with many new aquarium installations that begin in the design process, this started with the decision of saltwater vs. freshwater. I’ve used this analogy a thousand times but if I hold up a freshwater fish in one hand and a saltwater fish in the other, the large majority of people are going to agree the saltwater fish is more interesting and attractive. But, there is a difference in cost for set up and ongoing maintenance as well, with salt water being more costly.
However, the freshwater/saltwater decision wasn’t based on cost. The space was raw with concrete floors, and exposed brick walls and ceiling. The fixtures and furniture were all very hip, eclectic, and modern. My thought was the decoration and look of a freshwater tank would be a great complement to this setting, with natural rock and stone, driftwood, and lush green synthetic plants. My idea was to make the tank a window of nature in an otherwise very urban landscape. And boy did it work.
I think that for us midwestern folks, a saltwater aquarium with bright colored corals and fish that look like they are from Mars falls in the unusual and exotic category. A freshwater aquarium, on the other hand, reflects something we could find in a local stream, river, or lake.
Ultimately, what I really liked most about working on this tank, aside from the fantastic folks that own the store and work there, is that this aquarium serves as proof that a freshwater aquarium is nothing to look down at. There are plenty of great fish, the décor is beautiful, and in this particular environment I think works even better than a saltwater aquarium.