The luxury market is booming for high end aquariums and Living Color is supplying the demand. Their show is called Fish Tank Kings on Nat Geo for a reason. Living Color Aquariums is one of the largest companies in the business of fish tank design and engineering. Creating everything from 100 gallon to 3,000 gallon tanks for both commercial and residential spaces.
The world of fish tank design has been revolutionized by acrylic instead of glass. By using this flexible material to build aquariums, the designers have more leeway to be creative. From aquariums in the shape of crumpled brown paper bags to turning an old Volkswagon into a neon, coral filled, fish housing structure, the only limit is the budget.
But don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Most of the time it’s what’s inside that matters. Living Color specializes in simulated corals that, according to owner Mat Roy, they create by “[taking] a silicone mold of a fossilized piece of coral and…[pouring] a urethane product into that mold and demold what looks like a coral.” This process let’s the client have the beauty of the coral without having to take it from it’s natural environment and disturbing the ecosystem. That is not to say that they won’t go above and beyond for a client. Want a sting ray in your living room tank? No problem. Mat Roy and his team will dive to the bottom of the ocean and, as we see in season 2, catch the animal with their bare hands. How’s that for dedication? According to Mat, no one’s ever been hurt on his team, including the sting ray, who he says is “a rather hardy animal” that does well in aquariums.
Living Color houses a quarantine facility where they hold the fish. The quarantine facility has 60,000 gallons of water running through it, with over 250 aquariums that any day can have $100,000 worth of fish. “Quarantining the fish is extremely important for this industry,” Mat says, “one diseased fish can potentially introduce that disease to all the fish.” These fish are quarantined for 30 days to guarantee that when they are delivered to retail stores or clients, they are disease free and fed well.
Their clients request specific tanks mostly to sit back and enjoy their beautiful fish, so Living Color offers their clients a portfolio showing a vast variety of different species that are compatible with one another. They have even gone as far as Curacao to catch the most exotic deep water specimens to put in the tanks. However, for the safety of the animals, Living Color tries to stay away from catching exotic marine life because the transfer from being in the ocean to being on a plane can take days and add stress on the animals. “It’s certainly not fair to the animals, or the environment,” says Roy.
Some clients are also big coral aficionados. Living Color will create the coral portfolio from coral farms such as Ora Farms, who currently cultures over 120 varieties of corals.
And don’t think that maintaining corals is a breeze. Corals are actually a living organism that requires a “system with adequate flow,” says Mat Roy. “You also want a lot of water movement, so sometimes you’re adding additional pumps just to push the water around the aquarium to create current. Live corals need a lot of current and they need a very substantial filtration system to keep the water crystal clear.” Mat also tells us that “the thing with dealing with live corals is that it does limit your fish portfolio.” He says that most people want to showcase the corals, so they don’t get fish that will take attention away from them.
Roy and his team create many custom works of fish tank art for their clients. If you request it, they can conceptualize it and bring it to life.
You can catch Season 2 of Fish Tank Kings on National Geographic later this fall.