The boom in demand for high-end aquariums has coincided with a shortage of key aquarium building materials like acrylic, Tiemens said. Grocery stores, restaurants, salons and many other businesses around the world were using acrylic in massive amounts for sneeze guards during the height of the Covid crisis. Mr Calabrese said the worst of the delays had passed, but supplies in general were still backed up. The time it takes to build an aquarium has doubled from around three months to six months, he said.
The supply of fish has also become a challenge. Some remote tropical islands have cut or restricted trade, Calabrese said, making it difficult to access some tropical fish. Yellow flavors, the staple of the brightly colored saltwater aquariums that originated in Hawaii, have skyrocketed and become much harder to find, he said. (They can now cost over $ 500 each, down from less than $ 100.) More and more aquaculture farms are sprouting up to sustainably breed some popular fish, but not all species can be bred.
Keith Poliakoff, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recently built a 550-gallon tank in a den area of his home – an upgrade to the 150-gallon tank from his previous home. Its saltwater aquarium contains live corals, which Mr. Poliakoff says is laborious and expensive to grow and maintain, but also rewarding. (He buys captive-grown coral.) Mr. Poliakoff puts together small fragments, which eventually grow together to form a larger coral – a process that can take years. He selected reef-safe fish, such as clownfish, which do not eat or hinder coral growth.
“Being able to have an aquarium where you can learn how to grow corals and how to thrive and succeed in a protected environment,” he said, “it helps others appreciate the beauty of coral and marine life. . “
The tank, designed by SeaVisions, is in its den and forms the wall behind a bar area.
For those looking to set up or build an aquarium in a new home, the process ideally starts early. Mr. Tiemens, of Infinity, recently accompanied a couple and their broker on their home search in Los Angeles.
The couple wanted a home with a living room that could accommodate a 1,500 gallon tank. They ended up finding a house with an ideal tank layout, with a bedroom and bathroom that they have since converted to aquarium filtration operations and a separate quarantine tank. He and his team used a forklift to get the aquarium into the house, then built the custom cabinets around it.
Putting a high-end tank in a skyscraper adds additional complexity. Justin Muir, owner and lead designer of the City Aquarium in New York City, said additional structural supports, like steel plates to reinforce the floors below, are a must. But it can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost. The rules of the board of directors of condominiums and co-ops often dictate the size of a client. Still, he said it’s possible to build a fairly large aquarium – 300 to 500 gallons, or six to eight feet long – in many taller buildings.