For fish, I suspect that a professionally designed custom aquarium is the equivalent of a $10 million luxury mansion. Your fish have a beautiful home that’s constantly maintained and carefully manicured. To top it all off they’ve got you to wait on them hand and food, feeding them tiny little morsels of gourmet fish cuisine whenever they get hungry. Talk about a luxury life. And as we all know, every swanky modern mansion needs a swimming pool. It’s too bad that you can’t install a swimming pool in your home aquarium… or can you?
The whole idea of water-within-water sounds ridiculous, but an underwater pool is actually fairly easy to pull off. With a few clever tricks, you can utilize an optical illusion that will make the bottom of your aquarium look like a body of water.
The concept shouldn’t be completely new to you. A while ago I described how to use white sand to create realistic miniature underwater waterfalls. It’s the same idea here — we’ll use unorthodox materials to trick the eye.
The most effective strategy is to simply play with expectations. This fish hotel comes with a swimming pool, a water slide, and even a little life guard post — you know, just in case one of the fish swimmers starts to drown.
The pool is a slightly darker shade of blue to give it the illusion that it’s a pool of water. Well… it is a pool of water, but so is everything else! What makes the illusion so effective is that it plays with our head. When we see a swimming pool we expect it to contain water, so the blue-colored swimming pool makes our brain fills in the blanks.
This beautiful freshwater aquascape uses a similar strategy. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that this is actually a picture of dry land with a genuine waterfall, but believe it or not this whole thing is underwater. How can I be sure? You can spot a pair of tiny shrimp near the mouth of the underwater waterfall.
The aquascaper used a white material to create the illusion of whitewater rapids. Whenever we see white vertical fuzzy stripes over the surface of rocks, our brain kicks in and goes, “Oh! I know what that is! It’s a waterfall!”
It’s amazing what you can do with a little bit of paint, isn’t it? You can use any number of blue materials to create this optical illusion of a swimming pool. Transparent blue glass, colored acrylic panels, or even something as simple as a blue-colored hole can transform the bottom of your aquascape into a pseudo body of water. The cloud-like paint job on the back of the aquascape really seals the deal and helps to establish a sense of scale. I know that I’m looking at an aquarium that’s small enough to fit on a bookshelf, but it feels like I’m looking at a vast mountain chain set across a wind-swept sky in the middle of a bright summer day.