There seems to be two conflicting philosophies in the world of marketing. One camp believes that you should go big or go home with elaborate, eye-catching commercials that include rock music, super models, and dozens of ridiculously happy people — think liquor commercials that show beautiful people partying the night away with drinks in hand. The other group believes that there is elegance in simplicity. Rather than using flashy colors and fast movement, they slow things down by utilizing a lot of white space — think Apple commercials. There’s a similar conflict going on right now in the world of custom aquariums.
Tell me, which of these aquarium designs do you prefer? This one:
Or this one:
These two aquariums represent two sides of the same coin. The first is so complex and colorful that it’s nearly overwhelming. The colors meld and clash together in a near endless swirl of intricate coral and tropical fish. The other aquarium is almost zen-like in its simplicity. There are only a handful of colors and the basic design allows viewers to absorb the entire scene at first glance.
There’s no real right or wrong answer here — it’s not like one type of aquarium is objectively better than the other. It all boils down to taste, but understanding where you fall on the complexity-simplicity aesthetic spectrum will help you figure out what type of custom aquarium is right for you.
Complex aquariums are typically saltwater, and for good reason. Corals grow in elaborate designs and have bright colors, rivaled only by the frilly tropical fish that make saltwater tanks their home. Tropical reefs represent a level of diversity that you just can’t find anywhere else. You can have slender purple fish, fat yellow fish, spiky black fish, and eels happily living alongside each other. With visually complex aquascapes, it’s easy to get lost in the intricacy of it all.
Have you ever seen one of those Where’s Waldo puzzles? A lot of the fun comes from finding Waldo, but you also can’t help but marvel at how complex the scene is. You can spend hours studying every little detail, putting the pieces together in your mind. Complicated Rube Goldberg machines are another good example. The fun lies in how delightfully, absurdly complex the machine is.
Complex aquariums have the same effect. They invite viewers to pull up a chair and mull over all of the complicated organisms in the tank. Complex aquariums are perfect if you want a stimulating environment that excites brain activity and captivates viewers.
Simple aquariums have the complete opposite effect. Rather than exciting brain activity with elaborate colors, simple aquariums have a calming effect with gentle shapes and dull colors.
If complex aquariums are like a visual roller coaster, then simple aquariums are like the aquascape equivalent of a back rub and a cocktail. Simple aquariums are better if you want to create a mellow atmosphere that promotes relaxation.
For simple aquariums you’re probably better off sticking with freshwater tanks. Green plant life is soothing and freshwater tanks usually involve earth tones rather than neon colors.
Keep in mind that simple and complex aquariums aren’t the only options. Plenty of aquariums exist in a middle ground between the two extremes. This is especially true for complex freshwater aquariums and simple saltwater tanks. These hybrids tend to combine the best of both worlds. Complex freshwater tanks, for example, bring together the soothing shapes of freshwater plants with the complexity of an overgrown garden.