There have been a couple of viral videos floating around the Internet showcasing the mind-boggling effects of hydrophobic chemicals. If you haven’t seen them before, I’ll let you take a look for yourself:
The best way to help you understand this bizarre chemical is to break down the name. Hydro means water, and phobic means fear of. So, a hydrophobic chemical hates and avoids water. Oil, for example, is hydrophobic and won’t dissolve in water.
In contrast, most of the materials that you’re familiar with in everyday life are hydrophilic (philia means love). That means that they’re attracted to water molecules or the material is dissolved by water. That’s why it looks so freaking weird when we see water pour across hydrophobic surfaces — it’s so uncommon in nature because we aren’t used to seeing water act like that.
NeverWet and other hydrophobic brand chemicals could have a truly unique impact on the aquarium hobby, especially since hydrophobic materials won’t dissolve in water by their very nature. From a purely mechanical perspective, coating your aquarium’s gadgets in hydrophobic coating could help them survive daily wear and tear or make cleanup much easier. You could use the chemical to protect your LED lights from harmful saltwater splashes, you could treat the inside rim of the aquarium so that beads of moisture don’t form right above the surface of the water, and you could coat your protein skimmer to make cleanup a breeze.
One of the coolest things about hydrophobic chemicals is that they can completely waterproof your electrical products. The researchers in the video completely immerse an iPhone without any trouble whatsoever. Do you want to create an aquascape with an underwater iPad? I’m not really sure why you’d want to, but with NeverWet at least you have the option! It makes me think back to that aquarium that was shaped like an aquatic dollhouse. That aquascaper could convert an iPod into a miniature underwater TV to complete the dollhouse feel.
Personally, I think the best way to use NeverWet is to play with falling water. We’re used to seeing water fall in a certain way because we see it almost every day — in the shower, when we brush our teeth, when we cook, etc. Water rolling across a hydrophobic surface looks bizarre and alien because it goes against our expectations. You could create a truly captivating waterfall or fountain that draws attention to these beads of water.
For example, let’s suppose that you create a paludarium-aquarium hybrid. You could have a small waterfall trickle across the paludarium plantscape before spilling over into the aquarium. Covering the surface of the waterfall with a hydrophobic coating will fundamentally change the aesthetic, making it look alien and bizarre.
It will be interesting to see how hydrophobic chemicals impact the aquascaping hobby as aquascapers toy with clever uses for the chemical. Will hydrophobic pumps and filters become a common feature in modern aquariums? Will aquascapers experiment with beading waterfalls and seemingly magic pools of water that avoid spreading out?