Aquarium-ania: fizzy or fizzling out?

Find out how to maintain an aquarium and whether this popular home interior feature is here to stay.

Saadia Qamar June 13, 2014
Aquariums are a great way of incorporating nature into the house. PHOTOS: FILE


Aquariums are an aqua-life enthusiast’s guilty pleasure. Tanking a variety of fish species, which are a visual treat, they add value to the aesthetics of a house. For many, their maintenance may be tantamount to shooting fish in a barrel, but given the fast-paced life of today, it can be challenging for some.

Also difficult for people, is to determine what space would be most suitable to place a tank. The Express Tribune talks to aquarium owners and interior designers about all-things aquarium and whether this home interior feature is here to stay.

For as long as aquarium owner Ejazul Haq remembers, he has been fond of fish. “I have owned aquariums ever since I was a school-going kid. This passion has grown over a period of 22 years,” he says. “I started with owning a small aquarium and now, have a five-feet-tall aquarium in my house.” His aquarium houses a multitude of fishes, including the goldfish, silver bar fish, glass fish and bluelined triggerfish.

But Haq admits that starting off he didn’t know much about taking care of fish. It was not until he was taught the basics by an aquarium shop owner that he understood the right way to feed the fish, and filter and clean the water tank.

Aquariums may be a constant factor in houses owned by those avidly interested in them, interior designer Attiya Rashid, CEO of Home Couture, considers them as primitive and unkempt. “Fish tanks are an archaic and tacky interior inclusion in a home. Fish ponds and other open-water features are being preferred for their natural feel and the humane-living environment they provide to fish.”

Interior designer Saba Pervez Dada, CEO and co-founder of Address, says that aquariums are a great way of incorporating nature into the house. She explains that the culture of aquariums in Karachi has always been a part of homes, however, now, interior designers attempt to incorporate it in a more aesthetically pleasing way. “Traditionally, aquariums would be kept in a standalone corner but, with innovative interior design techniques, it can be incorporated into furniture pieces or even installed in the floor,” says Dada.

Rashid believes that such features must be strategically added to a house. “A fish pond can be placed at the entrance or central courtyard of a house, so it has visibility and can provide a good energy flow in the house. Conservatories are another good spot for house ponds,” she explains.

Dada advises people to keep in mind the size of their aquarium and not go for something too big. “People should definitely opt for small aquariums. It starts looking like a tourist attraction point rather than a design feature if it’s too big,” she shares.

Are aquariums an obstruction in the daily house activities? “No, it is actually the other way round. General physicians recommend an aquarium in the house, citing that it reduces one’s blood pressure and keeps diabetic patient’s sugar levels normal. It is essentially meant for relaxation purposes and just a mere look at it eases one’s mind,” says Ejaz.

However, he points out two problems that inevitably arise if an aquarium is installed in one’s home. First, given the heavy load-shedding in the country, an electrically-operated aquarium can be fatal for the fish, and second, ensuring that the fish aren’t overfed is always tricky. In the latter case, he suggests it is better to leave them unfed for a few hours than to overfeed them as that can kill them. One should feed the fish on time and cleanse their water tank at least once a week,” he states.

How to make an aquarium at home

Build your own aquarium with your kids following these instructions. It’s fun and productive. Here is a step-by-step procedure from Crafts for Kids, for making the perfect aquarium for your living room.

Things you will need:

•  A large clear plastic container

•  Oil/non-toxic paints and a paintbrush

• Shells, stones and corals

• Fish


•  Wash and dry the container. Next, paint it; it’s great to decorate the aquarium and make it visually pleasing

•  Put shells and pebbles at the bottom of the tank and pour water, it’s preferable to use filtered water

•  Put your fish in the tank, preferably two, so they keep each other company. It will be good if you add special aquatic plants to the aquarium 


•  Don’t bother the fish too much

•  Keep the water clean

•  Feed the fish every day

•  Don’t allow the feed to lie at the bottom of the tank; it will lead to rapid contamination of water

•   Place the aquarium in a well-lit place

Food recipe for fish:

Add spinach leaves and pieces of bread to flour paste and leave the mixture under the sun till it becomes a dry-crusted bun. Break it into small pieces and feed them to the fish in the aquarium. Courtesy: Ejazul Haq

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2014.

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Naheer | 7 years ago | Reply

A lot is wrong with this article as David has commented above. You are promoting the keeping of fish in small plastic containers. That is absolute torture. Apart from only one fish, the Siamese Fighting Fish, also called a Betta and locally referred to as "fighter', is the only fish that could live in this type of a setup. And that poor soul will die there within months because of the shortage of space (recommended space per fish is 20gallons). Secondly the corals are salt water based, and will result in brackish water and massive fluctuations. With fish food available at Rs.100 for a quantity that will last two months, why would anyone need to restrict a fish' diet to just bread crumbs? There is nothing but fibre in it. Fish need vitamins etc and a balanced diet is the first step. Thirdly, well lit is dangerous for fish. Especially in the weather we have these days. If water reaches levels of 30 degree+ it will start to kill the fish off because oxygen doesn't dissolve properly in this temp. The solution is actually to have more water in a tank (takes longer to heat up), and to keep it away from sunlight and windows (which cause drafts and have very big spikes in temps).

NT | 7 years ago | Reply


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