Archive for Friday, August 19, 2011

Fish tank construction not rocket science

August 19, 2011


News flash: There’s a reality show on Animal Planet that has nothing to do with animals. Or nearly nothing. You’d think the proliferation of hog-catching docu-series would end up on Animal Planet, but so far, it remains more about “Whale Wars” than feral boars.

Time was, Animal Planet could create a reality show starring only animals. “Meerkat Manor” took the people-free soap opera idea to its logical limit. Now, with “Tanked” (8 p.m. and 9 p.m.), Animal Planet goes in the opposite direction. While it’s supposed to be about big and big- hearted blue-collar guys who build exotic aquariums for Las Vegas casinos and wealthy residents, it’s really about New Yorkers stranded in America’s gambling mecca. As such, it’s a fish out of water story.

Brett Raymer and Wayde King are brothers-in-law and partners in Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM), one of the country’s leading and most successful builders of aquariums. As in every show since “Monster Garage,” this series involves the practical jokes and hijinks of two goofy guys and their family and employees as they confabulate something wild and artistic before our eyes. They even have an assistant named “Redneck” who lives in a trailer on the premises. A father figure and former New York City policeman dubbed “the General” shows up for about five seconds in the early going and then has the good sense to disappear.

In the first episode, ATM creates a mobster-themed aquarium for a Las Vegas casino and a New York City-scape decoration for some local residents, complete with an aquarium built into an old-fashioned phone booth. There is much talk about how genuine all of the New Yorkers are. Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or perhaps the presence of Las Vegas’ fake version of the New York skyline.

Viewers of “Tanked” may leave the show with an enhanced appreciation of acrylic, but they won’t learn terribly much about tropical fish. This is understandable, because focusing on the fish only reminds us of their dreary and confined existence. How would you feel if somebody plucked you from your tropical paradise and imprisoned you in a plastic phone booth in the middle of a desert? I half expect the gang from “Whale Wars” to bust into town to liberate these captive critters. Now that’s a reality show I’d actually watch!

Tonight’s other highlights

Note: listings may be affected by local coverage of baseball or preseason NFL games.

• A bomb threat interrupts Spike’s death vigil for his father on “Flashpoint” (7 p.m., CBS).

• Audrey has a “Groundhog Day” experience on “Haven” (9 p.m., Syfy).

• Gwen puts family first on “Torchwood” (9 p.m., Starz).

• A champion puts his bushy face forward on “Whisker Wars” (9:30 p.m., IFC).

• Teens train for a texting competition on “Thumbs” (9 p.m., MTV).


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

I have an incredibly interesting aquarium that is one piece of solid Pyrex glass. Actually, I have two set up, but one is smaller. The larger is a chromatography tank that is 12 inches in diameter, and two feet tall. The other is only 18 inches tall. Basically, they are cylinders of glass. They are quite attractive, and quite a few people have commented upon how unique they are.

The 24 inch tall one was a "find" on Ebay, I bought it for only $72 which included shipping, but to purchase a two foot tall and one foot diameter chromatography tank made of Pyrex glass new is about a thousand dollars, I believe. But they have very little value when sold used. I'm not sure what kind of chemical experiments they are used for.

The base of it is a couple pieces of bolted together cast iron from an antique marble top table that has the top now gone, they are actually an Art Deco piece from the 1930s or 1940s. It's from Beverly Hills, California, and I would never be able to find another one anything like it. So the whole thing is one of a kind.

I have all of the problems now solved, with the exception that although it is about 8 or 9 gallons capacity, it can only support about as many fish as a regular 5 gallon tank, due to the limited surface area of the water.

Of some interest is a common misconception that more surface area is required in order to supply the fish with more oxygen, while in fact the limiting factor is how fast carbon dioxide is released from the aquarium water into the air. That is a very old fallacy.

There were quite a few problems in figuring out exactly how to do things which are quite ordinarily done with plain aquariums. A list of all of the problems that came up would be rather lengthy. It certainly made me very aware of how much thought is put into regular aquariums as they are usually seen.

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