Interiors: Luxury aquariums take north London fishtanks to a new level

A far cry from the funfair goldfish allowed home by reluctant parents, only to be flushed down the loo when they die, today’s offspring of the rich and famous are ordering their very own Nemo or ‘ocellaris clownfish’ for their luxury aquariums.

This is the latest trend in elite interior decorating and is becoming increasingly popular in residential properties in London, as well as on yachts and private jets.

Of course, the idea of extravagant aquariums is nothing new to Hampstead residents who recall the furore over footballer Thierry Henry’s planning application to rebuild his mansion to accommodate a four-storey, 25,000 litre tank.

Aquarium Architecture, a firm specialising in the design and maintenance of these fancy fishtanks, has provided their services to several North London clients and don’t see demand slowing any time soon.

As Daniela Iurascu explains: “There’s a big trend emerging for the use of natural materials in furniture. There’s a lot of wood, rocks and stone being used and these aquariums reflect that interest in nature but with an extra colourful element. They’re like living walls.”

One of the company’s grandest domestic installations is built in the basement of a luxury Hampstead townhouse. The 5,000 litre tank is constructed from special optically clear glass, with a sturdy steel and granite frame, and houses more than 200 marine fish. It provides a unique backdrop to the dining area, which also overlooks a large Japanese garden.

“We recommend putting the aquariums in the living room as it’s a comfortable room where people can sit and admire the fish. Also the aquariums have great health benefits as they’re very relaxing,” says Iurascu.

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“The dining room has become popular recently, maybe because people are entertaining more – and they’re real conversation pieces.”

Separation walls are also popular with clients, for example at Sherlock House in Bloomsbury, where the freshwater tank forms part of the division between the living room and the children’s play area. The brief from the client specified that the aquarium multitask as an educational tool for the children and a calming backdrop to the living area, providing an element of Feng Shui.

The aquariums can be noisy so are not recommended for bedrooms, but the 3.5 metre-long curved acrylic model installed in a house in Queen’s Gate is specially designed to be almost silent and can be controlled via iPhone from anywhere in the world.

This is not your average pet shop fare and unsurprisingly the service does not come cheap. Aquariums cost between £10,000 and around £100,000 while fish, which clients can choose from a catalogue, cost from £10 to thousands of pounds.

“We do offer advice on which fish to get: not all fish get along with each other,” says Iurascu.

“Some species need to have other species in the same tank to survive. Some fish are more aggressive than others, some can eat each other.

“That happened to us in our office actually. We had a nice angel fish and one day we got a new puffer fish. When I got to work the next day the angel fish had disappeared – he’d been eaten by the puffer fish. He wasn’t really meant to be in there, it was only temporary for one night.”

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