Design & Interiors

Pricey wall aquariums, the latest status symbol

Soft Ivory bar room with built in the wall aquarium
Soft Ivory bar room with built in the wall aquarium. PHOTO | COURTESTY 

Nothing says you have arrived quite like the grandeur of a large bespoke aquarium in your living room.

The appealing tanks that pop in nightclubs and restaurants have made their way into homes.

These impressive built-in wall aquariums are however not for beginners who just want to raise a few gold fish. They are pricey, permanent home decorating elements.

Martin Mwenda, the founder of Aqua Century Interior Solutions says that many Kenyans are now thinking of ways to make their homes more appealing with bigger, six-figure aquariums.

“The small fish tanks are not popular anymore and even people living in rentals are not left out. We make aquarium TV stands and some are even keeping the fish in coffee tables,” he says.


While the design varies according to the taste and style of the home, he adds that the coffee table and wall aquariums are still low maintenance and they give a home the wow factor.

“Depending on the size and system type, of a reef aquarium maintenance can be done weekly of every two weeks,” he says.

Even if they look big, most of the built-in aquariums require little floor space and yet they give that oceanic view which is relaxing.

Those mounted directly into the wall are known as a “portrait aquarium” or simply a “wall aquarium.”

Wall-mounted tanks vary in size, but they are typically four to six inches deep with a height between 16 and 18 inches and a length of about 18 inches. It is possible to find larger models, reaching up to six feet long.

However, Alex King’ori, the founder of Aquarcare says that adding fish tanks to the walls is slightly expensive and requires a bigger team.

“We need plumbers, electricians... and such as a job can cost up to Sh450,000,” he says.

But before installing the fish tank, structural tests have to be done on the wall to ensure that it is stable enough to hold the water, the corals and fish.

Mr Mwenda adds that most wall mounted fish tanks are thin so that they provide some little surface area for the water to come in contact with the air and allow for oxygen diffusion.

‘‘Without sufficient aeration, the oxygen levels in a such a wall mounted fish tank can drop dramatically, and easily stress or kill your fish, particularly if the tank is well-stocked,” he says.

There are unique challenges associated with creating and keeping a wall-mounted tank versus a traditional aquarium.

“It is also important to note that a wall-mounted tank will limit your fish selection as you can only get small fish that would be happy in such a slim tank. Fish size is limited to the width of the tank,” he says.