Over-the-top aquariums bring the sea inside with a focus on architecture and design. By Brooke Neuman

There are few better ways to emulate the tranquil elements of the ocean in your home than by adding an aquarium. Nowadays, aquarium designers are thinking outside the box (or rather the rectangle), finding new ways to incorporate design into their aquatic works of art. Richard Bilow, director of California-based Aqua Terra Studios, combines his passions for architecture and art to turn out some of the most forward-thinking fish tanks around.

BilowÂ’s design philosophy centers on his unique creative perspective as an artist and sculptor. Each aquarium is created as a multi-dimensional mixed-media art installation and includes innovative concepts such as glass art, illuminated photography, sculpture, and even cinematography.
Bilow’s A-list clients have included Shaquille O’Neal, Courteney Cox, the San Diego Marriott Hotel, and The Friars of Beverly Hills. He finds his “greatest strengths come forth when working with people who love art, architecture, and design.”

Placement is a key design element when building an aquarium, Bilow says. Indoor aquariums can act as a focal point in any space, or they can just add a special touch to any area in your home. “Whenever possible, it is helpful to place an aquarium away from direct sunlight and out of extremely bright environments,” says Bilow. Lots of direct sunlight can increase the growth of algae, which makes maintenance difficult. However, Bilow once created an aquarium exhibit that acted as a room divider and focused on the sunsets and ocean views of a client’s backdrop. “The visual effect made them well worth the extra maintenance,” he says.

Also key when designing an aquarium, Bilow says, is accommodating the necessary equipment to ensure easy access for maintenance. “Large saltwater aquariums, for example, require lots of equipment and regular care.  If there is nowhere to place the components required and exhibits are created without the parts they really need, problems are inevitable.”

With all the right parts and conditions in place, however, these over-the-top indoor aquariums are the perfect way to bring the things you love most about the ocean into the comfort of your own home. Aqua-Terra Studios, 310-314-2216, studioaqua.net


The get the Spacearium

Innovators at Aquarium ASP have created the new state-of-the-art Spacearium, whose ceiling suspension creates a dramatic effect and yields 360-degree views of life inside the tank. Its contoured shape and sleek design create a beautiful focal point or divider for your living room without the bulky clutter of a traditional aquarium. Thanks to its unique panoramic design, the Spacearium can be placed in almost any space. Its lightweight acrylic frame and remote filtration allow for maximum transparency. Choose from an array of local aquatic life, including fresh- or saltwater fish. The Spacearium is available in three sizes: five, six, and eight feet. $4,900-$8,400, spacearium.net.