If your an artist and the thought of perfecting your craft is what constitutes most of your day dreaming, then you have probably ran into the concept of the Golden Ratio. If not then I will briefly explain it. The golden ratio is the proportion of the left and right halves of the aquarium being aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This concept originated from the Greeks and was applied to many different forms of art and is still widely used today from fashion to painting to architecture.The focal point of the aquarium should never be the dead center of the tank but just slightly off to either the left or the right. By doing so, you allow the eye to be drawn smoothly to where you want instead of forcing the viewer to pick a side to set his gaze on. When a tank is set up too symmetrically, you are forcing the viewer to split their gaze and instead you want them to take in the whole scene gracefully. This concept is brilliantly done in the photo and the proportion lines are clearly marked so you can get a good visual representation of the concept. Applying this method to your design is fairly simple and all you need is some measuring tape and a pencil to mark off where the Golden Ratio lies. Then design your aquascape around this, whether it be reef or planted aquarium, the concept still holds true. 

(Source: aquatic-eden.com)

There are very few fish in a reef system that can even stand to be around one another, much less thrive with many of their brethren close by. The Blue Green Chromis is the exception to that rule. This fish does very well in groups and is one of the only schooling fish available in the reef hobby that stays relatively small topping out at about three inches. The reason I bring this very common fish to light is because it is actually very rarely seen in big groups in reef systems. These fish in numbers bigger than twenty are absolutely breathtaking and can stun even the most seasoned hobbyist. They are the Neon Tetra to the reef community. Very affordable and hardy, this is a fish I would like to see more often in larger reef systems than the usual couple of massive fish that ruin the scale of the design. The entire idea behind design is to take what you have and make it seem grander and bigger than what it really is. To get lost in beauty is the goal. Therefore these fish are absolutely perfect for larger reefs when trying to achieve the perfect look.

Here is an aquarium that I built a while ago. This is an 11 gallon frameless Mr. Aqua aquarium with an Ecosystem Refugium at the bottom for filtration. This is some of my earlier work as you can tell by the lack of thought on color arrangement and general placement of corals. But nonetheless, this system is a great way to showcase what a typical reef looks like. Corals are generally not thought of in a design sense, just a collector-itis sense. As you can see this is just a bunch of different corals arranged haphazardly to just show density rather than design. I use my own reef as an example because to just maintain a reef is kudos to those who can so I wouldn’t want to downplay anybodies attempts at these systems. What I am more interested in is using these corals in such a way that they can create a work of art rather than a photocopy of the same old reef time and time again.

Green Star Polyps are the perfect coral for a well designed reef. They fit this title because they have the ability to grow over just about anything and can give the effect of aquatic grass. When used properly, they can become beautiful rolling hills or nice accent bushes. As you can see from the photo, this coral can grow dense which lends it to being used in tighter cuts along rock edges. Don’t be afraid to cut out what you don’t want either. This coral can be fragged without harming the rest of the colony because it molds over rock like a skin and each individual polyp is its own body. With a few well adjusted powerheads and the right imagination, this coral can become a gorgeous, waving field of lush greenery.

Here is one of the most unique fish available in the saltwater hobby. It is called the Flaming Prawn Goby. This remarkable beauty caps out at a mere 3/4” - 1”. It leads a very secluded life and scientists know very little about it other than what hobbyist have observed. A pico tank (1 - 5 gallons) is the best option for viewing purposes. The Flaming Prawn Goby has a remarkable personality when it isn’t peeking out of its home among the rocks. It flares up constantly when happy and will walk more than swim along the substrate. For an accent to the aquarium, to showcase their orange and red spotted pattern, try using only similarly colored zoanthids. It will help him blend in more to his surroundings and make for a spectacular showcase tank.

One of the most unique fish in the freshwater community, the Samurai Gourami does not disappoint any hobbyist willing to put in the extra mile to showcase this rare gem. The Samurai Gourami is relatively new to the hobby with very little that is known about them. The blues in their pattern lend them to be used amongst bright green plants, such as Rotala Indica sp. Green or Pogostemon Helferi. The red on the underbelly should be represented using a splash of red in the mid to upper foliage, such as Pogostemon Stellatus or Rotala Macandra. Another good tip would be to let these fish be the dominating species in the tank and let another schooling fish with a more subdued look be an accent to their vivid pattern, such as Galaxy Rasboras.

Here is an absolutely beautiful depiction of florescence in coral reefs. Their ability to produce this amazing phenomenon is what makes the hobby of reef keeping so magical. You can even see toward the end of the video some slugs that are producing their own florescence. Another great video by Frans De Backer.


(by Raquel de Castro)

This could be a beautiful aquascape if a hobbyist utilized the right aquarium. Let the patches of moss blend together a little bit more and you have yourself a very unique and beautiful piece of nature, all inside a glass box.