Aquariums Gone Wild
By Melissa Bryant
When Mat Roy, President and COO of Living Color Aquariums in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, calls a custom project “a pretty tall task,” it must be quite a feat. Designing and constructing elaborate custom aquariums is bread and butter for the more than 25-year-old company — a remarkable craft revered on their popular Nat Geo WILD series, Fish Tank Kings, now in its third season. So who and what could challenge these seasoned aquatic professionals to tackle a completely novel concept? That would be Thierry Beaud and his fantastical vision of a contemporary LED-lit aquarium for his nautical-themed Palm Beach restaurant, PB Catch.
Not Your Typical Day at Sea
Mahogany paneling, white-leather furniture and silver embellishments adorn the luxurious yacht-inspired interior of this eco-friendly seafood house, PB Catch. For owner Beaud, the only aspect preventing patrons from truly feeling like they were traveling at sea while dining was an element of water.
“Thierry made it evident he didn’t want anything traditional,” said Roy. “He envisioned having multicolor lights illuminate translucent sculptural elements in a simple tank. Typically, we build coral reef to camouflage any plumbing in an aquarium, which wasn’t possible on this project because he didn’t want any coral reef. Our dilemma was not so much in size, but rather whether we could honestly get the client what he wanted and have it not only meet but exceed his expectations which is always our goal.”
After months of testing models and revisiting the drawing board, the Living Color Aquariums’ team successfully built a glowing 350-gallon saltwater aquarium with clear bamboo accents. All we had left to do was “wrangle up a few lions.”
Sea Safari to Find Lions
If you’ve seen the magnificent aquarium at PB Catch, then you know it’s teeming with lions — lionfish, of course. Not only are they poisonous, but they also present a danger to local marine life and native reef ecosystems.
In order to promote awareness of this environmental threat, Beaud chose to use only lionfish in the PB Catch aquarium.
“Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region, but they were caught here under special permit because lionfish are now an invasive species in our local waters,” said Roy. “They feed on local fish but do not have any known predators. Before long, they will literally be changing the makeup of our ecosystem.
“By far, my favorite part of this job is unveiling aquariums to new owners and watching them stand in awe as they marvel at their aquarium for the first time,” said Roy. “But to raise awareness about an environmental issue – well, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
To see the PB Catch aquarium in person, go to 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach, FL 33480. If you have an idea for a unique custom aquarium or would like to tour the home of Nat Geo WILD’s Fish Tank Kings, call (800) 878-9511 or visit www.livingcolor.com.