by Richard Brown
Unique Beauty can be found everywhere. Some places its more apparent then others. Unique art through novel mediums expressing other worldly ideas; that words fail to express. Art is way of conveying ideas beyond the meaning of words. Visual art transcends language communicating ideas, concepts, and impressions.
I have combined Biology, Chemistry, and physics to create a 3 demensional piece of art that lives and breathes. Aquarium design is a high art with competitions and prizes beyond most art forms. I went beyond the schools of aquarium design. Instead of arranging aquatic plants with the fauna as an after thought, I designed a planted aquarium around the animals. Making normally incompatible species compatible, by carefully selecting and balancing the numbers of select species from around the world. Every consideration had to be made to create this example of unique beauty.
Life abounds refusing to be contained with in the glass confines. Emergent growth is rampant, in a reduced maintenance system. It has become a new style that developed before my knowledge of others with similar setups called ripariums. Mine developed a dissimilar feature with the intentional breaking of lines of sight. This creates the illusion of a window looking out into the fishy world through the panes of glass that enclose them. Each creature and plant is unique. That uniqueness is the foundation of a continuing depth of strange and unique beauty.
The Emerald Cory is an ugly one in pet stores. It seems undeserving of their common name and their scientific name Brochis splendens. The muddy gray brown on their armored body is tragic. The color-shift blue-green with pink flakes adorning the head of a hand held dirt devil body, only appears when salt isn't added to their water. They flit around all day occasionally gasping at the surface even in highly oxygenated tanks. They are extremely peaceful. Their only defenses are their armored body with two rows of scales interlocking like roman armor, and their ability to swim away. They are often starved and harassed to death by their tank mates. Another unique feature is their secretion of a pheromone, like that of the Tiger Barbs mating pheromone half a world away. The incessant fin nippers will caress and cuddle with them lovingly instead of ripping them apart, like similarly fashioned and behaving fish. Mother natures quirk is difficult of biologist to comprehend. Even their common name comes from a miss-classification of this exotic beauty form the mountainous head waters of the Amazon. They are separated by thousands of miles from other Brochis' that live in estuaries all around South America.
Tiger Barbs are a critically endangered species teetering on the edge of being extinct in the wild because of habitat destruction in the developing nations of south east Asia. They are a small species growing three inches at most. Their vertically flattened diamond shaped body with its small triangular fins enables them swim lightning quick. Tiger Barbs are a blur of bold patterning. They behave as jet fighters, performing synchronized swimming stunts in their school with strict hierarchy. Inside and outside rolls, leading into barrel rolls, as they trail each other in tight formation. This is unlike any other fish. They are very common in fish stores but won't perform unless they are given a million hiding places to teleport to. Tiger Barbs are insanely fast, giving the fastest predators a workout as they elude of days and weeks inside close confines. They are notorious fin nippers, famous for reducing fish many times their sized to a finless floating carcasses. A gang of teenage boys is a fitting discription; mercilessly tormenting anything that is slow, flamboyant, or defenseless. In small groups they will include tank mates into their hierarchy; almost always with them at the top, unless particularly aggressive fish takes the alpha position away from the top dog Tiger Barb. The more colorful and boldly pattered a Tiger Barb is the more aggressive it will be. I only pick the most stunning.
I was in the pet store on day browsing through the fish tanks not planning to buy anything, a common past-time for me, and I saw a him. A little guy commanding the exact center of a wildly over crowded Fire Mouth tank. His flame red throat intimidating the others. This was an extremely rare bully that had developed intense coloration far beyond the normal renown of male Fire Mouths. He was almost half the size of his siblings but commanded twice the area of the other elites. I had to have him. I would never find another like him. He was just right as a new addition. He weaved in and out, avoiding the net, and managing to get most of his tank mates caught in it; being the fastest by no small margin. He was finally cornered with another giant male. Easily twenty others, cowered on the far side of the tank. The net moved in and the giant darted to the rest of the school. The little guy instantly vaporized, vanished. Me and the attendant looked at each other dumb founded. While he searched the school for it obvious stand out member, I began to look in the small cracks and crevices. I found what must be him hiding under the filter. What he pulled out clearly wasn't. It was something far rarer, a female with such intense coloration that she could easily be mistaken for a male.
When I put her in my tank she immediately began to declare her territory, assuming the station of alpha in the school of Tiger Barbs. She still fights with them constantly as they come to my Emerald Cory's rescue. The Emerald Cory is competition to her. Not only is she a constant invasion of the bottom of the tank but also eats the food she demands is hers. Fire Mouth threat displays are very similar to the Tiger Barb mating ritual. They instinctively flash in, trying to join. This distracts the Fire Mouth who's territory is now being invaded by even more fish, allowing the Emerald Cory to slip away. Fire Mouths are very territorial of their niche and would normally harass an armored catfish to death. The small school of Tiger Barbs is essential to their successful cohabitation.
While the other species live the life of pomp, flashing their brilliant colors and patterns in full light, Snowflake lays in the deeply shadowed recesses. Her pale form emerging at night like a ghost. Her red eyes roaming the darkness consuming with delight the always present algae growth. She has retractable spikes under her gill plate, that she will wield like switch blades when she feels threatened. The Emerald Corry swims to her when others get to rowdy. The rest have spent at least their first week huddled in the furthest corner, after they test her. A nipped fin is a statement of dominance, but a removed scale is a death sentence from the infection that will sood follow. Snowflake doesn't fight fair. Bristle nose plecos get their name from the male of their species. They have fleshy growths called tendricles adoring their head that look like tentacles. Snowflake is an albino female, creamy white with pale yellow spots, and small red beads for eyes. She is the phantom of the tank and the stand out beauty. She provides the service of contrast making herself that strange sort of pretty, that came around full circle through ugly, becoming pretty again. I don't mean in the eye of the beholder, she's gorgeous and far from simply. Shes undemanding eating a portion of the algae and chewing the underside of the drift wood that she made her den. Nothing dares disturb her and she'd rather not bother anybody else. She's calm and confident. I can reach in and pet her, making her my pet fishy.
I look at the world and see a depth of unique beauty. I see it in more than just what things are, but also in how things interact and change. Novel artistic creations make excellent examples. You don't have to know what goes into it to appreciate it, seeing it is enough, and nothing can replicate it: that something that is truly unique and beautiful.