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Scaling the Heights
October 24, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Aquaculturalist creates observation tower for fish. Fish enjoy the view. SLYT Who knew that fish liked to get high?

Also Looks nice at night.
posted by kinnakeet (52 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
They won't see us blooping from such great heights.
posted by SharkParty at 8:52 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was... not what I was expecting from an "observation tower for fish." Awesome.
posted by lydhre at 8:53 AM on October 24, 2011


Presumably the water pressure is lower up there. Does that de-oxygenate the water at all? In other words, are they *figuratively* getting high as well as literally?
posted by DU at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2011


I'm glad it isn't my job to scrub that thing out.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:54 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyone know how this guy CHANGED THE LAWS OF FREAKING PHYSICS!!?
posted by Trochanter at 8:56 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fish-cube... that's pretty cool. I would assume that there's some biological reason for the fish to be up there? I'm sure there's an ichthyologist somewhere on this site.
posted by codacorolla at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2011


Trochanter: there's no magic, there's just nowhere for the water to go. Ever held up a straw full of soda with your finger over the top? Soda doesn't fall out because nothing can flow in to replace it.
posted by introp at 8:58 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would assume that there's some biological reason for the fish to be up there?

"Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?"

"Because it's there."
posted by mhoye at 8:59 AM on October 24, 2011


"Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?"

For the fish.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:05 AM on October 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think the fish go up there for the same reason that cave crickets migrate from my basement to the top of the tiles in my shower to just sit there watching me shower with their long, long antennae waving in abject horror—fraternity hazing stunts.

"Dude, how much longer do I have to sit here?"

"11 hours. Quit being such a big baby."

"Shit, he's getting in the shower! Holy crap, that's a lot of pink fleshiness. Dude, I'm totally not cool with this. God—so gross."

"You wanna be in the club or not, Cameron?"
posted by sonascope at 9:07 AM on October 24, 2011 [23 favorites]


codacorolla: I would assume that there's some biological reason for the fish to be up there?

Yes, it's called the "Hey, I can see my pond from here!" motivation.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I saw that and could only think about all the damned algae that would grow all over the inside of that glass, and what a pain in the ass it'd be to clean it.
posted by jquinby at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2011


In one of the other videos it looked like the aquaculturalist constructed the tower, then sucked the air out with a shop vac. Maybe someone who speaks german can confirm this (warning: german aquaculturalist with no pants)?

I'm hoping this paves the way for fish habitrails.
posted by Drab_Parts at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


As to the question of why the fish want to go up there, it is nice to think that they like the view, but I am not sure. I am reminded of how when you are catching lightning bugs, you can hold the jar upside down, and they will all climb up the insides, because they "know" that the way out is always up. Surely "up" is an important direction for fish, too. Are they confused and "trapped" up there?
posted by bitslayer at 9:11 AM on October 24, 2011


That behind the scenes video is more impressive and not just because he's pantless and holding his hose. It shows the scale. I was thinking this was like a foot high.

...think about all the damned algae that would grow all over the inside of that glass...

There are aquatic animals that eat algae.

Surely "up" is an important direction for fish, too. Are they confused and "trapped" up there?

That was my first thought as well. Presumably fish "know" that light areas are the surface. They probably think they're at the UltraSurface of God.
posted by DU at 9:12 AM on October 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


UltraSurface of God.

The name of my new band.
posted by Fizz at 9:14 AM on October 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


I would assume that there's some biological reason for the fish to be up there?

I don't understand why it's so difficult to believe that other creatures have some primitive form of emotion that could, maybe, drive them to do something simply for the sheer pleasure of it. Emotions are not human-exclusive. We are animals, after all.
posted by Malice at 9:15 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The water temperature in the column might be different than the pond water temperature, which would make it a pleasant alternative.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:18 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why it's so difficult to believe that other creatures have some primitive form of emotion that could, maybe, drive them to do something simply for the sheer pleasure of it. Emotions are not human-exclusive. We are animals, after all.

Ehhhh, we are, but there's a pretty big gap between Fish and humans. I would be more inclined to believe there's a biological reason rather than an emotional one (if you even want to separate biology from emotions), especially since the fish aren't leaving or really circulating.

I agree that they seem trapped, or at least confused.
posted by codacorolla at 9:19 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The water temperature in the column might be different than the pond water temperature
Yeah, all the fish are peeing up there.
posted by slater at 9:20 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


How far can these sorts of fish see? How good are their eyes? (I have no idea.)
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:20 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Malice: "I don't understand why it's so difficult to believe that other creatures have some primitive form of emotion that could, maybe, drive them to do something simply for the sheer pleasure of it. Emotions are not human-exclusive. We are animals, after all."

Occam's razor?
posted by that's candlepin at 9:21 AM on October 24, 2011


OK, perfunctory fish biology lesson to follow:

Like all members of the animal kingdom, fish behavior is driven primarily by food. Food is presented to the fish mainly through their lateral line sense (fish have a series of specialized nerve cells running just under their skin along the length of their bodies) which is used to detect changes in water pressure due to current and height within the water column. Presented with opportunities to exploit these changes within their environment, fish are going to take advantage.

The aimless wandering of a goldfish in a bowl with no aeration is due to the lack of current or discernable differences in water pressure within the bowl. Koi are in the same family and genus as goldfish so they react the same. Also, as they are not strict carnivores, their main means to obtain food is to cover as much of the 'best' areas of their environment as possible to gain competitive advantage over their rivals. Current and a water column offer differences to be exploited.

This proposal would be brilliant if not for the previously mentioned algae concerns. Other than the obvious allure of breeding fish that are easy to alter into all sorts of fun shapes and colors, another major reason people like the Koi is they happily make themselves presentable to the humans outside the water world through their primal behavior of wandering about seeking food.

Here is the last fun fact about this scenario. Unless the designer is also just as clever with water chemistry as well as physical algae removal, that clear column is not going to be so clear and appealing for very long.
posted by MinneapolisMike at 9:23 AM on October 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


At my doctor's office, we call this an aquarium.
posted by qwickset at 9:35 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


How far can these sorts of fish see? How good are their eyes? (I have no idea.)

Yet another reason the people like the Koi. In addition to selective breeding for fun colors and shapes, the most successful Koi are also obviously going to be those who respond best to their care givers. I don't know of any scientific studies noting how well the Koi see from under the water, but I'm sure they are presented with the same challenges as we are wen we try to see what's going on outside while sitting at the bottom of a swimming pool. I do know from past work experience that fish can be readily conditioned to respond to vibration as repeated incidences of walking up to a fish pond before feeding will condition fish to come to a certain are of the pond when anyone walks by.
posted by MinneapolisMike at 9:35 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This would be such an incredibly cool addition to my front garden... Don't think I can convince the other lady of the house, though.
posted by marginaliana at 9:36 AM on October 24, 2011


I'd like to see a speaker placed on top of the cube so those fish can have a dance party in there.
posted by orme at 9:36 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


How much air pressure would the Shop-Vac have to be able to pull out to vacate the tower completely like that? How does he get an air-tight seal on the column with no visible valves or does he fill the column with water first, and then invert it in the pond?

Bill Nye never covered this at this scale.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 9:41 AM on October 24, 2011


Wouldn't the fish just see a reflection of themselves?
posted by Splunge at 9:41 AM on October 24, 2011


I am really alarmingly delighted by this, considering my epic fish fear.
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on October 24, 2011


How much air pressure would the Shop-Vac have to be able to pull out to vacate the tower completely like that? How does he get an air-tight seal on the column with no visible valves or does he fill the column with water first, and then invert it in the pond?

It seems way easier to just invert it in the pond, let it fill with water, and then lift it into place. So I'm going with Occam on this one.
posted by pwnguin at 9:47 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


My shop vac sucks pretty hard, but not that hard. pwnguin has it right, I think. I wonder how well the water circulates in there. Enough oxygen for the fish? Maybe it's just a temporary setup?
posted by 2N2222 at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2011


Back in the 1980's when they were building the Aquarium of the Americas, a bar called Sharkey's Reef opened in Metairie to exploit the hype. One wall of the bar was an enormous aquarium, about 12 feet deep and 50 feet long, stocked with a typical Gulf of Mexico collection including, of course, sharks.

It was very obvious that the fish could see the bar patrons. There were tables right by the glass and there was a particularly personable puffer fish who would swim up and watch people eat. We used to eat there at least once a week and while the sharks didn't seem to pay events outside of the tank much notice, several of the smaller fish were clearly curious about the other side of the glass.
posted by localroger at 9:51 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


As linked above:
he uses the shop vac
posted by Acari at 9:52 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems way easier to just invert it in the pond, let it fill with water, and then lift it into place. So I'm going with Occam on this one.

Given the shallowness of Koi ponds, that might be difficult.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:01 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


How lovely. This belongs on Aesthetics of Joy.
posted by oulipian at 10:02 AM on October 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Guys will look for any excuse to use the shop vac.
posted by w0mbat at 10:20 AM on October 24, 2011


This is really neat! It does look as though the fish get -something- out of being up in the tube, whether it's instinct or emotion, because there's nothing forcing them up there or keeping them in there. If I was building it I'd put a little water pump about halfway up to help circulate the water, though. And yeah you'd probably have to clean it once a week to get the algae off. Still worth it, though!
posted by The otter lady at 10:30 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


1/2 lb of vacuum for each foot of column height above the pond
is what it takes to shopvac that column full. This matches the pressure
reduction that is experienced inside the water column: at 2 feet above the
surface of the pond, inside the column the water pressure is one pound less
than atmospheric pressure.

Maximum height of such a column is 32 feet, (at sea level), and less
at higher altitudes.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:35 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


How does he get an air-tight seal on the column with no visible valves

A minute of puzzling, and I figured out that it'd be easier to have the top sealed, and just run the shop vac hose up the inside.

On further thought, an even easier method would be to have removable seals on both ends. Then you can just close the bottom, open the top, fill it with a hose, close the top, and open the bottom.
posted by CaseyB at 10:38 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


So tall. And thanks for all the fish.
posted by hal9k at 11:07 AM on October 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


epic fish fear

The name of MY new band.
posted by davidmsc at 11:09 AM on October 24, 2011


epic fish fear

Easily solved: Don't be koi.
posted by hal9k at 11:11 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


As linked above:
he uses the shop vac


Tricky. When I looked at the Shop-Vac link earlier, he had all the hardware spread out on the lawn, but he wasn't using it. There was speculation that he might use it, but he wasn't using it.

Now that I've seen the one with him using it, there seems to be a void in the top two inches which didn't show up in the earlier video.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 11:29 AM on October 24, 2011


UltraSurface of God.

The name of my new band.


Mine's Cameron Cave Cricket.
posted by davejay at 11:35 AM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does that de-oxygenate the water at all?

This was my first thought as well, although if there is enough water movement from within to areas that are oxygenated, it should work. My only worry was that if it didn't, you might not realize until things had gone very wrong. I think I'd want to experiment with it a bit under close supervision.

It is a neat effect though, and now that I'm looking at it I'm wondering if I couldn't steal the idea for some of our seahorses.

If for no other reason, it would give my cats yet another reason to stare at them.
posted by quin at 12:26 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


There were tables right by the glass and there was a particularly personable puffer fish who would swim up and watch people eat.

Puffers are like this. They recognize people (at least, those that bring them food, others they will sometimes spit at, which is hilarious.) Once they get to know you well enough, they will beg like little wriggly puppies for food when they see you coming.

It's absurdly cute.
posted by quin at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2011


Puffers are like this. They recognize people (at least, those that bring them food, others they will sometimes spit at, which is hilarious.) Once they get to know you well enough, they will beg like little wriggly puppies for food when they see you coming.
Years ago we had four or five aquariums in our basement (my brother brought home two goldfish from school, and Dad escalated it from there). I know that many aquarium fish respond to light, as in when you turn on the classroom lights they'll swim to the top because that's when they get fed, but a lot of our aquarium fish seemed to recognize Dad. The goldfish (which had grown to extremely large proportions) particularly, and some of the others (I forget the various species names) would congregate in a group at the front of the tanks whenever Dad walked nearby and then follow his movements with their noses almost pressed against the glass. They didn't do this when anyone else peered into their tanks or hovered nearby. But Dad was the one who fed them daily, gave them treats and cleaned their tanks, so apparently they somehow recognized him.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:31 PM on October 24, 2011


I agree that they seem trapped, or at least confused.

Yeah, my initial thought was that they looked trapped as well. Then again, I'm sure they know how to leave the same way they came in, or he'd have a lot of dead Koi.
posted by Malice at 1:35 PM on October 24, 2011


I'm hoping this paves the way for fish habitrails.


http://boingboing.net/2008/02/01/fishtank-habitrail.html
posted by stray thoughts at 4:34 PM on October 24, 2011


I wonder if this will lead to ingenious new methods of overfishing.
posted by Ritchie at 5:16 PM on October 24, 2011


1) Bummer that something like this is wasted on goldfish. Yuck; filthy dirty shitting bastards. Their only redeeming features are they breed easily and could survive a nuclear winter

2) Sadly, whilst they eat algae, they only eat some types. The higher temperature of that water coupled with the copious sunlight and phosphate richness spewing from goldfish rectums is gonna make that column look like a peppermint chocolate fountain very quickly.

3). Unless he has an output pump right under that column, oxygen flow is going to be a real concern there.

4) Trochanter: there's no magic, there's just nowhere for the water to go. Ever held up a straw full of soda with your finger over the top? Soda doesn't fall out because nothing can flow in to replace it.

This is not actually correct - though it's a super-common misconception I held myself until I read a great book called An Ocean Of Air last year. What keeps the water in the column and your straw alike is not a vacuum as often assumed, though it is an absence. The absence is air pressure. Without an air pressure in a column, the force of the air outside the column literally pushes the water up into it. A handy reminder of how heavy air can be.
posted by smoke at 7:03 PM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


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