Case 001: Aqueeriumsfiled August 28, 2019
It’s a common misconception that queer children start dabbling in the dark art of interior design by sketching ideas for a themed bedroom or applying ancient Feng shui practices to their mother’s closet. “See?” they say, as mother woefully searches for her Ann Taylor culottes. “It’s balanced by the elements now!” But no student on the hero’s journey to Bobby Berk-dom is forsaken by the greatest challenge, the ultimate tableaux, the vessel that houses life: the ten-gallon fish tank.
That’s why, after downing season 27 of Queer Eye in one sitting, we decided to take a cue from childhood and make over the outright bleak fish tank sitting in our reception area. After years of abandonment, the entire office of the company formerly known as Gayvorites was due for a makeover, and that fetid tank was the first order of business. The aquarium was in the throes of an algae bloom, the lights were flickering, the seashell bubbler lid was sealed shut, and no one was sure what had become of the tank’s only inhabitant, a male beta called Catfish Everdeen.
With the war on corporate pride reaching its zenith, we felt assured in supporting our gayborhood Petco, a company that has always respected their steadfast customer base of dyke doggy moms and proud purr daddies. The fish department was ethereal, lit as if by the heavens. We stood before the wall of decor in a state of child-like wonder. And though the options for gussying up a guppy palace appeared endless, we contend that these five fish aisle fixtures transformed our aquarium into an aqueerium.
1. Aquatic vegetation: Some may call these false ferns trashy, cheap, or non-eco-friendly, but we like to think of them as controlled beauty. The leaves of these plastic plants won’t wilt off to become slimy flotsam, nor will they ever require a good pruning. Faux flora is available in a wide array of colors, textures and metallic finishes that defy the provincial designs of Mother Nature.
2. Rainbow gravel: Creating an aqueerium means capitalizing on color. Why bother with natural tones when you can have rocks representing every hue in Joseph’s coat? Fill your tank with saturated substrates that would make the colors of the wind flee for the hills.
3. Mysterious caverns: These reef-laden spelunking shacks add intrigue and yonic wonder to your maritime
mise en scène.
4. Bubbling booty: A true crown jewel for any aqueerium. This kinetic treasure chest boasts sparkling baubles and an old-school hydraulic system, which doubles as filtration and a calming agent for your nerves.
5. Ruins: Whether it’s a crumbling medieval hamlet, a resin replica of the Parthenon or a sunken pirate ship (or a luxury Olivia Cruise liner, if you prefer!), these little landmarks are the Grand Trianon of your underwater Versailles.
We may have cast too wide a net, seeing as we ended up dropping a solid grand on items individually priced at no more than $8.99. But then again, money is no object when you’re trying to turn a tank from drab crab to glam clam. Making it rain at Petco was an experience we’ll never forget.
In the end, our haul included a deluxe Scottish castle, a neon Great Wall of China, and a hard-to-place “cultural” bridge. We also purchased a Forbidden Forest-sized bushel of faux-seaweed, a pallet of eye-popping gravel, and enough bubbling bivalves to create a functioning geyser.
It wasn’t until midway through installing our miniature kelp garden that we noticed we hadn’t picked up any goddamn fish. So, we dashed off to one of our favorite desti-gay-tions: The County Fair!
The entire staff asked their respective partners, lovers, and last-night stands to prove their devotion by attempting to win a beta fish—in the name of love—at the carnival game of their choosing. Some chose the water gun shooting range, while others tried to guess the lucky duck. A few of the more butch employees even took swings at the giant lumber-jack ax pound!
Love must have been in the air, because we carried home 20 lovely beta fish in plastic bags, and ceremoniously deposited them into their new oasis. Unbeknownst to us all the betas were male, and they proceeded to destroy and devour one another.
And that’s when it hit us: Perhaps the gayest thing about designing an aqueerium was not including any fish at all! Who needs cold-blooded chum getting in the way of your gorgeous fin shui? After all, you only see good theater for the set design. Nobody buys tickets to 𝘗𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘰𝘮 for the acting, sweetie!
The Bottom Line: These aquatic accessories make Barbie’s bed and dresser look like a Wayfair closeout deals.
Rating: Magic Rocks meets Homegoods