Eli Fruchter, an aquarium enthusiast from Haifa, Israel, is one of the few people in the world who can swim in his living room surrounded by brightly-colored tropical fish. He is the owner of the largest home reef aquarium in Israel, and probably the world.
For as long as he can remember, Eli loved aquariums. When he was five or six year old, he lived in a tiny two meter by two meter room, but also made space for a small aquarium. He never really outgrew his passion, and about 10-12 years ago, he upgraded to a large 1,000-gallon fish tank, but sadly, it broke and flooded his old home. That was when he decided that he needed “to build another aquarium, and the house around it.” This time, he went all out, and the result is truly breathtaking.
Fruchter’s living room aquarium holds a whopping 30,000 liters of water and is large enough for him to dive into and feed the fish out of the palm of his hand. The mammoth tank is home to 150 tropical fish of 30 different species, as well as to a a rainbow of corals that constantly bob back and forth with the light waves created by an impressive filtration system. The tank is designed to replicate the reef’s natural environment, which has also allowed some of the residents of the tank to grow to a size usually only reached in the wild.
For most aquarium enthusiasts, Eli’s filtration system is probably even more impressive than the tank itself. Located 6 meters directly under the tank, behind thick metal double-doors, it features four 25,000-liter/hour pumps to return the water from the sump back into the aquarium, after it’s been filtered. For cleaning he relies on gravity, with the water flowing down from the tank to create a foam from the impurities, which is then removed by a revolving paddle. A self-built frequency-controlled system connected to the pumps, controls the speed of the two return pumps to create waves in the tank. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
To ensure that the reef and fish live in perfect conditions, every week Eli Fruchter drives a specially equipped golf cart from his home to the nearby shore of the Mediterranean, and fills it with 1,000 liters of fresh seawater for his aquarium.
“The corals especially must have water that’s completely clean, and that’s very hard to get in a closed system,” he says. “Most public aquariums are located near the ocean, and they just pump in clean water. It requires a lot of maintenance. “A reef aquarium of this size you usually just find in places where they have a full-time staff.”
“There aren’t too many crazy people around the world who will do something like this,” Fruchter adds. “You really need to like it a lot.” Yes, that’s one factor, but money is another important one. And just in case you’re wondering how one man can afford to build and maintain such an amazing project, you should know that Eli was the CEO of a very successful business that was recently acquired for over $800 million. So yeah, I guess he can afford it.
Eli Fruchter has been working on his giant aquarium since 2012, and still considers it a work in progress. He estimates that it will take a few more years for the ecosystem to develop completely, especially as coral reefs need a long time to flourish. But in the meantime, he’s happy just sitting back and enjoying the view, and the occasional living room scuba-diving session.
Source: Times of Israel