So after weeks of planning, hundreds of calls and emails back and forth with both the ATM crew and the awesomely talented Tanked production team we had a solid plan for what was to date the most creative and unique Tanked build we had been a part of. The build required the combined expertise of the master fabricators and tank designers at ATM, our own farm production coordinators (who oversee farming of all of our GloFish, which are raised right here in FL), our purchasing team, and lighting experts from Marineland/United Pet Group who provided a massive amount of high-powered LEDs in just the right actinic blue spectrum to best highlight the GloFishes' brilliant fluorescence. For my part, I helped coordinate all these details and was Segrest Farm's point of contact with the production team.
|Original concept sketch for the Wedding Chapel tank|
Once we had determined the group of fish needed, it was time to head on out to Vegas along with the fish to make sure they made it to the build site safely and on time. Our packing crew had bagged and boxed all the fish with sufficient oxygen to last at least 48 hours in transit, and sent them on their way to Southwest Air Cargo. I arrived at Tampa airport bright and (extremely) early for my flight out, armed with nets, salt, nitrifying bacteria, and a TDS pen (much to the confusion of TSA, I'm sure, who left a nice note in my checked bag to inform me it had been opened for inspection).
Waiting for takeoff, the woman seated next to me struck up a conversation, asking if I was traveling for business or on vacation. When I told her it was to be a business trip, she asked what it was I did for work. Unfortunately in the fish business there really isn't an easy one-word answer to that question. To simplify things I just said I was going out to install a large fish tank for a business.
"Oh, you mean like Tanked?" she said, excitedly
"Sure, something like that" I replied noncommittally, not wanting to get into too detailed a conversation and hoping to get a few hours sleep on the flight out (which didn't happen)...
On arrival I headed on over to air cargo where the ever-competent Southwest staff informed me the fish had arrived right on schedule and helped me load all 18 of our large thickwall boxes into the rental van. For a minute it seemed like they might not fit but with some careful maneuvering we were able to get them all loaded in (barely!). with every square inch of space taken up by fish boxes, I made my way over to ATM to check in and then downtown towards Vegas Weddings.
|Fish boxes completely filling the rental car|
One of the best descriptions I've heard for doing any sort of work for TV is "hurry up and wait". This was definitely the case after I had unloaded all the fish on location and found myself sitting on a stack of Segrest boxes waiting for the crews to get there. As I mentioned earlier the fish had been packed for a long transit time so I was not concerned for their health but as always the sooner I got them in the tank the sooner I could breathe a sigh of relief.
As the hours dragged on and the delays continued (inevitable when dealing with so many variables), I started getting a little worried. The atmosphere was tense as the tank finally made it into place. Next, the crew arrived to complete the exterior theming for the tank to complete its transformation into an old vegas-style slot machine. Finally, ATM's installation and plumbing technicians arrived on the scene to plumb the filtration systems into place and ready the tank for water.
|Fish in boxes as the crew finishes the installation|
Back to the install—it was long after midnight by the time the tank was filled (by which time I was thoroughly soaked), the last bits of plumbing tweaked, and the filtration up and running. One of the producers, myself, and an ATM maintenance tech were the last standing after a long and exhausting day. I had been awake now for almost 40 straight hours, and the fish in their boxes were nearing the upper limits of safe transit time. Despite my full confidence in the pros who packed up this order of fish, I still found myself really nervous by the time the fish were set to get acclimated into the tank.
As we unloaded box after box to temperature acclimate the fish, I could breathe a bit easier — every single bag of fish looked pristine!
|Fish in: large Kissing Gouramis checking out their new tank|
|All of the fish acclimated and in the tank|
|And of course the finished product. Stunning!|