Carmel Valley Company’s High-End Aquariums Integrate Biology and Living Art

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 22, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

A pufferfish harassed the last bamboo shark egg on display at the Bumble Cafe, a farm-to-fork restaurant in Los Altos. That egg – bottle-brown and translucent, revealing the wriggling shark fetus within – didn’t make it, so Dave Barnes is searching out a replacement. This time, he says, it’ll be in a pufferfish-proof enclosure.


The strategy is part of the debriefing Barnes, accounts manager at Tenji Inc., offers principal Andy Case after his morning maintenance route – a loop that takes him as far north as the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, where Tenji installed three aquariums.

Tenji is a Carmel Valley-based maker of what Case calls customized “living exhibits” for clients with eclectic visions. Its projects include terrariums and touch tanks, but Case figures aquariums account for about 75 percent.

He co-founded Tenji with Mark Faulkner and Ed Seidel in 2001. All three had been curators for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they were key to projects such as the original jellies, deep-sea and Splash Zone exhibits.

Seidel now lives in Damariscotta, Maine, where he heads up Tenji’s East Coast office. Among his favorite projects is an artificial trout stream in L.L. Bean’s flagship retail store. Customers can pop their heads into an underwater dome in the 25-foot-long tank, at eye level with the fat brook and rainbow trout swimming in the current.

Tenji also designs labs for marine scientists. The Bigelow Laboratory in Maine has specialized tanks for studying plankton; researchers can adjust temperatures and other conditions in the open seawater system.

Among the coolest West Coast projects: The Dive Bar in Sacramento, where professional mermaids swim with fish through a 7,500-gallon saltwater tank suspended above the bar.

More recently, the Sitka Sound Science Center, on a small island in southeast Alaska, hired Tenji to design a tank to exhibit in tandem with “fin artist” Ray Troll’s marine-life paintings.

“We are very interested in mixing art and science,” says Lisa Busch, the center’s executive director. Hence The Salmon Connection, an exhibit making connections between intertidal zones, oceans and salmon. The 6-foot-tall Tenji tank integrates native plants, salmon smolts and a pop-up window.

Busch says Case helped her think about how visitors move around the room and interact with the exhibits. “We would never have gotten that expertise from anybody else,” she says. “They saw how it was going to work not only creatively, but also practically.”

Troll’s art and Tenji tanks rendezvous again at a Carmel Highlands home, where a 1,500-gallon tank is lit up by a fiber-optic art piece. Several other local residences include customized tanks, including a 250-gallon aquarium in the gated community of Monterra.

That acrylic tank, measuring about 4 by 4 by 2 feet, divides a luxe mancave in two: antique firearms and jet photos on one side, race cars on the other. Two dozen fish weave through fiberglass-and-epoxy sea fans, brain coral and sponges. The prettiest swimmers include a banner fish trailing a long white flag, a cardinalfish with splayed fins and a clownfish most kids would recognize as Nemo.

Taking a display like this from concept to finish involves an initial sketch, rendering, CAD drafting and fabrication. A cabinetmaker in Sand City designs furniture to interface with Tenji tanks.

The Monterra project includes three cabinets housing the tank’s support systems: reservoir, polishing loop, protein skimmer, chiller, filtration equipment, dump bucket and lights. A “call-out” system rings Tenji cell phones if the temperature it too high, the pump is off or anything else needs attention.

Projects are priced by size and complexity, from about $20,000 for a 250-gallon residential tank to $200,000 for a 20,000-gallon commercial display (though some projects fall outside both ends of that range). Service accounts run from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars per month.

Case pauses at a rat zapper outside the Monterra house. Before the arrival of son Taiki, now 3, he and his wife kept a pair of free-range, potty-trained pet rats.

His connection with not-so-charismatic fauna runs deep. Case remembers making his first aquariums around age 5 at his childhood home in Napa. He’d pull his red wagon to the stream and dump water, rocks and algae in with tadpoles, fish and mosquito larvae. “Somehow I had an intuition that it needed a little bit of everything,” he says.

The work he does today is more sophisticated but just as intuitive. That includes strategic growth: Tenji is expanding to the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove this week, coinciding with a Nov. 11-13 shark husbandry symposium at the Monterey Plaza Hotel.

Pufferfish not welcome.

Learn more about Tenji at www.tenji.com, or call 401-9551.

Article source: http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/831_tales/article_15139caa-4719-11e3-a507-0019bb30f31a.html

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Carmel Valley Company’s High-End Aquariums Integrate Biology and Living Art

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 7, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

A pufferfish harassed the last bamboo shark egg on display at the Bumble Cafe, a farm-to-fork restaurant in Los Altos. That egg – bottle-brown and translucent, revealing the wriggling shark fetus within – didn’t make it, so Dave Barnes is searching out a replacement. This time, he says, it’ll be in a pufferfish-proof enclosure.


The strategy is part of the debriefing Barnes, accounts manager at Tenji Inc., offers principal Andy Case after his morning maintenance route – a loop that takes him as far north as the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, where Tenji installed three aquariums.

Tenji is a Carmel Valley-based maker of what Case calls customized “living exhibits” for clients with eclectic visions. Its projects include terrariums and touch tanks, but Case figures aquariums account for about 75 percent.

He co-founded Tenji with Mark Faulkner and Ed Seidel in 2001. All three had been curators for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they were key to projects such as the original jellies, deep-sea and Splash Zone exhibits.

Seidel now lives in Damariscotta, Maine, where he heads up Tenji’s East Coast office. Among his favorite projects is an artificial trout stream in L.L. Bean’s flagship retail store. Customers can pop their heads into an underwater dome in the 25-foot-long tank, at eye level with the fat brook and rainbow trout swimming in the current.

Tenji also designs labs for marine scientists. The Bigelow Laboratory in Maine has specialized tanks for studying plankton; researchers can adjust temperatures and other conditions in the open seawater system.

Among the coolest West Coast projects: The Dive Bar in Sacramento, where professional mermaids swim with fish through a 7,500-gallon saltwater tank suspended above the bar.

More recently, the Sitka Sound Science Center, on a small island in southeast Alaska, hired Tenji to design a tank to exhibit in tandem with “fin artist” Ray Troll’s marine-life paintings.

“We are very interested in mixing art and science,” says Lisa Busch, the center’s executive director. Hence The Salmon Connection, an exhibit making connections between intertidal zones, oceans and salmon. The 6-foot-tall Tenji tank integrates native plants, salmon smolts and a pop-up window.

Busch says Case helped her think about how visitors move around the room and interact with the exhibits. “We would never have gotten that expertise from anybody else,” she says. “They saw how it was going to work not only creatively, but also practically.”

Troll’s art and Tenji tanks rendezvous again at a Carmel Highlands home, where a 1,500-gallon tank is lit up by a fiber-optic art piece. Several other local residences include customized tanks, including a 250-gallon aquarium in the gated community of Monterra.

That acrylic tank, measuring about 4 by 4 by 2 feet, divides a luxe mancave in two: antique firearms and jet photos on one side, race cars on the other. Two dozen fish weave through fiberglass-and-epoxy sea fans, brain coral and sponges. The prettiest swimmers include a banner fish trailing a long white flag, a cardinalfish with splayed fins and a clownfish most kids would recognize as Nemo.

Taking a display like this from concept to finish involves an initial sketch, rendering, CAD drafting and fabrication. A cabinetmaker in Sand City designs furniture to interface with Tenji tanks.

The Monterra project includes three cabinets housing the tank’s support systems: reservoir, polishing loop, protein skimmer, chiller, filtration equipment, dump bucket and lights. A “call-out” system rings Tenji cell phones if the temperature it too high, the pump is off or anything else needs attention.

Projects are priced by size and complexity, from about $20,000 for a 250-gallon residential tank to $200,000 for a 20,000-gallon commercial display (though some projects fall outside both ends of that range). Service accounts run from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars per month.

Case pauses at a rat zapper outside the Monterra house. Before the arrival of son Taiki, now 3, he and his wife kept a pair of free-range, potty-trained pet rats.

His connection with not-so-charismatic fauna runs deep. Case remembers making his first aquariums around age 5 at his childhood home in Napa. He’d pull his red wagon to the stream and dump water, rocks and algae in with tadpoles, fish and mosquito larvae. “Somehow I had an intuition that it needed a little bit of everything,” he says.

The work he does today is more sophisticated but just as intuitive. That includes strategic growth: Tenji is expanding to the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove this week, coinciding with a Nov. 11-13 shark husbandry symposium at the Monterey Plaza Hotel.

Pufferfish not welcome.

Learn more about Tenji at www.tenji.com, or call 401-9551.

Article source: http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/831_tales/article_15139caa-4719-11e3-a507-0019bb30f31a.html

Tags: , , , , ,

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