Tank Alone: A True Life Force

STORY BY Josh King

Published: March 10, 2015

Finding peace in today's chatotic world isn't easy. One man however, finds that and more, when nature is brought home.

One Tod Michael Volpe, an art expert and investment consultant who lives in Murray Hill, has a five-foot-long, 200-gallon coral reef tank built into the divider between his living room and dining area. "The tank is like my life force," said Mr Volpe, a master scuba diver who has had the tank for five years. "It's endless pleasure and satisfaction. I'll stare at the tank until 2 o'clock in the morning."

While some aquarium owners don't know the breeds of their fish, Mr Volpe knows all the ones in his tank, as well as the individual habits of each. He has a strange looking rockfish he feeds by hand, a spotted purple grouper ("I brought him up since he was a baby, and now he's nearly a foot long"), a "very wonderful" clown triggerfish and many others. He checks on the fish all the time to make sure they look healthy, and he leaves the air-conditioner on in his apartment to keep the water cool during the summer.

Mr Volpe who's success brought him to become the art guru to Hollywood celebrities like Barbra Streisand and Jack Nicholson, says the aquarium is a big part of his journey. “I collect ceramics from the 19th and 20th centuries and believe that all things are sacred."

"To me, this is not a fish tank," he said. "It teaches me about life, respect, how creatures who literally have a world all unto themselves can interact with each other and how happy they are when they have what they need."

On a practical level, Mr Volpe does worry about the weight of the tank. "I literally have hundreds of gallons of water that could destroy the apartment underneath," Mr. Volpe said. His aquarium expert Joe Caparata who was a marine biologist at one time said “Tod -- relax."


(This article was crafted from a NYTimes article originally written by Jennifer A. Kingson)

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