Gallery: RIVER PLANT AQUARIUM by Mathieu Lehanneur


Mathieu Lehanneur is known for his modernist designs that have a ecological purpose. We previously wrote about living air filter that uses plants to naturally purify the air in a neat little capsule. And now, this French designer has another amazing installation that brings the benefits of nature indoors into a self contained living local river ecosystem. This aquarium is not only an interesting home décor piece, but also a fish hatchery and vegetable garden.

This version of hydroponics uses a refrigerated aquarium as a hatchery for freshwater fish, while vegetables grow on top in glass pods. The vegetables use the water from the fish tank, extract nutrients, filtering and purifying the water for the fish to reuse and develop. For those who don’t have the outdoor space to grow their own food, this may be an effective solution to the local food dilemma.

The aquarium was exhibited at the Artists Space in NY from May to June. You can watch a video of the installation on GearCrave.

+ Mathieu Lehanneur

Via GearCrave

Photos via Dezeen


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  1. John Craft July 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Why didn’t he use a bunch of smaller fish instead of tourchering them poor fucking fish in there now. Holy shit I would hate to be one of them fish.

  2. darksider February 23, 2011 at 6:34 am

    mentioned about an ecological system. where is that ecological system i can not see?i see just glass, water and poor fish. i think he is a faker who needs to learn what is ecological system. is that so easy to say “i’m a designer” and i create modernist installations? its not an installation, its just ridiculous!
    at least he could investigate a bit about saltwater and freshwater (especially planted tanks) aquariums before he was attended to do something.

    if you want to see real aquascaping art, some keywords and a link for you: iaplc, aga

  3. spades January 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    so often when I see “environmental design”, what I’m really looking at is a degraded system that would never sustain the organisms, which are being used as a design prop.

  4. TVfuzz July 6, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    This designer knows nothing about aquariums. Its like looking at a square-wheeled car designed by someone who knows nothing about driving cars, but likes squares.

    I see this as a product made my someone who doesn’t know how to keep fish, for people who don’t care about keeping fish, but like this photography (The terrible water strikes a muted balance with the ambient lighting and soft focus). Anyone who would own this type of art would soon have dead fish in a nasty, dirty tank.

    If you want to see a real designer of properly balanced aquaria, do an image search for Takashi Amano.

  5. baci269 June 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    i am sorry- i think that designers nowadays who claim to be ecologically responsible don’t usually take the animal’s welfare into consideration. we design world class aquariums and are very sensitive in the way we exhibit marine creatures to make sure that we get past the step of “objectifying” nature and to instill the lesson of respect for nature to all classes of people who are visiting.
    the act of stuffing freshwater fish in what looks like a contrived container (i appreciate the minimalism, i am one) expresses the act of capturing and controlling nature more than helping express the beauty of a healthy biological system. i understand the filtration insufficiencies and the “nature” of river fish to require water currents- that’s surely lacking in expressing the nature of “nature”.
    if we are not careful, as designers, we express superficial ideas without much substance. it DOES look good…is that all?

  6. christof.lapd August 10, 2008 at 5:26 am

    I think this is cruel! Poor fish.

  7. sameermahoolkar July 31, 2008 at 5:25 am


    excellent piece of DESIGN.
    really its difficult to say weather it is art more of science totally.
    i think less and small size fishes would have been more comfortable inthis tank.

    good work!!!
    and all the best :-)


  8. theokobox July 23, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    You’d have to hurry up and eat those fish since there isn’t much space for them to swim around.

  9. gbgirl July 23, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    This has been done before, and it works, although his setup may need some work. I was just reading about these folk in Australia that have set up that sort of system. It\’s really interesting, but a lot more work than his setup.

  10. argalite July 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    River fish need flowing water usually. Looks like eels in the one tank, and they can breathe through their mouth as well as their gills. What feeds the fish? Those tanks are gonna be pretty dirty without adequate filtering, which those plants are not capable of doing, as there are not enough of them

  11. elepski July 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Any tank of that size will need mechanical and biological filtration…In fact.. those tanks appear to be freshly installed and are suffering from a ammonia and nitrate spike… hence the cloudy water.

  12. mordicai July 23, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    People are wimps– will they really kill their own fish?

  13. dimtick July 23, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    this looks very cool but I don’t think it works. the problem here is the quantity of water in relation to the amount of plant material. the plants in this system are very undersized for the quantity of water. so within a short amount of time the fish will be overwhelmed by algae which will suck out the oxygen from the water and kill the fish.
    maybe there’s a secondary filtration / oxygenation system that isn’t readily apparent in the images.

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