Something Fishy About Las Vegas Coin Laundry

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Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, the centerpiece of the Animal Planet TV show Tanked, turned one of Las Vegas Coin Laundry’s stack washer-dryer units into a live aquarium. The build will be featured in an upcoming episode of the series. (Photo: Western State Design)

Staff Writer |

Reality TV show ‘Tanked’ installs fish tank in stack washer-dryer unit

LAS VEGAS — In a legendary city where fantastic sights and spectacles are the norm, coming up with new ideas to attract attention to your small business can be a challenge.

For Leise and Bruce Gilliat, owners of a six-store chain of local Laundromats called Las Vegas Coin Laundry, the opportunity came floating in via the folks who star in the Animal Planet reality show Tanked.

They came up with the unusual idea to turn one of the laundry’s Dexter coin-operated stack washer-dryer units into a live aquarium and document it in one of their TV episodes.

If you’re not familiar with Tanked, the show features entrepreneurs-turned-TV-stars, Wayde King and Brett Raymer, the founder and chief operating officer, respectively, of Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) in Las Vegas. They specialize in creating and installing distinctive and often outlandish custom aquariums for a variety of clients around the world. Each episode focuses on some of their most unusual and challenging projects and features a parade of exotic fish.

As long-time fish aficionados, the Gilliats previously commissioned ATM to install custom aquariums in their home and were featured in the series pilot in 2011. But, according to Bruce Gilliat, it never occurred to him to install an aquarium in his commercial laundry equipment. But he agreed that it would attract attention—and hopefully additional business—to his 24-hour East Charleston Boulevard coin laundry.

“My biggest concern was that I had enough on my plate with six stores to run, and wasn’t sure I could take on the responsibility of taking care of additional fish, on top of everything else!” he exclaims.

Working through his commercial laundry equipment distributor representative, Scott Harrington, at Western State DesignDexter Laundry provided Gilliat with the stack washer-dryer unit.

The team at ATM removed the guts of the coin op washer-dryer and turned it into an aquarium. The actual aquarium is in the upper part of the unit in place of the dryer, with the sides cut out for optimum viewing. The lower part, where the washer normally is, contains the life support system for the aquarium, hidden by a bubbler so all that can be seen from the outside are bubbles.

“Installing an aquarium in a Laundromat is a challenging proposition,” says Gilliat. “Aquariums require partial water changes on an ongoing basis, but we couldn’t have pumps and hoses running across the floor of the store with kids and laundry carts everywhere.

“We discussed this with ATM and came up with a user-friendly water change system that resides in the back room, increasing the enjoyment factor for visitors.”

As with all of the Gilliats’ Laundromats, the East Charleston Boulevard store has an attendant on duty most of the time. However, the installation includes a security gate that lowers over the tank to keep the public a safe distance when the attendant is not present, while still keeping the aquarium visible.

The inhabitants of the aquarium are saltwater fish including Heniochus (schooling bannerfish), some Raccoon Butterfly Fish, and a Pinktail Trigger as well as other species.

“We will continue to play with the mix of fish to make sure we have the right group of fish that get along with each other since they are on display 24 hours a day,” says Bruce Gilliat.

“We believe this aquarium is a great point of interest for kids as well as adults and helps pass the time quickly,” he says. “Of course, we have free Wi-Fi, multiple TVs, vending machines and other amenities but having the aquarium on display will make visiting our store to do the laundry a little bit more fun.

“We hope to ‘net’ some new customers now that this project is ‘fin’-ished,” he quips.

The episode, titled Spin Cycle Spec-Tank-ular, originally aired June 23, and is available to view online HERE.

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