The ultimate screen effect for Macintosh: SereneScreen Marine Aquarium

Billed as “The Ultimate Virtual Saltwater Aquarium,” the “SereneScreen Marine Aquarium” from Prolific Publishing easily exceeds its billing. This should be known instead as “The Ultimate Screen Effect for Macintosh.” This is simply the best screensaver we have ever used in nearly two decades of using screensavers, or “Screen Effects” as they are known in Mac OS X. Of course, we love tropical fish tanks, but hate the effort that goes into maintaining one.

Now, before we tried it, we were definitely in the “$21.95 for a @#$%& Screen Effect? You’ve gotta be kidding!” camp. Once we saw it, we understood. It’s worth it.

The application is mostly dependent on OpenGL, which the Mac OS X machine uses to render 3D. Some older operating systems for the Apple Macintosh are not compatible with OpenGL. However, all Mac OS 9 systems should be compatible. SereneScreen recommends at least a 500 Mhz G3 system, with a 3D video card that has at least 16 Megabytes of video memory, along with the most recent version of OpenGL. And these fish, 20 different varieties to choose from, are beautifully, photo-realistically rendered. With subtle bubble audio effects combined with the stunningly beautiful visual art, you’ll begin dreading the day you’ll have to clean the tank. Only, you’ll never see the day!

You can display up to seven fish (randomly or designate the type(s) yourself) of the 20 included, unless you’re in “widescreen” mode where you can have eight fish. The rest of the tank looks like a real fish tank, with real rocks and coral, even a starfish, only it’s really clean all the time. When you download it, you’ll end up with two files, “Marine Aquarium,” and “Marine Aquarium.saver.” Most likely, you’ll want to run it as a Screen Effect, so just drag the Marine Aquarium.saver file to “/Library/Screen Savers” folder on your hard drive and open System Preferences, and choose the Screen Effects panel. Select the Marine Aquarium. You can also run the application as a stand alone app, for on-demand bouts of serenity.

Besides titling their online FAQ’s Mac section, “MAC,” we don’t have much to complain about. The software works as advertised, looks unbelievably realistic, draws stares and exclamations from co-workers, and actually does bring serenity to our computing lives. After a week with the program, we still find ourselves stealing a few minutes here and there to just watch the Marine Aquarium Screen Effect and no other Screen Effect, not even “Flurry,” has ever caused us to do such a thing. Information and demo download here.

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