The popular TV series, seen each Friday on Animal Planet, is hosted by Wayde King and his co-host Brett Raymer who own Acrylic Tank Manufacturers. The duo began their series four years ago. The reality show features King and Raymer traveling the nation designing custom-made themed fish aquariums for the rich and famous. Among their clientele is Shaquille O’ Neal. The two are assisted by a team of technicians including Robbie the Redneck who is frequently featured on air.
King and Raymer were contacted in January by theater owners David Fee and Jim Hedrick who wanted to upgrade the lobby of the theater. King and Raymer went to work creating a design that would reflect the theme of the show. Fee/Hedrick Entertainment paid more than $100,000 for the aquarium.
The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show is freely based on the infamous real life feud between the two families. The “Tanked” crew designed a tank shaped like a moonshine still with a copper dome. Next to the still are two smaller tanks shaped like moonshine jugs.
“This tank weighs almost five tons and holds 1,100 gallons of water,” said King. “We built a saltwater tank with a freshwater theme.”
The unassembled aquarium was delivered to the theater earlier this week. Friday afternoon, King, Redneck and Raymer were inside the theater participating in a dress rehearsal with the cast of the show, while technicians assembled the aquarium. The rehearsal, which includes scenes of the two famous families slugging it out, will air on the season finale on Dec. 12.
The idea of appearing on Tanked was the brainchild of cast member Robbie Helton, a fan of the show who suggested a remodel of the theater’s lobby to Fee and Hedrick.
“We wanted the tank to be the centerpiece of the lobby,” said Fee. “We wanted to do an upgrade and we wanted to do something phenomenal and phenomenal costs money. We understand that.”
After the theater closed Friday night technicians filled the tank with more than 50 fish indicative of the theme of the show and the feuding families. Representing the Hatfields is a species of fish known as a high hat and the McCoy family is the koi fairy wrasse. Other species that will inhabit the aquarium includes surgeonfish, angel fish, puffers, snappers and, of course, trigger fish.
On Saturday morning the cast of Tanked filmed the reveal featuring the cast of the popular dinner show. The cast waited patiently inside the theater while technicians installed the copper dome. Once the final touches were performed, the cast, dressed in their show costumes, was escorted into the lobby where they got their first glimpse of the aquarium.
Both families cheered and fired their guns, which were loaded with blanks, into the air to celebrate. King and Raymer explained the design of the tank and the selection of fish while the camera crew filmed the segment. The cast members will be featured in the finale.
The filming of the finale at the H&MDS benefitted both Fee/Hedrick Entertainment and Tanked. More than two million viewers will see the segment air on Animal Planet which is substantial publicity for the theater and more 300,000 who dine at the theater annually will get to enjoy the aquatic work of art.