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brief details about an Aquarium :
An Aquariums provide a much needed relief at homes and offices from the daily grind of life. The Aquarium is the only means that enables us to bring 'An element of Living Nature' into even a modern home or office without causing any particular problems. In an aquarium, the aquarist can breed marine or fresh water fish and amphibians of either domestic or tropical origin, grow plants and keep coral and other invertebrates from tropical seas.
The inhabitants of an aquarium do not make any noise, they do not dirty the house, they do not need to be taken out...., they only require a minimum amount of care and the kind of technical equipment that even a child is able to operate.
There is no other hobby which like the aquarium offers the possibility of living in daily contact with nature - in one's own home or office. Furthermore, this small aquatic world is really INTACT, it does not mean that animals have to suffer in a cage or in a living space that is too small for them. In an aquarium that functions properly the hobbyist will be able to see and enjoy the proliferation of both tropical fish and plants.
Like any hobby, keeping an aquarium also requires some basic knowledge etc. The following pages give some initial information which is sufficient to guarantee the problem-free functioning of a beautiful aquarium. Hobbyists wishing to learn more and commit themselves to the keeping of special aquariums should consult publications and keep informed through the specialist magazine.
aquarium can be put anywhere. Thanks to modern equipment, the tank
is completely self-sufficient and only needs a socket for the electric
current. We nevertheless suggest that the following points be observed:
• 1. The aquarium is not only a container for fish and plants but generally also serves as a type of household ornament, meaning that is should therefore be put in the sitting-room or entrance hall.
• 2. The tank should be positioned in such a way to allow for clear inside viewing. When situated near to armchairs, the base on which it is placed should measure at least 50/60 cm in height; if the tank is going to be mainly observed from a standing position (in the case of a large sitting room), the base can measure 70/80 cm in height.
• 3. The aquarium must have a fixed place right from the beginning. Moving a full or even a half empty aquarium is practically impossible not only because of its weight but also because of the risk of cracking the glass; a move requires total reconstruction of the aquarium.
• 4. The tank should be positioned in such a way to allow for easy maintenance work .
• 5. The aquarium should be placed on a stable and perfectly level support; neither the floor nor the support should wobble. It is necessary to remember that a final weight of about 1.2 - 1.5 kgs should be calculated for every litre of tank capacity; in other words, a 50 litre tanks will weigh about 60-70 kgs depending on its type of furnishing. Never place the bottom pane of the tank directly on a rigid surface. It is advisable to interpose a layer of material capable of absorbing small blows or defects of the supporting surface (foam rubber or a sheet of polystyrene are particularly suitable).
• 6. The aquarium should never be exposed as little as possible to direct sunlight. The lighting units of modern aquariums guarantee a perfect dosage of light according to the different requirements of the plants and fish present in the aquarium.
One of the biggest mistakes, committed above all by beginners, is wanting to start with a small tank in order to Acquire Experience. Nothing could be more mistaken - it is much easier to care for a larger aquarium rather than a smaller aquarium and there are also fewer problems with the chemical-physical balance of the water. This is not only an advantage for us but also for the inhabitants of the tank! For this reason it is advisable to choose a tank with a capacity of at least 40 litres for freshwater aquariums and a capacity of 100 litres for marine aquariums. Naturally, even smaller aquariums, especially those that have been completely furnished by a competent manufacturer, can operate perfectly even though they are likely to create more problems if certain feeding rules and choice of fish are not rigorously respected.
Some people may ask themselves whether an aquarium has to be rectangular. Although there is no definite answer, experience has taught us that the ideal tank both for a beginner and for normal use should be a parallelepiped. All other shapes involve problems of a technical and financial nature.
There are, however, some specific rules, dictated by experience, that concern the proportions between the individual sides and height of the tank. Except for particularly important reasons, the aquarium should never be higher than its width, because only in this way can a correct ratio between the surface of the water and the volume of the tank exist thus allowing for the necessary exchange of gas which is imperative to the well-being of aquatic life.
transform the tank into a perfectly functioning aquarium, two accessories
are basically necessary:
• 1. A Lighting Unit.
• 2. A Filter System.
A Lighting Unit : Light is one of the most vital elements without which the aquarium cannot operate. Not only do plants and algae need light for growth, but so do most micro-organisms which although invisible, are nonetheless indispensable for functioning of the aquarium. Finally, the life of the fish, the amphibians and the other aquatic animals present in the tank also depends on light. For this reason, the lighting unit of an aquarium must conform to some specific requirements which are partly different from that which might be considered valid or sufficient for the human eye.
factors should be taken into consideration:
A - Duration of lighting.
B - Colour of the light.
C - Amount or intensity of the light.
The lighting in a normal aquarium should last for about 10-12 hours. It is advisable to always turn the light on and off at the same time and to then leave it on without interruption. Any other system has proved to be damaging for aquatic life.
The colour of light differs widely depending on the type of light used. Different types of fluorescent tubes - the most popular type of light nowadays on account of the fact that they are economic, practical and long-lasting - are available on the market and include white light, daylight and phytostimulant light. In order to ensure perfect lighting of the aquariumm one of the following three solutions should be adopted:
• Illumination by means of mixed light. This is obtained by means of phytostimulant and warm light lamps. In freshwater aquariums, the percentage of phytostimulant light should be around 50%, while for marine aquariums a slightly lower percentage is necessary.
• Lighting with special sunlight lamps (these lamps, which are more expensive than the ordinary type, reproduce the entire spectrum of the sun).
• Lighting with metal vapour bulbs. These are not fluorescent tubes but bulb-type lights that should be assembled far from the tank, which therefore has to be open, i.e. without its glass covering.
As is known, each lamp has a specific electric energy consumption, indicated in watts, but this value alone does not determine the luminous effect, which also depends on the type of light spectrum that each model produces. For this reason, the manufacturers indicate the flux of each lamp in lumen.
For freshwater aquariums with plants that do not require much light, approx. 30 lumen are calculated per litre of water; on the contrary, for freshwater aquariums with plants that require a lot of light, 50 or more lumen are required per litre.
marine aquariums it is necessary to calculate 40 lumen, while tanks
containing coral and other marine invertebrates require from as
much as 50-80 lumen (if not more).
It is naturally very important that the luminosity of the lamps chosen is exploited to a maximum. This means directing all the light towards the inside of the aquarium with the aid of a reflector. For this reason the covers of the tanks are coated with a reflecting material.
A final but very important word of advice: after a certain period of time, all lamps lose luminosity and must therefore be replaced before they finally black out. Often plants, after an initial period of good growth, no longer grow; the reason is nearly always attributable to burnt out lamps. Consequently the fluorescent lamps in an aquarium should be replaced approximately every 6-8 months.
Filter System : In short, an aquarium cannot function without
a filter, a system that eliminates pollutants from the water, i.e.
what is generally referred to as organic material. This material
derives from food residue, from the dead leaves of plants, from
fish excrement, from dust particles present in the air, etc. If
these substances are not eliminated, the water will soon become
toxic both for fish and plants and turn into a malodorous liquid.
Different filter systems for aquariums are available on the market. Furthermore, it is necessary to bear in mind that many factory made aquariums are already equipped with an incorporated filter and consequently hobbyists no longer find themselves having to make a choice from among different models.
However, in order to ensure good maintenance and know what type of first aid to perform, it is a good idea to have a basic knowledge about the technical and biological functioning of a filter.
Each filter consists of two parts: a container for the filtering material and a device to transfer the water back into the tank. According to the positioning of the filter, either inside or outside the aquarium, the container is provided with holes for the aspiration of water, hermetically closed or connected to the tank by means of suitable tubes.
The water reaches the container either by trickling down or by taking advantage of the communicating tank effect (overflow) while a centrifugal pump or (nowadays rarely) distribution valve connected to an aerator (small electric motor) is used to carry water to the aquarium.
The HEART of the filter are the filter materials which enable the water to be treated. There are mainly two types of filter materials: those that suspend the substances (normally visible to the naked eye) and those that are used to eliminate the organic substances and their derivatives, which although usually invisible, are particularly harmful (organic substances and their derivatives) for all aquatic organisms.
filtering, which practically sifts the water, is used to eliminate
fairly large suspended substances. The following materials are particularly
suitable for this purpose: Synthetic Wool, Active Carbon etc.
To eliminate, or more precisely to convert, organic substances and their derivatives, it is necessary to use a filter system called a biological system. In this system the filter materials serve as a substratum for bacteria and other micro-organisms and are capable, by means of a complex biological process, of converting organic substances into inorganic substances (mainly nitrates) which in turn mostly serve as nutrients for plants and algae.
Any filter material that allows for the settling and growth of bacteria can be used for this type of filtering. The most popular materials are Ceramic Rings, Lava Rocks etc.
In addition to these two types of filters there are also others, such as those with adsorbing (with Activated Carbon) or chemical actions. Finally for marine aquariums, a special filtering system called a SKIMMER and UV lamps with a sterilizing effect are used. However, since these are somewhat complex systems they should only be used by the more expert aquarist.
Finally, worth mention is another filter system that is still used in freshwater or marine aquariums: An Under Gravel Filter. This is a plastic grid with suitable slits, which can be adapted to different tank sizes. This grid is positioned under the bottom layer of the aquarium and connected to a pump or air supply system. However, this type of filter presents a large problem if used on its own: not only the invisible, but also the suspended more solid substances are sucked up and, sooner or later, clog the bottom layer. For these reasons, it is advisable to only use an undergravel filter in very small aquariums, where the limited space does allow for the use of other types of filters. Furthermore, the fairly contained cost of internal filters with centrifugal pumps does not justify another choice.
To conclude, some practical advice: the efficiency of each type of filter depends on the capacity of its container (amount of filter material) and the power (yield in litres) of the centrifugal pump. For a freshwater aquarium, a pump with a hourly yield equal to the capacity of the aquarium (for a 100 litre tank a filter with 400-500 litres per hour) should be chosen. The container should have a capacity of approx. 10% of the volume of the tank (in closed external filters the container can be smaller ). For a 100 liter marine aquarium, the pump should be of a 800-1000 litre per hour capacity; the container should also be larger, accounting for about 15-20% of the volume of the tank.
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