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The 21st Century Fish Tank

Stacy Mantle//September 1, 2015//

The 21st Century Fish Tank

Stacy Mantle //September 1, 2015//

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Technology and fish keeping often go hand in hand. Aquarists are known for rapidly assimilating new technologies into their hobby, which has helped make the aquarium world more efficient, smarter and more attractive to beginners. Technological advances in multistage filtration and the ability to manage everything from temperature to lighting make any sized aquarium appealing.

Small is Big

Thanks to this improved technology, nano-aquariums are storming the marketplace.

“It used to be that larger tanks were easier to manage because they were more forgiving,” said Chris LeRose, aquatic division manager, Rolf C. Hagen Inc. “The success of any tank relies on keeping water parameters stable. This is just one reason nano-aquariums are so popular.”

The smaller tanks often favor a modern, minimalist design that is popular today. As they require relatively few life supporting components, the sophisticated designs are easily integrated into the hood of the aquarium to provide reliable performance without compromising aesthetic quality.

“Shrimp tanks are helping with the popularity of nano-aquariums,” said Brian Shavlik, eastern regional sales manager of Hydor USA, Inc. “Prodibio is introducing AquaShrimp Powder with a specific thin grain size adapted to shrimp life. It will allow shrimps and their juveniles ease of movement in the aquarium without falling into the substrate. The AquaShrimp Powder is free of parasitic species which could contaminate the aquarium. At Hydor, we are also seeing sustained growth in our Nano Koralia Circulation Pumps and with our 25W and 50W Theo Heaters; these products are very popular for nano-reef aquariums.”

Smart Tanks

The increased use of electronic components in aquariums means a new generation of programmable smart devices. From electronic submersible heaters that maintain accurate water temperature by sampling water to programmable digital feeders, to a canister filter capable of self-diagnosis, aquarium products are more reliable and require less monitoring than ever before. This gives hobbyists more time to enjoy their aquarium instead of spending time maintaining it.

Sophisticated aquarium control systems allow any hobbyist to read and easily manage water quality, lighting and evaluate more complex issues, such as oxidation reduction potential, dissolved oxygen, pH and conductivity. These systems often connect directly to a home network, allowing users to monitor quality from any Internet-enabled computer or independent operating system, such as a smart phone.

Recently, Seneye released a revolutionary water monitoring device that allows aquarists to continuously track changes in water parameters, alerting them to problems before fish are affected. The sensitive device takes up to 5,600 readings per month of critical issues like ammonia and pH levels, total light and temperature changes. It then compiles everything into simplified graphics. Readings can be viewed remotely from a personalized online dashboard and allow the user to identify any issues that could become a problem in the future. Testing kits come in three varieties: pond, reef and home.

Bright Ideas

Another trend is the fast adoption of LEDs. LED lighting produces up to eight times as much light as fluorescent lights per watt of electricity used, making them incredibly energy-efficient. In addition to being efficient, they last longer—up to seven years in most cases—and produce less heat, giving owner’s more control over the aquarium temperature.

“Certainly LED lighting is the one category that is changing the fastest,” said Neal Dulaney, co-owner of LifeGard Aquatics. “Fluorescent is out, LED is in—energy efficient, long lasting bulbs, the heat is less. Halogen lights used to be popular, but put off too much heat. The actual results are better, since LED lights better illuminate the entire aquarium.”

LED lights also afford a hobbyist the opportunity to enjoy their fish at night with a feature that’s become known as lunar lighting. While most species of fish are diurnal, there are species that are nocturnal and they may not be receiving the proper lighting. Research studies have shown that using rhythmic moon luminance is helpful in improving the lives of captive animals. Lunar lighting gives hobbyist a unique opportunity to enjoy their aquariums at night, without impacting the health of livestock.

Seeking a Refuge

Refugia have become popular among reef enthusiasts because of their numerous benefits.

According to JBJ Lighting’s website, “Refugia provide natural filtration as algae grows in a controlled area with light and water flow to export unwanted nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates. They also help stabilize the pH and oxygen levels consistently throughout the day by absorbing CO2 gas during evening hours when the main tank lights are off. And they are the perfect way to grow natural food sources that propagate and feed the aquarium naturally.”

To grow all that healthy algae in the refugium, JBJ Lighting offers the Macro-Glo Refugium Light in 15 and 25 watt sizes and the Nano Glow Light at 4 watts.

Eshopps just launched the third generation of their refugia, the R series. It features two water chambers for dual action of a refugium and a protein skimmer. There are four sizes available, including the Cube Nano Refugium.
Technological advances in aquarium equipment keep making them easier and easier to keep. These advances also make it possible for novice or moderately esperienced hobbyists to keep some species that were formerly best left to experts. And there are no signs that the innovation in the category is slowing down.