Aquarium Professionals Group Article |
Planning A Custom Aquarium:
Avoid Common Mistakes!
Planning a custom design or built-in aquarium for your new home, addition,
business, office or build-out?
Make sure you hire a professional!
Select an aquarium source to provide your aquarium
BEFORE you start designing! This is the most common mistake made by people who
want to add an aquarium to their new home, house addition or improvement. They
hire an architect who is very competent when it comes to home design, but may know little or nothing about aquariums.
This is a common scenario - The
architect draws up plans for a beautiful room with a 1000 gallon aquarium
incorporated as a design element. The blueprints are submitted to one or more
aquarium sources for bidding. One of two things usually happen: If the
aquarium business has good experience with custom work, they may find problems
with the design and the architect will have to re-work it. More commonly, however, the store will not have experience with
large custom aquarium design and will bid the job as planned, leading to major
disasters once the project is completed.
The aquarium should be designed around the life it
will support, not the other way around. An aquarium is successful when the
animals that live in it are in an aquatic environment that duplicates their
natural habitat as closely as possible. The lakes, rivers, and oceans of the
world contain many different habitats with different physical, chemical, and
biological characteristics. A large aquarium may have the same chemical and
biological make-up, but may need various physical mini-habitats to support
different types of aquatic life that require a certain structure, water current,
or light intensity. A fish or invertebrate that lives in one habitat may not
survive well in another. Therefore, it is important to first at least have some
idea of the
livestock an aquarium will hold before designing the aquarium.
Allow for proper access for routine aquarium
maintenance. The area above the aquarium should be free of obstruction and
should be of a height equal to at least 50-75% of the height of the tank.
Sometimes, for instance, aquarium decorations will need to be removed monthly
for maintenance. Not allowing good access for maintenance will result in a much
higher cost to service the aquarium. Cabinet doors above the aquarium should be
designed to allow easy access to the entire aquarium surface.
Good ventilation of the aquarium and all aquarium
equipment is very important to prevent heat and moisture damage to millwork and
over-heating in the aquarium. Failure to allow for good ventilation will require
major work to be done later to your aquarium installation and may require the
purchase of an aquarium chiller, which is an expensive investment.
If you are planning a marine invertebrate
living-reef aquarium display, you will need powerful lighting and pumps which
can increase the heat production in and around the aquarium by as much as 70
percent. This may raise the water temperature by ten degrees or more, making an
aquarium chiller a necessity. Chillers cannot be fully enclosed, so it is
important to carefully consider their location.
Make sure there is enough space below the aquarium
for good filtration and other aquatic life-support equipment, or if possible,
plan to locate the aquarium mechanicals in the basement of your home or on
another floor below the aquarium tank.
Inexperienced aquarium businesses rarely stress the importance of allowing
enough space for aquarium equipment.
Electrical requirements can vary widely depending
on the size and type of aquarium desired. Outlets should be ground-fault
interruption protected, and proper amperage needs will need to be calculated to
prevent power outages to the aquarium.
Don't rush the aquarium installation! This happens
a lot. Take whatever lead time the aquarium store told you initially and add two
to three weeks to it. That will give you a realistic deadline. Installing a
custom aquarium is half science and half art, especially when the aquarium
filtration is to be plumbed through the panels of the tank. The installer should
be able to work slowly and steadily in order to do a good job. If you're the
impatient type and rush the job, the result is always disastrous.
aquarium is built into a wall or other structure as part of a new build-out or
building, the tank may be placed in position and rough-plumbed prior to millwork
installation. However, the actual aquarium work should be completed ONLY
AFTER all other trades work has been completed, including carpeting and
flooring. We have seen many aquariums that failed or were permanently damaged by
paint fumes, sheetrock dust, etc., because the client or contractor rushed the job. Greater
patience is required after the aquarium is filled, as establishing a stable
ecology in an aquarium may take months. The aquarium should be stocked slowly
over several months and algae should be allowed to grow for a while before the
aquarium is first cleaned.
There are many other factors and issues to be
considered when planning a custom built-in aquarium. The Aquarium Professionals
Group has more than twenty-five years of experience in designing custom aquaria
and can supply full specifications for your new aquarium installation.
We work with you every step of the way, from concept to blueprint to
installation to maintenance. Because we take the time to meet with
architects and designers frequently during the building process, potential
problems are avoided. We care about the success of your aquarium because
our excellent reputation is on the line!
Read Part 2 -
Selecting a Source for Your Custom Aquarium
Read Part 3 - Evaluating Bids for Your Custom
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