If you want a tranquil and soothing effect in a room of your house, there’s no better way to produce that “mood” than to install an aquarium. And, if images of green slime appear when someone mentions the “A” word, as in “aquarium,” you probably have childhood memories of that filthy glass-enclosed experiment of primordial goo that your mother got mad about. It doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s aquarium manufacturers have developed an entire host of products that make aquariums an easy and fun activity.
There are two basic materials used in creating the tank portion of aquariums – glass and acrylic plastic. Each has its advantages. Glass enthusiasts like that it’s resistant to scratching. Since glass is rigid, it can support its own weight, which allows for open tops. A glass aquarium stays clear over time. Since there are fewer specialized glass tools, glass aquariums tend to cost less than acrylic tanks.
Those who prefer acrylic aquariums like how easy they are to repair with polishing compound to remove scratch marks from the outside.
Acrylic tanks are lighter than glass. Acrylic plastic is tough and hardly ever breaks. Although acrylic can be molded into any shape, these tanks require more support on the tops and bottoms. Acrylic doesn’t need to be thick, like glass, to support the same amount of water. Plus, acrylic can easily be drilled to handle overflow systems. Since acrylic has the same light refraction as water, it doesn’t distort images. Shipping costs make some acrylic tanks expensive.
Which is best? If shape isn’t an issue and you want an aquarium under 500 gallons, go with glass. When you want an aquarium that isn’t a rectangle, like a spherical tank, you want acrylic. Bottom line, buy an aquarium that you like best and that fits your budget.
There are four basic types of aquariums and they reflect the natural environment that you wish to capture inside your tank. They are freshwater, saltwater, reef and planted aquariums. Here are their details.
The easiest aquariums to keep hold freshwater. Tropical freshwater fish, goldfish, catfish and frogs fill these aquariums. Since most tap water contains chlorine, you need water treatment to take this and other chemicals out of your water. For a minimum cost, you can get filtration and lighting to make a freshwater aquarium attractive.
Marine organisms that live in the ocean fill saltwater aquariums. Tropical saltwater fish are usually brighter and more colorful than their freshwater counterparts. Plus, you can include corals, eels, shrimp and exotic fish. Water chemistry is important with saltwater aquariums. Good filtration units are needed. Fortunately, several kits are available to assist in this trickier business.
Live coral grows in reef aquariums. Since coral reefs are in shallow areas of the sea, reef aquariums imitate characteristics of this habitat with correct lighting and water currents. Pumps that alternate water currents give coral wave action in a reef aquarium. Computerized lights turn on and off to change intensities similar to sunrise, noontime, sunset and even moon lighting. A number of reef kit aquariums contain all of these features, plus the extensive filtration systems and chemical additives needed to maintain accurate saltwater levels for thriving coral growth. Fish are often added to reef aquariums.
Freshwater and saltwater is used to grow plants in planted aquariums. Light is very important to develop photosynthesis, which turns the plants green. Fish and other living creatures can be added to planted aquariums.
For the top three aquariums in each category, check out: