Mastering Freshwater Aquarium Ecosystems
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Choosing the Aquarium (Cont.)


Acrylic aquariums have some advantages and disadvantages too. Acrylic aquariums are light, clearer than glass, and easy to drill holes in for the addition of an external sump style filtration systems. You can easily install internal overflow pre-filter for a sump style filtration systems or buy a tank with one already built in. Acrylic aquariums have some disadvantages as well, they scratch easily, they have a tendency to bow, and they are typically more expensive than glass. Acrylic aquariums have the option of the back plate being colored acrylic (black, or blue).  For tanks that will be placed up against a wall, a colored back is desirable.

Aquarium Background

With acrylic aquarium, a tank can come with a colored acrylic sheet as a background. For glass aquariums, it is recommended that you spray paint the background on the tank before it is set up. With glass you can select any color to paint the aquarium.  Black is the best color for aquarium photography. Another alternative is to silicone cork tiles to the inside of the aquarium, and attach plants to it that do not require their roots be buried in substrate.

Recommendation on Choice

My recommendation for choosing a tank is based mostly on the size. If the aquarium you plan to buy is over 100 gallons (380 l) you should consider acrylic, because the weight of the tank makes it difficult to move. A 125 (475 l) gallon glass tank is difficult to move for two average size men. On the other hand a 125 gallon (475 l) acrylic tank can be moved by one person.

If you plan to use a sump style filtration system, a built in overflow prefilter is much better than the hang on the back pre-filter. This is explained in more detail in the filter section of this book.

The size and shape of the aquarium should be determined by the species of fish you plan to keep. If you plan to keep an arowana you should think about buying a long tank. If you plan on keeping guppies or dwarf cichlids, a small shallow tank will do just fine.

Cabinetry, Canopies, and Stands

The type of furniture you will select for the aquarium can have undesirable consequences if you do not select the correct one for your application. If you cannot find the correct furniture, you can always design and build it yourself or have a cabinet maker build it.

If you plan on using some type of sump filtration system, you will need to make sure the cabinet you choose will have access large enough to fit the filter in through the door or back. The cabinet should also provide enough room for any external equipment, and supplies you will want to store. A cabinet should be well ventilated, as excessive heat can build up from electronic equipment and transfer to the aquarium. It may be necessary to install a small fan in the cabinet to vacate heat.

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