Aquarium Efficiency

By: Samuel Walker

Good fish keeping boils down to three main issues that determine both the happiness of your fish and your impact on the environment: heating, filtration, and lighting. Here is what you need to know about your impact on the environment when taking care of your fish!

Heating is one of the most important facets to keeping fish healthy. Most popular aquarium fish come from tropical lakes or oceans, meaning that they do best at water temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Most buildings or homes are not this warm, and as such, aquariums can experience a lot of heat loss. There are several things you should be considering to ensure that your aquariums remain at the correct temperature without wasting excess energy. First, keep your aquariums off the floor, especially your basement floor. Keeping aquariums on stands ensures that heat loss only occurs between the surface of the aquarium and the air around it. If an aquarium sits on a large heat sink, such as a basement floor, heat loss can be massive. Second, try to keep your aquariums covered to prevent evaporation. Aquariums can lose significant amounts of heat due to evaporative cooling if they are not covered. Lastly, consider your best options for providing heat to your fish. The most common household aquarium heaters simply use electric current to create heat within the aquarium. This is the easiest solution; however, it is far from the most efficient. Heat pumps can be more practical in larger aquariums to efficiently draw heat into water. If you are housing many small aquariums, it may be best to simply heat the air around them to the desired temperature. This may be a bit warm for the admirer, but it is an efficient way to avoid creating several different heat sources for many fish tanks. 

Filtration is a simple process of drawing water through filtration media in order to break down ammonia, followed by infrequently but consistently replacing large amounts of water to get rid of built up nitrates. The first step simply relies on selecting the correctly sized pump for your aquarium. Many of these filtration setups come premade and provide adequate water disturbance for different aquarium sizes. The part of filtration that can be potentially harmful to the environment is when doing water changes. Large amounts of water can be used over time when doing water changes. This is a necessary process for the health of the fish, but it can seem a bit wasteful if you have a lot of water volume in your aquariums. A typical water change routine is 30-50% of water volume once a week. If you have 1000 gallons of water in your aquariums, this could amount to 500 gallons of water going down the drain each week! One way to reduce water waste via water changes is to keep real plants in your aquariums. In combination with a simple filtration system, plants can remove nitrates and toxins from the water as they grow to the point where you might not have to do any water changes at all.

Lighting is an important part of being able to enjoy your pets while keeping them and whatever plants you might have in a natural light cycle. Water disrupts light very quickly and can cause a need for powerful lighting in larger aquariums. You should always use LED lights, as they are significantly more efficient than any other form of lighting. Positioning your aquarium by a window so that it can receive natural sunlight is another good way to keep your aquarium lit up for fish and plants.

All these things should be taken into consideration when planning out an aquarium. When keeping fish, it is of utmost importance to keep them happy and healthy. However, it is also your responsibility to do this in a way that is not wasteful or harmful to the environment.

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