Aquariums – Yesterday And Today

We all have things tucked away here and there. The favourite place for a man is often the garage – bits of wood, metal, bottles of this, tins of that, don’t want to throw it away because it is sure to come in useful one day. That day never seems to come for most items. They still get kept though.

On a similar principle are aquarium bits. In my case I have a polystyrene box with lid (it has been used for the transportation of livestock) that is full of bits. There’s an aquarium heater, two powerheads, flexible tubing, tubing bends of various sorts, sponges, a stick on aquarium thermometer (how did I get that off?), an air pump, air pump clips, and lots of other small items. I just know that if I throw anything away then I’ll have a need for it soon after. Strange though, I never seem to use anything.

Finding things can be of great interest. I had occasion to fumble about in the back of the cupboard (yes, another hoard of fishy stuff!) and there I found a few old reference books (for marines of course). It was a bit like finding a stack of old photographs – start looking at them and you’re hooked. I looked through a number of these books and they were generally quite fascinating. There was talk of under-gravel filters and how they could be improved by reversing the flow. There was talk of normal and counter flow air driven protein skimmers. How times have moved on.

Perhaps the most interesting was the aquascaping of a marine aquarium, where it was suggested that dead white corals would be useful and also coarse coral sand. Coarse coral sand is still used for decorative sand beds, but dead corals are now frowned upon – they shouldn’t be purchased dead or if they died, why? A modern aquarium is truly a living thing with live rock, DSB, living soft and/or hard corals, lovely fish, shrimps, and all those tiny little organisms that make an appearance. This is not a criticism of the earlier aquarists (I was one of them, hence the books) but there is now no comparison between those earlier aquariums and the ones of today.

In the future no doubt aquarists will see the books of today and realise how things have progressed. I wonder where our modern aquariums will go. As the move is towards more natural methods, I suppose additional filters will come into play, probably in the form of additional sumps/tanks, which try to represent the different areas of a wild reef. The supreme aquarium for anyone with a well stuffed wallet could be a display aquarium linked to maybe a double sump which already has the various filters built in. Just add necessary filter materials and water. We’ll have to wait and see.

One thing I am certain of, the wild reef will never be duplicated, there are far too many varying life forms and it is just too big.


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