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Tuatara: Volume 7, Issue 1, September 1958

Preparing Aquarium Tanks for the Summer Vacation

Preparing Aquarium Tanks for the Summer Vacation

The setting up of aquarium tanks is a common task at the start of the teaching year in biological laboratories. In the long summer vacation, without constant supervision, tanks readily run down. Animals die. In the autumn there will be the prolonged task of setting up and rebalancing tanks which have become valueless through neglect. Some small care before the rush of the end of the teaching year will avoid much work and lost time next year.

Do not empty tanks or allow them to stand dry. This will lead to leaking. Without the pressure of the water, the glass tends to ease off from the cement. In any case, the water, whether salt water or fresh, is worth saving. It has gone through the long cycle of conditioning. If properly cared for it can be brought immediately into use next year and time will not be lost waiting for new water to reach full clarity.

Large animals requiring frequent feeding should be removed from tanks. Salt-water tanks should be topped up with new salt water, or, i there has been evaporation, with fresh water (preferably rain water or distilled). Salt-water tanks should be covered closely with glass and kept completely dark throughout the summer. This kills off any microscopic or minute plants. These decay, returning important salts to the water. This restores the stock of the various useful elements in the water. The release of these elements back into the water is slow but by the end of the summer the water will be reconditioned. The dead plants can be easily removed from the glass. Treated this way, salt-water tanks will be usable for many years, which is important where tanks are set up remote from the sea.

It is proper also to remove large animals from fresh-water tanks. The tanks should be topped up. Although a tank should be placed so that in winter months the hours of sunlight are sufficient only to maintain an adequate growth of water plants, the additional hours of sunlight and the movement of the sun to the southern sky usually brings too much light to the tank in summer, so that plants grow profusely and overcrowd the tank. The tank should be shaded so that no full sun can strike the tank, and so that the tank will receive no more light during the summer months than during the winter. Remove any fresh-water clams which might die and ‘spoil’ the tank, and all snails or other animals which feed on plants.