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Aquarium Life Support System Design Entering the Twenty-first Century

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There has not been a more dynamic period of growth in the aquarium industry than during the last two decades of the twentieth century. In 20 years, over 30 facilities were constructed in North America, Asia and Europe. A census of these facilities would show that over 50 million gallons of marine and freshwater exhibits were built to display a diverse collection of fishes, mammals, invertebrates and plants, many of which had never previously been exhibited. At the outset of this generation of aquarium building, there was limited information as to what engineering and water treatment technology might be suitable or available for the maintenance of healthy aquatic environments. In fact, such an engineering specialty did not possess a name or professional designation. The punctuated building of aquariums spurred the creation of a new breed of design specialist, the aquatic life support engineer. Initially the mechanical engineers and biologists that were in the vanguard of this new specialty had limited water quality data to develop their designs. Aquarium biologist began collecting the data and eventually forged a collaborative design relationship with engineers eager to develop new approaches for aquatic life support. Consequently, as aquariums enter the new millennium, the fundamental principles of life support design have never been more clearly defined. Simply put, the basic platform of life support design is water filtration, and the three technological pillars that support that platform are biological, chemical and mechanical.

Document Type: Short Communication


Publication date: 2001-03-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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