When assessing the performance and overall fitness of a life support system to promote aquatic animal health, it is essential to evaluate the function of every life support component on the system. The function and purpose of most of these components are fairly straightforward but when one of more of these components underperform or don’t perform at all, it can cause an emergency that affects the overall health of the system and every animal living in it. Here is a list of the most common and important LSS components and a brief explanation of how they work:
- Heaters – A heater’s role in an aquatic life support system is fairly straightforward: heat the water so that is within the recommended parameters of the system’s inhabitants. There are several types of heaters available to aquarium keepers, which may or may not be appropriate for your system but when choosing one, make sure that the wattage can handle the volume of your system and don’t buy a cheap one. For more information about heaters, visit our heater page.
- Chillers – Chillers are most often found on temperate systems and on aquaria in rooms with lots of temperature fluctuation. They work like air conditioners and refrigerators in that they remove heat to maintain temperature. Good chillers tend to be a bit expensive but they are worth every penny. If your system is in a closed room that gets hot during warm weather or from direct sunlight, a chiller can make the difference between healthy animals or disease outbreaks.
- UV Sterilizers – UV sterilizers promote animal health by irradiating bacteria and parasites with ultraviolet radiation. This causes genetic mutations, essentially preventing them from multiplying and causing outbreaks and compromised animals. A side benefit is that this radiation also nukes algae, resulting in less buildup in your display.
- Canister Filters – Canister filters are popular with hobbyists, as they are all-in-one filtration systems that are easy to conceal under your display tank. This can also become a liability, though, as out-of-sight-out-of-mind can result in less maintenance, poor performance and impaired water quality.
- Protein Skimmers – Also called foam fractionators, skimmers work by removing dissolved organic compounds from your water, enhancing the performance of other types of filtration on your system and keeping your water clean and healthy.
- Pumps – A pump’s performance on your system needs little explanation: they keep water moving through your display and filtration. How they accomplish varies by type and build and not all may be appropriate or recommended for your system.
We take the health of each client’s system as seriously as we take the health of his or her animals and carefully evaluate the performance of each LSS component during each visit. The careful observation and proactive maintenance we perform often catches non-performing or under-performing LSS components before they can affect the health of your system and animals. Many times, there are subtle differences in performance that are easy to overlook on your system. If you’ve been thinking about consulting with or hiring a Portland aquarium maintenance professional to help you with your life support system, call us today at 503.784.4403 and let our experience help you create a healthier and more vibrant aquarium.