With the turning of the calendar, I get to write one of our favorite types of blog posts, looking ahead to aquarium trends to keep an eye on in 2017. Here are some of the big trends in aquarium design to watch for this year:
- Aquarium equipment costs are going down
As new aquarium technology pours in from China, the cost of an entire aquarium installation has gone down over 20% (in my estimations) due to cheaper materials and equipment coming in from China. We’d prefer to send our money to American companies and support local as much as possible. But I do have to admit, some of these new products are actually quite good. There is great innovation and quality materials with warranties and all. It is also energy efficient, low voltage equipment which is better for the environment and less costly.
- Aquarium automation is taking off
As we all become busier and busier, it’s becoming harder for people to find the time to clean and maintain their aquariums. However, people are still interested in aquariums for the aesthetics and fun they provide. The answer? Improved automation technology is making aquariums more self-sufficient, as you’ll see in the next points.
- Technological advances
I didn’t see this coming even last year, but I’d say within the next year, we’ll sell some sort of a tablet computer with most aquarium installations. The technology for much of this isn’t new, but it is becoming extremely affordable and easy to use.
What will you use the tablet for you ask?
- Lighting. We already have a cell phone app to completely control the lighting system to have it go from moonlight in the middle of the night to slowly warming and gaining intensity through the day to midday sun, then lowering intensity back to moonlight in the middle of the night, truly recreating a 24 hour lighting cycle.
- Pump. Yes, an app on your cell phone to control pumps and waterflow. It also is now standard.
- Camera, HD no less. Yes, an HD camera to see what is going on in the tank. Think your fish are sick? Log in to your aquarium and take a look around. Or, you could have a camera looking at the filtration system. Also available now.
- Motorized Algae Magnet. Think of a Rumba for your aquarium. This technology is coming soon. Program it from the tablet or phone to clean the glass 1, 2 or 100 times a day.
- Monitoring water chemistry. Look up what the pH, temperature, salt, and more are with a couple swipes of a tablet or cell phone. This equipment has been available for some time but with so many other pieces of equipment requiring the technology aspect, we’re using them more and more. Furthermore this can send emails certain parameters are out alignment.
- Automated dosing systems. Algae growing, have more Algae Eraser liquid added. pH low, add more alkalinity plus. All this can be done from a tablet or phone.
- More custom installations (and bigger ones)
I wasn’t kidding when I said that by my estimation the overall cost of an aquarium installation is down more than 20%. In 2016 we had a huge year and have sold and installed many aquariums around 500 gallons, which is really big.
Those tanks would have been so much more expensive even 5 years ago that a lot of people may have had other thoughts on spending so much. But particularly for the larger tanks, we save even more money than we do on smaller ones. No more need for massive pumps and chillers to cool the water after the pumps cook it means that the total cost of the installation is far lower.
- Continued success in saltwater fish breeding
2016 saw the first successful breeding of the Blue Tang, or “Dori”, fish. This was a huge development. The “Nemo” fish have been successfully bred in captivity for years, so much to the fact the fish is hardly available as “wild caught” anymore—breeding in captivity is just so much less costly and complicated. The more fish and corals that are bred in captivity, the better, because this protects natural populations from poachers.
Aquaponics is the process of soil-less farming. A tank of fish are kept to grow and breed and ultimately be harvested for consumption. The water from that tank which is full of nitrogen and thus, plant nutrient, is sent to growing beds for a huge number of vegetables. These vegetables flourish in the nutrient rich water and grow very rapidly. Entire curriculums are being developed for schools about this topic and more and more schools are installing aquaponic systems. These units are beginning to find their way to the home aquarium where people can grow their own herbs and vegetables, and this is only going to continue as more and more consumers are concerned about where their food is coming from.