Aquarium Basics

Whether you’re a lone pet lover or a staff biologist – you’ve got to admit that aquariums are pretty cool! In no other receptacle can you literally take a slice of aquatic life and enjoy its beauty on dry land. Just think about it – the only thing separating you from exotic plants and interesting swimming or crawling creatures is… glass.

Two Basic Aquarium Types

What kinds of aquariums are there? There are two basic types: saltwater and freshwater. A saltwater aquarium contains water-life and elements found in oceans while a freshwater aquarium contains the same from places like rivers, lakes, and ponds. You might hear both of these types of tanks called by other names. But a marine tank or seawater tank is still a saltwater aquarium and a river tank or pond tank is still a freshwater aquarium. It’s the contents of an aquarium that specifies what type it is – and that’s for a very good reason!

Under no circumstance, should life (including plants) from one type of water be mixed with the other. Swapping creatures from one environment could be deadly and extreme care should be taken to ensure 100% compatibility within a single tank. Essentially, an aquarium should attempt to emulate a natural environment.

Creating A Safe Swimming Environment

Accordingly, additional care should be taken to avoid inserting unnatural elements into aquariums as well. Although a child’s toy might look cute in an aquarium, the plastics and glues used to hold the toy together just might create a toxic environment for the fish that are constantly exposed to it – especially in saltwater tanks. Saltwater will dissolve plastic, glue, and some metals much faster than freshwater.

That’s why you will find appropriate aquarium objects made of things like Plexiglas or silicone rubber. In fact, if you’re looking for objects to place in your tank, be sure that you buy the ones that were specifically crafted to work *with* an aquarium – not against it!

Putting It All Together

But fear not – as long as you do a little research, keep your aquarium type uniform, and avoid putting poisonous materials in it, your water-breathing friends can enjoy a long and healthy life. Remember that when putting together an aquarium, your goal is to re-create the environment from which it’s life forms came from. And the closer the contents of an aquarium represent an original habitat – the better!