A Look at Important Careers in Working with Aquariums

Careers in Aquariums

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Introduction

Aquariums are fascinating spaces that bring the wonders of Aquatic life up close and personal. They serve as both educational hubs and aesthetic displays, offering a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems that exist beneath the water’s surface. Behind the scenes of these captivating environments are skilled professionals who contribute to every aspect of aquarium management, from construction to animal care.

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What are Aquariums and What are the Basic Steps in Constructing Them?

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Aquariums are transparent tanks filled with water, where live fish, water creatures, and plants are kept for observation and conservation purposes. Constructing an aquarium involves several key steps:

Design and Planning:

This phase includes conceptualising the aquarium’s layout, considering factors like tank size, shape, and materials.

Tank Construction:

Building the actual tank involves selecting suitable glass or acrylic panels, sealing them securely, and ensuring structural integrity.

Filtration and Circulation:

Installing filtration systems, pumps, and heaters is crucial for maintaining water quality and temperature stability.

Aquascaping:

Adding substrate, rocks, driftwood, and plants not only enhances the visual appeal but also creates a natural habitat for aquatic life.

Water Conditioning:

Treating water with dechlorinators, adjusting pH levels, and monitoring ammonia and nitrate levels are essential for creating a healthy Environment.

What Kind of Animals are Kept in a Glass Aquarium?

Aquariums are incredibly diverse ecosystems that can house a wide range of aquatic animals, each requiring specific care and environmental conditions. Here are some categories of animals commonly kept in glass aquariums:

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Tropical Fish:

These are perhaps the most common inhabitants of freshwater aquariums due to their vibrant colours, interesting behaviours, and ease of care. Popular tropical fish species include:

  • Guppies: Colourful and prolific breeders, making them a favourite among beginners.
  • Tetras: Known for their schooling behaviour and dazzling colours, such as neon tetras, cardinal tetras, and glowlight tetras.
  • Angelfish: Elegant and graceful, often kept in larger tanks due to their size.
  • Betta Fish: Known for their vibrant colours and elaborate fins, bettas are solitary fish that require specific water conditions.

Invertebrates:

These creatures add diversity and interest to aquariums, playing crucial roles in maintaining ecological balance. Common invertebrates kept in aquariums include:

  • Shrimp: Species like cherry shrimp, amano shrimp, and ghost shrimp are popular for their scavenging habits and colourful appearance.
  • Snails: Snails like nerite snails and mystery snails help control algae and clean the aquarium substrate.
  • Crabs: Freshwater crabs like Thai micro crabs or fiddler crabs can be fascinating additions to a tank, although they require specific conditions.

Aquatic Plants:

Live plants not only enhance the visual appeal of aquariums but also provide oxygen, natural filtration, and hiding spots for fish and invertebrates. Common aquarium plants include:

  • Anubias: Hardy and low-maintenance, suitable for beginners.
  • Java Fern: Another easy-to-grow plant that adds a lush, green look to the aquarium.
  • Amazon Sword: A larger plant suitable for mid-ground or background placement, requiring moderate lighting and nutrients.

Saltwater Fish and Invertebrates:

Marine aquariums offer an entirely different array of species, often requiring more specialised care and equipment due to the complexity of saltwater ecosystems. Examples include:

  • Clownfish: Recognisable from movies like “Finding Nemo,” these fish are hardy and come in various colour morphs.
  • Corals: SPS (small polyp stony), LPS (large polyp stony), and soft corals add colour, texture, and Biodiversity to saltwater aquariums.
  • Anemones: Often kept with clownfish, anemones provide shelter and symbiotic relationships within the aquarium.

Specialty Fish and Aquatic Animals:

Some aquarium enthusiasts keep more exotic or niche species that require specialised care and environments. These can include:

  • Discus Fish: Known for their striking colours and social behaviour, discus fish require pristine water conditions and higher temperatures.
  • Arowanas: Large, predatory fish that need spacious tanks and careful handling.
  • Jellyfish: Advanced aquariums may feature jellyfish displays, which require specific water flow, filtration, and food requirements.

When setting up an aquarium, it’s crucial to research each species’ requirements regarding water parameters (temperature, pH, and hardness), tank size, compatibility with other species, diet, and behavioural needs. Providing a suitable habitat ensures the health, well-being, and longevity of the animals in the aquarium, creating a vibrant and thriving aquatic environment for enthusiasts and educational purposes alike.

What are some General Maintenance Steps for Aquariums?

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Maintaining a healthy and thriving aquarium requires regular upkeep and attention to detail. Here are some general maintenance steps:

Water Changes:

Regularly change a portion of the water to remove accumulated waste, toxins, and maintain water quality.

Cleaning:

Clean algae from glass, decorations, and substrate using algae scrapers, brushes, or magnetic cleaners.

Filter Maintenance:

Clean or replace filter media as needed to ensure efficient filtration and water circulation.

Water Testing:

Conduct regular water tests for parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate to monitor water quality and make necessary adjustments.

Equipment Checks:

Inspect and maintain aquarium equipment such as filters, heaters, pumps, and lights to ensure they are functioning correctly.

Feeding and Monitoring:

Feed the animals appropriately and observe their behaviour and health to detect any signs of stress, illness, or aggression.

Aquascaping:

Prune and maintain aquatic plants, trim overgrown roots, and rearrange decorations periodically for aesthetic appeal and habitat optimisation.

Careers Involved in building and maintaining Aquariums

Working in aquariums offers diverse career opportunities. Here are some of the careers involved in the management of an aquarium:

Marine Conservation

Aquarium Curator:

Oversees the overall management, including exhibit planning, animal acquisitions, and staff supervision.

Aquarium Educator:

Conducts educational programmes, tours, and outreach activities to promote conservation awareness and aquatic life appreciation.

Designer/Installer:

Designs and constructs custom aquarium setups for residential, commercial, or public spaces.

Aquarist:

Cares for the animals by maintaining water quality, feeding, observing behaviours, and implementing enrichment activities.

Aquarium Technician:

Responsible for maintaining equipment, performing water tests, and troubleshooting technical issues to ensure optimal functioning of the aquarium systems.

Aquarium Maintenance Specialist:

Focuses on routine cleaning, water changes, algae control, and aquascaping to keep the aquarium exhibits clean, visually appealing, and conducive to animal health.

Water Quality Specialist:

Specialises in monitoring and managing water parameters, conducting advanced water testing, implementing filtration upgrades, and designing optimal water treatment protocols.

These careers are more in the running of the aquarium, but there are many more, especially in health (aquatic veterinarian, animal nutritionist, and enrichment officer), training, and breeding (aquarium fish breeder, etc).

What Do High School Students Need to Do to Prepare for Any of the Careers?

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High school students interested in pursuing careers in aquariums can take several steps to prepare:

Education:

Focus on science subjects like biology, chemistry, and environmental science to understand aquatic ecosystems and animal biology.

Volunteer or Intern:

Seek opportunities at local aquariums, pet stores, or conservation organisations to gain hands-on experience and insight into aquarium operations.

Attend Workshops and Seminars:

Participate in workshops or seminars related to aquarium maintenance, fish keeping, and marine conservation.

Develop Skills:

Hone skills such as problem-solving, attention to detail, communication, and teamwork, which are essential for aquarium-related professions.

Further Studies:

Consider pursuing degrees or certifications in marine biology, zoology, aquaculture, or aquarium science for specialised knowledge and career advancement.

Conclusion

Working with aquariums opens up a world of exciting career paths for individuals passionate about aquatic life and conservation. Whether it’s designing stunning underwater landscapes, caring for diverse marine species, or educating the public about environmental stewardship, the opportunities in this field are as vast and vibrant as the underwater ecosystems they aim to preserve and showcase. By preparing early and gaining relevant experience, high school students can embark on fulfilling careers that blend their love for marine life with professional expertise in aquarium management.

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This article is meant to educate and inspire those who want to work with animals. Therefore the info and images in this article are CC0. This enables visitors to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.

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