June is National Zoo and Aquarium month, which means getting ready for a busy summer season of visitors. While families explore the wonders of animal and aquatic life, our maintenance teams are hard at work ensuring enclosures are safe, clean and comfortable for their inhabitants. In fact, this is our busiest time of year for aquarium fix-ups, to ensure visitors enjoy experiences without any disruptions. Here’s a look at some of the critical work our teams undertake to protect and promote our clients’ fascinating aquatic environments.
Maintaining Water Quality in Saltwater Tanks
Saltwater tanks provide a spectacular view of undersea life. From prehistoric species near the ocean floor to the vibrantly colored fish and coral of tropical reefs, these exhibits reveal an astounding variety of aquatic life. Maintaining these habitats is a precise and specialized skill. Tanks require constant cleaning to prevent algae buildup, and careful measurement and maintenance to keep salinity, pH balance and water temperatures in check. Even the slightest fluctuations can have adverse effects on aquatic life. Just as meteorologists monitor our air quality closely, our teams continually monitor water chemistry and temperature to ensure both plants and animals thrive in a healthy environment.
Keeping Filters, Ozone Generators and UV Lamps Working
There are a number of components in aquarium systems that play a crucial role in maintaining the quality of water. Water filters keep water clean and clear. Over time, filters can become blocked due to the high level of waste produced by the animals. Clearing blocked filters may require disassembling the entire filtration assembly, cleaning and replacing damaged parts before reassembling. Ozone generators help break down pollutants. Fixing ozone generators can involve anything from the replacement of damaged ozone plates to the repair of the electric motor. UV lamps help to kill harmful bacteria in the water, and, like any kind of lamp, need replacing from time to time. After fixing or replacing any of these components, extensive testing is then required to ensure everything works as it’s designed to.
Repairing Seals and Replacing Sealants
Any kind of leak in a system becomes a complicated issue for aquariums, whether they appear in pipes, panels or casings. It can be challenging to locate the source of the leak; the smallest cracks or hole in a seal can compromise the meticulous balance of temperature, humidity, chemical makeup and water pressure within the entire habitat. Weather will take a toll on outdoor habitats; the natural expansion and contraction of materials throughout a year’s worth of temperature swings cause small cracks and leaks in silicone and concrete. These need to be located, repaired, and carefully re-sealed to preserve the integrity and health of the exhibit.
Acidic Corroded Tanks
Because acrylic is stronger than glass and is able to contain massive volumes of water, aquariums can now build tanks large enough to accommodate species like sharks and stingrays, providing them enough room to swim constantly and maintain the flow of water over their gills. The required pH balance for these animals eventually breaks down the acrylic. Panels may need to be replaced after several years, or at least resealed to prevent leaks. Maintenance teams must monitor the pH levels of the water closely to manage acrylic corrosion.
Maintaining aquariums is a critical and complex job, and it takes specialized professionals behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly. We expect a busy summer at ASI, working with our zoo and aquarium clients to do what’s essential to keep their animals healthy and safe, and their visitors impressed and entertained.