Date:28/05/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/pp/2011/05/28/stories/2011052850570400.htm
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Eddies, currents, and playful fish

Build a microcosm of tropical waters. Many homes have it these days.



Be transfixed:Fish swim and time flies. Aquariums offer multiple benefits.

It is a joy to behold. The swish of the tail, the small, swift movements, and the mesmerising colours of fish. They make aquariums an eternal favourite.

Fish are stress relievers. Watch them play in water to dissolve strain. Or imagine waiting in the lobby of an office for a meeting with an aquarium for company. Time just flies.

These days, many homes have aquariums and it is mostly the children who insist on having one. The options are plenty — from small bowls and spheres and cylindrical jars to the traditional rectangle boxes. Plants make them doubly beautiful at an extra cost.

An aquarium with a sparkling look is the most attractive, says K.M. Hamza, chief executive officer of Marvel Aqua Systems, Kochi. The fish should look bright and energetic, he adds.

Fish tanks lose sheen if ill-maintained. If one handles the feed and lighting properly, the tanks can be maintenance-free for five to six months, Mr. Hamza says.

In an office, a tank can separate the CEO's cabin and the staff halls. Or give it a pride of place in the lobby, on the wall or on a stand. “For those installing an aquarium at home, we give suggestions on where to place one,” Mr. Hamza says.

Imported fish tanks come with filters and light. They come in various sizes and shapes, including a small table-top variety that looks crowded with more than three small fish. Aquariums with plants are costly because a carbon-dioxide cylinder may have to be attached. Or drop carbon-dioxide pellets between the stones.

Mr. Hamza gives a few tips to keep the aquarium shipshape. Keep the tanks on a stand at a height of about three feet so that the water can be drained out easily while cleaning. A width of three feet lends the most beauty. The stand should be strong enough to carry the tank and the water.

The tank should be kept on top of a layer of foam on the stand so that the glass does not break. The tank should never be placed near the door as the thud of closing the door disturbs the fish. Before filling the tank with water from the tap, remove the chlorine content by adding water conditioners. Pour aloe-vera liquid to heal injuries that fish sustain during handling and transport.

Mr. Hamza warns against overfeeding. A heavily fed fish becomes lethargic and soils the tank more. A bacterial solution put in water helps detoxify the nitrogen matter. The fish waste and food that remain muddy the water and make it unhygienic, killing the fish.

Lights should be placed in such a manner that external light does not enter the tank, Mr. Hamza says. The fish should be seen in the light fitted to the tank. Sunlight, direct or diffuse, entering the tank may result in algae formation, which makes the tanks look dull.

Buy tanks and fish judiciously from trustworthy dealers. The cost goes up with the size of the tank. A two-feet-wide imported tank comes at a price of about Rs.3,000. Increase the width by a feet and equip the tank with all accessories, the cost goes up to Rs.12,000.

An eight-foot cabin-partition with a fish tank having a coral setting costs Rs.3-4 lakh. Tanks set up on walls cost Rs.10,000 upwards.

SHYAMA RAJAGOPAL

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