A handsome wooden cabinet is a perfect pedestal for your showcase aquarium, and storing all the essentials for aquarium care inside can make everything look quite polished and clean. That being said, it is more important than you might think to choose a cabinet equipped with good ventilation. Ventilation keeps the cabinetry strong, keeps the temperature ideal for your aquarium, and keeps mold and mildew off your equipment.
Moisture and Wooden Cabinetry
As most people know, wood expands and contracts naturally in response to many environmental factors, most of all the air’s moisture content. In many cases, wood can handle the changes in atmospheric moisture.
However, when a canopy or cabinet is constantly exposed to evaporation from the fish tank itself or from drying cleaning equipment stored in the cabinet, the wood can begin to deteriorate. Even very high quality, large-scale projects like in-wall aquarium systems can be subject to these stresses. The wood components will not be as strong over time. The expansion and contraction of the wood can loosen joints and connecting points in the cabinet, either resulting in a wobbly construction or simply a less smooth look with gaps in the joints.
Ventilating the cabinet properly will allow moisture to equalize with the surrounding air rather than trapping it against the wood, resulting in less abrupt expansion and contraction. Even a large-scale aquarium that appears seamlessly built into a wall can cleverly hide excellent ventilation to make sure that the moisture of evaporation doesn’t build up over time.
Aquarium Equilibrium and Your Wooden Cabinet
With filtration systems, bubblers, and lighting, an aquarium environment generates quite a bit of heat. The life inside the tank, be it plants or fish or other creatures, needs a particular temperature to remain ideal, often between 78`F and 82`F. For this reason, the heat in the tank needs to naturally dissipate into the surrounding area, even if it is inset into a wall that provides quite a bit of insulating effect. This is especially important for fish that need a specific temperature, like tropical fish, who may need more warmth than the average room temperature (often 82`F or more) but who can be shocked if the system’s temperature continues to rise.
This excess heat can be a problem in an unventilated canopy or cabinet since the heat will be absorbed into the woodwork and the tank will slowly rise in temperature. Even if this isn’t deadly to plants and animals, it can cause algae to bloom, creating more maintenance work and a less pleasant tank to look at. It’s much better to plan from the beginning to let heat naturally vent away from the aquarium system.
That being said, one aspect of ventilation that can be helpful in your large-scale aquarium design is that of a chiller in combination with good ventilation. If the system requires lower temperatures than even a well-ventilated cabinet provides, adding a chiller will cool the system to offset the heat added by equipment and insulation inherent in the system. Chillers won’t be stored under the tank, but rather in a place where the heat they remove can easily and safely be channeled away from the tank.
Protecting Your Cleaning and Filtration Supplies
Lastly, you want to store filtration equipment, cleaning solutions, and currently-unused aquarium decor in a place where it will dry off naturally and remain useful for future use. The cabinets in the pedestal of the aquarium is an ideal place to keep these items close at hand when servicing and cleaning happen, and you are unlikely to be missing your favorite fish-catching net the next time the tank needs maintenance.
However, in an unventilated cabinet, the moisture that can harm the wooden components of your cabinetry can also create problems for your supplies. Powdered treatment chemicals can clump in a moist environment, sponges can promote mold and mildew, and any supplies that haven’t been sufficiently dried off make cardboard packages soften and weaken. While of course, you will do your best to dry off components, rock and plastic aquarium decor that has been swapped out for a new set-up is very hard to dry off entirely.
Your best strategy is to both dry your components and have ventilation options in the cabinetry itself. Even slightly damp items will dry naturally if the cabinet is equipped with vents; this will also dissipate unpleasant odors much better since even tidy aquarium supplies can develop an odor in an unventilated small space.
Ventilation and Custom Aquarium Design Choices
Ready-made cabinets and pedestals are likely to be repurposed furniture from other uses rather than tailor-made for aquarium use. While this will work for some small aquariums, most people are looking to create a system that they are proud of, which draws the eye and which stays healthy and strong for years. Getting good ventilation into the system is essential to the longevity of the aquarium, and it is important not to be stuck with an unventilated cabinet.
When you want cabinetry that is made specifically for the aquarium you want as the centerpiece of your home or office, it can be a good idea to go with a custom fish tank system installation team like Aqua Creations. They’ll help you evaluate your options and select the cabinetry and aquarium design that works best for you.