Keeping pet fish has come a long way from putting two goldfish in a glass bowl. Read on to learn how to create an eco-friendly habitat for your fish.
In 1997 the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studied the energy consumption of aquariums. A small, 10 gallon (38 L) freshwater tank used between 90 and 120 kilowatt hours a year to operate its lights, filters, and aerators—the equivalent of a typical coffeemaker. A bigger, 55 gallon (200 L) freshwater tank uses between 280 and 400 kilowatt hours—or a freezer chest’s worth of energy.
That’s just for fish. Add plants, and energy use increases up to 50 percent because plants require more lighting.
Lighting makes up only part of the energy cost. Aquariums, particularly saltwater ones, require extra equipment such as pumps, heaters, chillers, and power heads that can double their energy usage.
Tips for selecting equipment
Tips for buying fish
Coral, also called live rock, is increasingly used in saltwater tanks because it cleans the water, provides a habitat for some species, and looks beautiful. Unfortunately, worldwide demand by aquarists may be destroying the dwindling coral reefs. Several countries, including the United States and Japan, have banned coral harvesting from their waters, putting more pressure on other reefs.
Conservationists want to ban trade in coral because it destroys marine life habitats and undermines the reef structure. Since as much as 60 percent of harvested coral is rejected by buyers, it also creates huge amounts of waste.
Instead of buying live coral: