Engineering for Aquaria Life Support Systems

The name SANDER stands for QUALITY of the supply of individual components as well as for the planning and start-up of complete life support systems for aquaria.

Our colleagues help to define the conception and wishes of the customer into sizeable numbers. By doing this, the first drafts will be delineated which will be further processed in the computer later on. The communication between customer and planner is fundamental, because no one knows the goal better than the customer.

Drawings with CAD-software, in 2-D and 3-D format are commonly used nowadays. There are also helpful programs that offer the possibility to create a three-dimensional animation. The customer can get a vivid and nearly realistic representation of the planned aquarium.

The next step is to provide a tank list. This list in form of a table contains each aquarium where the smallest tank is also included. In this table all relevant aspects of the respective tank are considered e.g. the tank number, allocation in the life support system configuration, characteristics of the water, animal trimming, maximum and minimum tolerable water temperature, salinity, depth of the water column etc.

In a flowchart the logical connection of the listed basins is graphically displayed. The flowchart and the tank list help to determine the number of life support systems needed for the aquarium and which tank can be combined into groups that are going to be treated by one life support system.

Thus different water treatment systems are generated for fresh water, sea water, tropical sea water and cold water aquaria. Each of these water systems has to be considered separately. It has to be considered whether tanks are going to be accessible to the visitor. These kinds of aquarium tanks normally have a shallow basin and therefore the water has to be treated separately.

The height of the different basins in the building plays an important role. The already existing architecture of the building should be considered to determine the location of the aquaria and technique rooms i.e. the life support systems. A spatial proximity of the aquaria and the technique room saves installation and operational costs, which can affect the commercial success of the aquarium operation. When a new project is planned and the building is also designed from the draft, an optimal spatial distribution of aquaria and technique rooms can be achieved.

Moreover, the flowchart shows the functional structure of the life support system, with all aggregates e.g. protein skimmer, biological filtration, ozone generator, mechanical filtration, pumps, blowers, measuring technique, piping, and programmable logical chain (PLC) and control elements.

Based on the flowchart the disposition of the pipes can be determined. The coordination with both architects and building services is necessary to find a meaningful and optimal pipelines path.

The piping design and layout helps to determine the length and diameter of the pipes and the number of fittings for both the supply and the return pipe. Normally, the pipe work is designed in such a way that the water has to be pumped only in one direction, while the opposite direction is calculated as free downward gradient.

From the flowchart and the piping calculation the planner can obtain the data for the dimensions of the pumps. These data with all electric aggregates like for example compressor, side channel blower, lights and many others are summarized in a table.
This table helps to list the installed power consumption, the power supply, and the portion of the electric power which is relevant to the heat transfer into the water.

For each tank the required water temperature will be determined, which has to be kept under extreme conditions, if possible. The maximum and minimum ambient temperature must be specified with the team in charge of the air conditioning technology of the building. Out of these specifications frame conditions are achieved for each basin. The consequent thermodynamic calculation has to consider the following issues: heat transfer through walls, floor, glass panes, and water surface; the heat entry through the lights; the heat entry through pumps and other aggregates; and if necessary, the heating and / or cooling of the water body by a certain dimension in a given time interval.

This physical database will be integrated into the calculation of the limit threshold which considers the highest temperature in summer during the day and the lowest temperature in winter during night. The final result of the thermodynamic calculation shows a scenario that gives information whether the water body must be heated or cooled, whether heating and cooling has to be considered in the planning and which thermal capacity has to be taken into account for later dimensioning.

The lightning of the aquaria depends mainly on the requirements of the organism in the water. Tropical aquaria with cnidarians, arthropods, and other invertebrates need an extremely bright lighting, while cold water aquaria can get along almost without lighting. The individual light requirement of the organism in the aquarium must be coordinated with the biologist in charge of the project.

Between technique room and aquarium a water flow is being maintained which supplies the tank. Depending upon the construction type of the basin and the species and trimming of organisms inside, an additional water flow inside the basin can be desired or necessary e.g. for a fish species with a schooling behaviour. This internal current can be produced by aggregates installed inside the basin (flow pumps) or by external pumps.

Large aquaria need indispensably a central switch plant, in which first all electric aggregates are merged. In addition all elements from the measuring, controlling and on-off control are included in the switch plant.

All important information is collected and evaluated by a programmable logical chain controller (PLC). The PLC is the brain of the aquarium system and will be able to provide operation and warning notifications.
Our technical personnel together with the technical and biological management of the aquarium can program the SPS and specify parameters such as water levels, limit values, and set values.

The SPS can be connected to a computer if necessary, where all measured values can be evaluated independently from the control system, and for example data can be summarized in tables or diagrams to simplify the visualization of tendencies or diurnal variations. One feature of the switch plant is the possibility to connect it via an interface with a communication system, so that warning calls can be passed to e.g. a mobile phone or fax equipment to inform the service personnel. A further characteristic is the possibility to connect the SPS with a remote computer, where the user can make corrective actions and carry out the maintenance.
After concluding the planning work an overall view of the aquarium is achieved, which allows a very deep view on the technical structure and the complexity of the system. This view supplies important information for the biological, technical and economical evaluation of the aquarium as a whole system. When larger projects are planned it is necessary to calculate different concepts simultaneously in order to get to know as many limitations and possibilities as possible of the project.

If you have any special wishes, do not hesitate in contact us!

Sander-Aqua-Design GmbH

Sander-Aqua-Design GmbH was established by Mr. Martin Sander in 2003.

Since then Sander-Aqua-Design GmbH has executed many multifaceted projects all over the world with regards to the planning and engineering of public aquaria, life support systems (LSS), hatcheries, depuration systems and also aquaculture systems.

Our clients are e.g. contracting authorities, architects, pet shops, operators of public aquaria as well as private investors and end-users.

Our scope of supply and services comprises the following service phases:

  • Basic evaluation
  • Preliminary design (project and engineering preparations)
  • Basic design (system- und integration design)
  • Approval planning
  • Detailed Planning
  • Preparation of specifications for tenders
  • Participation in the award of contract
  • Site Supervision
  • Project monitoring and documentation

All performance phases can be ordered as part performance(s) or as a complete performance – just as required.

Our team of engineers specialized in the fields of hydrodynamics, process engineering, electrical engineering and construction engineering as well as our marine biologists and technical draftsmen provide the design and engineering works that are necessary to fulfill the requirements of our customers.

Our competences will convince you – just contact us!