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Large aquaria might instead use stronger materials such as fiberglass-reinforced plastics. However, this material is not transparent. Reinforced concrete is used for aquaria where weight and space are not factors. Concrete must be coated with a waterproof layer to prevent the water from breaking down the concrete, as well as preventing contamination of the water by the concrete.Plywood can also be used when building aquaria. The benefits of using plywood include: lower construction costs, less weight, and better insulation. A popular positioning choice for plywood aquaria is keeping them in a wall. Here the use of plywood is hidden by sinking the aquarium inside the wall. Putting insulation between the two helps with the insulation of a heated tank.

is an aquarium shaped like a horizontal cylinder that is designed to hold delicate animals such as jellyfish and newborn seahorses. These aquariums provide slow, circular water flow with a bare minimum of interior hardware to prevent the inhabitants from becoming injured by pumps or the tank itself. The tank has no sharp angles around its sides and keeps the housed animals away from plumbing. Water moving into the tank gives a gentle flow that keeps the inhabitants suspended. Water leaves the tank through a screen which prevents animals from being drawn into the pump intake or overflow line.

There are several types of kreisel tanks. In a true kreisel, a circular tank has a circular, submerged lid. Pseudokreisels are “U” or semicircle shaped, usually without a lid. Stretch kreisels are a “double gyre” kreisel design, where the tank length is at least twice the height. Using two downwelling inlets on both sides of the tank lets gravity create two gyres in the tank. A single downwelling inlet may be used in the middle as well. The top of a stretch kreisel may be open or closed with a lid. There may also be screens about midway down the sides of the tank, or at the top on the sides. It is possible to combine these designs; a circular shaped tank is used without a lid or cover, and the surface of the water acts as the continuation of circular flow.

Another popular setup is the biotope aquarium. A biotope aquarium is a recreation of a specific natural environment. Some of the most popular biotopes are the freshwater habitats of the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers, the African rift lake environments of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika, and saltwater coral reefs of Australia, the Red Sea, and the Caribbean. The fish, plants, substrate, rocks, wood, coral, and any other component of the display should completely match that of the local natural environment. It can be a challenge to recreate such environments, and most “true” biotopes will only have a few (if not only one) species of fish and invertebrates.

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