MJ Murphy Ltd - Aquarium & Underwater Restaurant Designer
Civil and Structural Engineers | Aquarium Design Consultants | Coolstore Specialists | Architectural Designers
Aquarium and Underwater restaurant design specialist

Aquarium Life Support Systems

The importance of first class aquarium life support systems cannot be over-estimated. They are the 'life-blood' of all aquariums. They can be complex or simple, and can vary amazingly between aquariums, depending on local conditions and the preferences of each aquarist. Systems may be fully closed, semi closed or open, depending on proximity to the sea, and the quality of source water. They must be fail-safe.

M.J. MURPHY LTD will adapt and design each aquarium system to suit the local conditions, the habitat and the preferences of the aquarist staff who will operate and maintain the aquariums.  This starts with determining how many tanks, what fish go in each tank, saltwater or freshwater, volume of each tank, water temperature in each tank, water turnover rates, required water makeup each day, aeration required, special conditions, and whether systems can be combined or must be kept separate .... and then evolving all this data into one big schematic OVERALL FLOW DIAGRAM.  This Flow Diagram then forms the basis of the whole aquarium design.

Flexibility, simplicity, ease of operation, minimising corrosion, and ease of maintenance are crucial factors to note when designing life support systems.

A very important aspect of the construction time which many developers fail to understand (in the rush to complete the project and open the doors to the public), is the added time it takes to prime up all the biological filters with sufficient bacteria colonies to allow them to cope with the sudden influx of fish / biomass and the harmful waste products produced.  This can take a few months to develop in a major aquarium project.  Bacteria rule the world, and without enough of the right ones in the aquarium, many of the valuable fish will die.  Not good Press when opening the aquarium too soon. Developers take heed!

Typical Life Support And Filtration/Pumping Systems Designed by M.J. Murphy Ltd
San Sebastian Aquarium. Photos during construction, 1998
Click the pictures to open large.

Trickle filters Intake
Life support
pipe work
Surge tank
for coral display tank
Large outlet pipes from gravity sand filters Large Fybroc pumps for shark tank