The set-up

One of my favorite parts of research is the many opportunities I get to build things. Given a handful of cable ties, some duct tape and a saw you would be surprised what you can pull together.

Upon starting my new position as a research fellow at the University of Oxford, the first thing I had to do was build myself an aquarium system. I have used several different systems throughout my research career and had a good idea of what I wanted and what would suit my research. It was pretty exciting to be able to build a whole system just for me!

I decided to build two flow-through aquarium systems. A flow-through system means that all the tanks are connected by pipes and therefore the same water flows through all the tanks. First, I had to design the system and source all the equipment (tanks, pumps, lights, pipes, glue, you name it) which took quite a long time. Then came time to build it…

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The laboratory space I was given already had racks for tanks so I needed to add tanks and plumbing. Getting all the pipes cut and in place so that water can flow through the system took a lot of time and effort. As I was several months pregnant at the time, my husband came in to help me do some of the heavy lifting.

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Once the plumbing was all finished, water was added and we watched for leaks. Unfortunately we had a leak in the bottom sump system where the water gets filtered! Luckily it was nothing one or two tubes of silicon couldn’t fix.

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In this type of aquarium system, the filtration happens in the bottom sump compartment. My system has a biofilter, a protein skimmer, and some algae.

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After several weeks, we were all finished and could finally add some fish!

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