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The sea water micro aquarium - conclusions

Henry Scherren's book "Ponds and Rock Pools" (see literature) has an interesting subtitle which reads "with hints on [...] the management of the micro-aquarium ". At the time when Henry Scherren wrote his text the oxygen vs. carbon dioxide equilibrium was already known - but by no means to everybody. So he is taking a lot of time to explain the factors which are controlling the oxygen content of the micro aquarium. Furthermore he gives practical advice how to implement the theoretical knowledge during micro aquarium construction. A short glance at his laboratory will help you to understand that his advices are based on ample practical expertise:

[ Henry Scherren's micro aquarium world ]

Henry Scherren's micro aquarium world. Original illustration from his textbook "Ponds and Rock Pools" (1906). Please note the bottle brush which is being kept in reach on the left side of the table.

Henry Scherren was intelligent enough to criticize the complexity of contemporary sea water aquaria. Encouraged by his opinion we concentrated on radically simplified designs like the "Rocharium" as shown below. It is just a transparent polystyrene container for some kind of chocolate ("Ferrero Rocher"):

[ micro aquarium "Rocharium" ]

The "Rocharium", a perfectly affordable special micro aquarium, working flawlessly without electronics, without pumps and filters. Though possibly disappointing for the tech geek it turned out as a sursprisingly simple solution for marine tardigrade live studies far apart from any seashore.

So, after a decade of learning, we finally came to the conclusion that you can manage without water chemistry textbooks and without any dedicated aquarium equipment. In the beginning we had thought a lot about the optimum aquarium geometry, about maintaining a constant salinity, how to take care about oxygen and sufficient nutrition for the tardigrades. But in the end we found out that even a preserving jar can do the job. Water depth and sand layer depth seem to be of minor importance. In a nutshell you just have to make sure that the tardigrade sand and the sea water do not contain any bigger organism or algae, just sea sand and possibly a little bit of shell gravel. Kind of minimalistic, desert-like. Moreover, the jar should be kept cool and rather dark.

When compared to the volume of our oceans this jar definitely is of really miserable size. Nevertheless it will be accepted by the tardigrades as an ocean substitute. You know: those tardigrades - they are really bizarre beings!

[ Simple but good: the sea water micro aquarium ]

Surprisingly simple: the well-proven tardigrade sea water micro aquarium


Henry Scherren: Ponds and Rock Pools. London 1906 [containing a very good chapter about micro aquaria, pp. 172-204]

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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