Open versus closed top aquarium - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-03-2009, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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Open versus closed top aquarium

When I first saw open top aquariums, I didn't think they would be for me, couldn't see the point of leaving an avenue for a fish to jump out. And water evaporation seemed to me to be greater and would this make my bedroom "muggy?"

But then I saw some planted tanks with the plants growing out of the water and I liked the impression that made so I'm open to a discussion on "open versus a closed" tank. Your thoughts?
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-03-2009, 01:09 PM
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i prefer closed top to minimise the chance of stuff falling in the tank or stuff coming out of the tank (jumping fish) your evap will be the same mayb a little more but no more "muggy" than it would be with a closed top.
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-04-2009, 07:42 AM
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I had both, I had my open one set up with aquaristic plants as well as plants growing out of it and around the tank. I personally liked that look at lot, what I don't like is a 'normal' tank set up that simply has no hood to it and so its open too, that I find boring personally.

It really simply depends on two things 1) What fish you're housing int he very tank (eg. I'd never gone for open tank with my Danio) 2) What your personal preference is for the tanks looks.

As far as evaporation concerns, it did evaporate a LITTLE more during the winter season with the fire place going then the other tanks but really not much and far less actually then I initially thought it would. During the summer times, I didn't notice any difference between the normal tanks and the open one, maybe it did by like 1/2 cup or so, but since I never measured it this exactly I couldn't tell you.It def did not create any muggy air like you'd have in your bathrm after hot shower or anything that extreme.

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post #4 of 12 Old 12-04-2009, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Since the light sits higher on an open tank, it would seem to me the light should be a tad stronger, as light "strength" is a function of distance, as flash photographers know well. In a tank I owned when living in Chicago many years ago, I did have an eel escape and die on the floor; it escaped over night.

I must confess when I first saw planted open tanks I didn't like them, but the look is definitely growing on me. Its just I've spent my entire life with tanks with covers, I guess this dog can learn new tricks.
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-04-2009, 01:14 PM
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We have tanks set up both ways in our fish room. The majority don't have lids and the evaporation rate difference doesn't seem that drastic. But then we do water changes pretty frequently.

I like both arrangements, but prefer the open top simply because of the variety of plants in our tanks. We have a pond lily in of a couple of them and swords in others that grows out the top . Even with a lid one of our marble hatchet fish managed to jump out so a top doesn't always guarantee containment.

Also having the open top set up for the guppy, angel, and shrimp breeding tanks makes it much easier to do cleanings, water changes, feeding, and of course transferring the fry from the birthing or grow out tanks. And tanks with lids are more prone to mineral deposit which is just a pain to clean.

IDK to each his own, right?

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post #6 of 12 Old 12-04-2009, 01:18 PM
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Its really all about what you want and what you make out of it! Be creative!
My light was a full spectrum on that tank, can't recall the wattage but was on the 'higher' end and it was recessed from the ceiling and hanging about ~ 1ft over the tank. However the light I chosen was actually a tube that was about 3-4" longer on each side then the actual length of the tank and I liked the looks this provided and the plants in & outside the tank love it.

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post #7 of 12 Old 12-04-2009, 01:36 PM
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I like open top now...since I broke my lid...>.< My amazon sword grows out of the top of my tank and I've come to like it. Evaporation is becoming annoying though.

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post #8 of 12 Old 12-05-2009, 09:39 PM
I prefer closed tanks. If I wanted plants to grow out of the water I would get a larger tank and maybe fill it only 2/3 full. Open top tanks evaporate quickly, and here in Wisconsin winter's that evaporation goes and condenses on the windows. Besides the plants IMO will be limited from growing out of the water buy the open top. It will be easy for the more sensitive aquatic species to dry out due to aquarium plants being from humid tropical regions. Amazon Sword on the other hand I have seen grown as fully emersed house plants. The lowered water in the closed top tank gives the plants the room to grow out and keeps the air in there humid.

If it was a fish room/shed though with lots and lots of tanks, I would go open top as evaporation over all will be minimum. There would most likely be no window so the humidity wouldn't be a problem. And usually it tends to be cheaper to heat the whole room to tank temps, instead of running all those heaters.

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post #9 of 12 Old 12-06-2009, 10:14 AM
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Previous responders have covered the issues, especially Mikaila31, but as you're in Vancouver as I am I will warn you about humidity in our climate.

I have four tanks running, all in a separate room. All are fairly tightly covered, only openings are right around heater/filter stems. Even so, when I walk into the room I can feel the humidity; and the room is open, not closed. The evaporation from the tank water is very high, onto the cover glass now but if not covered this moisture would be soaking into the walls, and that is not good any more than it is in bathrooms where one has to watch out for mold and mildew. I would certainly never have an open tank in a bedroom.

Aside from this, the cover helps to maintain the tank temperature (unless the room is as warm, mine is not because I keep the tanks at 78F and the room around 71F for my comfort), keeps dust out, and fish in--and there are a lot of fish that will, given the opportunity, jump. And if you have fish that "breathe air" like corydoras and any of the anabantids, you want the warm humidity above the water surface.


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Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-06-2009, 12:19 PM
I forgot about temperature, but couldn't agree with you more. I don't know how you deal with it in Canada, but when I get a really cold night here, like -10*F. The basement will drop to 50*. My 55gal that is down there is set at 80* and to be kind to its heater and the electricity bill I normally throw a sleeping bag over it.

This tank also has concern with things getting out. Mainly my adult caecilians. They have gotten out a few times during a water change when the lid is open. Being very slimy they have poor mobility on the tile, but anything else and they are very quick. The lid on this tank is also taped down except where it opens. The last thing I want to deal with is a missing 2ft eel.

As for the humiditiy in my climate, there currently is none. Even in my bedroom with 3 tank in it I have to use lip balm every night. Yesterday was bad because I was all staticy as well. Its dry dry dry

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