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Largest Tank Yet For Animal Planet Show
On a weekly basis, the folks at Acrylic Tank Manufacturing build some of the strangest and most extravagant custom aquariums in the world. Their work can be seen in zoos, casinos, theme parks and for four seasons now, on their own television show, 'Tanked'.
|Comedian, Tracy Morgan reacts to his custom tank on a previous episode.|
When faced with the challenge of building a 250,000 gallon set of connecting shark tanks for a new Florida aquarium, they turned to Octaform to form and protect the concrete walls.
Featuring this week on the show (The episode, 'Pipe Dreams' airs Friday, October 24 on Animal Planet), this set of tanks is the centerpiece for the brand new Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.
A truly immersive experience, these tanks let visitors get right in the water with with exotic marine creatures to 'experience the thriving ecosystem in the aquarium environment'. Oh, and one more thing... YOU CAN FEED THE SHARKS.
Take a look...
Building this 'experience' called for two watertight concrete tanks separated by an acrylic divider. The tanks needed to be durable and but they also needed to accomodate the unique design and openings that were crucial to the experience of the visitors brave enough to enter the tanks and the ones that prefer to stay dry. For this they chose Octaform Finished Concrete Forms (FCF).
Octaform FCFs form and protect concrete in one step. The smooth, food-safe panels assemble on site and are filled with concrete. The forms then remain in place protecting the concrete with a built-in PVC membrane that is watertight and fish friendly.
|The two Octaform tanks are assembled on site. Concrete is poured into the PVC forms that stay in place protecting the walls and the marine life.|
Octaform formwork is particularly suited for aquaculture tanks but it is also used to form and protect concrete in many of the most challenging environments in the world from applications in agriculture and biogas to food processing and car washes.
'Tanked' featuring Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
airs Friday, October 24 on Animal Planet
Swimming around and around in a 20,000 gallon tank at the University of Rhode Island’s Bay Campus are several large yellowfin tuna captured last fall about 100 miles off the Rhode Island coast. The fish are part of the first effort in the United States to breed tuna in a land-based aquaculture facility to meet the growing demand for one of the ocean’s top predators.
“Worldwide demand for tuna increases yearly, even as tuna stocks are dwindling precipitously,” said Terry Bradley, a URI professor of fisheries and aquaculture. “What we’re trying to do is produce fish in captivity and take the pressure off the wild stocks.”
Bradley and Peter Mottur, director of Rhode Island-based Greenfins, are taking the first steps in developing the techniques to raise tuna from egg to harvest size while creating a new sustainable industry in Rhode Island.
According to Bradley, some in Australia, Mexico and several Mediterranean countries are doing what he calls “tuna ranching” by capturing wild tuna, putting them in pens and raising them to harvest size. “All they’re doing is taking wild fish and fattening them up,” he said. “It’s still depleting the wild population and has had a long-term impact on tuna stocks.”
Bradley and Mottur are starting the process by trying to get a few wild-caught tuna to spawn in the URI tank, but it is a challenging undertaking. Tuna are long-distance migrants that swim at great speeds, so acclimating them to a 20-foot diameter tank has been difficult. Once the fish spawn and the eggs hatch, the microscopic larvae must be fed live food raised on site. Then they must be weaned from live food to a dry, formulated feed.
An Octaform Aquaculture Tank in Truro Nova Scotia.
“The early stages of the project are all about research – learning about the early life cycle of these fish and developing the techniques to raise them,” Bradley said. “But we also think there is a lot of commercial potential.”
Bradley and Mottur envision local entrepreneurs using the techniques they develop to produce juvenile tuna that could then be sold to others who want to grow them further. In Japan, an eight-inch juvenile tuna raised in captivity can be sold for $100 to $125.
“It’s a sustainable project that we hope will create green technology jobs here in Rhode Island to leverage the great intellectual capital we have in the state,” said Mottur. “We’ve already developed a partnership between URI and my company, and we hope to take it from the research phase to the commercialization phase once we demonstrate tuna breeding and larval rearing success.”
Mottur has started several technology companies in Rhode Island, but his passion is the ocean and he enjoys offshore sport fishing and freediving, which led him to learn about the issues facing tuna.
“I got involved in the project when I learned that no other organization in the U.S. was keyed in to tuna aquaculture,” said Mottur, a graduate of URI’s fisheries and aquaculture program. “I see an enormous opportunity with yellowfin tuna and eventually with bluefin tuna, which has been under significant global fishing pressure over the past 20 years.”
Bradley and Mottur believe that construction of a larger tank, which will be built at the URI Bay Campus later this year, will markedly increase the project’s likelihood of success.
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“Tuna are open ocean fish that require a lot of space and need very good water quality,” Bradley said. “If you put too many fish in a tank, they get stressed and the water quality begins to degrade. The less you stress them, the more likely they are to spawn in a reasonable time frame.” According to Bradley and Mottur, it’s the ideal time for a tuna aquaculture venture.
“Japan can’t produce all the tuna it needs for the country’s own purposes, and the U.S. is a net importer of fish, including tuna,” Bradley said. “So there is tremendous potential for us to produce fish that could easily be sold in the U.S., especially if it’s a sustainable product in an environmentally responsible manner.”
While many doubt the economic feasibility of land based tuna production, according to the FAO FISHSTAT Plus, captures of commercial tuna species increased from 403,050 tonnes in 1950 to more than 4 million tones in 2002. While increased rates of fishing are causing supplies to dwindle, recent spikes in demand are resulting in ever rising prices. These trends are positive signs for this Rhode Island based venture.
Increased demand and dwindling supply make on-land production an economic inevitability. The question is not if these systems can be profitable, but when.