However, when a canopy or cabinet is constantly exposed to evaporation from the fish tank itself or from drying cleaning equipment stored in the cabinet, the wood can begin to deteriorate. Even very high quality, large-scale projects like in-wall aquarium systems can be subject to these stresses. The wood components will not be as strong over time. The expansion and contraction of the wood can loosen joints and connecting points in the cabinet, either resulting in a wobbly construction or simply a less smooth look with gaps in the joints.
Ventilating the cabinet properly will allow moisture to equalize with the surrounding air rather than trapping it against the wood, resulting in less abrupt expansion and contraction. Even a large-scale aquarium that appears seamlessly built into a wall can cleverly hide excellent ventilation to make sure that the moisture of evaporation doesn’t build up over time.
This excess heat can be a problem in an unventilated canopy or cabinet since the heat will be absorbed into the woodwork and the tank will slowly rise in temperature. Even if this isn’t deadly to plants and animals, it can cause algae to bloom, creating more maintenance work and a less pleasant tank to look at. It’s much better to plan from the beginning to let heat naturally vent away from the aquarium system.
That being said, one aspect of ventilation that can be helpful in your large-scale aquarium design is that of a chiller in combination with good ventilation. If the system requires lower temperatures than even a well-ventilated cabinet provides, adding a chiller will cool the system to offset the heat added by equipment and insulation inherent in the system. Chillers won’t be stored under the tank, but rather in a place where the heat they remove can easily and safely be channeled away from the tank.
However, in an unventilated cabinet, the moisture that can harm the wooden components of your cabinetry can also create problems for your supplies. Powdered treatment chemicals can clump in a moist environment, sponges can promote mold and mildew, and any supplies that haven’t been sufficiently dried off make cardboard packages soften and weaken. While of course, you will do your best to dry off components, rock and plastic aquarium decor that has been swapped out for a new set-up is very hard to dry off entirely.
Your best strategy is to both dry your components and have ventilation options in the cabinetry itself. Even slightly damp items will dry naturally if the cabinet is equipped with vents; this will also dissipate unpleasant odors much better since even tidy aquarium supplies can develop an odor in an unventilated small space.
Ready-made cabinets and pedestals are likely to be repurposed furniture from other uses rather than tailor-made for aquarium use. While this will work for some small aquariums, most people are looking to create a system that they are proud of, which draws the eye and which stays healthy and strong for years. Getting good ventilation into the system is essential to the longevity of the aquarium, and it is important not to be stuck with an unventilated cabinet.