In Nature Aquarium, appropriate lighting and CO2 supply is essential to grow healthy and beautiful aquatic plants. This cannot be achieved just by installing equipment to the aquarium, but daily regular ON/OFF control of lighting and CO2 supply is required. The Nature Aquarium Notes of this issue introduces the functions of NA Control Timer II, a useful tool for aquascape maintenance.
■ Lighting time and plant growth
Aquatic plants, which are green plants, grow by photosynthesis. Light is one of the essential factors for photosynthesis process and in aquarium, it is supplied from the light. For aquarium lighting, the length of the time when the light is on is important on top of the brightness. In nature, aquatic plants are considered to perform photosynthesis intensively within a certain period of time (approximately 4 hours around the solar culmination time). This is why the plants in aquarium should also receive relatively strong light for a short period of time rather than being exposed to low light for a long time. The lighting systems used in Nature Aquarium, such as Solar RGB and AQUASKY, emit relatively high intensity light and turning on these lights for approximately 6 hours a day is sufficient for aquatic plants to grow adequately. For your information, in Nature Aquarium Gallery, the daily lighting time is set to 10 hours considering the time for appreciating the aquascapes displayed. Meanwhile, exposing aquarium to a strong light for a long time may lead to algae growth in the aquarium, causing discoloration or deformation of aquatic plants leaves. Aquarium requires a certain length of dark period daily in order to grow healthy aquatic plants. At the same time, it also requires an appropriate length of light period (i.e., lighting time), not too short and not too long, at an appropriate timing. Since plants’ life rhythm is impacted by outside light, aquarium light should be turned on during the day, instead of during the night, and ideally turned on and off at the same time every day. Taking this into consideration, automatic on and off of the light using a timer is more convenient and also beneficial to aquatic plants.
■ CO2 supply and aeration
In order to undergo photosynthesis, green plants need CO2 (carbon dioxide) and water besides light. Aquatic plants that perform photosynthesis underwater can perform photosynthesis if there is adequate amount of CO2 when the light is turned on. Nature Aquarium supplies CO2 to the tank using CO2 systems such as CO2 Advanced System. A point to note here is that the time to supply CO2 needs to be synchronized with the time the light is on. When the light is turned on and aquatic plants start photosynthesis, the plants take in CO2 in the water and use it to drive the synthesis of organic compounds. In this process, oxygen (O2) is generated as a by-product of the reaction, and is released into the water. The more active photosynthesis is, the more oxygen is released into the water, which means that lack of oxygen will not take place in aquarium unless a significantly excessive amount of CO2 is supplied to the aquarium. On the contrary, the oxygen produced in photosynthesis is continuously released into the water even after the dissolved oxygen is saturated. In Nature Aquarium that grows aquatic plants, the dissolved oxygen is usually supersaturated when the light is on and CO2 is supplied. In this environment, fish and shrimp stay healthier, free from lack of oxygen. However, if CO2 is supplied when the light is off and aquatic plants are not carrying out photosynthesis, the CO2 level in the aquarium becomes too high and fish and shrimp can suffer lack of oxygen. An ideal solution to this problem is to control the activation of CO2 supply in conjunction with ON/OFF of the light using a timer.
Another concern is that aquatic plants respire in the dark, taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide, while CO2 still remains in the water after the light is turned off and CO2 supply is stopped. In this situation, the CO2 in the water can go up to an excessive level and cause oxygen deficiency in aquarium. The simplest way to prevent lack of oxygen during the night is to aerate your aquarium with a pump to supply air to the aquarium water. Contrary to the timing of CO2 supply, aeration should be performed only at night to prevent CO2 supplied to the tank from escaping into the air. So, if we want to control aeration in addition to the control of lighting and CO2 supply using an ordinary timer, we need to use at least two units of timers.
■ Functions and Improvements in NA Control Timer II
NA Control Timer was developed to enable the control of lighting, CO2 supply and air pump with just a single timer. Since it’s launched in 1994, the very first model of NA Control Timer had been popularly used by a number of hobbyists for over 20 years as the best timer for the Nature Aquarium maintenance. During this long period of time, there were advancements in aquarium lighting system, from Green Glow to Solar I, Grand Solar I, AQUASKY and Solar RGB. The performance required in timer has also changed accordingly and the new NA Control Timer II was developed as a renewed model. The functions of NA Control Timer II are basically the same as NA Control Timer, which turns on and off the light and CO2 supply concurrently and at the same time, turns on and off air pump in the reverse ON/OFF option of light/CO2 supply. Unlike the previous NA Control Timer model which can be connected to only one unit of Solar I or Grand Solar I due to inrush current, the new NA Control Timer II can be connected up to two units of ADA’s latest lighting system Solar RGB. With this improvement, all of light, CO2 supply and air pump can be controlled just with a single unit of NA Control Timer II when it is used for a W120cm or smaller aquarium using Solar RBG. Another feature of NA Control Timer II is its new timer display which makes ON/OFF timer setting and visual confirmation of preset time easier. Furthermore, in response to the users’ requests for improvement in the previous model, this new timer allows the user to switch over the frequency (50/60Hz) easily. Equipped with stylish aluminum body as well as improved heat radiation and durability, NA Control Timer II will be a hobbyists’ favorite tool that plays a central role in future Nature Aquarium systems.
(From Aqua Journal #255)