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A number of factors come into play when fitting an aquarium on board a superyacht. From the space needed to the types of materials to be used a custom design demands careful planning and a clear maintenance programme to deliver optimum results. Luca Natalini, CEO and technical director at Melik Aquarium, talks us through some of the systems and automated computer controls needed to achieve the ultimate aquarium.

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Luxury aquariums have become a musthave element of style and elegance aboard superyachts, and the creation of these impressive pieces of design is one of our goals. For instance, one of our more recent projects saw the installation of a rather special aquarium on the upper deck of Sanlorenzo’s 46m Scorpion, launched in July 2015. At first glance, you don’t realise that you are actually leaning on a tropical aquarium where clownfish are hidden within anemones.

The creation of an aquarium aboard a superyacht presents a number of challenges compared to solutions for domestic and commercial spaces. For instance, in the case of Scorpion, the 750l methacrylate tank doubles as a bar counter, recreating a tropical reef environment with living corals and vibrant fish. The success of such a project is made possible thanks to meticulous attention to detail. All our tanks are equipped with a touchscreen control unit that monitors the water’s PH level, temperature and density. It is also possible to monitor these conditions remotely.

For instance, the density of water is very important for all aquarium life and every time the tank is cleaned and refilled, the density can decrease. Our system monitors this and will increase density by filling the tank with salt water when necessary to ensure the aquarium environment is optimal.

All lighting is designed to reproduce natural daylight and to reproduce the lunar phase depending on the location of the vessel. For example, if a superyacht were to travel from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, the lighting system will automatically change to match the hours of daylight. Alternatively, we can set up the system to replicate the daylight hours and lunar phase of a specific place in the world, which is important for the growth of coral.

It’s important for all aquarium life to have a constant water current, and randomly changing the direction of the current will encourage.better growth among the various species of coral as they are able to receive food better. Various pumps are used to create water movement during the day, with motion reduced during night hours. Random water currents also help to minimise the accumulation of dirt at the bottom of the tank by removing it as water is pumped through a filter.

Alongside the pumps and filters, we use a chiller system to maintain the right water temperature throughout the day while factoring seasonal variation. The client is also able to plan all the weekly water changes with the touch of a button: the computer partially drains the tank by between 50–70l before filling it with fresh water from the stocking zone. In case of rough sea, an emergency procedure is immediately activated thanks to specific sensors. Moreover, the system sends a message or a text in case of breakdown or mechanical failure, or if the probes reveal different data.

We provide daily supervision from our headquarters and a custom weekly plan is sent to the crew. There is an emergency kit aboard, with all the spare parts for the tank. Once positioned, the aquarium is subjected to tests in the sea with emergency manoeuvres to check the stability and effectiveness of the tanks, as well as the remote management system which technicians can work with remotely to control and recreate the  optimal conditions.

Melik is cutting edge when it comes to on-board aquaria, with innovative technologies. Furthermore, the company creates unique pieces of design with a strong scenic impact. Our aquaria are living works of art, made according to the taste of the client, recreating marine and freshwater habitats with absolute devotion.