Title:
Aquarium assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An aquarium assembly having a frame defining a series of tank cavities. The frame will support both freshwater tanks and saltwater tanks, which are interchangeable within the tank cavities. A saltwater spout is positioned above said tank cavity such that said saltwater spout exclusively connects with the saltwater tank to fill the tank. A freshwater spout is positioned above said tank cavity such that said freshwater spout exclusively connects with the freshwater tank to fill the tank. The tanks include drains specifically positioned according to the water held by the tank, such that saltwater will drain to a saltwater filter and freshwater will drain to a freshwater filter. The filtered water is then redirected to the frame and the tanks where desired by the user. The freshwater filter further includes a skimming cup design that efficiently skims the unfiltered freshwater to be returned to the freshwater tanks.



Inventors:
Lari, Nick (Jacksonville, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/018415
Publication Date:
08/04/2005
Filing Date:
12/20/2004
Assignee:
LARI NICK
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A01K63/00; (IPC1-7): E04H3/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ABBOTT-LEWIS, YVONNE RENEE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NICK LARI (JACKSONVILLE, FL, US)
Claims:
1. An aquarium assembly comprising: a frame; a portable tank supported by said frame, said portable tank having a tank inlet and a tank outlet; means for filling said portable tank with saltwater or freshwater, said filling means selectively dispensing the saltwater or the freshwater into said tank according to the location of said tank inlet on said tank; and means for dispensing the saltwater or freshwater from said portable tank, said dispensing means selectively dispensing the saltwater or freshwater from said tank according to the position of said tank outlet in said tank.

2. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 1 further comprising a tank cavity in said frame, said tank cavity securely holding said tank.

3. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 1 wherein said filling means comprises: a first spout supplying saltwater and a second spout supply freshwater, wherein said tank inlet is complementarily positioned with either said first spout or said second spout.

4. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 1, wherein said tank comprises: an inner surface and an outer surface; and a filter wall connected to said inner surface of said tank to surround said tank outlet.

5. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 4, wherein said filter walls defines a series of filter openings.

6. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 1 further comprising a filtering assembly connected to said dispensing means, said filter assembly including a saltwater filter apparatus to receive saltwater from said tank, and a freshwater filter apparatus to receive freshwater from said tank.

7. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 6, wherein said freshwater filter apparatus comprises: a skimmer tank; a collection cup affixed to said skimmer tank, said collection cup comprising a series of lift tubes traversing said cup; and a valve connected to said skimmer tank to force air and water into said skimmer tank to create freshwater foam in said skimmer tank, said freshwater foam being driven into said collection cup to remove impurities from the freshwater.

8. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 1, wherein said portable tank comprises a base, a front wall, a rear wall and two side walls connecting said front wall with said rear wall, wherein said front wall is substantially transparent and said rear wall and said side walls are a first color to indicate a saltwater tank.

9. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 1, wherein said portable tank comprises a base, a front wall, a rear wall and two side walls connecting said front wall with said rear wall, wherein said front wall is substantially transparent and said rear wall and said side walls are a second color to indicate a freshwater tank.

10. An aquarium assembly for interchangeably housing freshwater tanks and saltwater tanks, said aquarium assembly comprising: a housing defining at least one tank cavity to interchangeably support the freshwater tank and the saltwater tank; a freshwater tank removably supported by said frame in said tank cavity, said freshwater tank having a freshwater tank outlet in a first position; a saltwater tank removably supported by said frame in said tank cavity, said saltwater tank having a saltwater tank outlet in a second position; a saltwater distributor connected to said frame, said saltwater distributor having a first position in said at least one tank cavity operable with said saltwater tank; a freshwater water distributor connected to said frame, said freshwater water distributor having a second position in said at least one tank cavity operable with said freshwater tank; a drain assembly supported by said frame beneath said tank cavity to remove water from said tank.

11. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 10 further comprising: a freshwater skimming apparatus connected with said freshwater drain, said freshwater skimming apparatus receiving waste water from said freshwater drain.

12. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 11, wherein said freshwater skimming apparatus comprises: a skimming tank; means for generating freshwater foam positioned in said tank; and a freshwater foam collection cup connected to said skimming tank, said freshwater collection cup having a base proximate said skimming tank and a series of cylinders connected to said base allowing freshwater foam to flow into said freshwater collection cup from said skimming tank.

13. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 10 further comprising: a saltwater skimming apparatus connected with said saltwater drain, said saltwater skimming apparatus receiving waste water from said saltwater drain.

14. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 10, wherein said freshwater tank comprises a first designation to indicate that said freshwater tank holds freshwater.

15. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 14, wherein said first designation of said freshwater tank is a first color.

16. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 10, wherein said saltwater tank comprises a second designation to indicate that said saltwater tank holds saltwater.

17. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 16, wherein said second designation of said saltwater tank is a second color.

18. An aquarium assembly for detachably housing a saltwater tank having a saltwater tank outlet and a freshwater tank having a freshwater tank outlet, said aquarium assembly comprising: a housing comprising a tank cavity to hold one saltwater tank or one freshwater tank; a saltwater draining apparatus connected to said housing in a first position proximate said tank cavity to drain saltwater from the saltwater tank; a freshwater draining apparatus connected to said housing in a second position proximate said tank cavity to drain freshwater from said freshwater tank; a saltwater filling assembly connected to said housing in a first position proximate said tank cavity to fill the saltwater tank with saltwater; and a freshwater filling assembly connected to said housing in a second position proximate said tank cavity to fill the freshwater tank with freshwater.

19. The aquarium assembly as described in claim 18 further comprising a freshwater filtering apparatus comprising: a freshwater filtering tank, means for generating freshwater foam, said foam generating means positioned in said tank; and a freshwater foam collection cup connected to said freshwater filtering tank, said freshwater collection cup having a base proximate said freshwater filtering tank and a series of tubes traversing said base allowing foam to flow into said freshwater collection cup from said freshwater filtering tank.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/530,998, filed on Dec. 18, 2003, incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to aquarium displays for displaying fish and other aquatic life in freshwater and saltwater environments. More specifically, the present invention relates to a aquarium assembly providing for the simple and quick interchange of saltwater tanks and freshwater tanks within a central frame. Even more specifically, the present invention is related to an aquarium assembly interchangeably holding freshwater and saltwater tanks for corresponding marine life, with the design having a freshwater skimming apparatus to clean and reuse freshwater and a saltwater skimming apparatus to clean and reuse saltwater for the various corresponding freshwater and saltwater tanks.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

In the field of aquarium displays it is desirable to display various species of fish and other aquatic life in a way that they can be closely observed by a viewer in a convenient manner. This is particularly true in a retail sales setting, where the various types of aquatic life are displayed for customers interested in purchasing such aquatic life. Consequently, it is advantageous for retailers to be able to advertise both freshwater aquatic life and saltwater aquatic life for users to decide on their purchase, and to be able to adjust their displays quickly and efficiently according to their inventory on hand.

Such aquarium displays encounter various problems. For instance, the store owner's product will vary daily, such that it is difficult to determine how to allocate space for freshwater life and saltwater life. Another conflict with the goal of efficient advertising of inventory is the necessity to maximize the volume of water in a display per square foot of floor space occupied by the display, to achieve maximum economy in floor space used. This is a practical consideration in a retail setting, as floor space is at a premium. Consequently, it is advantageous to compact the size of the wall units while maintaining the size of the aquariums being viewed by customers.

Furthermore, in the combination of freshwater and saltwater tanks, it is important to be able to efficiently filter and reuse the water from the tanks. While saltwater skimmers are commonly used, an efficient freshwater skimmer design has not previously been designed. As a result, the freshwater skimmer of the present invention is advantageous for the present design as well as with other aquariums.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an aquarium assembly having a frame defining a series of tank cavities. The frame is operable to support both freshwater tanks and saltwater tanks, which are interchangeable within the tank cavities. A saltwater spout is positioned above the tank cavity such that the saltwater spout may exclusively connect with the saltwater tank to fill the saltwater tank accordingly. A freshwater spout is positioned above the tank cavity such that the freshwater spout may exclusively connect with the freshwater tank to fill the freshwater tank accordingly.

Each tank includes an inner surface and an outer surface, with a filter wall connected to said inner surface of said tank to surround a tank outlet. In a freshwater tank, the tank outlet is in a first position complementary to a freshwater drain, while in a saltwater tank, the tank outlet is in a second position complementary to a saltwater drain. The filter wall defines a series of filter openings, such that water contained in the tank may flow through the filter walls and through the tank outlet to the corresponding drain.

Each saltwater drain and freshwater drain is connected to a corresponding saltwater filter apparatus to receive saltwater from said tank, and a corresponding freshwater filter apparatus to receive freshwater from said tank. The freshwater filter apparatus includes a skimmer tank, a freshwater foam collection cup affixed to said skimmer tank, and a valve connected to said skimmer tank to force air and water into said skimmer tank to create freshwater foam in the skimmer tank. The freshwater foam collection cup includes a series of lift tubes traversing the collection cup, which allow the freshwater foam to be drawn into the collection cup to remove impurities from the freshwater.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the aquarium assembly having two frames;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a tank being inserted into a frame of the aquarium assembly illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3a is top plan view of the aquarium assemblies illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3b is a left side elevational view of the aquarium assemblies illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3c is a left side sectional view of the aquarium assemblies illustrated in FIG. 3a as taken along the lines A-A;

FIG. 3d is a cutaway side view of a spacer of the frame from FIG. 3c;

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a frame of an aquarium assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 5a is a front elevational view of the frame illustrated in FIG. 4;

FIG. 5b is a right side elevational view of the frame illustrated in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a rear elevational view of the aquarium assembly as illustrated in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of a freshwater tank as used in the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a freshwater tank as used in the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a front perspective view of a saltwater tank as used in the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a saltwater tank as used in the present invention;

FIG. 11 is an exploded view of a saltwater tank in position with a tank cavity of the aquarium assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the aquarium assembly with the spacer doors removed therefrom;

FIG. 13 is a front perspective view of the aquarium assembly of the present invention, including the freshwater skimmer and saltwater skimmer;

FIG. 14 is a rear perspective view of the aquarium assembly of the present invention as illustrated in FIG. 16, including the freshwater skimmer and saltwater skimmer.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a saltwater skimmer of the aquarium assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 16 is an exploded view of the saltwater foam collection cup used with the saltwater skimmer of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17a is a perspective view of a freshwater skimmer of the aquarium assembly of the present invention;

FIG. 17b is a block diagram illustration of the freshwater skimmer of the aquarium assembly illustrating the use of a venturi valve to generate freshwater foam;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the freshwater foam collection cup used with the freshwater skimmer as illustrated in FIG. 17a;

FIG. 19 is an exploded view of a freshwater foam collection cup used with the freshwater skimmer of the aquarium assembly as illustrated in FIG. 18; and

FIG. 20 is a rear perspective view of the aquarium assemblies of the present invention, with the back wall being removed from the aquarium assemblies.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the FIGS. 1-6, the present invention for a aquarium assembly 10 is illustrated. The aquarium assembly 10 is a wall unit aquarium having a frame 12 or housing with multiple tank cavities 14 that are able to support various marine life aquatic tanks 16. Each tank 16 is either a freshwater tank 16f (see FIGS. 7 and 8) or a saltwater tank 16s (see FIGS. 9 and 10). In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 7-10, each saltwater tank 16s has a shape that is substantially a mirror image of the shape of each freshwater tank 16f, the use of which is described herein.

In the example shown in FIGS. 1-6, the frame 12 of the aquarium assembly 10 has nine tank cavities 14 to receive nine individual tanks 16. Specifically, there are three rows of tank cavities 14, with three tank cavities 14 on each row. The number of tank cavities 14 may vary, however, according to the number desired to be used in the aquarium assembly 10 by the user. A spacer 18 is preferably provided above each row of tank cavities 14, with the spacer 18 providing room to allow the operator to access the each particular tank 16. A pair of spacer doors 20 may be mounted to the frame 12 at the position of the spacer 18, with the spacer doors 20 protecting and hiding the plumbing of the aquarium assembly 10 to maintain a pleasant exterior appearance of the aquarium assembly 10. The spacer doors 20 additionally provide easy and quick access to the spouts or conduit 46 of the aquarium assembly 10 as well as the tanks 16. The spacers 18 may further protect a light assembly 17 (see FIG. 6) mounted to the frame 12 that is used to illuminate the tanks 16, an electrical panel (not illustrated) that is used to provide timers (not illustrated) for wash down of the tanks 16, or temperature control devices (not illustrated), such as chillers or heaters, that are used to control the living environment for the marine life in the respective tanks 16. Finally, the position of the spacers 18 aids the user in the access and maintenance of the tanks 16 themselves.

As stated above, the tanks 16 of the present invention include freshwater tanks 16f to hold freshwater for marine life that live in freshwater, and saltwater tanks 16s to hold saltwater for marine life that live in saltwater. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 7-10, the design of the freshwater tank 16f is substantially a mirror image of the saltwater tank 16s. In spite of the differing shapes or configurations of the saltwater tanks 16s and the freshwater tanks 16f, the saltwater tanks 16s and the freshwater tanks 16f may be interchangeably positioned in the tank cavities 14 of the frame 12. Furthermore, all of the tanks 16 are designed to securely fit interchangeably within each of the tank cavities 14 of the frame 12 to have immediate access to either a freshwater supply and drain or a saltwater supply and drain.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 10, both the freshwater tank 16f and the saltwater tank 16s may be substantially square or rectangular, having a front wall 26, a right side wall 28 connected to one end of the front wall 26, a left side wall 30 connected to the front wall 26 and extending substantially parallel to the right side wall 28, and a rear wall 32 connected between the right side wall 28 and the left side wall 30. The dimensions of each tank 16 are substantially 15 inches by 15.5 inches by 11 inches. As a result, each tank 16s, 16f is able to hold approximately eleven gallons of water, not including any marine life or decorations that may be included in each tank 16. It should be noted, however, that the tanks 16 may have any shape as desired by the user. For example, in another embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 4-5d, the tanks 16 have a substantially trapezoidal shape, with one side wall 28, 30 being shorter than the opposite side wall 28, 30. Such a design will assist the user in determining which tanks 16 hold freshwater and saltwater, and may also prevent the user from filling the tanks 16 with the wrong type of water.

A filter wall 34 is additionally used in each tank 16s, 16f to define a draining area 36 or overflow box within the respective tank 16. Referring to FIGS. 7-10, in the saltwater tank 16s, the filter wall 34 is positioned between the rear wall 32 and the left side wall 30, while in freshwater tank 16f, the filter wall 34 is connected between the rear wall 32 and the right side wall 28. The filter wall 34 includes a series of filter openings 35 traversing therethrough, such that the water in the tanks 16s, 16f may easily flow through the filter wall 34 into the draining area 36. The draining area 36 or overflow box defined by the filter wall 34 in each fishing tank 16 surrounds a tank outlet 38, the use of which is described herein. The filter openings 35 through the filter wall 34 allow the water in the tank 16 to flow into the draining area 36 without permitting undesired items from the tank 16 (such as rocks, waste, or marine life) to flow into the draining area 36.

The shape of both the freshwater tank 16f and the saltwater tank 16s allows the tanks 16 to be securely fit into the tank cavities 14 of the frame 12. Moreover, the respective position of the tank 16s in the tank cavities 14 allows for the proper handling of both saltwater and freshwater in the aquarium assembly 10, both in the accumulation of the suitable water (i.e., freshwater or saltwater) in the respective tank 16 and the dispersion of that water from the tank 16 into a corresponding filtering system, either a freshwater filtering system 42 or a saltwater filtering system 44.

The freshwater tank 16f and saltwater tank 16s may be marked for easy identification and foolproof use in the aquarium assembly 10. That is, each tank 16 has a substantially transparent front wall 26 for viewers to be able to see the marine life contained in the tanks 16, while the remaining sides 28, 30, and 32 may be a distinct color or designation to assist users in determining whether the tank 16 is used to hold freshwater or saltwater. For example, the sides 28, 30, and 32 of the freshwater tank 16f could be blue, while the sides 28, 30, and 32 of the saltwater tank 16s could be black. As a result, the user may easily discern the proper tank 16 without having to examine the configuration of the tank 16 or comparing the tank 16 with the position of the corresponding draining basin 50 in the tank cavity 14. It should be noted that additional means for identifying tank 16s could be used in the present invention following this color-coding example, including using varying tank shapes to coordinate with the contents of the tank 16.

Looking now to the exploded view shown in FIG. 11, each tank cavity 14 in the frame 12 is designed such that, when the tank 16 is fully and securely positioned in the tank cavity 14, the position of the tank outlet 38 of the tank 16 will correspond with a basin opening 51 of the draining basin 50 (either a saltwater draining basin 50s or a freshwater draining basin 50f). More specifically, the freshwater tank outlet 38f will coincide with the respective freshwater basin opening 51f for the freshwater draining basin 50f, and the saltwater tank outlet 38s will coincide with the respective saltwater basin opening 51s for the saltwater draining basin 50s. Thus, each tank outlet 38 is positioned in the respective tank 16 to correspond with the desired basin opening 51.

In the embodiments of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 9, the saltwater tank outlet 38s is positioned in the draining area 36 located at the left rear corner of the tank cavity 14, while the freshwater tank outlet 38f is positioned in the draining area 36 located at the right rear corner of the tank cavity 14. Consequently, when the saltwater tank 16f is inserted into a tank cavity 14, the position of the saltwater draining area 36s and the freshwater tank outlet 38s of the saltwater tank 16s will directly overlap the position of the saltwater basin opening 51s of the saltwater draining basin 50s in the tank cavity 14, while the saltwater tank 16s will cover and thereby obstruct the freshwater basin opening 51f to the freshwater draining basin 50f. In a similar manner, when the freshwater tank 16f (see FIGS. 8 and 10) is inserted into a tank cavity 14, the position of the freshwater draining area 36f and the freshwater tank outlet 38f will directly overlap the position of the freshwater basin opening 51f of the freshwater draining basin 50f, while the freshwater tank 16f will cover and thereby obstruct the saltwater basin opening 51s of the saltwater draining basin 50s. As a result, this arrangement will prevent a user from mistakenly allowing saltwater to flow into a freshwater filtering system 42, and prevents freshwater from flowing into a saltwater filtering system 44.

In addition to the means for draining saltwater and freshwater from the respective tank 16s, the aquarium assembly 10 also provides a means for filling the respective tank 16 with the proper type of water for the particular tank 16, as shown in FIGS. 6, 11, and 12. That is, a freshwater spout 46f or conduit and a saltwater spout 46s or conduit are positioned within each tank cavity 14 above the tank 16. For a freshwater tank 16f, the freshwater spout 46f is provided above the tank 16 to quickly fill the freshwater tank 16f with freshwater. Similarly, for saltwater tank 16s, the saltwater spout 46s is provided above the tank 16 to quickly fill the saltwater tank 16s with saltwater.

Looking further to FIG. 11, a tank tube 47 may be affixed to a filling aperture 49 in the tank 16 to be connected with a corresponding spout 46. In particular, each tank tube 47 is positioned to correspond with a spout 46 such that only the proper type of water (freshwater or saltwater) will be dispensed into the respective tank 16. Since the saltwater spout 46s and the freshwater spout 46f are approximately fifteen inches apart in each tank cavity 14, each saltwater tank 16s and freshwater tank 16f may only be attached to the appropriate freshwater spout 46f or saltwater spout 46s due to the position of the corresponding tank tube 47 with each tank 16. Therefore, in this embodiment, only the saltwater tank 16s will receive water from the saltwater spout 46s through the saltwater tank tube 47s, and only the freshwater tank 16f will receive water from the freshwater spout 46f through the freshwater tank tube 47f. Furthermore, these spouts 46 may be labeled for easy identification by the user. That is, the freshwater spout 46f may be blue to correspond with the color of the freshwater tanks 16f, while the saltwater spout 46s may be black to correspond with the color of the saltwater tanks 16s. Such identification measures allow the user to easily discern which spout 46s, 46f is to be used with each tank 16s, 16f. Finally, the user may incorporate quick disconnect fittings (not illustrated) to the tank tubes 47s, 47f and spouts 46s, 46f having varying orientations, which will prevent a freshwater spout 46f from being connected with a saltwater tank tube 47s, and vice versa. These measures prevent a user from contaminating either water supply with the incorrect type of water.

Each tank 16 additionally includes a stand-pipe 48, closure rod, plug, or other means for corking or closing the tank outlet 38 in the draining area 36. Moreover, the stand-pipe 48 will prevent undesired discharge of water from the tank 16 through the tank outlet 38. The stand-pipe 48 is preferably hollow, such that water in the tank 16 will drain through the stand-pipe 48 once the water level reaches the height of the stand-pipe 48 in the tank 16. Such an embodiment prevents the user from accidentally overfilling the tank 16 and potentially mixing the freshwater and saltwater reservoirs. Furthermore, the user is able to control the level of water in each individual tank 16 by adjusting the height of the stand-pipe 48 that is used in the particular tank 16.

In operation, the user will determine whether a freshwater tank 16f or a saltwater tank 16s is to be used in a particular tank cavity 14 of the frame 12. The user will insert the stand-pipe 48 through the draining area 36 to engage the corresponding tank outlet 38 so that the tank 16 will retain water rather than dispersing it through the tank outlet 38. The user will then insert the proper tank 16 into the tank cavity 14 according to the user's desired arrangement of the freshwater marine life and saltwater marine life. Once the tank 16 has been securely positioned in the tank cavity 14, the user will connect the water spout 46 with the corresponding tank tube 47, or direct the proper water spout 46s, 46f into the corresponding tank 16s, 16f, and engage a water freshwater valve (not illustrated) corresponding to the freshwater spout 46f or a saltwater valve (not illustrated) corresponding to the saltwater spout 46s to allow the desired type of water to flow into the tank 16. Once the tank 16 has been filled to the desired capacity, the user will shut off the valve. However, if the user forgets to shut off the valve in a timely manner, the excess water will be drained through the stand-pipe 48. The user will then be able to add the desired marine life to the tank 16.

When the user is ready to replace a freshwater tank 16f with a saltwater tank 16s, or vice versa, or when the user is ready to clean a respective tank 16, the user will drain the water from the tank 16 by removing the stand-pipe 48 from the tank outlet 38, thereby allowing the water to flow in the draining basin 50. After the water has completely dispersed from the tank 16 into the proper draining basin 50, the user is able to easily remove the tank 16 from the tank cavity 14 of the frame 12. The tank 16 may then be cleaned and reinserted into the frame 12, or a separate tank 16 may be chosen that will be able to hold either saltwater or freshwater. Thus, the user is able to quickly switch between a freshwater tank 16f with a saltwater tank 16s. In most cases with the present aquarium assembly 10, it will take less than five minutes to exchange one tank 16 filled with water with another tank 16 also filled with water.

Referring to FIGS. 6, 11, and 13-20, once the stand-pipe 48 has been removed from the tank outlet 38, the water will flow into a draining basin 50 positioned below the tank 16. As noted above, the saltwater draining basin 50s is positioned under the saltwater tank outlet 38s of each tank cavity 14, and the freshwater draining basin 50f is likewise positioned under the freshwater tank outlet 38f of each tank cavity 14. From the respective draining basin 50, the water will flow into conduit 52 (preferably two-inch conduit) leading to a corresponding freshwater sump 53f or saltwater sump 53s positioned in each frame 12 beneath the various tank cavities 14. Looking to FIG. 20, the freshwater sump 53f and the saltwater sump 53s are positioned proximate each other, and are joined to corresponding freshwater sumps 53f and saltwater sumps 53s of other frames 14 via sump conduit 55 (freshwater sump conduit 55f and saltwater sump conduit 55s). The freshwater sump conduit 55f is preferably four inches in diameter, while the saltwater sump conduit 55s is preferably two inches in diameter.

The unfiltered water in the sump conduit 55 is then delivered to the filtering assembly 60 that includes a saltwater filtering apparatus 62 and a freshwater filtering apparatus 64. By having two isolated plumbing systems for saltwater and freshwater, the present design eliminates any concern of cross contamination of the saltwater with the freshwater reservoir and vice versa.

The process for filtering water begins with water being emptied from the various tank 16 into the draining basins 50. As discussed above, each saltwater tank 16s will drain water into the respective saltwater draining basin 50s and each freshwater tank 16f will drain water into the respective freshwater draining basin 50f supported by the frame 12 below the corresponding tank 16. The draining basin 50 will regulate the flow of water from the saltwater or freshwater tank 16. Drain conduit 52 connects the saltwater and freshwater draining basins 50s, 50f with the respective freshwater and saltwater sumps 53f, 53s, which are then connected to the filtering apparatus 62, 64, such that the unfiltered water can be filtered and reused.

In the present embodiment, both the freshwater filtering apparatus 62 and the saltwater filtering system 64 include a gravity flow filtration system, as described in the Applicants' U.S. Pat. No. 6,641,718. The saltwater filtering apparatus 62 is substantially similar to the freshwater filtering apparatus 64, although the freshwater filtering apparatus 64 includes a different skimming apparatus, as discussed in more detail below. However, it is noted that either systems may include other filtering systems that properly filter the water. In the invention as illustrated, unfiltered water is delivered into a corresponding sump 40f, 40s, where it is then directed through filtering socks 63 into a filtered sump 40f. From each respective filtering apparatus 62, 64, the filtered water then flows into either a freshwater sump 40f or saltwater sump 40s to be skimmed and then be distributed to the respective tanks 16s, 16f as desired by the user. Looking to FIGS. 1 and 2, the freshwater filtering apparatus 62 and the saltwater filter apparatus 64 are housed in a filter covering 65.

The unfiltered water in each respective saltwater filtering apparatus 62 or freshwater filtering apparatus 64 will be skimmed by either a saltwater skimmer 70 or a freshwater skimmer 90. As a bit of background, a conventional water skimmer is in essence a reaction chamber in which a mixture of water and very fine bubbles are injected into the unclean water to create a foam. The bubbles have a weak electrical surface charge due to the orientation of the molecules that compose them, and the bubbles are used to adhere to dissolved and particulate organic matter in the water column. Such organic matter can be waste from fish and other aquarium life forms, tap water, uneaten food, and many other sources. This waste will typically have an electrical surface charge that is opposite of the bubbles created by the skimmer.

In a conventional saltwater skimmer 70, the waste is removed by forcing the foam with the waste material up through a wide foam lift tube 76 or column into a waste receptacle 74 or collection cup, where the waste is then trapped. The waste receptacle 74 is emptied as needed by the aquarium owner to prevent undesired algae and bacteria from feeding on the organic waste. If this organic waste is not contained, the algae and bacteria will form layers of hair or slime within the aquarium. The layers of hair and slime are an indication of a poorly maintained system in which few desirable life forms will thrive, and they are not aesthetically pleasing to the owner. As a result, the goal is to remove this organic material from the saltwater using the saltwater skimmer 70.

The aquarium assembly 10 of the present invention preferably includes both a saltwater skimmer 70 and a freshwater skimmer 90. Each skimmer 70, 90 includes a corresponding skimming tank 72, 92, with the foam collection cup 74, 94 positioned at the top of the tank 72, 92 and a venturi valve 93 that is used as a means to deliver both the water to be treated and also the air for generating the microscopic bubbles to attract waste. In particular, the venturi valve 93 is mounted to a water supply tube (not illustrated) within the skimming tank 72, 92 with an air supply tube 95 connected to the mid-portion of the venturi valve 93. The venturi valve 93 has one entry for air and one entry for water, with an exit for the air-water froth or foam. The internal part of the venturi valve 93 is designed so that water will flow through the valve 93 forcefully. As the water flows through the venturi valve 93, air is drawn into the central portion of the valve 93 through the air tube. The higher the pressure of the water entering the venturi valve 93, the more air that will be drawn into the venturi valve 93. The more air that is drawn in, the more bubbles that are formed and the smaller they are. The air-water froth mixture therefore exits the venturi valve 93 at a fast rate, creating a vortex within the skimmer tank 72, 92 to drive the foam into the collection cup 74, 94. Once the foam is in the collection cup 74, 94, the undesired organic material is trapped and removed from the aquarium assembly 10.

In the saltwater skimmer 70, a conventional foam collection cup 74 is used. Such a conventional collection cup 74 has a single wide foam lift tube 76 that is mounted at the base of the collection cup 74. The foam in the saltwater skimmer 70 is forced upward through the wide foam lift tube 76, and the foam thereby enters and is trapped within the foam collection cup 74. While this foam collection cup 74 design works well with saltwater skimmers 70, such designs have not been successful with freshwater skimmers 90. The understood reason for failure in freshwater skimmers 90 is due to the increased weight of the freshwater. That is, saltwater has a lighter weight, and therefore easy to draw foam into the collection cup 74. Contrarily, freshwater is heavy, making it more difficult to get the foam with organic waste material through the single wide foam lift tube 76 into the collection cup 74 used in saltwater skimmers 70.

To address this problem, the present invention provides a freshwater foam collection cup 94 shown in FIGS. 18 and 19. The freshwater foam collection cup 94 includes multiple narrow foam lift tubes 96 in the collection cup 94 rather than a single wide foam lift tube 76 (as provided in the saltwater collection cup 74). The multiple narrow foam lift tubes 96 are joined with the base of the collection cup 94, providing a connection to the skimming tank 92 below. The narrow foam lift tubes 96 thereby draw the freshwater foam from the freshwater skimming tank 92 into the collection cup 94. That is, since the freshwater foam heavy, it will take less energy for the foam to get through the multiple small or narrow foam lift tubes 96 rather than one large foam lift tube as provided for in the saltwater cup 94. Furthermore, a protection plate (not illustrated) is provided to the top of the collection cup 94 to prevent the overfilling of the foam in the collection cup 94.

The freshwater foam collection cup 94 is removably attached to the upper end of a foam concentration chamber 97. Thus, the foam accumulates in the foam collection cup 94 until full, and then the foam is easily discarded by the user. A cap 98 fits removably on top of the freshwater foam collection cup 94 to cause the accumulated foam to remain in the collection cup 94 while allowing air to escape. The cap 98 is a clear, one-inch thick device that is easily removed from the freshwater foam collection cup 94.

Once the freshwater and saltwater have been skimmed of undesired waste, the filtered water is ready to be reintroduced into the tanks 16. That is, the skimmed freshwater is directed to the freshwater filtered sump 40f below the freshwater skimmer 90, and the skimmed saltwater is directed to the saltwater sump 40s below the saltwater skimmer 70. Referring to the block diagram illustrated in FIGS. 6, 13 and 14, a saltwater pump 41s is connected to the saltwater sump 40s to force the saltwater into conduit 52 to reintroduce the saltwater into the various respective saltwater tanks 16s included by the user. Likewise, a freshwater pump 41f is connected to the freshwater sump 40f to force the freshwater into conduit 52f to reintroduce the filtered freshwater into the respective tank 16s. As is illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14, the pumps 41f , 41s may be housed in one of the frames 12, or within the filter covering 65. Moreover, the pumps 41f , 41s and conduit 52 connect the respective water reservoirs or sumps 40s, 40f with the corresponding freshwater spout 46f or saltwater spout 46s, as described above. Only one pump 41 is needed for the various frames 12 and tank cavities 14, although the size of the pump 41 may be varied as required to deliver water to a greater number of tanks 16 through the spouts 46. From the spouts 46, the water may be reintroduced to the respective freshwater tanks 16f or saltwater tank 16s.

The present invention solves multiple problems for retailers and other aquarium owners. For retailers, the present assembly is easily adjusted according to the retailers inventory on hand and the retailers desire to market the marine life to customers. That is, the aquarium assembly 10 allows retailers to easily exchange saltwater tank 16s and freshwater tank 16f according to the number of the saltwater marine life and freshwater marine life that the retailer has in inventory. Furthermore, the retailer is able to position the various tank 16 in the frame 12 in a way to prominently display the marine life that are most desired to be sold.

Moreover, the aquarium assembly 10, which may be connected to a central filtering system, may fit in an area that is 51 inches by 21 inches by 81 inches, which is more compact that conventional display aquariums. Further, the tanks 16 of the present aquarium assembly 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 may hold up 180 gallons of water, while a conventional comparable display aquarium will hold only 110 gallons of water. The present aquarium assembly 10 incorporates a more efficient use of space than that of comparable aquariums, in that the frame 12 completely encloses the tank 16 and the conduits 52 used to fill and drain the respective tank 16s. Furthermore, the conduit 52 is aligned to further compact the plumbing. This reduces the space that is required by the plumbing.

Since the various freshwater tanks 16f and saltwater tanks 16s are interchangeable, they are easily removed from the frame 12 and replaced by another tank 16. Therefore, any tank 16 may be replaced by either a freshwater tank 16f or a saltwater tank 16s at any time, allowing the user to easily switch between a saltwater display and a freshwater display, while further providing the user with a simple way to clean the tank 16 that has been removed from the frame 12. This allows the user to simply arrange the tanks 16f, 16s according to the inventory and according to any marketing plans held by the user.

Moreover, the present aquarium assembly 10 is desirable with residential tank 16 as well as commercial tank 16. That is, the aquarium assembly 10 provides ease of use for the aquarium owner to position fish in the desired location at the desired time, as would be useful to both hobbyists as well as marine life store owners. Furthermore, the present design allows users to clean one tank 16 without having to replace or adjust the surrounding tanks 16.

Thus, although there have been described particular embodiments of the present invention of a new and useful AQUARIUM ASSEMBLY, it is not intended that such references be construed as limitations upon the scope of this invention except as set forth in the following claims.





 
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