Swimming Performance Chamber Design: A "How to Guide" on the Design, Build, and Implementation of a Novel Chamber for Ecological Research

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Quantifying swimming performance of freshwater fishes
typically requires sophisticated and expensive laboratory
equipment, thus precluding many labs from including this component of behavior in niche analyses. Therefore, the objective of this project was to review existing performance chambers, analyze design facets from a hydrological engineering perspective, and incorporate these features into the design of a novel chamber that is feasible and affordable for any ecology lab to construct. A myriad of racetrack, flow through, and submerged tube designs were reviewed and analyzed for balancing cost and efficiency using a combination of financial budget balancing and computational fluid dynamic analyses (conducted using SC/Tetra CFD and Solidworks software) to generate a research grade product capable of producing laminar flow at a reasonable cost. A final ‘how to instructional
guide’ was produced outlining a basic oval style design
capable of producing laminar flow at velocities between 0 and 125cm/s. The proposed closed chamber system has a tank footprint of approximately 150 x 70cm and includes a 20 x 50 x 15cm swimming section for fish. The system is powered by a variable speed DC motor attached to a propeller controlled using gradual and continuous controls. All proposed materials are commercially available at hardware stores and implementation requires a minimal budget (under $4,000). Ultimately, this project should encourage research into this area of ecology and increase
access to research equipment for smaller institutions.


Poster presentation at the Ohio Academy of Science 126th Annual Meeting.