In order to facilitate cataloguing, databasing and subsequent searching of information on aquarium/experimental systems, the information has to be broken down into heirarchical categories with specific labels. The following approach has been taken to achieve this:

In terms of equipment:

The first order categorisation within an overall aquarium facility is into SYSTEMS. A system is a coherent set of equipment designed to undertake a specific function. A system would typically be a sub-set of aquarium infrastructure that is physically linked and could operate in isolation. A pdf of a schematic diagram can be uploaded for each system (there is no specified format for these schematic diagrams, but clarity is encouraged!).

Each system is comprised of COMPONENTS which correspond to individual pieces of equipment (e.g. a pump, a filter, an UV filter, etc.) for which an individual supplier and specific technical information (technical specifications, instruction manual, etc.) can be identified. It is at the discretion of each data provider to decide the level of detail when defining which components to add to the system - for example every pipe and tap could be defined as a component if the data provider feels that this would be useful information. The schematic diagram for each system should include a number for each component, allowing systems and components to be linked in the database.

Each component is designated to a CATEGORY (e.g. pump, filter, tank, sterilization system, lighting system, etc.) in order to allow subsequent cross-institute searches by general type of equipment.

In terms of function:

The first order categorisation of functions is into PROCESSES which correspond to the broad operational steps involved in running the aquarium facility: seawater intake, primary treatment, secondary treatment, distribution, experimental facilities, waste water treatment.