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Re: Tank Sizes

Roger, as Ron Barter pointed out in an earlier post, there are concerns
other than esthetic when deciding on the dimensions of a tank, the most
timportant of which is can you reach all areas of the interior easily
without having to resort to a snorkle.

My largest tank is 72" long X 18" wide X 24" deep. Any deeper than this
would be unworkable for me, because I don't want to have to submerge my
shoulder every time I work in the tank. A 24" tank depth allows you good
leeway when it comes to terracing the substrate - you can have a multi-level
substrate bed and still maintain sufficient water column height at the back
for good plant growth. I used cork covered glass panels in various heights
to provide three different levels for my substrate and it works well.

I kick myself for not getting a tank that was 24" wide though, as the extra
space would be invaluable for laying out an aquascape.

As for the length, I think that a 60" tank would probably be much easier to
deal with (than the 72") as one visual "chunk". In the longer tank, there is
a tendancy to look at it as a section of a stream, or as a part of a
perennial border, rather than as a "perfect little world". If you have the
luxury of being able to have the tank custom sized, why not give some
thought first to the type of layout you want to use within the tank first,
and then work from there. In a 72" long tank, it is almost a given that you
will need more than one visual focal point, but one should be much more
important than the other, secondary focus.

You also might want to try some layouts on a piece of paper first, using the
Golden Section (AC/BC = BC/AB or 1:1.618) as a guide to proportions. This is
how I decided on the size and placement of the various terraces within my
big tank, and it worked out very nicely. You don't have to slavisly follow
the proportions, but knowing where they are allows you the leeway of
adjusting things in advance to suit the effect that you are after. It is a
lot simpler and easier to do things like this on a piece of paper than in
the tank itself. (see http://www.tomgilmore.com/phi.htm for some background
on the Golden Section) Amano discusses the use of this sort of proportion
scheme in his books.

Finally, since the tank will be custom built, you might want to consider
specifying that the front panel be made using "water white" plate glass.
This is much clearer and without the greenish tint that regular glass comes
with and would make photography much easier. In small pieces of glass the
green tint isn't really a problem but with the large thick panes needed for
a big tank, it can easily become a distraction worth the extra cost to

James Purchase