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Re: Aquarium Size Questions

>I've moved once more (hopfully for the last time) and now have a sunroom at
>the back of the house, half of which I use for an office.  The other half of
>the room is begging to become a fish room.

If you build a fish room in your sunroom you should probably put some shade 
cloth on the sunroom's glass to allow you to control the light over the 
area where you put your tanks. Lots of natural light getting into aquariums 
tends to cause problems.

>The reason I think I may want one larger tank instead of a couple of smaller
>ones is that it is seems to me to be easier to maintain one tank than two or
>three tanks, especially when its time to measure and add the chemical
>fertilizers.  Also providing the proper light, CO2, etc to one bigger tank
>seems less complicated than providing it to several tanks.  And I guess
>there is just something exciting about larger tanks.  Just looking at a 125
>gallon tank in the LFS next to a 75 gallon tank, well that extra two feet of
>real estate looks so good.  Anyway I have been asking myself if I bought a
>125 gallon tank whether it would stop there or would I again want something
>bigger in the future?  So I have been thinking of what would be the ultimate

There is *always* a bigger tank. It's the whole 'grass is greener' thing 
:-) I personally would go for a 180 gallon if the extra cost isn't a big 
concern for you. A 125g here is about $220, and a 180g is about $430 from 
the same place -- almost 2x as much money for only about 50% more tank 
volume. The extra 6" front-to-back makes a *huge* visual difference, IMHO, 
and a 180g is the biggest "standard" glass tank.

For multiple tanks you could use a central filtration system and only need 
to dose and CO2 inject one place to handle all the tanks. I just keep 
adding tanks -- haven't thrown one out yet. I have 7 active tanks at the 
moment and will be adding several more this year I think, including one big 

>tank for me.  A tank that I would never want to get rid of.   I was also
>looking around at the stock sizes of glass tanks and it appears to me that
>they aren't geared for the planted aquaria enthusiast.  As the sizes get
>bigger in gallons they also get higher.  This makes it really hard to
>aquascape when the depth of the tank is greater than the length of one's
>arms.  The 22 inch height of a 125 gallon tank is about as deep as I dare to
>go but I would certainly accept a tank that was wider than the 18 inch width
>of a 125 gallon tank.  In fact 20 to 24 inches in width would add quite a
>bit of real estate to the tank, and the extra space would still be

With 4" of gravel a 125g will be 18" of water for your arms to wade in. 
About 22" for a 180g. I think it was Tom Barr who suggested a 4" gravel 
layer to me some years back and I do think it's a good idea. You might even 
want to make some hills and maybe have some 5-6" deep areas. In a deep tank 
this becomes a possibility, although it eats up a lot of gravel to do it. 
And of course you're planning on using flourite, right? :-)

>accessible if you could walk around to the rear side of the tank.   Also I
>can fit a seven foot long tank in the alloted space.  An 84"x24"x22" tank
>would give a nominal 192 gallons, and is probably as big as I could ever
>dare to go.  But I guess since it is a custom size I would either have to
>build it out of plywood or buy a custom acrylic tank.

You can also build custom acrylic tanks if you have the skill and patience 
to do it properly. All you need tool-wise is a circular saw and something 
you can use for polishing (pad sander with buffing pad works OK). A scroll 
saw and drill help too. If you aren't *sure* you can do it right though 
you'll be better off just buying a prebuilt tank or having one built to 
your specifications. A lot of plastics suppliers can put you in touch with 
a shop that can do the construction for you. I'm not a big fan of the 
appearance of plywood tanks myself and would stay away from them except for 
large breeding or growout setups where appearance isn't a big concern. For 
a large setup of DIY plywood/board tanks try http://www.tropicorium.com. 
They have a bunch of 4x8 foot tanks they built that are about 2' deep in 
most cases. They look somewhat odd up close but they seem to work OK for 
them and they are BIG.

>How many of you have had both glass and acrylic large tanks and prefer the
>acrylic tanks?  Why?

Glass is harder to scratch and I'd prefer it for that reason if given the 
choice. Other factors start making acrylic look good though, like the 
greatly reduced weight, the ease of custom fabrication, and the ability to 
easily drill holes for overflows and the like. If I were to built a very 
large tank of a non-standard (as in not available from All-Glass) size I 
would absolutely make it out of acrylic. If I wanted any tank up to 125g I 
would absolutely buy a glass tank. For a 180g I would probably go with 
glass, but I could probably build it cheaper out of acrylic so I'd have a 
tough decision for that particular size. I think if you want to go with any 
size over 180g you'll want to use acrylic. A 180g tank weighs somewhere 
around 500 pounds for just the tank so moving it will be incredibly 
difficult when you set it up. Acrylic is manageable up to larger sizes. 
Remember that once you fill the tank with water though any tank will weigh 
literally tons, so the weight of the tank itself becomes negligible.

>Has anyone on the list successfully built a plywood tank?

Try that link again. They are a marine (salt water) wholesaler that does 
retail on the weekends and I've been there a few times. It is a really neat 
place to visit if you ever do any marine tank stuff and happen to be in 
southeast Michigan. They are the only place I know of that has used large 
wood tanks over any period of time in any significant number.

>Am I out of line wanting a lower, wider, longer tank?  Any comments on what
>would be your perfect tank?

Nope, bigger=better. The only problem you run into is the cost of setting 
up the tank (filters, lights, etc.), the cost of stocking the tank, and the 
BIG COST of RUNNING The tank (electrical mostly). For some time I was 
thinking about building a reef tank setup 4 feet on a side and 2 feet deep 
(a square tank). It's really neat to have a tank that has no front or back, 
but just 4 different views to look in to. A tank that size is about 240 
gallons. I had also thought about a 4 x 8 foot tank, also 2 feet deep, but 
that would cost a lot more to build. Turns out both were cheap since I 
didn't build either ;-)

I like the 22-24 inch depth tanks, and the deeper tanks like the 180g with 
a 2 foot front-to-back dimension. When you get up to 6 feet long the tank 
starts to give the illusion of not having ends when you are up close 
looking in which is a nice effect. If I were to set up a custom tank now 
I'd probably make it 6-8 feet long, 4 feet deep (front-to-back), and 2 feet 
high, which would be about my ideal size and around 360-450 gallons or so. 
Maintenance would probably be fairly time consuming, and I'd have to run an 
LFS of my own to dispose of all the plant cuttings.


>Steve Pituch

Waveform Technology
UNIX Systems Administrator