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RE: Aquarium Size Questions

Steve has asked some questions about larger tanks: He specifically asks:
"Am I out of line wanting a lower, wider, longer tank? Any comments on what
would be your perfect tank?"

I think the perfect tank depends on what you want to keep in it. I must
admit I am not very good at aquascaping. Most of the non-foreground plants
that I try to work with simply grow too large and a standard tank geometry
such as a 20H, 75, or 125 look too short with the larger plants; especially
when you add the 3"-4" minimum thickness substrate. So, I generally like
the taller tanks for a more balanced look. Now, looking at Amano's setups,
the tank dimensions are usually a bit shorter in height and wider (or
deeper) front-to-back than standard size tanks available in this country
and he has no problem balancing the plant height; even with species that I
find like to grow tall and spread out on the water surface. I think the
standard height tanks and even shorter versions with the same base area
look good with low growing plants and fish having a short height-to-length

I generally have the same problem with the width. I would like to stagger
the specimen plants along the front-to-back dimension of the tank for
better depth of field appearance of the aquascape but even the 18" wide
tanks don't allow for any placement other than in the middle. Otherwise
they hit the glass and look cramped. I'm going to get a 24" wide tank
someday. For me, the perfect large (planted) tank would be a 120 gallon; 4'
wide x 2' deep x 2' high. Of course, you must always consider the point you
made about being able to work in and around it to service it easily and I'm
not sure I could reach the bottom back glass in this tank.

An example of a perfect tank imperfectly applied: I once helped a fly
fishing shop with their 400 gallon acrylic trout tank. I think it was 8'
long 30" wide and 32"tall. This tank was originally a marine setup and had 
built-in overflows at each end. The decor was large (average 1 foot
diameter) rounded river rocks sitting on the bare tank bottom. It was a
poor choice for a trout habitat display. Although they had all the correct
hardware to support this system including a chiller, large capacity pump,
and a large sand filter, the biggest problem was trying to get the built-in
overflow system to handle a large volume of water. Another problem was the
depth of the tank and where the return lines were located; too high up near
the top. This made it hard to keep the bottom of the tank clean and
provided poor circulation among the rockwork. And finally, although not
really a problem, the tank looked too tall. The rocks only filled up the
lower 1/4 or 1/3 of the tank height and the trout which the tank housed
generally prefer to establish territories among the rocks and dwell there
as this is their natural behavior in the river. So, the top 2/3 of the tank
was void of any life most of the time. The perfect tank in this case would
have been about half as high and twice as wide or long with a very strong,
high volume, directional water flow from one end to the other. So, I think
the perfect tank is dependent on what goes in it and what is required to
make it function correctly for its inhabitants.
 ---- Eric