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[APD] Re: A large tank

> > <snip, big tank>

> > So, uh ... Anyone care to venture how much it
> > might cost to put something like this together? =)

Bill responded:
> I've seen acrylic tanks of this size that are
> upwards of $5000. No idea what glass would be. 
> Ongoing costs are going to be a
> lot too. <snip, ?$215/mo electric, etc.>
> I think with a tank this large Tom's no-heater tank
> idea would start being very economical too.
> And if you want to build this into your house you
> have two options:
> 1 - concrete slab on ground floor
> 2 - concrete slab on steel frame (girders, not
> truss)
> Just tell your contractor to build your fish room
> like a multilevel parking structure :-) Seriously
> though, if you really do build a tank like this you
> really should talk to a structural engineer. The
> tank will be a *lot* of weight in a small space, and
> that needs special construction to support it.

Well, *I* wasn't going to bring it up, but I'm very
interested in this thread.  I've done a lot of
research and planning for a tank like this in new
home construction (not started yet).

Sorry for the long post, but I really could use some
input here.  There are many issues, and methinks a
"community review" of design is a very good idea to
decrease the likelihood of, "but NEXT time I'd..."

Not to revive the "acrylic v. glass" debate, but I'm
really on the fence.  We all know acrylic (flexible,
nice bends, very strong, corners welded, index of
refraction same as water, if scratched can be buffed
out), and glass (more scratch resistant, wears better,
but not as strong as acrylic).  Also, for marine
glass is more durable since there are lots of abrasive
critters that stick to acrylic.

Since I'm in Colorado, USA, I've been looking at
Reynolds Polymer,
who provided the acrylic to the now bankrupt Ocean
Journey in Denver (OJ got bought by Landry's Seafood,
and are still operating).  You can get similar
products from other acrylic manufacturers, and a
36"x48"x120" acrylic tank I've seen as low as 
$2400-$4000, depending on what 'custom' requirements
you have.

For glass, I'd probably go with something like the
'starphire' line,
which is *very* clear, can laminate multiple sheets
if over 1/2", looks great, and is used for zoo
exhibits.  I don't know the cost on that type of glass
specifically, but other reports puts a glass tank
of that size at about $4000 (buying from the
manufacturer is about half the price of buying from
an aquarium builder).  Watch the "hidden" costs like 
packing, shipping crates, and freight-- that can
double the price.

I agree with Tom that it would be best to use as much
ambient light as possible, even direct sunlight if
you can.  I do that with my tanks, and it works great.
But, a tank this size is probably more centrally
located, so that can be hard.  Also, I agree that it's
probably most economical to not run a heater.  I never
did on my 180g, and it's fine (the water mass is
large enough that daily flux isn't significant, and
seasonal flux is slow).  But, I'm looking to use
geothermal ground loops for heating/cooling, maybe
a heat pump, to let me keep temperate marine life
(for breeding seahorses and maybe dragons).

Seriously, the weight *demands* the structural design
of a parking structure.  This thing is heavier than
my 12-passenger extended GMC van that I use to haul
around all those kids.  I already suffered when my
180g cracked through the floor, and sadly, I had to
shut that tank down and it's now in storage (partially
because of a long trip I took abroad), and I plan to
*truly* over-engineer the next solution.

Depth... I *used* to think that it was silly for a
plant keeper to go more than 30"-36", because you need
to put your arm in the tank regularly for aquascaping.
I kind of believe that still, but as the big_tank.jpg
shows, there are lots more options for multi-level 
aquascaping when you go for vertical space.  And, some
plants are big, and some fish really prefer the deeper
water for breeding.  (For marine, I'd need 36" deep
minimum to breed some seahorse spp.)  So, I'm now
thinking of going a little deeper, 36"-48", and having
plateaus at 24" down with most of my aquascaping, and
the deepest parts of the tank will be more bare/rocky
so I won't need frequent access.  You can get long
tongs and attachments for pruning/planting, although
most of the "big" ones are 24"-36", so I may have to
build my own.

My current plan is a 48"x48"x120" freshwater South
American biotype separating the dinging room/living
room, visible on three sides.  Plus, another in-wall
tank under the stairs going up, about that big, on the
same level (along the same load bearing floor) for a
marine seagrass bed (for seahorses).  There would be
another large tank above it, about that size, divided
among a refugium and surge-sump for flow down into
the seagrass bed, which will also have sumps for
surging into a much larger marine reef in the 
basement.  Yes, it's a lot of water, but it's only
two water systems and (sort of) four tanks (one
freshwater and three marine), so the goal is low
maintenance.  I'll also have an atrium/fish room
greenhouse off the back of the house, which will
probably be all freshwater (mostly biotype setups).

I don't have a handle on the increased house 
construction costs for the weight, but the tanks and
infrastructure (including convenient plumbing and
drains) I'm guessing is about $20-25K (I'll do a lot
of that work myself).  That's a lot, but it will be
amoritized over the mortgage, and I promise to not buy
a new car for a while.

I have a number of designs I've been doing for floor
plan, plumbing, electrical, lighting, etc., but I'm
interested in ideas and other experiences.  I suppose
it may be good to contact public aquariums, but I 
don't know anyone there.  If anyone on this list would
be interested in reviewing my plans or providing 
feedback, I'd be interested.  Or, if people want to 
throw out issues or ideas in general, I will summarize
and post back here, or will kick an article over to
Eric so he can put it into the Krib.  There are lots
of details:  Protecting against moisture, venting
heat from the MH lights back into the room when the
tank is built-in, etc.

Big tank... good.  Bigger tank... gooder.  Keep in
mind that a $2K acrylic wall with a $350 load of 
cement will give you a 20,000 gallon tank.  That 
doesn't sound too bad, now, does it?     ;-)))


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