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Structure for 30 gallon aquarium with bonus 2/19/13
Hello crew,
I am in the process of designing an aquaponics system using a 30 gallon aquarium and would appreciate any feedback you may have on my design.  See pics in this link
<Ok. I do like your design. Would add at least one more cross brace (as you show on the lower most shelf); across the uppermost back>
More details:
I plan on making the structure out of pine (the white pieces).
<And sealed>
The black boxes will be made of PCV and will hold ~40lbs of expanded clay.
In total, the upper two shelves will each have to hold a max of ~150lbs when filled with water.
<Should be fine, given the use of good screws for fasteners>
I plan on using hurricane clamps to hold various pieces together.
<Plus screws please>
The structure is ~8.5 feet tall and will sit next to a load bearing wall and will be bolted to said wall in several places.
<Good; don't want it to fall over>
Do you think this structure will support my weight requirements and be stable?  Any other tips/suggestions?
<I do and as noted above>
You guys are the best! Thanks for your time.
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Yellow Tail Fangblenny, Meiacanthus atrodorsalis  4/13/08 Thanks Scott, <Welcome Lawrence.> All good advice as per usual. The boxfish is really happy at the moment, very friendly and watches us as much as we watch him, but I know he'll need larger accommodation in the future. <Yes he will, but these sure are fun fish to watch, some of the goofiest fish I have ever seen!> The plan is to move him in to the Ubertank we have planned, a truly mammoth system hopefully. <Sounds good.> Do you know of a good link or book regarding the construction of large tanks, possibly with block work and fibreglass sides and a single glass/Perspex front? <I know of no such book and have actually started on one (yes Bob, finally!).<<Yay! RMF>> As far as websites, there are a few that can guide you through such a project. Of course WetWebMedia.com has much useful information in this regard throughout the tank building FAQs. Another site worth checking out is the Garf.org DIY pages. This will give you the basics of how to, but the automated calculator calls for too thin of materials for my taste for the larger tanks.> Laurence <Have a good day, Scott V.>

DIY Aquarium Construction Books? 11/26/04 WWM Guys...Great job!  Thanks for all the information I have gathered over the years.  Funny this is only my second time requesting info.  Hmmm. <all good... a resourceful person - great to read/know :)> I have combed every page of the internet (literally, short gentle strokes) and cannot find a direct reference to a book about/containing information on glass aquarium construction.  I see indirect references on WWM about such books existing, but I just cannot find one.  Does anyone have such a reference? Thank you, Chris <there is an excellent aquarium reference called the "Living Aquarium" published at one point by Crescent Books (hmmm.. back in the 1980's as I recall, though reprinted more than  a few times). It includes a VERY thorough address of building all types of aquaria: glass, fiberglass, wood, insulated, etc. I have seen it for sale recently on Amazon, Aldibris, etc. Anthony> I can see you but you can't see me, one-way view aquarium    3/31/06 Hey guys, I was wondering if in your years of aquarium setups if you have come across this situation.  I have a client who wants an aquarium built into a wall looking from his office into the lobby.  He wants to be able to see out from his office, but not for people to see back into it.  Will one way glass on the office side work for this considering the intensity of the light shining down directly in front of it, or is there something that will work better? <This is the easiest way to achieve this effect/property> The tank will be 6' to 8' long and 30" to 48" high - freshwater with basic fluorescent lights. <There are some other means... You might enjoy reading Dave Powell's "A Fascination With Fish" (my review on WWM)... in which he recounts construction of exhibits, including ones with odd optical properties. Bob Fenner>

Tank Design/Material Thickness - 03/31/06 Hi, I would first like to say how much all of your help and advice is appreciated! <<Glad to assist.>> I am planning to build an acrylic tank approx. 14"x14"x24" high, which should hold about 20 gallons. <<Yep>> All four corners will be heat bent with one but-joint in back reinforced with a splice plate. <<Sounds good>> What should the thickness of the sides be? And the bottom? All the FAQs seemed to deal with larger tanks and I was hoping to save some money compared to 1/2".  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!    <<Well, usually the height of the tank, not the overall size/gallonage, determines the thickness of the materials used.  Normally for a 24" high tank I would suggest as a 'minimum' 1/2" acrylic to preclude bowing.  But, considering the other dimensions (14") and the method of construction (bending the corners) you propose, I'm inclined to believe you could get by with 3/8" cast acrylic here.  And whether you opt for either the 3/8" or 1/2" material, a 3/8" bottom will serve fine.  Regards, EricR> Building big tanks Hi to all, <cheers> I have a 55 gal corner bow front salt water tank.  It was way overcrowded when I found your web site. It now houses a russelli lionfish.  I got rid of the panther grouper, blue line grouper, red emperor snapper, snowflake moray, and crown squirrelfish.   <holy cow!... you weren't kidding about overcrowded! The Red Emperor alone would outgrow this tank... fast growing... and tasty to eat> The Lion fish seems to be much happier.  His side fins are always extended now and he has stopped racing back and forth across the side of the tank.  (both of which I thought were normal)  Thank you for all your help and for a Great website. <excellent my friend> Now to my question.  I am going to be building a tank in the future and the available space I have will be such that you will be able to look through the tank from one room to another.   <have you built smaller aquaria before? It is simple but requires great finesse. Very little room for error in fabrication> The size that I can go up to is 8' long 4' wide and however high is best.   <wow... my strong advice is to not do it without the assistance of someone that has experience here. Especially if you have housemates (wife/children, etc). A tank this big improperly built is a several thousand pound hand grenade. You have several big obstacles here. Primary concerns are the cost of materials (cost prohibitive for your single purpose endeavor compared to skilled merchants buying materials in bulk and knowing what to do with them)... and #2) any tank (glass or acrylic) that exceed 30" wide or high takes the project to another level entirely and requires engineering/data. Brother... that's why all commercial glass aquariums and most every off the shelf acrylic ones are less than 30" wide or tall. Length is not much of a problem though with bracing. The problem with tanks over 30" is the inherent limitations of the material with regard for deflection ("bowing"). Plate glass is limited (safely) by a deflection not more than half of its width... so, a 1/2 pane of glass should bow no more than 1/4". Your proposal at 4 feet wide and who knows how tall will require laminated glass (moved with winches for its extreme weight) or VERY expensive acrylic. This is out of our league here bud> The two things I am looking for is a book that describes in detail how to go about such a project (know of any?) <ahhh...no. Liability issues here. Some human safety factors as well. Please check your insurance limitations as well> and also whether or not I can keep all the necessary apparatus in the basement.   <that you can do easily> Is that even possible and are there pumps capable of overcoming that much head (approx 12') <oh, yes! Many hobbyist pumps will easily do that. Many can go 30 feet! Do research an Iwaki 100RLT. A durable and affordable workhorse. Long life and efficiency too> Again, Great site and I really enjoy reading the new faq's everyday. Bryan Flanigan <best regards, Anthony>

Re: building tanks Hi again, Just a follow up to my last about building tanks.  I was as usual unclear about what I was looking for.  I am not actually going to build the tank unless I have to, and all the dimensions are able to be changed.   <excellent... do seek a commercial unit for safety, expense and peace of mind (both of our <G>)> The addition to our house that will house this new tank is still in the design stages. 8' X4' X ? was just a guestimate. So, a Tank 8' x 30" x 30" is just fine.   <Excellent... you will have little trouble then> What I am looking for in a book is direction on how to set it up, what kind of flow rates I need, how large a sump, how many heaters, etc, etc.   <seek "Aquatic Systems Engineering" by P. Escobal. Very intelligent but dry/scientific authorship> I do not wish to repeat the experience I had with our 55 gal.  I have loads of extra stuff that I thought I would need and am still missing stuff I now know I need (skimmer).   <yowsa... maybe skip the above book unless you are a science man yourself (tech minded). Do consider John Tullock's work in general or my Book of Coral Propagation for reefing (the first 200+ pages all husbandry/hardware)> So since this is going to be a fairly large tank and expensive as well, I need to learn as much as possible before we begin shelling out the dough.   <very wise and agreed> once again a great site and thank you Bryan Flanigan <best regards, Anthony>

Building an acrylic aquarium I was wondering if you could help me with a few questions. I am thinking about building an aquarium about 55 gal or so and I have read many articles about what thickness of acrylic to use for what height aquarium and so forth. I was wondering if you could use thinner acrylic if you were to frame the tank with a plywood box. (please see attached drawing)  <Not really... the thickness should be about the same or the same per height... If this is a "typical" 55 of 22" height (or even twenty inches), I would opt for a minimum of 3/8 inch (even half if you can afford it)... the bracing may well help to prevent bowing, even breaking... but the mid front and back will bow badly and result in noisome distortion if you try 1/4... or yikes, less thickness> For example, could you use 1/4" acrylic on a 24" high tank in this manner. I have also read about the wood and glass tanks but I would like to keep at least 3 viewing sides open. The wood I could get free and the 1/4" acrylic costs significantly less than the 1/2" so I figured I'd ask someone else what they thought before I flooded my garage. If it is possible to do this how substantial do you think the frame would have to be? Thickness of the wood 5/8 or 3/4? <Not really practical here... though I have made many (hundreds years back) of glass fronted (and you could make cut-outs for the sides as well) and plywood, resin and fiberglass (stripping is best here, pre-made and available in rolls) tanks... with 3/4 and 1" ply and good brass screws (2 1/2 or three inch)> and how much of the viewing area would I have to cover? <For the glass et al. structures, a good three or four inch edge is good all the way around> Would it be a good idea to pad the inside of such a frame and to give it rounded edges? If it did work it would then be very easy to incorporate a nice wooden hood. Thanks for you time, Great website! Christopher C. Hehn <I like the way your mind and writing presents it/themselves... do keep investigating. Maybe Oz' Reef: http://www.ozreef.org/ Great, one-stop DIY site for pet-fish types. Bob Fenner>

Large Reef Tank Design Questions Gentlemen - I have written to you in the past with questions concerning things in one of my tanks ( I have 4 - 1 large predator, Two Reefs, and a micro reef). I write today on a different topic and hope either you can help me or point me towards those who can assist me. Feel free to forward this to anyone you deem appropriate I'm a high tech guy or had been for the last 15 years (until this years layoffs - No I opted out instead of fighting it out with the rats on a sinking ship, you know eventually they will turn cannibalistic). Any who to make a long story short, there are 9 of us good friends and coworkers who all sold their souls for stock options and cash for a minimum of 10 years each. After opting out of this each of us was tired of the rat race of that lifestyle ( constant travel to exotic foreign cesspools - Aah vacation is so much different than work isn't it). All of us spent this time transferring the industry from the US to everywhere else it was cheaper to do it (quite a few strange places I will admit - Japan, Korea, Malaysia, France etc) so it is truly a sinking ship here domestically - We decided to form a group to build a business just for fun but that we could experience our old sense of self worth - So we created the Los Vatos corporation to build something similar to a Dave and Busters but less glitzy and more affordable to the average man (because even though each of us made 6 figures we all complained that a $250 night out with the wife and kids to have a good time is just plain outrageous). I digress though so on with it - We created this corporation and are in the process of designing our first family entertainment center with the concept of letting everybody have fun at a fraction of these other places, while introducing our hobbies / interests to the world at large (cold beer, nice cars, video games, billiards, good food, water, fish). All but 2 of us a coastal creatures who grew up on or very near the water 4 from the Texas gulf coast and one each from Northern and Southern California. The poor guy from Phoenix doesn't know what he missed). Where do you guys come into it ??? Well my partners know of my fascination with Saltwater (another partner is a freshwater guy with multiple biotope aquaria his best is a local Texas one) as such they gave me a space 40 feet long by 15 feet deep in our restaurant waiting area / entry bar to create an aquarium of large scale - Here is where you guys come in - I have this big space and a general idea of things, however I would like to do a more natural setup sliding away from technology as much as I dare to ensure my charges well being - I am collecting information on the "Ecosystem Approach" as my micro reef works this way - It had been running as such for about a year before I ever heard of it and it is generally agreed between my friends it is the best looking of all my tanks. Size constraints do not allow me to convert the other 3 tanks to this method to test it on a grander scale. All these run just as is Bob's book. In short while not on par with you or your cohorts I may actually know a couple of things, but I am smart enough to know what I don't. I've read about Richard Harker's 2000 gallon aquarium and envision it's construction along similar lines, but I wanted to pick you guys brains with the question -- <our pleasure to help> If somebody walked up to you and said here is this space 40' X 15' X 12' - I want to build and aquarium for myself - What would you do? <many possibilities here. I take great pleasure too in system planning and conceptual designs. I covered some such dynamics in the first chapter of my Book of Coral Propagation... even more dramatic designs in the second volume (early 2003). I have also consulted a few large public aquaria on top of many private systems as well. It would be my pleasure to dream with you. Without haphazardly spewing stream of conscious fantasy designs... let's do this up right. Let me trouble you to send me a simple photograph of the allotted space (or draw a diagram if you like). I'm looking to get an idea of the surrounding environment and its likely integrity/functionality with the system and its application... looking for access to drains, water supply, electricity, etc.> I eagerly await your input or direction and fully respect that this is not a question so easily answered <agreed... not in a simple e-mail. Lets see a basic floor plan or photo of layout and that will open the floodgates for the imagination. Fair warning... expect dramatic from me :p > and I also want to add I want to do this myself not to save cash in a commercial venture but more along the lines of I dream of it. <understood and admired, my friend. I believe this to be true for what so much floor space could otherwise be used for commercially. I'm looking forward to chatting more. I also noticed that you are in Texas... I'll be in Dallas 9/26-9/30 at MACNA (www.dfwmas.com). Perhaps we can chat even more there if you'll be making the trip to that great marine conference.  With kind regards, Anthony Calfo> PS: feel welcome to call me at 412-795-XXXX. We can chat more So you don't think I'm a crank with nothing better to do than waste your time - Here is my personal information - (512) 257-XXXX if you call I will be happy to call you back and expand a little on things - It's tough to catch my vision in an email. 37 years old Electronics Engineering degree (specializing in the manufacture of semiconductor chips from sand to Pentium 4) XXXX North Cannes Drive, Cedar Park, Texas (Austin suburb) 78613  Ric Raley <Do not be afraid to try new things Amateurs built the Ark Professionals built the Titanic>

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