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FAQs about Designer Tanks, Stands, Covers for Marine Systems 1

Related Articles: Designer Marine tanks, stands and covers, Office Aquariums,

Related FAQs: Custom Tanks 2, "Stock" Aquariums, Stands, Covers..., Office Aquariums,


DIY Glass Tanks Bob I am new to your site and have looked through several of the FAQs but do not know where to post a question that you might be able to answer.  So I hope you do not mind the email.  If there is an appropriate place on your forums to post this please let me know. <Hey Stuart, you've got Gage today.  Feel free to shoot us emails with questions, there is a ton of info archived in our FAQs and many knowledgeable folks on our forums as well http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/  > I am interested in building a large tank, 94 by 36 by 48 inches high. Preferably out of glass. <Never done it myself, I am considering plywood and glass myself, GARF does not recommend making the tank taller than 36inches.> I am having trouble with the glass requirements.  Different tank builders have told me different specs, and I do not know which is needed.  One whom I am not sure I trust would uses standard ? inch glass.  2 others whose prices were in the stratosphere said they would use ? tempered glass.. <Error on the thicker heavier side.  From what I understand you cannot drill tempered glass, are you going to want drilled overflows?> So my question is; making the tank out of glass, with additional ? by 2inch gluing doublers, is ? inch glass adequate, or is tempered glass or thicker float glass needed?  3 top braces are planned.   If so would an additional steel frame around the tank be required? <Let me give you some links to some people who have more experience with this than myself. http://www.garf.org/ http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html#TANK  > Thank you for your time.  Any additional recommendations are welcome (I know don't build it yourself :-) )  Thank you, Stuart <No way, Go for it!  Just be sure to test outside, thoroughly.  A carpet cleaner with good extraction power is always handy.  Best Regards, Gage>

DIY Light Canopy I just got my new dual 250 watt MH retro kit and rather than putting it in a fixture I already have, I want to build one out of red oak to match my stand. Do you know of a site that has plans for such a fixture? I can design a rectangle like most use but would like something a little more stylish. Thanks, Robert <Well, Robert, you might want to try one of the discussion boards, like Reef Central, which has a "Do It Yourself" forum. Maybe you can locate some plans, or hook up with a fellow hobbyist that has done this sort of thing. Also, you may want to try ozreef.com, a site with lots of do it yourself ideas. Good Luck! Scott F.>

Re: Designer, furniture, art-type aquarium stands Hello again Bob- Sorry for the lag in response time. I have been battling my computer. To pick up where we left off, you had offered to field info concerning an aquarium stand I am building... <Yes> Well, now...Since you've expressed interest.... I do have a shot of one of the stands. The 92g will sit here, and it is a beauty! It is of only the center "V" of the complete "W", as this is all the client commissioned. There will be two triangular cabinets to flank it and house the two hex 18's (for my system only) but I haven't built those yet. But here's the rub--I can't seem to get my computer to get it to your server (I'm no computer guru). Something about too many pixels or bytes or something. <Yikes... me neither... can ask our friends in the computer literati to help out: Zo, Jas?> If you'd like, I could mail you the photo. <Ok... if they can't make it all work, do have facility with the flat-bed scanners here> Also I have some photos of other tank stands I've done--I'll send those along as well. You'll probably enjoy seeing them-- there's some neat stuff there! Sincerely, Erik Nelson  <Do scan your pix... or better still, write up your efforts to date and send to the hobby magazine FAMA to run... Bob Fenner>

Room Dividers I would like to know more information about your tanks, and also I would like to know if you have any pics of your work. <Thank you for asking... we took down our "coral farm" (much as it was) in moving a few months back... just have a few small marine and freshwater systems going... Will add to my "do it soon, quick!" list of tasks on WWM to place a few pix/scans of old work we all did putting in systems years back.> I would be very thankful if you could mail me this information along with some price ranges. Kelsie Williams <Oh! We, I don't actually "do" work any more... (for the last, well, decade)... am just a "chatterer" helper if you will, helping others nowadays. Bob Fenner>

silicone for sealing joints between concrete and 50mm the acrylic sheets Dear Robert Fenner, I have heard a lot from my friends about your vast knowledge in aquarium business. <Hmm, have just been around a long time, helping.> I have shifted from U.S to Dubai and want to set up an acrylic window show case for corals reef. <A nice area... to collect your own organisms> I want to set up 8ft long x4ft high x 5ft deep show case. <A beautiful set of dimensions> I have purchased 8ft x4ft x 50mm thick acrylic sheet for U.S.$800. made the concrete tank already with groove of 3.5inches on four sides for front acrylic panel. <Okay> I went to Dow Corning to buy their silicone for fixing and sealing the joints but they told me that they don't recommend their silicone for underwater joints like mine. I had seen such show cases in Singapore where they had left gap of 3/4th of inch on both sides of sheets and thought they have used normal silicone as told to me by their staff in general terms that it is silicone. <Yes, as far as I know this is done at Sankey Island and many other public aquariums as well as private.> Is there some special silicone for this purpose please specify the make and grade of silicone. <It "is" only 100% silicone sealant, designated for aquariums or not. What you want to avoid is any/everything other than 100% silicone (some formulations add mildewcides for instance for window, tub caulk use...)(Color? I would use the "Clear".). This material comes in the usual 10.5 ounce and other cartridge and tube sizes, as well as a good-sized bucket. You want this bucket size... much easier/faster to work with (with a trowel, A stiff plastic card to form the bed... and clothes you're not fond of keeping, and good ventilation to reduce exposure to fumes> I have people here to set up and look after the tank but only the silicone is delaying my set up. Please reply at the earliest. regards, john <I suspect the representative who informed you about the silicone/Dow is just trying to dissuade your use to avoid possible liability. I would go ahead with your plan. Bob Fenner>

Re: sealant for acrylic sheets and concrete Dear Robert Fenner, Thanks for assurance for help in our project, I am still waiting to hear the name of sealant required for sealing joints between concrete and acrylic and mma or some other adhesive for butt joints for acrylic sheets. <Different types of epoxies are used for taller, larger systems. For ones of four feet or less, 100% silicone is fine> From sonically joined sheets do you mean ultrasonic welding of acrylic sheets. <Yes> regards, Suresh <Be chatting with folks who have recently built these units... or consultant groups. Bob Fenner>

Seamless high density glass tanks I have been trying to find out information regarding the newer polished glass or seamless glass tanks such as the type shown at this link: http://www.thereefweb.com/200_gallon_project_page_5.htm#August%2011,%202000% 20--%20Tank%20Arrival Unfortunately I can't find any info on the web or anyone in my local area of Milwaukee, WI that has ever even heard of such a tank. <Nice graphics. Such a tank as in polished glass?> I want to put together a 60x24x30 reef tank and am VERY nervous about acrylic. I know acrylic is lighter, stronger and should never leak, but I also know that I can be rather clumsy at times and am afraid of scratching it. My LFS's have also tried to talk me out of acrylic, saying rock does fall and it will scratch the tank, but that may be because they only stock Oceanic and All-Glass. Rubbing scratches out on the inside of a tank just doesn't seem very practical. What are your thoughts? <They are published on our site here: http://wetwebmedia.com/tksstds.htm Please see the FAQs associated with this file as well. Bob Fenner>

RE: Seamless high density glass tanks <Nice graphics. Such a tank as in polished glass?> This was what info I got from the keeper of that website: I've heard them go by several descriptions. Locally here in San Diego, they are being called Euro's or Euroreefs (probably not a legal name as I believe the protein skimmer manufacturer using the same name probably has the trademark on that).  <I'd bet you're right> I've also heard them called polished glass tanks, ultraclear glass, frameless or similar names. Basically, they are made of a high density, ground polished glass that is extremely clear and strong. <Hmm, maybe the viewing panels (as opposed to the rest of the glass) are composed of Starbrite glass (tm)... Do know of is material... a few folks do these (like Jeff Turner of O.R.A.).> They do not have the plastic or metal frames. I would try shopping for them by description, rather than by name. <These custom tanks are gorgeous. Will cc Jeff for his input. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tanks Well I decided to make my tank 48 x 30x 20. Do you know of any manufactures in my area???  <San Diego Plastics, SeaClear/Tradewind/CASCO, Tenecor... posted on our Links Pages> I live in Orange county, I would greatly appreciate this info, due to the fact that I really want to get started. You also said that it should be acrylic, but what about calcareous algae that's hard to get off. <Not with planning, diligence. Bob Fenner> Hear from you soon!! Thanks Walter

Tanks Hello Robert, I was just reading your article on tanks sizes and such, AT the bottom of the page you have a place called, At Tis Tropicals in Fountain Valley Ca. Do you by chance have an address or phone number for them I can't seem to find them anywhere. <Ah, sad to state this fabulous location folded a few years back... I spent many happy hours visiting with the fine folks there... enroute going back and forth to Los Angeles from San Diego> I working on starting a reef system I had on before many moons ago  and I miss the hobby,  <Ah! Welcome back to the fold> So I want to build my tank this size 40 x30 x20 you think they can do custom sizes??? <Any fabricator can/will... do you live near any of the larger manufacturers? Want glass, acrylic? Look on our Links Pages: http://wetwebmedia.com/links.htm for some of the companies that make tanks, and contact them re price and availability.> Please let me know. I am looking forward to your response, Walter  <Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tanks Hi again, I live in orange county. I am thinking glass is the better way cause it is a reef system <Hmm, actually a 40 by 30 by 20 gallon system in our land (we live in San Diego) of earthquakes... I encourage you to investigate acrylic a bit more. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/tksstds.htm> talk to you soon!!! thanks for the quick response!!! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Walter

Re: Foam Fractionator (space needed) O.K. Seems like I've got a plan that'll work here - a sump and a skimmer. One small problem... No room in the tank stand. Any suggestions on what to eliminate? Following is how I have everything rigged on the 500 gallon shark tank. So far the system is doing well, as demonstrated by last weekend's readings, but the little guy is up to 5 shrimp every third day! <This is only a beginning...> Skimmer will probably be necessary to maintain these reading over the long haul. By the way, the bonnethead will be 2 years old next month. He's right at 18", so I'm pretty happy with the growth rate so far. pH: 8.2 Ammonia: 0ppm Nitrite: A tinge of color on the tester, but well below the bottom reading. Essentially 0ppm Nitrate: Maybe 5ppm, but off the scale on the low side Phosphate: 0ppm Temp: 72 Don?t currently test for alkalinity or calcium Filtration path #1 8' x 8' x 30" (tall) overflow tower filled with BioChem Stars. Amount of biological media is rated for 725 gallons (or so they claim). <But not for sharks... you're going to likely need an order of magnitude more "material" here. Do monitor at least nitrates.> Drains into Ecowheel (which is now sporting a serious growth of algae). Ecowheel drain splits into to paths as follows: 1) Iwaki 20RT pump, rated at approximately 360gph at 6?, pumps through chiller before combining with: 2) Custom Sealife T3 pump, rated at approximately 720gph at 6?, pumps through 45W UV, combines with effluent from Iwaki 20RT and returns to tank. Filtration path #2 A mid-water drain splits into two paths, each powered by a Custom Sealife T3 (I'm guessing the 800gph rating is more like 600gph or less net in this pressurized application. Pretty disappointed with the "performance" of these pumps compared to the Iwaki MD70RT that was running the system. Wish I could find something that was both quiet AND moved water). <Check out "Sequence Pumps"... this is something like what you want> Each path filters through 2 sets of Nu-Clear canister filters, the first a 533 (25 micron pleated cartridge with activated carbon core), the second a 556 (ceramic bio media) -- a total of 4 in the system. Had a couple of thoughts to gain space. 1. Convert the Rainbow-Lifeguard 45W horizontal to a vertical, which would shave off some floor space <Agreed... and the RL is a piece of junk (no punches held back)... get rid of it now> 2. ?Stacking? the Nu-Clear 556 units or using an extension adapter to make the two canisters filters into a single 2-tall model. But not sue if I can do this. Are you familiar with this product? <Yes, it/they are a "re-hash" of products from the seventies... can be done, but makes maintenance a chore (pun intended)> 3. Eliminating one or more Nu-Clear canister filters. <Maybe> Whatcha think? J.D. <I would move the "ammonia tower", any other gear to outside the stand (drill it for plumbing conduits if necessary)... you are going to want/need more space, more gear... if necessary/desired, build a matching wood cover for this area behind/to the side of the present stand. Bob Fenner>

New Tank Bob, I have found a 200gal setup for sale...cheap...but the tank has strange dimensions. It is 5ft long, 2ft wide, and 31" high. (So I guess about 190 gal) <Okay> Is it a better bet to find another tank? Will this one be hard to maintain? <Could be... and likely very heavy if made of glass... but OTOH very showy in shape, size... what do you want to do, keep in such a system?> What are the normal dimensions for a 200gal tank? <Most folks who have them made (there is a stock 180 and 240 that are six and eight feet long, up to two feet and thirty inches height...) stay with about two feet tall... Wider for decor, shorter for cost and maintenance. Bob Fenner>> Thanks, Wayne

Re: New Tank Bob, Yes, I suppose it would be heavy, but wouldn't most 200 gal glass tanks? <Agreed... the taller, the thicker the material... the heavier> I plan to do a FOWLR setup in this tank...but will stay away if you think it will turn into a hassle. <Not necessarily... especially if not intending to keep high-light intensity life... could be a real beauty... Your floor will take the weight?> I wish it was 2ft high and 31" wide...but that just isn't the case. *sigh* For the fish...is a longer tank normally better than water volume? <Hmm, no... both important... surface area is more so than either of these considerations... but can be a minor consideration given vigorous water movement, aeration> Thanks, Wayne

Re: New Tank Bob, Thanks for your patience with me... <A virtue I have little of> The floor should take the weight, it is on the ground floor, with no crawlspace under it. <... but not on a concrete slab? Do check to make sure it can take a ton of weight over the surface area of its stand, please> I was hoping to have some sps corals...but was also planning some pretty serious lights. <Will have to be... and/or you'll have to mount the Corals up near the surface> I figure the tall tank would allow for some variation in species too. some lower light as well as bright light ones. <Yes... a very striking display. Bob Fenner> Cheers, Wayne

Big Custom Acrylic shape... Bob, Good Day, How are you? <Fine my friend> Okay, I have some new concerns. I have now decided to make more of an investment in my new setup. I am considering getting a custom build acrylic tank built. 60"x32"x32" approx 265 gal. <Wow, this is some tall tank... hope you have long arms> It will fit perfectly in the space I have in mind. Which is on solid ground, and not above the basement like most the rest of my place. With this being invested in the tank, I would like to make a similar degree of investment with the rest of the products, but I still don't want to totally break the bank. The VHO and MH lighting systems are so expensive. But I think I might be able to afford such a thing, just in case I decide to sway towards a reef in the distant future. <Yes, good planning> I am still interested in the larger fish, and I figure that larger tank cannot be a bad thing for the fish. <No, just the opposite> I just get a bit lost when it comes to something this size. What could you suggest for a skimmer, mech filtration, chem filtration return pump(s) <All posted in various places on the WetWebMedia.com site... I do want to encourage you to "lower" the height of the tank possibly... the cost of having such a tall one is considerable... and no real advantage in caring for same... and at five feet wide, depending on the setting to some extent, a 32" tall tank may "look odd"... at two feet of actual water (plus a few perhaps for substrate depth, the thickness of the top and bottom) you could likely "get away" with PC lighting> I'll make a new list of things that I would like, or that I am considering setting up...and perhaps you could suggest some products if you have the time. <Okay> Main tank - 265 gal with DSB (mixed particle size with larger crushed corals for reducing serious dustiness) Light canopy for main tank - what would be good here, and upgradeable or already set up for coral growth? <I'd make my own... hang it in such a way if there's room to lift it on a pulley up and out of the way while you're working on the tank> Refugium - 100gal w DSB - Caulerpa? <Yes, and other macro algae> twin 40 fluorescents on the Refugium <Yes, PCs> Skimmer - what kind, off main tank or refugium? <A Euro Reef if you can afford the investment, larger Turboflotors (may have to be special ordered) or Sanders (ditto) units otherwise)> 2 return pumps, 1500GPH each? <Maybe some safety in two...> Powerheads for water movement <Yes, at least four good sized ones> and some kind of chem and mech filtration (particulate removal and a carbon) <Can be remoted, added to sump> and about 200lbs of live rock. Hopefully I wont be broke by this point. <Do plan all out on paper, look around for deal, do bit by bit in order> Well, the last thing I have to ask is about compatibility. What, if any, large fish combos will be suited to any kind of coral tank, with some sort of sand cleaning animals etc... I am pretty sure you are going to say 'not triggers or puffers' but if there is any way it can be made to work with certain corals or critters, please let me know. <See the "livestock selection" pieces on the WWM site... and start the real fun and adventure of making your own dream set...> Thanks so very much. You are a great help to many. I sorry to be abusing your knowledge like this. Bob Macintyre <I would not allow myself to be abused. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Big Custom Acrylic shape... Bob, Thanks for the speedy reply. I hope you remember the previous emails...because the long chunk of previous messages was getting to me. I agree that 32' is high for the length of the tank...but not so much the width.. <Yes, we're together here> Would less 'weird looking' dimensions for a tank be - 66"32"28" <Definitely... and considerable (about half!) the cost...> It is the width that I like, the height is not such a concern, I was just thinking that having it too short would be a little odd looking too. <Not at all... Build a facsimile of this tank out of cardboard (at least the length and height) and place it in where the tank would go... practice walking past it, sitting in the room... and try reaching in, across this volume... impressive demo. eh?> How much live rock do you think I should add at a time. <About half at first (four boxes of #45 nominal each or so)... then a box a month... till you have about all you want> It would definitely be easier on the pocket to add it over time...200 lbs of live rock is going to be pricey! <And not the end of expense here> Okay, If I have a brace in the center of my tank, (to lessen flex) will a light fixture be able to sit on top of that, or would the heat of the lights damage the acrylic? <No problem... and you will have cut-outs... the brace is a structurally integral part of these tanks> I think it will probably be cheaper for me to build a long canopy, rather than have 2 small ones. <But do think on how you will get around this construct. Two halves are lighter, easier to manipulate than one large one> Okay, enough for now, Perhaps I will consult you at a later date once everything is a bit more sorted in my head. p.s. what is a ballpark figure of what I should spend on lights? All the prices I find are really high, is this just the norm? If so that I will just swallow and take it... <Shop around here. Join the Chatforum on WWM to find out what others have done. Pose your questions there: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ You will find that many folks have saved a bundle thus. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Rob

Tank Hi! Mr. Fenner... First of all thank you for taking the time to answer everyone's questions. <A pleasurable task> I am in the process of buying a 15' by 4' by 2' tank. I am buying it from Aquart. It is a seamless tank. Do you know if they are a reputable company.  <I have heard nothing but good about their products> I am getting that tank for 4 grand which seems an awesome price for it.  <Yes, a bargain... what thickness acrylic/material is this?> They seem to have the most awesome prices out there. Do you know if their product is also top grade? <Don't know... is this used or new?> Another vendor told me, they thought Aquart uses Mexican acrylic and that my tank would yellow in a couple of years. Please let me know what your opinion is because I won't order it till I hear from you. <I would search this same sort of question about this vendor on the listserv/chatforums... we now have one on WetWebMedia.com... Nothing wrong with "Mexican acrylic"... as a source it doesn't "yellow" anymore than other acrylics... which is to say, very little. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for everything. Fellow, fish keeper.

RE: Tank The tank is new and it is 3/4 ". I guess they use a tougher grade of acrylic. <Three quarters thick acrylic for a four foot high tank? Or is the dimension L W H... with the tank being two feet high?> The top of the tank will be 1.5". Please let me know if you think this will bow out. <It will bow badly if four feet tall> I really want to keep 3 large angelfish in one tank and this tank seems to give me the opportunity to do so. Thank you so much again. P.S. if you are ever in Alaska please let me know and I can show you around. <Okay. Just saw my friend Denny Crews of fish food fame who's business is located in Sitka... at a trade show in Anaheim... Bob Fenner>

RE: Tank Hi! Bob, The tank is 2' high and 3/4" thick. So you think this is a sound buy? <It is reasonable for a new tank of this size... do hope you can find a common carrier that will haul this behemoth for reasonable cost> If so let me know and I will send the check as soon as I hear from you. I am very anxious to get the tank but 4 grand is a lot of money and I would hate to waste it. Even worse I would hate to buy all those fish and have them loose a home. Please advice. <Agreed... a few questions/concerns further... the floor will support the weight? You have figured out, made provision for electrical, lighting... the humidity this tank will entail indoors...? Bob Fenner> Thanks again for everything.

Corner Aquarium Hi Bob, I just received a 150gal corner aquarium. I was thinking of setting up a FOWLR with a few hardy soft corals. Would PC lighting be ok with this tank (due to the height), or would I need to go with MH?  <There are many people with this size/shape tank that use both/either...> Also, when stocking, would I be correct in assuming that I wouldn't be able to stock this tank as heavily as a standard 150gal (rectangular) due to square footage of the tank's "footprint"? <IMO/E, yes> If you don't think this tank is suitable, I could try to sell/trade for something more "standard". Your thoughts/advice are greatly appreciated as always. Khoi <I really like these curved glass tanks... and would set this one up as you plan. Bob Fenner>

Odell aquariums I have found myself owner (kids went shopping at garage sale) of an Odell aquarium 29"x12"x18"tall. All parts seem to be present except a top. I have the light but nothing to keep the water from evaporating. <Hi Stephen, Lorenzo replying for Bob-on-Safari...> Questions: 1. Since Odell has no representation on the West Coast (I am in the SF bay area) do you have contact info for Odell or Odell distributors so I can buy a top? <<Wowzah... think you will have to make/have made a custom top (easy to silicone a hinge here) for this tank... out of business. Bob F>> <If you want to do salt water, I wouldn't bother. Just pour in a cup or two from the tap every day to compensate. Any lid at all will just reduce the amount of -precious- light that reaches the system. When Bob gets back/has a chance to hit the 'net, he may know how to find a top, if you still want one.> 2. Is this tank too small to practically use for salt water? <No, but you'll have to be diligent with top-offs, and scheduled water changes.> 3. Is undergravel filtration recommendable in this size tank? <Few people use undergravel for marine systems any more. If you go with fresh, undergravel is nice/important, but not sufficient on it's own, in my opinion. Best regards, Lorenzo> Thanks for your help. -Stephen Spoja

Almost one year in the making... It's 9' long. Weighs some 5,000 lbs. Holds in excess of 500 gallons of seawater. The pumps would fill an average household bathtub in less than 3 minutes. Yes my friends, just two weeks shy of the first anniversary of when I ordered the darn thing, my tank is FINALLY up and running (and amazingly, there's no leaks). Just wanted to say a special thanks to each of you for your help in this massive undertaking -- especially those who helped me practically every night and weekend over the past month to tear it apart and rebuild it (correctly this time) from the bottom up. Never, ever could have done it without you! Pictures forthcoming. J.D. Hill <Congratulations! Bob Fenner>

glass vs. acrylic <Lorenzo Gonzalez here, Bob's understudy, he's in Asia> I am trying to decide on whether to get a 125gal. acrylic or glass. Which one is cheaper? Can you tell me the pros and cons of the acrylic tanks. Thanks. <Acrylic is more expensive initially, but holds resale value much better than glass. Both can be scratched: acrylic is easier to scratch, but glass is practically impossible to repair. Acrylic is a bit lighter, tougher, and on the whole, more desirable than glass. That's a 'religious debate' among aquarists, though, so you just got one guy's (strong) opinion, and Bob will agree wholeheartedly on this one... -Lorenzo>

Custom Job Now that I'm in the market for a new tank/stand I've checked out my local aquarium/pet store (which, unfortunately has dropped out of selling anything "live" -- food, fish or otherwise) to see what they can do. It was a bit disappointing... :( They had a lot of tanks, but not much in the way of a nice system, with a stand and light hood. And not much in the way of information or help for anything they didn't have setting there already..  <Did you discuss the possibilities of "special ordering"? They likely have catalogs of what  is available to them...> I've done a web search or two, and haven't turned up a plethora of choices... (My local store mentioned the Island brand name as a big one in the field, and the one they buy from.. but couldn't locate their website either..) <Island? Made by Hagen in Canada... look over the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Page... many choices there> I know you try to stay "brand free", etc.. but can/would you recommend an Internet site to look/order/buy a reliable tank and stand setup? What do people in really remote areas do? <Special order, have delivered, build themselves... see the WWM "Custom Aquarium" section, and the Links....> BTW: I'm leaning toward glass, if possible, this time.. with a reef tank and all the coralline to scrape off, acrylic can be problematic, yes?...  <Not IMO/E>  and how do feel about sump placement? I've seen some with a nice built in sump vs. the separate under-the-tank.. I've got most of my equipment hanging off the back of this 30g now, and find it a bit of a pain to keep clean, etc.. It looks like the separate sump with skimmer, etc. all under the tank seems more accessible. <See the site re "Sumps"... Bob Fenner

Thanks and some questions also. (custom aquarium fabrication) Hi Bob, First off, let me get in line with everyone else to thank you for being so generous with your time and knowledge in helping us in this wonderful hobby. <An honor and privilege to offer to help... thank goodness for the age of the "Net"> I am new to the hobby, and am still in the planning phase. I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask. 1. I was thinking of using a 40gal Rubbermaid container as a sump. Are there any cons to this (bulging, leaking/cracking after long, etc.?) <None, really... they do "bulge" a bit (not much)... but no cracking, easy to fit with through hulls (some come with them...), chemically inert...> Would the useful lifespan be equivalent to acrylic (or degrade and require replacement in months/years)? <IMO/E, their functional life is longer... decades at least...> 2. I was trying to find more info on corals. Is there a website similar to FishBase but for corals? <Yes... and more developing... have some links to these on the "Corals" general FAQs page...> 3. I've read your book, CMA, and visit your site everyday. I'd still like to learn more though, and was wondering if you could recommend any others? Is Tullock's Natural Reef Aquarium a good one? <Yes, assuredly... and the reviews posted on WWM and bibliography/further reading sections after most articles a good guide for more> 4. Do you know of any good custom tank builders near the Chino Hills area (North of Orange County)?  <A few folks nearby enough to bid, deliver... SeaClear (Tradewind/Casco aka), TruVu/Aquaplex, San Diego Plastics... their and others links on the WWM links pages> Due to space limitations, I'd like a 30w x 30l x 24h glass tank. <Oh! You can make this if you'd like... thought you were asking about acrylic... which would be my choice... due to height, ground-shaking...> Thanks again. Look forward to hearing from you. Khoi <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Need help on Large tank Hi Rob, <Hello> Need your advice on this: I am moving to a new place next year, it is a ground floor unit, specially chose it so I could do a bigger tank. The dimensions I am looking at is 14'x3'x4'. Now the big questions are; <Wowzah, now that's a tank!> Do I need a special kind of Silicon for this setup, like those they use for glazing tiles to building facades? Thinking of Dow Corning. <No "special" formulation... do need a good, sturdy frame... and Dow is a fine choice> We do not have any acrylic dealers here, and I do not think my main door can take a 4' width tank, so I suppose the acrylic Q is out. <Hmm, not really... could have the panels cut, shipped and assemble all in place... not that hard to do... contact the fabricators listed on the www.WetWebMedia.com sites links pages... and ask about in your town for folks who have done such solventing... Not hard to do at all... I've done it even... but good to have "someone who's been there" to aid you.> How many people do I need to hire to bond the glass and hold it in position, 4 or 6? <Let's see, fourteen feet long, and you state 3 feet high in your formula (LWH) but then four feet wide... I'll assume about the three feet height, a minimum of one inch thickness... a good three hundred plus pounds... I'd have four folks on hand, lots of wood clamps... that strong frame...> How much reinforcement must I do on the top? Like cross bracing, do I need more plates? <I'd likely use three or four top cross braces... maybe a continuous strip along the front and back top panels to help resist bowing...> What about the stand? Is 4X4 wood enough to hold 4 tons of water and equipment? <Yes, if placed in close enough vertical position> I have talked to a glass supplier which recommended 22mm Laminated glass, 10mm Tempered Iron-free glass bonded to a PVB layer 1.52mm and bonded to another 10mm tempered glass. is this good enough? <Yes, sounds about right... do have them cut this for you for sure> Also I had another aquarium manufacturer advising against an L-shape tank, with a total span of 6ft. Length on the shorter side? He said something like uneven pressure on L-shaped tanks might cause it to blow. (Total length would be 20ft) <Yes, too likely... these are difficult shapes.> Appreciate if you could tell me soon before I sign on the dotted line. <I would still be investigating the acrylic possibility... But do know many friends, associates who would/will build such a system for you... of glass, in place. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance, John

Reef Tank Question I just called one of the e-tailers of SeaClear for a 180gal dual overflow and it cost $1425,  <What? This is HIGH... call someone else...> and one of the LFS sells Tru-Vu for $600, S&S for $750! I guess my question is besides the price difference If you were the one to choose and build your reef tank, which one would go for? Thank you very much for your kindest help. <All three companies products are well-built and backed by warrantee... I would gladly use any-all three... For the money, with just the data offered, I'd get-use the Tru-Vu Aquaplex... Bob Fenner>

Aquarium repair I built an aquarium on one wall of my play room. one side faces the room and the other is outside the back wall is designed as a pond with water fall rocks and plants and the front has glass. the bottom and the immersed part of the back wall is covered with fiberglass to prevent leaks. The front has the glass and a joint with the fiberglass. I am having problems sealing this joint with silicone because after I applied it works for about a week and then it starts leaking. the joints between the glass panels have worked well with the silicone but not the bottom as I explained. my question is there a sealant that would work under this conditions? or what alternative do I have to make the aquarium work. the dimensions are: depth 60", Length 350"( curves around the room) height 47". Regards, A. Martinez <Wowzah... you're lucky there are new epoxies... this is a deep system... and the body is likely flexing along with the viewing panels... differentially... cut away the silicone, clean up the surfaces with a solvent (like toluene... and check with your "home improvement" or auto body shop... the Lord Corporation is a great manufacturer... and if necessary, fill over the resultant overflow joint here with silicone... Bob Fenner> 

Acrylic Tank? Hi Bob, My question regards about what would be the best money can buy, my LFS says TruVu, other says S&S. I'm trying to upgrade my house and have the 180gal build in the wall.  <Both companies make good stock acrylic tanks... but I prefer the TruVu... old friend of mine as well> This would be a reef tank, and my experience is that it is better to have a dual overflow for greater turnover from the sump to the tank.  <Yes> My second question is I have a 25 watt UV, if it is being used 24/7 how often is it to be replaced I've heard 6 months, others says 3months? Thank you for all your wonderful suggestions! <At six months is fine... you can check with the maker of the UV lamp about effective life time. Bob Fenner>

live reef question (artificial ocean more like it!) Hello, Bob! My name is Jesse. I am looking for any information about reef assembly and the equipment used to support it. <Okay> I'm considering building a large scuba diving complex that focuses on assisted diving for handicapped certified divers and educational programs for schools as well as scuba certification schools. <A worthy cause... some of the certifying agencies have programs, help for you here...> I have been thinking about freshwater because of the size of the "Pond". It's widest point being 1000' and 1280' long. Depths range from 15' to a can-crushing 60'! <Wowzah, you do have a BIG dream!> While the survivability and variety of marine life are important so is water clarity. I'm sure that this can be done in freshwater lake but what would the chances be of building a reef of this size and it living? <Hmm, vis' is more a requirement/desire of humans than the aquatic denizens... and both marine and fresh of this size require big budgets for build out and operation of mechanicals and controllers... Both can be done, definitely... Perhaps a stint at one of the large parks that have such big systems is in order?> Mom always said "Dream big"! Looking forward to your reply. Sincerely, Jesse <Keep planning, dreaming. Bob Fenner>

Circular Tank Hey Bob, I was looking around the web the other day when I saw a site offering circular aquariums. I think they were advertising a 375 gallon unit that included all filtration and MH lighting. I was thinking that since the aquarium is round wouldn't it be suitable for some larger swimming animals such as a shark or a school of tangs? If so who ever came up with this idea is going to be a rich man eventually. Thanks, Jonathan Pac <Yes to this being the shape... if not size for some of the real sharks or larger tangs. And if it weren't for the cost of shipping this shape (not nestable), size system... now that there's less expensive curved glass and acrylic panels to set inside for viewing... they might well sell a bunch of them. Bob Fenner>

Home-built canopies Could you please give me some information on building my own canopy top for my 55 gal. aquarium? I would like to have my husband build a top that matches my stand, but I'm worried about all that weight sitting on top of my tank.  <Not to worry about the weight in terms of stress on the tank... but yes to your being able to safely remove it to work in the tank... not too much a problem with light weight materials... And if wood, the most common, take care to coat/seal (I use Varathane products) after possibly staining, painting it> Also, could you let me know the minimum amount of components I would need to include on the lighting?  <Fixtures, lamps, switch(es), cords, fasteners to attach all together and with the canopy, and timers...> I would like to go with fluorescent (not sure of the spelling, but you know what I mean) lighting, and I'm not sure if I can cram 5 or 6 bulbs inside. I would like to have that much wattage if possible, but I am doing okay with much less now. After reading the Q&A FAQS, I've considered going with compact fluorescents. I get the impression that you recommend them over a lot of other types, but I really would hate to spend that much money of lighting. Retro fit kits seem almost as expensive as complete units, but if buying separate components, and using the minimum amounts of materials could make if more affordable, I might go that route. Any information you could give me would be appreciated! <The compact fluorescents are the best available, most effective choice currently... keep looking for deals on these... large hardware stores and online pet-fish dealers like FFExpress.com..> Sincerely, Jacquie J. from Indiana P.S. I've read your book and gone over it so many times that the pages are starting to fall out! Thanks for writing the "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" and by the way, what is Hash House Harrier? <Ah, greatly gratifying for an author to hear... and the HHH is a "fun run" group that has "branches" all over the planet... a bunch of folks getting together regularly to "jog" in an unstructured, non-competitive manner, then ruin all the advantage of exercise by drinking beer! Bob Fenner>

Very Large Aquarium Hey Dogfish - I don't know if you remember me, but I used to hash with you back in the early 90's. I'm "Eat Me" - Asian dude with long hair - used to live in Mira Mesa. <Sure, Henry... the fab piano player, and hasher, whassup?> Anyways, back then I talked with you about constructing a giant swimming pool sized aquarium as the central feature of a home. You said something about getting large pieces of tempered glass for the job of making one of the walls of the pool clear. <Yep, those opportunities come and go... esp. with the economy booming, buildings coming up and down.> Anyways, the thought that I had was that the pool would have such a large volume of water that things could be kept very stable. Fish would be partitioned off in an area that is 5 feet or so from the glass. The rest of the 'pool' could have sand and live rock in it and a large pump would circulate the water between the two partitions. <Can be done, I assure you... generally partition is unnecessary... if organisms fed in the principal viewing area, they will tend to congregate there.> The dimensions I envision would be 10' deep by 50' wide by 75' long with the 10' by 50' side being the glass partition/viewing side. The rest of the house would be built around the pool. <Umm, a piece of glass ten by fifty... feet?> Is this a crazy idea? I just recently completed a house on the side of a sheer cliff so I kind of like the difficulty aspect of such projects. Plus I love fish although I haven't kept anything for about 10 years. <Gots to have a dream, and this one's a doozie... would aim sights slightly lower (not as big a piece of glass (stick with something smaller, less deep, set in a metal frame... or better for anything approaching this size, depth, acrylic viewing panel(s) instead...>  Henry Chang aka "Eat Me" Encinitas  <But, let's keep discussing the potential product till better understanding is achieved. Bob/Dogfish who says "come on back to the Catholic church, actually strike that, the HHH>

Re: Very Large Aquarium I wasn't thinking specifically of a 50 foot long piece of glass - something more like five 10'x10' sections with reinforced concrete pillars. I guess less depth means cheaper eh?  <Much... price about doubles per each foot of depth, as in x, 2x, 4x, 8x...> when it comes to glass thickness. I don't have any preferences as to glass or acrylic - I just use the word 'glass' as a generic reference to 'clear viewing panel'. <Go the acrylic route. Cheaper, safer, easier to work with... glass (and acrylic) come mainly in "standard" 4 by 8' panels... glass can be, acrylic more commonly available in sheets/castings of larger dimensions... and some made right up north in L.A....> Would an 8' high depth result in a significantly less thick piece of glass/acrylic? <Yes... definitely... about two inch thick (minimum) for six, eight feet of depth of water... versus another inch or two for ten feet (minimum, again)... bowing is yet another concern (esthetically)...Bob/DF>

Re: Very Large Aquarium So just to give me an idea - how much would a 8'x8' piece of acrylic cost? One that would be thick enough to handle an 8' depth (obviously). <A few to several thousand dollars... best guess, about 5k per.> Would 2" suffice? Or would there have to be 3" or 4"? <2" would be pushing it... but possible with more money put into the device to hold it and gasketing in place.> Is 316 Stainless Steel a good material to use as the support between panels (as opposed to reinforced concrete columns)? <Yes> How would we get a perfect seal where the acrylic interfaces with the concrete floor? <Won't be.... will have to meet, seal against the SS bracket with bolts through the metal frame on both sides, impinging on the acrylic...> Would the concrete floor for an 8' depth need to be reinforced in the same way that a swimming pool would or would it require extra reinforcement? <Yes, and prob. yes... the pool co. (I'd get Mission, nor Miss. Vly. to bid, as well as others for the shell work> And how do you get a seal between the panels of acrylic butted up against each other? <Don't. They're seemed/welded tog. as butt joints... sonically best, solvents second.>  I know that's a lot of questions - thanks, Henry (eat me) <Be chatting, Bob/DF>

Tank dimensions for a marine fish system Hi Bob, I wanted to thank you for some very helpful information you imparted in our last email exchange a couple of days ago. I have a few follow-up questions, and the first one has to do with tank dimensions. Could you please recommend tank dimensions for the following set up? Also, could you comment on some of the rational I have encountered on the web for choosing tank dimensions, which are set forth below? I will be setting up a main tank that is about 125 to 150 gallons in size. The main focus of the tank will be marine fish. I intend that the main tank will include some live rock (less than would be found in a reef tank) and about 1 inch of live sand. I am wondering which tank dimensions would be most suitable for keeping the fish happy. <Something more flat and wide... in balance with your esthetic desires... would be best... functionally and economy wise, four foot lengths (half of eight foot sheets...) are preferable for obvious reasons.> As I read through postings on the web, it seems that maximizing suffice area in the horizontal plane and minimizing surface area in the vertical plane of the tank is the best way to go for a fish marine set-up. Specifically, I have read that maximizing tank length and tank width and minimizing tank height are considerably better for fish because fish prefer swimming horizontally rather than vertically. I have read that fish prefer horizontal movement because their fins are generally more efficient than their swim bladder when it comes to moving around in three dimensions.  <Yes, the current wisdom is about that in my book.> Also, I understand that minimizing tank height imparts the benefit of being able to more efficiently light the tank (with less bulb wattage), since the amount of lumens reaching the tank bottom decrease with the distance light waves travel through water.  <Again, I do agree.> In addition, I understand that maximizing surface area in the horizontal plane of the tank will allow for a greater surface area of live sand, which can contribute to ammonia and nitrate reduction. <Yep, but generally a minor matter in actual practice... the purposeful circulated filter media keeps up with these processes.> Thank you in advance for any recommendations and comments. Bruce Grant <Anytime. Bob Fenner>

Taking the Heat Out of Your Custom Installation Hi Bob, We are having a new house built and are planning an aquarium in a dividing wall. The aquarium will be 150 gal (5'x2'x2') and the contractor is taking the weight into account. Our biggest concern is the damage the walls will sustain from the evaporating water. How should we deal with this?  Thanks,  Sylvia <Provide a small space (a couple of inches is fine) around the tanks side in the area around the tank, and a "muffin fan" or two discharging air from the cabinetry if it's enclosed, blowing air out of the area... and paint the inside with a good primer and a latex enamel paint for exterior use. Bob Fenner>

how good are cubes ??? Hi Bob, Thanks for your previous rely. Well I am presently thinking .... once again ...... about changing my tank. But I am not sure. I have always been of the opinion that base area is every bit as important as volume when considering tank size. But lately, after observing, I have found that marine fish, especially angels, seem swim in a more 3 dimensional way i.e.. they swim up and down as much as they do left to right. With this in mind, I have been considering a cube tank ....... 3 x 3 x 3'. Compared to my existing tank, which is 7 x 1.5 x 1.5', it has 70 % more volume. The cube has a volume of 202 gallons or so, where as my existing tank has a volume of about 118 gals ........ a 84 gal difference. BUT, the cube has a base area of 9 sq. feet ...... my existing tank has 10.5 sq. feet. So which is better ??? <Offhand, I'd say, why not keep/run both? There is/are trade-offs between surface area versus gallonage... More area is better in the same gallonage...> My fish include (in case you don't remember): queen angel emperor angel regal tang yellow tang foxface. The rest are all less than 2" .. not really worth mentioning. I always thought that the length would be of an advantage, so that if there was a territorial dispute, one fish could get at least 6 or 7 feet way from the other. But lately I have noticed, when the emperor chases the queen (for example), she does not swim away in a horizontal line, but rather up and to the side .......... as though she is trying to get out of the plane that the emperor is swimming in. I am thus left to think, with a 3' high tank, the queen would be able to swim up at least 2', rather than just 6", to get out of his way. <Depends on the species, mix... of course> I would plan to make a single mound of LR roughly in the middle of the tank, that they could totally swim around. Then , inside in that mound, I would have two caves, with the entrance at the totally opposite side. Do you think this would work ? Do you think it would be a better tank in general ?  Many people seem to feel that I am going to have to get rid of one of the two angels in due time anyway (do you agree??) so I do not know if I would cancel if it was less than ideal for the two angels. Would it be a better tank for one of the angels (long term) than my existing tank ? <The Angels should learn to, coexist for quite some time.... they will let you know, assuredly, if/when they need to be separated> Thanks for reading. It will be some time before (if ever) plans would et under way for this, but none the less, I am anxious as I feel my existing tank is simply not adequate for my growing fish ... a mistake every fish keeper makes when they set up there first reasonably big tank I presume .... you think "it is huge ... I could keep anything in that" ........ sadly, it does not take long to realize the folly of your thoughts, and how pathetic the tank is compared to nature. You live and learn though .......... :-) <Well thought out and stated> Cheers, Regards Matt <Bob Fenner>

seagrass Replaced the 50/50 with a full spectrum 6500k... white looks great, thanks.  At my high school, we're setting up an "environmental academy" and the center piece is (will be) a 70 gallon "reef ready" (predrilled, nice w/d sump) donated tank in the main office. The administration said that since I'm the only one that knows how to plumb it and set it up, if I did so, I could make it any kind of community tank I like. Living in Southwest Florida, I plan on setting it up as a quintessential Florida Marine habitat, (completely Berlin) i.e. lagoon patch reef(s) (w/lots of faviids), grass flats, a mangrove or two (don't know if I can swing that one with the pre-drilled overflow and return, but sure am going to try). Around here we have pristine intertidal and subtidal grass flats (with the real deal angiosperms) coming out of the ears. I don't recollect ever seeing them maintained in an aquarium, do you have any experience here? Can you offer care advice? BTW, the lighting is 4 HO flos. Any suggestions on squeezing that mangrove in with a predrilled overflow and return?  thanks, Chris  <Should work... and yes, there are folks who have kept many of the (53 if memory serves) families of plants that have (secondarily), de-evolved to being "mangrove community"... Check out Adey's Dynamic Aquariums, Sprung and Delbeek's volumes on reef keeping, using the BIOSIS search engine (at a college computer hook-up) under the genera that you're interested in (e.g. Thalassia, Avicena...). The pre-drilled overflow should be no problem... are you building an overflow tower over this through put? No worries. Bob Fenner>

Re: seagrass It came w/an overflow tower in the corner (the overflow assembly is just a stock all-glass brand that needs a little customizing for my intended application) - that's the only problem, it looks like I'm going to have to cut the over flow pipe inside the tower down to accommodate the lower water level in the tank (not so much a problem, just a pain), and redirect the return nozzle down instead of across the top. Want this system to be reliable, so it will thrive even after I graduate and can no longer provide maintenance, so I'm using the KISS principle as far as the Berlin and live sand/plenum less method. In principle, I need a thick live sand bed to accommodate the mangrove's) and to facilitate denitrification because of the tremendous density of photosynthesizing grasses that will be present. sound right?  <Yes> thanks, Chris  <Do consider the following modifications: I would drill (the overflow tower is acrylic? (Otherwise I would cut it out... the silicone around the inside two pieces) and replace it wholesale... with acrylic). Drill throughputs in it (with a hole saw bit set-up, and slow speed power drill) for intake and return (these are easily modified by cutting pipe, adding fittings, maybe a new bulk head fitting or two... and make the new, lower overflow height the same sort of "castle keep" cut out at top...Bob Fenner>

55 Gal Acrylic Bob, I have a 55 gal. Acrylic and am just sick. While cleaning the inside front panel tonight I got a piece of crushed coral under one of those nifty magnetic cleaners and promptly put an 18" scratch on the inside. I understand there may be a way to remove or at least reduce the problem. Any thoughts? Thanks Lloyd  <<A few ways... the best is next time the tank is empty... below this line, to use a very fine abrasive (even an oral dentifrice) to "rub out" (actually down) the area around the scratch... If the scrape is too deep, wait till the tank is empty all the way, and we'll chat up more "wholesale" approaches. Thank you for warning many others of this potential problem...Bob Fenner>>

Commercial Aquariums Bob, I had the opportunity to visit two aquariums in the past two months and was very disappointed with the quality of livestock presented. I visited the Oceanographic Museum Monte Carlo, Monaco) and Ripley's Aquarium (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina). Both aquariums had numerous specimens with severe cases of HLLE. The aquarium in Monaco had fish that were fed a very poor diet. Most fish looked to be obese. Ripley's had the worst cases of HLLE, and most tangs had no dorsal fin. Both these aquariums make me wonder if all aquariums are going to be like this. Is this common with these large aquariums? I know that if I had one of these fish in my tank I would be very upset with myself.  <<Do agree with much of your assessment of these institutions livestock health... Most cases I've encountered in "public aquariums" have very poor water quality (counting Monaco)... and apparently poor livestock health (though the animals may be "old", they're NOT attractive... Too much engineering, gear at these places, not nearly enough general understanding of biology, husbandry.... Most hobbyists' have better set-ups, really. Bob Fenner>>

cultivation/hardware Hi Bob, I enjoyed your lecture at the pgh. aquarium sty. meeting 2/26.your presentation was enjoyable, informative, and inspiring. now to business... I'm in the process of establishing myself in the  "cultivating hardware" biz to fund my own cultivation, concentrating specifically Sarcophytons.(cancer-research) now, what I need is a lot of info to back up my solvents. A big buzz amongst the critics/cynics is I use a solvent w/ a dichloromethane base. I've been using my own tanks for years and have had much success! What more do I have to do?! THE STUFF LOOKS GREAT!! (oh yea, thanks for the hearty deliveries,3\3,3\4.) I will be using flying fish rock/specimens, in my own reef systems research&design, and would be more than happy to hit you w/my progress. Cleve burd/biocrylics <<Good to chat with you again... do I understand you to mean there are people who have a concern with the solvent ingredient dichloromethane (methylene chloride)? Well, have had my share of exposure... and it is widely viewed as a potential carcinogen... I would only use such materials on a warm day, with a light breeze, with the path of air flow "out" of the work area...Bob Fenner>>

thanks, and... Thanks for the time you took to read and respond to my question, which was actually a statement proclaiming that even with proof, people are still very skeptical. They want to KNOW that their animals are not going to die in my systems. (apparently, they're too good to be true.. heehee!) mine haven't and I certainly do not  foresee any casualties resulting from the use of my "solvents", in the near or distant future other than my own.) I'm building bigger systems real soon. Larger scale indoor stuff) for myself and whoever would be interested. I have some pics to send soon as I figure out how to scan and send them. thanks again... cleveburd c/o biocrylics <<Nah to deaths to the marine livestock... once the solvent "does its job" it's actually long gone... the real danger is to you, the fabricator... I've used my share of "chlorides" and always do so outside, or near the roll-up door, with a respirator on if doing a bunch of work... the solvents for annealing acrylic ARE toxic, and flammable... do take care. Bob Fenner>>

Drilling Holes How would I go about drilling, or breaking a hole in the back glass of an aquarium?  <Hmm, depending on the type of glass, position... there are tools for the consumer that can drill holes in already-assembled aquariums... But please don't do this... instead, either look for a glass company that will take the job on... Or better, rely on overflow boxes to service your sump(s)> I have a built in wet dry filter that is built into the back of my 150 gal aquarium.  <What, really? In a glass tank? Who is the manufacturer? Are you sure this isn't an acrylic tank? This is a different matter, and quite easy to drill... usually with bits made for cutting wood/plastic... as in door handles.> The problem is that it is split into two sides that are each about 3 ft. long. The water trickles from the top back of the tank and goes down past the filter media into the back of the tank. The water is then pumped out of there and into a side compartment on each side where it spills back into the tank. The problem is that even if I get two pumps of the exact same specifications, the water moves differently on each side. One side will go dry while the other will fill up with water and eliminate the trickle ability. I figured if I put a hole in the middle of the two back compartments that the water would then equalize and then could even be pumped back into the tank at different rates from each of the sides if I so choose. The problem is that it is very difficult to get my hand back there, much less a drill, but I think I can do it. I just don't know if I should go about this with a regular home drill, or what? Any ideas? Have you ever seen this type of design? <Never seen it, and never want to... who made this albatross? Any way to (if the unit is glass) just cut away the center panel's silicone and just take it out? Otherwise, if the tank IS plastic, do just drill it... if you want to keep the center divider> Charles A. Pollet III Client Program Manager ( ) StarTek E-Commerce Division <<Good luck, and beam me outta here! Bob Fenner>>

Water Noise part two Hi Bob, We have tried several different things without much luck until tonight. Lets start with what didn't work and maybe that will help you understand the problem better. First this is the 180 gal All Glass reef ready tank that sits in the living room on the main floor of the house with the sump in the basement, about at nine foot drop. We tried 11/2 pipe from the overflow to the sump but had lots of gurgling noise, which we call air noise. This was demonstrated by the surging of water out of the pipe in the basement. Next, we put a "Y" fitting below the overflow with a one inch piece of pipe that rose upon the outside of the tank to about the top of the tank. The other side of the "Y" was 11/2 that went to the sump in the basement. This provided no help just lots of gurgling still. It didn't seem to matter how much we dialed up his pumps it still made lots of noise. We thought that maybe we have too much air or too large of pipe because of the gurgling. So tonight we ran a 1 inch pipe out of the overflows into the sump in the basement. Now we still had surging, so we dialed up the pump and allowed the floats to suck under water inside the overflows. Guess what no more noise and a very good flow of water into the sump. No more surging, but we have only a 3/8 inch till the water hits the top of the tank. A. Would it help to slow the water flow by running the overflow pipes into the water in his sump thus slowing down the water flow out of the tank? <Possibly, and worth an experimental try... to keep the overflow/return piping full to reduce noise... Alternatively, you could rig up some all-plastic ball or gate valves and adjust the flow more accurately... backing up the water in the pipes... But I have a very important concern here: What happens if something "clogs" or blocks the overflow... and your pump keeps pumping from the sump below... water on the floor... Did you get my previous response? About just wrapping the drain lines with noise-absorbing (aka thermal insulating), split material from the hardware store?...> B. A shut off value in the basement partially closed? <Hmm, you mean a float switch to the pump to switch it off?> C. Your idea? <I would definitely put on the float/shut-off switch... a little on the conservative side on the sump/below... and with a giant magic marker PERMANENTLY label the maximum height to fill the sump... You understand why... If too high, if the electric goes off the tank might drain down, overflowing the sump... and/or if the return lines get clogged, blocked, the pump below will overfill the tank... Do this please, and/or just wrap the drain lines as in A. above. Bob Fenner>

Building Hood for VHO & MH Different question, my tank is a 125 gallon All Glass reef ready tank. I am in the process of building my hood which will house four VHO's and two 175 MH. The question being how high do I need my VHO's from the top of tank? How high do I need my MH's? Or do I mount them together so I can move them up and down simultaneously as the bulb's wear out. I was thinking of having them be at least 12 inches off the water with the ability to move up/down in one inch increments. < a few inches (4-6) for the VHO's and for function's sake (light dispersal, not-over-heating your water), a good foot over the water... or more... make these adjustable in height... by a few inches.> Thanks!!!! Brian PS I have written other people and have gotten no response on the water noise. I appreciate your time and effort, thanks again for being so prompt! <Glad to be here... enjoy this immensely. Bob Fenner>

Acrylic Tank Bob, Thanks! The Tang IS doing better, BTW it was Coral Vital. This stuff has also made my coralline algae start growing like crazy! One more question. I have the opportunity to buy a 90 gal acrylic tank with built in filter and protein skimmer cheap. My LFS says not to go with acrylic for these reasons: 1. Too insulating, holds too much heat. <I find this a plus rather than a negative> 2. Hard to clean coralline algae without scratching <Nah, a plastic tool-scraper and it's easy... Glass scratches as well> 3. Hard to drill for a sump <What? Much easier than any other material... ridiculous statement> 4. Can't fit a decent protein skimmer into built-in filter <Probably so... don't like any of the "built in" tanks like this I've ever seen... Wouldn't try to fit a skimmer into the back... or probably even use the filter there... Put your thinking cap on, and rig a sump outside the basic box of the tank... Not hard to do... and if the rest of the "box" price is right...> What do you think? Thanks, Marty Wigder P.S. If you ever come to Dallas, I owe you a beer! <I'll be there, Bob Fenner>

epoxy Bob- I have 2 sheets of plexi-glass that are 1/8' thick. I am going to glue them together to form a stronger top for my sump. I would like to use epoxy. Will this hurt the fish tank in any way? Even though it will never be in the water I am concerned that it might be toxic to the tank. Thank you, Rob <<Skip the epoxy, and get your hands on some Weld-on (probably product #40)... stronger, non-toxic (a solvent... it actually leaves... with the acrylic just "melted" together) and clearer... for light penetration. Check your "yellow pages" under plastics for this line. Bob Fenner>>

acrylic adhesive Hello Mr. Fenner, I have really enjoyed your help nearly everyday as I learn the art of marine fish maintenance. You have answered my e-mails, and I have read your Q&A on the days it is posted. I read your book on the days the Q&A is not posted. It's great what you are doing for the hobby.  I write today hoping that you can help in my current task. I was walking through Home Depot and saw an employee throwing away scrap acrylic. It was as thick as the glass on my aquarium. He sold it to me for the right price of $1.66. I want to make a small sump-like tank using the acrylic. I have found something called 'Marine Goop' and a 3M product called 'Marine Adhesive Sealant'. I think they are both polyurethane based polymers. I looked at the silicone products, but they all indicated that the are sealants that maintained the greatest flexibility. The term 'flexibility' gave me the impression that the product is not what is used for fish tanks. Can you suggest something that I could use that will be capable of adhering and sealing the acrylic panels to the extent that they can hold water? I wondered if the polyurethane would be a problem (with respect to toxicity to the fish) after it fully polymerized? I hope that the thought of people making there own vessels doesn't make you cringe. Surely you tried the road less traveled while you were in graduate school? Thanks, Jeff <<Oh, I'm forever scrounging in acrylic bins... and it's actually easy, even fun to put your own sumps, other gear together from this wonder-plastic. I wouldn't go with either the epoxies or silicone rubber... though both will make a bond of sorts... take a look at the Weld-on line (I use mostly #40)... of solvents to melt your acrylic parts together... the usual precautionary remarks here: read the co.s labels... Fumes are pretty toxic, and flammable... Cut the parts as square as you can get them... use tape strips to hold all in relative position... and if you don't get a "tube type" (some of these are handy, especially the higher viscosity gels...) do pick up a small squirt bottle applicator (with cap!)... Try a couple of pieces... You'll be amazed at how fast this process works... Bob Fenner>>

salt aquarium Just wanted some advice. I have been asked to set up a reef tank by a relative. They are building a house and would like to build the tank in the middle a room. My question is what height would you recommend the tank to be for adequate light for the corals? I am planning to use some kind of halide and compact lighting system (depending on the tank size). Thanks for your help, Michelle <<No more than two feet for the compact fluorescents or thirty inches for the MH... or both. A neat project eh? Will the mechanicals and controllers go underneath the tank? Can they be better remoted to a basement or another room/area by casting the conduits (plumbing, electrical) in piping in the foundation? Bob Fenner>>

tips on aquarium construction Bob, I'm wanting to build a 300+ gal aquarium, (84x28x30). Would 1/2'' glass be adequate for the sides & 3/4" for the bottom? Also, what's a good silicone to use. Are there any other requirements to consider (base, foundation, pump size, etc..) Thanks for your help. Ed <<Hmm, thirty inches tall? Yep, If you braced the top all the way around 1/2 inch would be okay... and three quarters for the bottom... And 100% silicone is ah, 100% silicone... ummm, they're all the same... no, really, I'm not joking... Just watch out for the non-100% ones that have mildewcides, et al... in them... RTV 732, Home Depot... 100% silicone... And other considerations (yikes, my six minutes is almost up...)... all sorts! The foundation you're setting this thing on has to be substantial (about one and a half ton's worth)... spread the weight... make the stand level, planar, and strong... Much more to come re possible filtration et al... when we hear what you want to do with this tank. Bob Fenner>>

Newbie on the block - Basic equipment advice needed. Dear Bob, Enjoying your book very much, just got it couple days ago. I am planning to purchase an All-Glass 72 gal. bow front aquarium to be fitted into the built-in book case (additional support has been made) in my home office. I intend to set the aquarium as an all fish tank initially to get my feet wet and hopefully upgrade to a reef tank (maybe). What kind of filtration system and lighting system should I now purchase to avoid the double expense in case I ever decide to upgrade. The local pet shop suggest to get one of each of the Eheim 2229(wet/dry) and the 2228. Thanks in advance. <<These are good units... and will do fine for now... esp. considering the difficulty of getting back behind the system to wriggle with plumbing... But If you haven't ordered the tank just yet... and have room below or behind or way under (like a lower floor, basement)... I myself would look into having the tank pre-drilled (ahead of assembly) and fitted with an overflow box...internally... Do take a look at the websites of some of the larger fabricators, manufacturers of these tanks... or ask your retailer to contact them for you... They are happy to do these modifications, and having a remoted sump will give you more control and flexibility... whether you stick with a fish only system, grade up to some other sort of marine set-up... or end up with a planted tank...Bob Fenner>>

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