Author Topic: Custom fish tanks . . .  (Read 868 times)

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jpcher

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Custom fish tanks . . .
« on: October 15, 2012, 07:50:17 PM »
Now that I'm pretty much an empty-nester, I'm finding myself a bit bored with my life. So, I'm looking for a project.  ;D

There's a corner spot in my house that I always thought would be a great place for a custom-made fish tank. It's a brick wall (about 3 ft. high) that wraps around a corner (think inverted "L" shape) with a marble ledge and a gravel filled pit (about 6 inches under the ledge.) It sticks out about 2-1/2 feet from the brick of our chimney (main heat exhaust) where the brick goes up to the ceiling . . . I don't know if I'm describing this well enough :-\ . . . right now it's filled with fake plants (I tried real plants in there, but the lighting isn't good enough to sustain live plants.) It looks good enough, but I've always thought of putting a fish tank in there.

I'm looking at about 2 ft. wide wrapped around 3 ft. by 3 ft. . . . It can go as tall as 8 foot to reach the ceiling (but I really don't think I want it that tall, I'm thinking maybe 3-4 ft. tall.)

I love the idea of an exotic salt-water tank but I'm soooo fish naive, it scares me. (Case in point, my previous posts about DD#2's goldfish. ::)) After some research, I'm thinking that a freshwater tank would be the best way for me to go, since I'm a newbie for fishes.


I've done a bit of simple research on line and found some custom fish tank makers out there, but they all seem to be for HUGE tanks. I've also done a bit of research for salt-water tanks. It seems that this is the perfect place to have one.

Has anyone ever had a custom fish tank built for them? Any recommendations?


Any thoughts/recommendations for a newbies saltwater tank?







Hmmmmm

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 08:00:18 PM »
Contact one of the aquarium stores.  I was in one here in Houston a few months ago and they had a nice display of custom small aquariums.  The idea that they could fit any home or office space.

Hillia

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 08:06:13 PM »
I would definitely stay with freshwater if you're new to fish.  Salt water tanks are much more expensive to set up, stock, and maintain.  The fish are much more sensitive to small upsets in their environment.  In addition, I have heard from many people that most saltwater fish are wild caught, not bred, and some people have moral issues with that (I don't know how accurate that is, though).

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Acadianna

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 08:21:11 PM »
I would definitely stay with freshwater if you're new to fish.

I POD this.

Also, although I was having a bit of trouble visualizing the size of your proposed tank, it sounds as if it might not be quite big enough for salt water.  Salt water tanks generally need to be bigger than the usual fresh water tank, as they need more volume to help them keep stable.  Salt water fish tend to be larger too, and need the extra room.

The important dimensions for a tank are length and width -- extra height doesn't really gain you more "fish room" (and this is true for both kinds of tank).  Those really tall, pretty tanks are nice to look at, but not always very practical.

Zilla

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 08:41:44 PM »
Just make sure it isn't by a window (sun makes too much algae) and will it get heat from the fireplace?  That might be a concern.


Other than that it sounds like a great spot and you have a built in stand. :)  Also figure out where you will put the filtration system.  It usually fills about half of the space under the tank.  Or on the back.  I also recommend like other said to check out an aquarium specialist.  If you are in a big enough city, you might be able to go directly to the source as pet stores will charge an up-charge using the same source.  Good luck.




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« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 09:35:05 AM by Zilla »

Steve

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 03:09:03 AM »
If you have your tank custom made, the builder could assist you in a lot of extra ways! You should take advantage of that. Ask him to help you make a plan for the equipment, if you are going for a filtration system behind a back wall, let him glue the backwall in.
Ask him to help you set up a calendar for starting the tank: what to put in, when, how..... it will save you a lot of trouble later on if the tank is started up properly.



IslandMama

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 06:31:19 AM »
Definitely freshwater if you're new to fish.  And your local aquarium shop will know of good tank builders... and they might even have someone on staff who builds them.  Get to know the staff there and explain what you need, they'll assess your level of knowledge and help accordingly.

My DH managed an aquarium shop and ended up learning to build tanks for fun (so he could do basic repairs to start with, and then for fun) and I had a two car garage filled with tanks (and fish... and fish nurseries... and enough pumps to make a maternity ward jealous!) and we had all sizes and shapes.  He used to go visit customers at home and do water changes, health checks on fish and give advice on products to use and so on, all for a nominal sum.  There might be someone on staff at the shop who doesn't mind making a little extra cash for those kind of services.

GeauxTigers

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 05:42:27 PM »
I owned an aquarium store for 9 years.

I would be happy to have a PM discussion with you about this - trust me, this is not as easy as you think it will be, even for fresh water. A marine aquarium and "newbie" are mutually exclusive. Do not consider a marine aquarium if it's your first one. Please trust me with this.

I never recommend using an existing structure to use as an aquarium stand due to the weight distribution involved as well as the physics behind holding large quantities of water in a tank - without a precisely engineered stand, an L-shaped tank in the dimensions you describe (about 270 gallons if 3 feet tall, 360 gallons if 4 feet tall) WILL split open if it's not level, and will also be forced apart under the pressure of either 2300 or 3050 pounds of water -this is without the 50 - 60 pounds or so of gravel that you may need - unless braced appropriately. Hopefully you have a level, slab foundation. Pier and beam? Fuggedaboutit. You'll need to build it out of very high-grade acrylic, as the thickness of the glass you'll need (which also adds a lot of weight) will be prohibitively expensive. I am not suggesting thatr acrylic is cheap - it isn't.

If this project isn't daunting enough, then we'll discuss lighting, heating and aeration/filtration.

Aquariums are fantastic - before you consider a majot construction project, please start with something of manageable size, and get your advice from an aquarium specialist. This does not include Wal-Mart.

P12663

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 06:27:22 PM »
Height will matter if you want live plants - the more water there is over the plants, the more light you will need.

I have a custom tank  - three feet wide by six feet long by 2.5 feet tall.  Not fancy, I just wanted a short tank.  It wasn't that expensive, comparatively.

jpcher

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 08:15:27 PM »
Okay, GeauxTigers -- you've sufficiently scared me.

Not that that's a bad thing, please don't take me wrong. This is the exact advice that I was looking for. Is my thought for my dream fish tank completely out of this world? Or is it possible?

As far as the base, I'm thinking it's possible. Under the gravel, there is cement and visible rebar. From your comments, I'll probably have to have a top layer of cement added in order to even out the base. This seems to be my first step if I decide to go forward.



I want to thank everybody for your posts.

Since I'm a newbie at all this, I will go freshwater. Heck, I had enough troubles with DD#2 and her goldfish tank! Which is what inspired me to revisit this dream.


Just make sure it isn't by a window (sun makes too much algae) and will it get heat from the fireplace?  That might be a concern.

The spot is in the middle of the house, no direct sunlight and no fireplace.



I will contact the local pet places to see what services they have available.




If you have your tank custom made, the builder could assist you in a lot of extra ways! You should take advantage of that. Ask him to help you make a plan for the equipment, if you are going for a filtration system behind a back wall, let him glue the backwall in.
Ask him to help you set up a calendar for starting the tank: what to put in, when, how..... it will save you a lot of trouble later on if the tank is started up properly.

Thanks . . . those are great questions to ask which I never would have thought of on my own.



Thank you all for giving me a direction. I appreciate your replies! ;D



« Last Edit: October 16, 2012, 08:18:59 PM by jpcher »

Hmmmmm

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Re: Custom fish tanks . . .
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 08:37:50 PM »
My only other advice is to not get attached to your first fish.  I still remember  sitting in a new conference room that had an aquarium with the pretties blue and yellow fish and watching a larger fish it one as I was trying to demonstrate a new software package to a corporate CIO.  I learned my pretty fish were considered stater fish and the aquarium manager expected them to be eaten.