Questions about creating a touch tank
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Questions about creating a touch tank

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Questions about creating a touch tank
Old 02-22-2010, 12:28 PM   #1
Questions about creating a touch tank

We (beginners) are interested in building a shallow tank with a large exposed water surface. The purpose is to maintain local (Texas) stream invertebrates and small fish. Water scorpions, giant water bugs, mussels, etc. Most creatures will be kept temporarily and re-released.

The vision is to have water current to create a stream-like environment. Some aquatic moss kept to harbor micro-crustaceans and other invertebrates.

I am thinking 24 x 36 x 8" deep (about 30 gallons) with a chilller. Thicker than usual acrylic to allow elbow "leaning" and working with the critters. Maybe a leaning rail of some sort that does not overhang the water?

May I ask for any advice on this sort of setup. Thanks.
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Old 02-22-2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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Just wanted to say welcome to the forum!
While I pers have had a lot tanks for many years a open "touch" tank I never had So I'm sorry I can't be of much help there. I'm just wondering if its sufficient enough for the fish to only have 8" in height there.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:53 PM   #3
iv seen this done but the tanks were much bigger dont have an exact size but the tanks were deffenatly over 6' foot and 2' wide possably and a depth of something like 1-2' and they had jets on one end of the tank. But idk if it was a touch tank or not. but it deffenatly was low enuff for people to lean over and put their arms in there. id say go abit longer and deeper. id say atleast a foot deep. and possably abit longer. dont kno if room is a factor or not.

ima try to hunt down this place i seen it so i can get pictures for ya its been years so they might not be around it was some Japanese place thats all i remember so ill hunt it down im sure its still there.
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Old 02-22-2010, 03:52 PM   #4
Thanks for helping. The idea for 8" shallow comes from the streams and swampy areas our wild visitors are coming from.

Here's a tank that is shallow and pretty huge. You can see the thick walls even though 1/4" acrylic would hold the water back. I think we would want ours a little deeper than this but much smaller due to space and floor strength

How is this thing filtered and cooled?

Is a sandy bottom possible in this sort of setup?
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Old 02-22-2010, 04:07 PM   #5
those walls look to be about a foot or so with possably 6 inches of water. idk the poor things look like they are half out of the water..... im not down with that but idk. As for filtration i think its like a skimmer like a swimming pool would have. the water rushes from one end to the other and has a spot for it to over flow into and cycles it to the other end and pushes it back to the overflow.. and for the cooling id imagine its all under the tank like a heating pad of some sort under it all. or heating the water in the over flow tank so when it dumps back in its warm/ cool
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Old 02-22-2010, 04:28 PM   #6
Thanks for helping with this.

Is there a way to keep the bottom substrate clean? Would that sort of bottom stay clean if the water is cleaned with a skimmer or would it get bad over time?

Would a power head work in this sort of arrangement?

Is a sandy bottom a bad idea for any reason?
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Old 02-22-2010, 04:57 PM   #7
good question.... i found that place that has a set up like this but itll have to bee a weekend thing its about an hour away lol i did call as ask if the tanks were still there tho and the lady said yes i think..... it was more of a yes yes yes have fish. so i donno....
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Old 02-22-2010, 05:47 PM   #8
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Just like any other tank set up; despite what filter you hook on to it; you'd still wanna do a weekly water exchange of about 40-50% of the tank's volume and do the w/c with a gravel vacuum, then your sand/ gravel whatever you want will stay clean.

What you said about cooling - Most cases you will nto have to worry about cooling rather then heating a tank.

I find the height too little if you're considering stocking with good sized fish like in the picure. While this may be "neat" or whatever to humans its absolutely not for the fish.

Another point why I pers wouldn't set such thing up (apart from being made liable when the sing ray goes after gradma) people have all sorts or bacteria, lotion and what not have you on their hand - In short they have all sorts things on their hands I'd not wanna expose my fish to.

What are you really after a tank that people can "play" with the fish sea world style or a nice SHOW tank to watch fish behavior?
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Old 02-22-2010, 06:15 PM   #9
Well we are looking to maintain temporary residents only. Maybe more inverts than local fish. Even the fish we would only keep for a few weeks. Some beautiful 1-3" orange spotted sunfish and small shiners live in a nearby stream. We had one sunny last year in a small uncooled tank but I felt it was stressed living 5-10 degrees warmer than in the stream.

The hands on part is for waterscorpions, water mites, gobs of aquatic moss that grows around here that is packed with micro crustatceans (ostracods, copepods etc.). We're hoping for a temporary holding tank for local stream life that will allow us to interact with them during their short stay.
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Old 02-23-2010, 05:37 AM   #10
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My impression was always that these sorts of "touch tank" displays aren't really permanent housing; they're meant to be temporary displays that are constantly monitored by the staff.

Here are your biggest problems:
-Effective filtration in water that shallow might be challenging.
-Getting good water flow, probably via powerheads, is going to be difficult to do without pushing all of your substrate to the opposite end of the tank. I think this would be even more of a problem with a sandy substrate.
-Evaporation would be a major concern.
-Without a cover, fish and other tank inhabitants might jump ship, which I think would be a serious concern with lowered water levels.

Just some thoughts. Is this for an educational display, or just a home aquarium?
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