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ndjs 06-03-2007 01:33 PM

Opinions on a tank I want to build!
Alright, first off, hello. I'm Nick from Alabama, and new to the site. Pretty new to fish keeping as well.

I have a wonderful idea to build a tank, and have done tons of research already, and think I can do it. But I want to run this idea by other people, because I have a tendency to get excited and miss obvious things that completely interfere with my idea, haha.

I have a coffee table in my living room, and want to build an aquarium that fits under it. It's a glass top table, with a metal frame. From the top, if you were to look at the legs of the table, they make a sort of L shape, and I'd like the corner of the aquarium to slide right into that notch. Another nice thing about this table is that there is 1-2 inches of metal that hang down from the top of the table, like a lip. I figure this would be a great place to mount lights, hide the power cables for whatever I may need.

From rough measurements, the tank would be (in inches) 45.5x22x16. This gives me almost exactly 70 gallons (US) to play with. I would not use glass, I would use 3/8" cell cast acrylic.

The only problems I can see is that I will have to run a power cord to the table from somewhere, and this does sit in front of a couch and may see high traffic. I don't have any other pets, so I'm not worried about that. I wouldn't think that somebody kicking the aquarium would be a problem, but what do you think? Another problem is what if it fails... haha. It would most likely be sitting on carpet, and 70 gallons of loose water can make for a bad day, especially for carpet. I considered building something under it that could catch water, if only to give me a little bit of time to locate a leak, but I don't have any ideas on how. I'm also considering building a space under it for pumps or filters, w/e. But I have no idea what kind of filtration I'd like to do, or even how I'd stock it yet, but again, that's where I need yall's help! :)

Thanks in advance for any replies.

fish_4_all 06-03-2007 03:27 PM

Acrylic is tough to work with without some real experience, I know I tried many times with the best solvents I could get ahold of and could never get a clean secure seal. Just make sure that every seam is tight and that the edge is as smooth as possible. It will also be extremely difficult to build in place if that is what you have to do.

As for a power cord, A throw rug is the best way to geep it from being moved around and becoming a problem.

I honestly think it would be easier to construct your own table/stand for the tank isttead of using a ready made one. This would allow for custom design of the stand and also allow for special cuts for filters, hoses and such.

ndjs 06-03-2007 04:44 PM

I won't have to build it in place. It will simply be a tank that happens to fit underneath a coffee table. The way I intended to do it was to build the tank elsewhere, and when I'm done, move the table, place the tank where I want it all to be, and with help (to line it up correctly), slide the table over the top of the tank. If I ever decide I don't like it there, or for some reason need to move it, it will not be limited by the fact that it fit under the table.

I haven't ever done any acrylic work, and I'm thinking about going to a local place that cuts acrylic and asking for scraps so I can practice. I've read at least 10 different "build your own tank" type guides, so I think I know how to do it, but thinking you know how, knowing how, and actually doing it are all different things.

Do you have any suggestions for a material other than acrylic? Glass is expensive from everywhere I've seen, and I don't see any advantages that justify the higher cost.

I would have never thought of a throw rug, haha. Thanks for the thought! I would have had some of those commercial power cord covers laying in my floor if you hadn't suggested that.

I'm not sure what you mean by using a ready made stand. The tank itself will sit squarely on the floor, unless I build a compartment under it.

ndjs 06-03-2007 05:21 PM

Double post, I know
Here are a few pictures of the table. Maybe that will help other people see what I'm talking about.

The dog in the picture is my girlfriend's, and she (the dog :)) won't be in my apartment after this is built. Beautiful Siberian Husky though. Sorry for the quality, camera phone.

fish_4_all 06-03-2007 05:55 PM

I would definately get what I can to experiment with before doing the real thing. I had a ton of scrap and went through 4 whole bottles of different solvents and never got it right. I just didn't have or find the knack for it so I stuck with glass.

I am suprised that acrylic is more expensive there. Glass is a lot cheaper here, I would say by 30% so I have given up on the thought of acrylic and will just do glass. Easier to maintain and much easier to replace a piece if I ever need to.

As for placing the tank on the floor itself, it might be hard to get it level with the carpet. My thought would be to build a small wood base for it that if you need to you can level it with either shims or leveling plates like the ones you see on washing machines and stoves. This could also help to keep water off the floor if you spill any or have any splash from anything.

ndjs 06-03-2007 06:17 PM

Hmm. I just kind of thought it would level itself out with the carpet, since it's concrete underneath. Well, under the carpet pad and all that. Never put a second thought into leveling. Thanks for pointing that out, it's something to consider.

I'm not sure if we understood each other, but glass is more expensive here than acrylic, and acrylic is what I had planned on using. I definitely intend to get as much scrap acrylic as I can find and will work on that until I am happy with it. If it takes 6 months, then it will be 6 months of work towards something I can be proud of and enjoy.

I should also note that when this is done, the table will be farther away from the couch than it sits currently, for leg room.

Is there an advantage to using glass over acrylic? I have read a couple of articles detailing the finer points of the two, but can't recall anything that was a big deal for my purpose. The tank height is 16", and I know that 3/8" acrylic will be the right thickness, but can't recall what thickness or even what kind of glass I'd need.

Other questions I have are what kind of substrate and filter might I need? I'd like to do something that I can have internal, but almost everything I've been able to gather says that internal is not very efficient or that it doesn't work well. If internal isn't feasible, I'd like something that could be hidden. I want everything except a power cord to be within the confines of the table. I have a 15 gal round aquarium with medium size gravel in it, and I just feel ok about it. It doesn't really strike me as attractive, and I was thinking sand maybe in this one, but again I have no idea what I want to stock it with anyways. Keep in mind it will be a 70 gal. Any ideas on filter types?

I know it may seem like I'm getting ahead of myself, but this is something I want to fully understand and have a clear design of in my head before I even get my hands wet. :)
I really appreciate the feedback fish_4_all, and I enjoy this site. :)

fish_4_all 06-03-2007 08:18 PM

The only real advantage to glass is if you get a crack in one pane of glass or heaven forbid you break one you can simply replace that pane and not have to build the whole tank. I guess I just prefer glass over acylic because it won't scratch as easy and is easier to clean and maintain. I also think it is easier to put together and seal but that is my experience with acrylic and glass. You may have much better luck.

Tihetian moon sand or other black sand would look really cool. If you go that way though you will want some Malaysian Trumpet Snails to stir up the gravel to prevent dead pockets. Someone on the forum should have some to share or you can get them from either of the following:

The prices are fair and you will only need 30 or so as they will reproduce fairly quickly. Like any other snail if you don't overfeed you shouldn;t have to worry about overpopulation.

As for filters, can't help you there. hiding one in that kind of setup is going to really tough. You could build a small box for a cansiter filter that would hide it but that wouldn't fit the design of the table very well. I definately wouldn't depend on internals for a 70 gallon tank. The only way I can think of to really hide the filter in that kind of setup would be to go with an undergravel filter but I can't recommend them personally as I think they are terrible and it would also mean you could not use sand.

ndjs 06-03-2007 09:53 PM

OK, thanks again for your help, it's been huge already. 8)

I'll look into glass some more, I have family in several places around me all within an hour, and I'll check into some suppliers in their areas as well, maybe it's just where I'm at that is expensive. *crosses fingers* I know acrylic scratches easier, but that was something I was willing to deal with. I'll just have to do some more research on glass to figure out the thickness and what type of glass I'll need. I will probably still pick up some acrylic spare pieces and try to work with that anyways, like you said I may have better luck... haha.

I'm having a hard time finding Tahitian Moon Sand online. Is that something I could ask the LFS about? I searched for "black aquarium sand" and found results which had Tahitian Moon Sand in them, but for some reason they didn't appear when I searched for that phrase... oh well, haha. From a few minutes of research, I've decided I don't want Black Beauty. I do very much like Tahitian Moon sand though. WOuld fit nicely with the black table.

Snails were definitely one thing I planned on including, but I wouldn't have gone with 30. Seems like a lot to me, but that only means more research is in the future for me. Truthfully I haven't done much research on snails. Yet. :lol:

Yeah, I've pretty much discovered that internal isn't going to work out. I have an idea of blocking off part of the aquarium into its own, dry, box area where a filter could go. I have no clue where to go with filters though, as the largest aquarium I've dealt with was a 15 gallon with a HOB filter. I tried an under gravel filter in the 15 gal, and despised it, haha. Not very useful, and it got filthy very quickly. I was having to clean it like every 2 days to get any respectable water flow through it.

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