Building big tank instead of multiple small ones

Jaquatic

Member
Hey all,

Looking for opinions or advice.

Thinking of getting rid of all my smaller tanks and replacing them with one large aquarium.

Looking at building a plywood tank with a front viewing panel. It would be 8ft long,4ft wide and 20” tall. The main purpose of this tank would be to house small fish as well grow a lot of aquarium plants. It would have co2 injection and run a 75 gallon sump.

If anyone has any suggestions on a different style build or any advice for that matter let me know.

thanks
 

John58ford

Member
That's (8') pretty long for a single view panel, do you know what thickness glass you would need? I know the thickness is mostly based on pressure from depth but length can affect bowing. Maybe that header beam would have to be in the 2x8 or larger dimension to keep straight under load.

I have thought about doing a foam walled cement build as an outdoor above ground pond on a 8'x2'x2', but I think plywood would be the way to go inside.

At 4x8 (full sheet of plywood on the bottom) I imagine it might be hard to reach the middle to plant/trim etc. Maybe try laying out a sheet and mocking up some walls before you commit to the final size, i think at that size, it would be similar to trying to reach the center of a full size truck bed. A task which has left me wanting (longer arms)on many an occasion.

That's about all I have to offer for thoughts but I'm very interested to watch your process and hope you get some good input here.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
I assume 3/4” glass would suffice. I had a 8ftx2ftx2ft plywood tank with an acrylic viewing panel that was 1/2” 5+ years ago and had no issues. As far as I am aware someone locally is still using this tank to this day.

That is a valid point about the actual depth of the tank. My thought was to not have the stand over 40” tall. Which would put me at at 60” complete height. I wouldnt mind having to use a step stool for access but want to avoid ladders. Where the tank would be 20” tall and realistically only 16-18” of water it should be achievable.

Once I start collecting materials I will lay a sheet of plywood out and mock up the tank with clamps to see how difficult it will be to maintain the tank.
 

Zach72202

Member
I think the biggest thing when considering a large tank is where you are going to put it. Keep in mind that every gallon of water is 8.34 pounds, and at 360g+ that's 3000lbs.

Before you spend a dime, consider the following:
1) Do you have the space?
2) Can the location you are putting it support such a beast?
3) Do you have the time/money to upkeep it?

Assuming you answered yes to all of those, consider this:
1) Do you feel confident in your DIY skills to make a massive tank successfully and have no leaks?
2) If this tank does leak, what things around it will it damage?
3) How much could possible damages cost?

Now I do not know your situation, nor do I know how good your skills are, and by no means am I trying to tell you not to do it, but more of opening the door to a risk to reward idea.

Say you spend $2,000 on a plywood tank. Full tank build, and stand, lids, etc. Not including any scape material, fish, water, equipment, or anything else inside. Then you put the money into equipment for it, which is somewhat negligible as it doesn't really go bad, unless you break it? The tank lasts a year and blows a seal- you spill 100 gallons of water on your floor doing $5,000 in damages. By this point you have a probably have at least $8,000 into this project, a very unhappy spouse, and a tank that holds no water. That's an ouch right there.

What I would do- and what I am going to do personally. Buy acrylic.
If you get acrylic from a reputable shop in these same dimensions the tank will probably cost you $3,000-4,000. I happen to work at a place that has an acrylic shop. I am actually looking into getting an acrylic tank for my fish that is 8'x4'x2', the same as your dimensions. The owner said ballpark for the tank it would be $3,000. I know this because they built one of those specs literally last week. Chances are the acrylic shop does make stands too, this costs money as well, but say you have them do it. Then you buy all your equipment, scape, and pretty much everything A-Z to have your tank running and looking fantastic. At this point you have reached that $8,000 mark, but instead you have something that looks fantastic, will last almost indefinitely, and if you every choose to sell it, it will hold value for sure. Also, you never had to lift a finger to build it either.

Now for scaping, if you have the money for this, you probably can afford one of the following two things:
1) Small human you have produced to send out on reconnaissance missions to "plant that crypt!" (Your child lol)
2) If you do not have the first, you probably can afford a scuba suit.

Now, I can probably assume you have thought of some of this, but it is really essential to really take a look and crunch some numbers. Make a few calls and get some quotes. Do some searching online for prices. That's what I would do.

P.S. If you are looking to escape Multi-Tank Syndrome by doing this, just give up. Nobody escapes MTS. Nobody. You'll just end up with the bed-room tank, and the living room tank. At least I would!
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
Zach72202 said:
I think the biggest thing when considering a large tank is where you are going to put it. Keep in mind that every gallon of water is 8.34 pounds, and at 360g+ that's 3000lbs.

Before you spend a dime, consider the following:
1) Do you have the space?
2) Can the location you are putting it support such a beast?
3) Do you have the time/money to upkeep it?

Assuming you answered yes to all of those, consider this:
1) Do you feel confident in your DIY skills to make a massive tank successfully and have no leaks?
2) If this tank does leak, what things around it will it damage?
3) How much could possible damages cost?

Now I do not know your situation, nor do I know how good your skills are, and by no means am I trying to tell you not to do it, but more of opening the door to a risk to reward idea.

Say you spend $2,000 on a plywood tank. Full tank build, and stand, lids, etc. Not including any scape material, fish, water, equipment, or anything else inside. Then you put the money into equipment for it, which is somewhat negligible as it doesn't really go bad, unless you break it? The tank lasts a year and blows a seal- you spill 100 gallons of water on your floor doing $5,000 in damages. By this point you have a probably have at least $8,000 into this project, a very unhappy spouse, and a tank that holds no water. That's an ouch right there.

What I would do- and what I am going to do personally. Buy acrylic.
If you get acrylic from a reputable shop in these same dimensions the tank will probably cost you $3,000-4,000. I happen to work at a place that has an acrylic shop. I am actually looking into getting an acrylic tank for my fish that is 8'x4'x2', the same as your dimensions. The owner said ballpark for the tank it would be $3,000. I know this because they built one of those specs literally last week. Chances are the acrylic shop does make stands too, this costs money as well, but say you have them do it. Then you buy all your equipment, scape, and pretty much everything A-Z to have your tank running and looking fantastic. At this point you have reached that $8,000 mark, but instead you have something that looks fantastic, will last almost indefinitely, and if you every choose to sell it, it will hold value for sure. Also, you never had to lift a finger to build it either.

Now for scaping, if you have the money for this, you probably can afford one of the following two things:
1) Small human you have produced to send out on reconnaissance missions to "plant that crypt!" (Your child lol)
2) If you do not have the first, you probably can afford a scuba suit.

P.S. If you are looking to escape Multi-Tank Syndrome by doing this, just give up. Nobody escapes MTS. Nobody. You'll just end up with the bed-room tank, and the living room tank. At least I would!
I appreciate your input. The tank will be going in my basement. As far money to maintain it there is negligible costs. Considering I am most likely paying more right now with multiple tanks running. Also I am on a well. For time allocation it is easier for me to do a water change or dose fertilizer on one aquarium then multiple ones. This being one reason I am thinking of going this route.

I feel 100% confident in my diy skills to construct this. I have worked construction as well was a structural aircraft maintenance engineer for 5 years.

As far as water damage that is what insurance is for. Already have water damage insurance in place at my house.

I cannot see a plywood tank cost exceeding $1500 tops for quality materials. Plywood tanks will last forever if built correctly. Also plywood tanks can be made to look nice. Sure it might not be a show quality tank but a 400 gallon aquarium for $1500 all in cannot be beat.

If I could find a used acrylic tank for a reasonable price I would buy it instantly. They are superior to a plywood tank in many ways. I just can’t justify the thousands to spend on just the tank.

Fish are secondary for me in this hobby, my main enjoyment is growing aquarium plants. So escaping mts is exactly what I want to do, also running less equipment, cleaning multiple tanks, feeding and just general maintenance.
 

Zach72202

Member
Jaquatic said:
I appreciate your input. The tank will be going in my basement. As far money to maintain it there is negligible costs. Considering I am most likely paying more right now with multiple tanks running. Also I am on a well. For time allocation it is easier for me to do a water change or dose fertilizer on one aquarium then multiple ones. This being one reason I am thinking of going this route.

I feel 100% confident in my diy skills to construct this. I have worked construction as well was a structural aircraft maintenance engineer for 5 years.

As far as water damage that is what insurance is for. Already have water damage insurance in place at my house.

I cannot see a plywood tank cost exceeding $1500 tops for quality materials. Plywood tanks will last forever if built correctly. Also plywood tanks can be made to look nice. Sure it might not be a show quality tank but a 400 gallon aquarium for $1500 all in cannot be beat.

If I could find a used acrylic tank for a reasonable price I would buy it instantly. They are superior to a plywood tank in many ways. I just can’t justify the thousands to spend on just the tank.

Fish are secondary for me in this hobby, my main enjoyment is growing aquarium plants. So escaping mts is exactly what I want to do, also running less equipment, cleaning multiple tanks, feeding and just general maintenance.
Sounds like you're all set then! You pretty much answered all the questions yourself there.

I don't really know about insurance companies too much and if they cover water damage from something 'self caused' or simply from natural disaster. An insurance company may say "oh you intentionally put 400 gallons of water in your basement? We aren't covering that." So I would call and inquire about that.

It really sounds like you could have a lot of fun doing this and building it exactly how you want too!

As for the price numbers I gave, I like to shoot high so that people have a high expectation and somewhat of an inflated budget going into things so when they actually go into pricing it out they have some wiggle room for error- because as you know things can get expensive fast without warning!

If you really do choose to go this route I would love to see the build on it! You don't get to see too many people building plywood aquariums.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
If I do plan on going this route I will definitely post on here. I am going to contact my lfs tomorrow to inquire about pricing on acrylic tanks and glass just to have a comparison. Anything aquarium related tends to be expensive in Canada compared to the US. Especially where I am in a very rural part of Canada. Even used equipment is priced high. For example there is someone selling a 240 gallon acrylic tank with a homemade stand 3D background and two fx6s for $2500.

Welcome to any other suggestion on shallow and wide tank with at least one viewing panel.
 

Zach72202

Member
Jaquatic said:
If I do plan on going this route I will definitely post on here. I am going to contact my lfs tomorrow to inquire about pricing on acrylic tanks and glass just to have a comparison. Anything aquarium related tends to be expensive in Canada compared to the US. Especially where I am in a very rural part of Canada. Even used equipment is priced high. For example there is someone selling a 240 gallon acrylic tank with a homemade stand 3D background and two fx6s for $2500.

Welcome to any other suggestion on shallow and wide tank with at least one viewing panel.
Honestly, that doesn't sound too off. In USD thats about $2,000, and depending on the shape of the aquarium it could be a decent deal.

When you are purchasing an acrylic aquarium things get really expensive when you go over 24" tall. Overall thickness on the walls increases, you need larger panels, bracing, etc. If the aquarium is 36" tall, thats a pretty decent deal.

When you're looking into the glass you need to figure out what grade you want too. Low iron vs starphire vs regular glass will all cost different, that and a 1/2" or thicker sheet of glass is going weight an ungodly amount. You will need 4 people to lift just that.
 

Fae

Member
I'm not sure if you've looked into lumber prices researching this, but they're the highest they've ever been right now since everyone has been building during the pandemic. If you haven't double checked that in a while I would before calculating the costs
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
Fae said:
I'm not sure if you've looked into lumber prices researching this, but they're the highest they've ever been right now since everyone has been building during the pandemic. If you haven't double checked that in a while I would before calculating the costs
Thanks. Ya I will be taking that into account. Luckily I have access to 15% off at my hardware store to somewhat compensate for the inflation.
Zach72202 said:
Honestly, that doesn't sound too off. In USD thats about $2,000, and depending on the shape of the aquarium it could be a decent deal.

When you are purchasing an acrylic aquarium things get really expensive when you go over 24" tall. Overall thickness on the walls increases, you need larger panels, bracing, etc. If the aquarium is 36" tall, thats a pretty decent deal.

When you're looking into the glass you need to figure out what grade you want too. Low iron vs starphire vs regular glass will all cost different, that and a 1/2" or thicker sheet of glass is going weight an ungodly amount. You will need 4 people to lift just that.
I will have to see tomorrow when I ask for pricing but just doesn’t seem like a realistic price. This one is standard 240 gallons 8ftx2ftx2ft
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
So got a price on a 8ftx2ftx2ft acrylic tank. Brand new is 2000-2300. So the one selling used the guy is asking way to much in my opinion. Another option the owner gave me was 120 gallon frag tanks. 4ftx3ftx16” for $530. Going to price up a plywood tank with a glass viewing panel Monday.
 

John58ford

Member
Right on. When you got the quote on that acrilic tank was that including assembly or just the parts kit? I was quoted something close to that, then another $1500 for "certified assembly". The frag tank would work well, so do the stock tanks from a farm store but they don't have windows. Also 150 gallons is a pretty huge departure from your original 450 gallon+ indoor pond lol.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
John58ford said:
Right on. When you got the quote on that acrilic tank was that including assembly or just the parts kit? I was quoted something close to that, then another $1500 for "certified assembly". The frag tank would work well, so do the stock tanks from a farm store but they don't have windows. Also 150 gallons is a pretty huge departure from your original 450 gallon+ indoor pond lol.
That quote was for an assembled tank. If I went the frag tank route I would run two. I have looked at the stock tanks and also looked at fiberglass aquaculture tanks. The aquaculture tanks have me quite interested. There is a company down the road from me that sells pre designed tanks as well custom ones with viewing panels.

Come Monday I will be contacting the aquaculture supply company to get a quote on one of their pre designed rectangular 8ftx3ftx18” fiberglass tanks. As well pricing on one with a viewing panel.
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
Was able to get a quote on a aquaculture tank 8ftx3ftx16” they are 1,300 each with a 2” drain on center. Most likely going to go this route. Mainly because they are nearly indestructible, will last forever, and very light weight. Also a bit cheaper then going with a plywood tank. Waiting on a quote for an acrylic tank of the same dimensions to weight my options.

I usually only run sponge filters on all my tanks but with the 2” drain on the aquaculture tank temps me to run a sump. My thought would be to use the drain as a surface skimmer to a sump. As well have a T at the 2” drain for quick water changes. Looking for opinions or advice on this set up
 

John58ford

Member
Jaquatic said:
Was able to get a quote on a aquaculture tank 8ftx3ftx16” they are 1,300 each with a 2” drain on center. Most likely going to go this route. Mainly because they are nearly indestructible, will last forever, and very light weight. Also a bit cheaper then going with a plywood tank. Waiting on a quote for an acrylic tank of the same dimensions to weight my options.

I usually only run sponge filters on all my tanks but with the 2” drain on the aquaculture tank temps me to run a sump. My thought would be to use the drain as a surface skimmer to a sump. As well have a T at the 2” drain for quick water changes. Looking for opinions or advice on this set up
Do you have a link to the supplier? I might steer that way if I like the appearance of it. (Unless they are Canada only )
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
They are located in Canada but they may ship. Mind you the tank I have quoted is without a viewing panel. I don’t really have a need for a viewing panel for this particular set up. I pmd you the details
 

Zach72202

Member
Jaquatic said:
Was able to get a quote on a aquaculture tank 8ftx3ftx16” they are 1,300 each with a 2” drain on center. Most likely going to go this route. Mainly because they are nearly indestructible, will last forever, and very light weight. Also a bit cheaper then going with a plywood tank. Waiting on a quote for an acrylic tank of the same dimensions to weight my options.
That size honestly sounds like a bunch of fun. Imagine that tank solid with wysteria or water sprite and 1000 white clouds. Would literally be a forest!

I have considered stock ponds like that for growing and selling plants along with 'affordable' housing for my Mbu puffer long term.

What are your plans for lighting such a beast?
 
  • Thread Starter

Jaquatic

Member
That’s essentially what my game plan is. Grow out for plants/guppies/white clouds.

I have a 4 bulb t8 light fixture from Home Depot I have modified to run true led bulbs. It’s to bright for my 75 gallon so I plan on trying it on this setup.

Trying to decide on running either a 125 below the aquaculture tank or two 75s. At the same time to leave room for my co2 tanks and sump.
 

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