Fish Room Build (finally progress)

Zach B.
  • #1
Hello everyone I wanted to share my experience of building a fish room and get your opinions and feedback.


This is my tentative plan for my fish room. Ill break this down to explain how I plan to do each thing. then i will update with pictures and progress.

The stand:

I am creating the stand from 2 x 4's it will be a 32 inch deep and total length of 28 feet from the wall to the end of the horse shoe (see pictures). I am making a frame with cross supports every 1 foot (see image below but it is not exact measurements just a plan ). I will be securing the frame into the wall studs as well as a 4x4 post leg every 6 feet and in the corners. The surface is going to be 3/4 inch MDF board with stone coat counter-top epoxy finish and a 4 inch back splash. The epoxy finish will be a light grey granite look with stained redwood frame. Below is a picture of the rough plan for the frame. There will also be a lower shelf only 6-8 inches off the ground that is 18 inches deep for storage and I will have a couple small tanks there 29 gallon or less mostly temporary tanks for quarantine and fry but I have a 10 gallon scud tank that will live down there most likely.

FR layout.png
Each tank will have an overhead aquaponic sump made from window planter boxes (more in filtration section). Each "sump" will have a drain bulkhead the will run to a 1-1/2 inch pvc pipe that will sit on the counter top and drain to the sink. I will have a carbon filtered 1/2 inch fill line that will be tapped off of the sink water lines and blended hot and cold water. Making water changes as simple as turning two hand valves.

The tanks :
The picture shows roughly what will be in the room. My son's 29 gallon hermit crab tank in the corner. I will have 3 display tanks to start two 75 gallon tanks and a single 55 gallon this will be upgraded to a 75 at some point. The last tank will be a project of it's own. I want to build a custom coffee table the will hold a 55 gallon low boy tank or maybe a DIY acrylic tank but this will come after I finish the other tanks and funds rebuild. I will save stocking plans for another time but the current quick plan is one tank will house a small group of geophagus. The second will be a river tank with gobies and hilstream loaches and some white cloud minnows. The last 75 gallon will be a general community tank. The coffee table tank is going to be either a rice fish tank or a shell dweller tank.

Filtration and Lighting:
The tanks will probably be lighted by 2-3 LED flood lights mounted above the tanks I am not exactly sure what I will use here but I am thinking 1 grow light and 2 daylight 20 watt leds. The filters I am making for these tanks are exciting I am going to build a box that will straddle the tank with 3 legs using the tank only to support the front. They will hold a 3 foot planter box filled with a mixture of clay beads and crushed lava rock feeding the filter will be a 200+ gph submersible pump in a custom corner box the pump will be at the bottom and I will use a large section of fine Matala pond filter pad as a pre-filter. In the planter box i will have a section for filter floss I can easily change out where the inlet pipe is. The river tank will also have my FX6 canister filter on it for extra flow. I plan to grow plants from the filter although I am not sure what I will put in there yet.

7/31/22 Currently I am finishing up the drywall in the room. My plan for the week is to finish the tape and mud tonight and texture the walls on Monday. I will then paint the room Tuesday and/or Wednesday. The rest of the week will be constructing the stand. I am working until 2:30 pm every day except Saturday so I can't dedicate tons of time to the build. Once I finish the drywall and paint I will upload a picture of the empty room. also each step of the stand building process. This is going to be fun!

  • #2
Can't wait to see your progress. IDK about that coffee table though. How are you going to filter and clean something like that? Its always been a cool concept but seems unobtainable to me. Will the fish like people using it like a coffee table? How will you do the electric? A outlet underneath or cords going across the room? A outlet underneath could be a disaster. :eek:

  • #3
Is there a reason the 29 is behind your viewing area? You definitely need more tanks....
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Can't wait to see your progress. IDK about that coffee table though. How are you going to filter and clean something like that? Its always been a cool concept but seems unobtainable to me. Will the fish like people using it like a coffee table? How will you do the electric? A outlet underneath or cords going across the room? A outlet underneath could be a disaster. :eek:
I have put some thought into it. The filter would be an internal sump type filter similar to how the little 5 gallon all in one tanks do it. there is an electrical outlet behind the couch in the picture I can run a power strip from that under the couch and plug in there. I would have a hose on the pump for the filter with a Y that has shut offs one side would be the return to the tank the other would have a hose I keep coiled under the tank that I could run to the sink. I would then also have a hose connected to my fill line I can then grab and run to the tank to fill it. I could work out the problems but I am not 100% sure I will do it. The biggest problem I have found was that I have kids and I worry about the tank breaking. That is why I was thinking I might use acrylic panels instead. I am going to start with the 3 large tanks and go from there.
Is there a reason the 29 is behind your viewing area? You definitely need more tanks....
yeah it is for my son's hermit crabs
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
So sickness hit the household and put some delays on the project just providing an update. I have got the drywall done and now I am just needing to paint after the room is painted I'll start posting progress photos. Fingers crossed I'll have it painted and the frame of the stand built by next week
  • #6
I hope everyone gets to feeling better, and am anxious to see your progress!


Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
No progress to report life has kept me busy I am going to force some time into my schedule here soon. I wanted to get opinions and ideas on my first tank I am setting up first.

The tank will be a 75 gallon river theme tank. I want to set it up with variable size dark granite river rocks. These I collected out of the local streams and have been soaked for a long period of time and tested for limestone deposits and such. This will contrast with a mixed sand of beach sand and white silica sand from a pet store. As a base layer I have small media bags I load with aqua soil and root tabs that will be capped by the sand. I'll place some branch like driftwood laying over the rocks giving some cover for fish. I will have my fx6 canister filter and the overhead sump on it. Obviously over kill and the fx6 is more for flow than filtration and I already own it so why not.

Plants I plan to have java moss tied on the rocks and either dwarf sag( leaning towards this) or jungle val towards the back. I'll probably litter the wood with Anubis and moss. I will probably scatter the edge of the rocks with a few crypt wendeti( not sure how to spell it).

Fish: I don't know exactly how many of each I will get so I will just list the species and not quantity.

Hill stream loaches
White cloud minnows ( not sure if I want gold or standard)
Panda Garra
Gobies ( not sure what species exactly)
Bamboo shrimp

That is my plan for the first 75 gallon tank. Let me know what you think and if there are any fish or plants you would put into a set up like this if it was yours. Maybe some of your ideas will inspire me. If I would add anything I would want something to swim in the top or mid water that would thrive in 74-76 degree temps and not mind the flow. I am thinking barbs but I do hope to see the occasional baby white cloud and hillstream loach but don't really plan to breed them for profit or anything and feel like barbs at least in my experience are little predators. By that mean I had a platy tank and added gold barbs to it and the babies from the platies stopped showing up ASAP. Any information or ideas are welcome.
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Finally some progress a family of 4 and having to work 66 hours in a week is slowing me down quite a bit. I got primer and first coat of paint done. I need to do one more coat and then I can start building the stand! I'll post a picture of an empty room soon.... It seems so exciting to me but it only the beginning! I plan to dive right into building the stand as soon as possible.
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Progress again so paint is done! I cut a bunch of the wood for the stand! The room is a mess but is just a progress report. The blue line is about 3/4 inch below where the top of the stand will be. I am just snapping lines to get a general level line to work off of.
Can't stop me tonight haha got the first section of stand up there will be 4x4 legs coming down in the front and back and a lower shelf down below but it is a start. I will cover the top with 3/4 inch plywood.


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Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Just to give a bit more details on what the final plan is the frame is 27 inches I am going to face the front of the stand in 2x6 redwood to hide the cheap 2x4 frame. And then I'll have a 2 inch overhang on the plywood bringing the total surface to 30 1/2 inches deep. The total length will be 29 feet having a raw square footage of 73 square feet. The attached photo is the color the counter top will be except maybe a bit lighter grey.


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  • #11
This looks awesome. Can't wait to see it through the process.
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Update time I finished building the frame all the way around. I forgot to snap pictures but I am having a great time building this it is so much fun to see the progress. Next order of business is to cut the legs. This is going to be an experience for me because it will be my first attempt at fancy woodworking. I'll attach a picture with something similar to what I am planning.

There won't be any progress for a few days because I work 12 hours the next two days.


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Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Some progress wanted to show some pictures.


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Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Slow and steady wins the race.... Been working 12 hour shifts trying to sneak in some time working on my fish room I cut out and framed for the drop in sink I ordered. And got a few more legs done. Excuse the mess.


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Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I won't keep posting more pictures of the same view so today just an update. These legs take me about 30-45 minutes each mostly due to the sanding. I have 3 legs left to make and then I need to put boards over the front face. I am hiding the 2x4 frame with 2x6 redwood lumber. After all the redwood is in place I will stain all the legs and facing wood. Then plane the top of the frame so everything is flush for the surface.

I have failed to mention the flooring. I am replacing the flooring I my entire basement with vinyl plank flooring. I want it to be seamless so in order to do this I need to start in the main room. My problem is my tanks are currently I. The main room and I need to build this to move them out of there so I can start on the floor. I will just notch the flooring around the legs. I won't be building the lower shelf untill after the floor is in place.
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Another update. I have finally completed the frame of the stand and stained the redwood. I put some of the the counter top surface on but have not secured it. Over the week I intend to get the remaining counter top in place and cut the back splash. As soon as I have completed this I will post more pictures.

I am leaving for vacation on the 9th and I really hope to have the epoxy curing while I am gone but I am not sure I will have the time to get that done before then.

I have created a list of things left to do before I am complete with the project:
- Cut and secure the counter top
- Cut and secure the back splash
- Cut, secure, route the front edge
- Bondo and sand all joints and seams
- Paint the surface to prepare for epoxy
- Clean all surfaces in the room to reduce dust and dirt
- Mix and pour epoxy. ( I hope to get here by Friday)
- Cut out for the sink
- Install and plumb the sink
- Plumb tank fill lines
- Plumb drain lines
- Build filter stands

After this list is complete I have to wait 30 days from the day I poured the epoxy to be able to put aquariums on top of the stand. In that time I will plan my first 75 gallon tank and work on other household projects.
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Woohoo I got the surface on! Did the first round of Bondo. Need to sand it down and do another round for any gaps.


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Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
I have been busy working on the stand thanks to my wife for applying the paint. I am going to apply the epoxy later tonight!!!


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Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Well now I have 30 days until I can place aquariums on the stand to allow the epoxy to fully harden. I am going to be off on vacation for 10 days so nothing will happen until after that.
Things that can be done in the meantime:

Cut out the counter for the sink and plumb it in.
Build the filter stands and plumb the water changing system.

The project is getting so close to being done I have been dreaming about this for a couple years now. I am getting so excited!


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  • #20
It looks great! I put an epoxy penny floor in my bathroom a couple of years ago, so I know how messy the process can be. Enjoy your vacation.
Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
Long break from posting as life has been busy. Things I have done since my last post are:

Installed and plumbed utility sink
Placed and aquascaped my first 75 gallon (only hard scape)
Cut lids out of green house siding.
Sorted and got rid of all unneeded aquarium supplies.
Purchased my second 75 gallon tank.

The 75 gallon I scaped will be my community tank. I already have lots of the fish.

1 Bolivian ram male (getting him 2+ females soon)
15 serpent loaches
20 gold barbs
10 bronze corys
8 male platys
Future plans:
Apistogramma pair
Maybe a few honey gourami

The second tank will be the river tank
5-8 panda garra
1-5 freshwater goby
10 hillstream loaches
1-3 bamboo shrimp
20+ white cloud mountain minnows
Will have an fx6 and an overhead sump the fx6 will be 100% bio with an intake sponge and sitting next to the tank. I am going to build a box around it and put a plant on top to hide the filter.

As for the third tank I am thinking I may do a puffer tank.
1 fahaka puffer maybe....
Or maybe 8-10 Amazon puffers
Or a goldfish tank...
The goal is to have a "wet pet" tank maybe a larger cichlid pair like green terror or a single Oscar.
I am not close to decided on this I am just so unsure.

I forgot to get pictures but I'll post some tonight of all the progress.
  • #22
It’s always been my dream to have a fish room! Or, like a pet room more like, I also want a chameleon. I just have to wait until I can move out. I’m only 16 and limited to two tanks; 10 gallon and a 2.5 gallon.


Zach B.
  • Thread Starter
  • #23
The cost isn't cheap
It’s always been my dream to have a fish room! Or, like a pet room more like, I also want a chameleon. I just have to wait until I can move out. I’m only 16 and limited to two tanks; 10 gallon and a 2.5 gallon.
It comes with a price. I have spent nearly $3,000 building this room. Everything adds up. When you buy your own house in the future I bet you could make it happen.
  • #24
Looks great. Just one thing I would make sure that you have at least four legs supporting each tank, preferably on the corners of the tanks. Remember that this wood is going to dry out and warp slightly with time, which can cause some problems if your tanks aren't supported properly
86 ssinit
  • #25
Yes I think you need to add more supports to the
stand/table. Also coffee table tanks are more status than practical. No great line of site and not that easy to maintain.

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