Fish Room Design/ Planning (need Input)

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by Zach B., Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    So I am buying a new house and there is an unfinished storage room in the basement that I got approval on ( from the wife) to use as a fish room. I am moving from a small town home into a good size single family home so I can get more tanks than I was able to before. It is a 13 foot by 13 foot room. I don't want it to be a mismatched room with tanks all over the place. I plan on making everything uniform and nice.

    A co-worker had a python snake in his 210 gallon tank that recently died (R.I.P) and is giving me the tank 7"x2"x2" ( I hit the jackpot on this one).

    So with that I plan to have all the tanks on auto water change systems. I plan to use a sump on the 210 with an auto water change system that also has auto top off. It will change 10 gallons twice a day using an rv filter to pull out chlorine and chloramines. I am luck enough to have easy access to plumbing because one wall backs up to a bathroom and the walls are unfinished. That said I plan to run the drain line around the room and have fresh cold water supply run around the room. The rest of the tanks will be on a drip system that will overflow into the drains.

    As far as what I have now for fish tanks:
    10 gallon platy tank:
    6 platy and a few fry

    29 gallon community tank:
    1 King tiger pleco
    1 amazon puffer
    3 honey gourami
    4 corys ( I need to get more )
    6 otos
    1 peaceful male beta fish (has been in there for 9 months now no problems)

    So the 210 will be a peacock and hap African cichlid tank that will be an all male display tank. I will be building this up slow and growing out my own cichlids in a "breeding rack system" I want to set up. The plan is to buy 5 x 40 breeders that will all be filtered through one sump but each tank can be turned off while quarantined and filtered via hang on back filters until I can add them back onto the system. There will be 2 tanks side by side and 2 layers high the 5th tank will be the sump so all together the system will be about 170 gallons. With this system I want to buy about 8 fish of 4 species of African cichlids at 1-2 inches and grow them out in species only tanks one in each 40 breeder. Then I will select the best male and sell the rest to my local fish store. I asked them and they said they would give me store credit for 3-4 inch cichlids no problem.

    This is where I need some advice to start. With the 210 gallon tank if I start out with 4 species of peacocks growing out in the rack and only add fish to the 210g as they get to about 3-4 inches will I have any issues with aggression adding them since most places I read they say overstocking helps with aggression. So the first set of 4 will go in and ill have 4 fish in the 210 gallon tank then months later ill add 4 more and repeat this till I hit my cap of between 25-35 fish depending on what species of haps I decide to get.

    With my other space I would like to set up four+ 120 gallon tanks each with it's own sump similar to The King of DIY's current set up( I don't plan on doing youtube though). The door is on the south west corner of the room. So the west wall will have 2 120 gallon tanks. The north wall will have my 210 gallon tank and maybe a single 120 gallon tank. The east wall will have two 120 gallon tanks and maybe a fry/grow out rack for breeding if I decide to go that route. lastly the 40 gallon breeder rack will be on the south wall. The room will be kept at about 75 degrees by a space heater so I shouldn't need heaters in the sumps but I might put one in as a backup.

    This is a long post and is probably 2-50 years from completion ( ^_^) depending on funds but what I want from you guys is cautionary tales of bad experiences and advice for me. I am still learning and want to take this slow and enjoy the process of building this fish room. So please pick my plan apart find holes in the ideas I have. I look forward discussions as we go. Thank you in advance for any responses.
     
  2. MrBryan723

    MrBryan723Well Known MemberMember

    Messages:
    1,793
    Location:
    Texas
    Ratings:
    +836
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    I would guess as you increase your stocking you will see aggression as the new fish get added in then taper off as it gets more fully stocked. A good trick that might work is when you add the new fish do a rescape at the same time as it has been known to help with disrupting territories and curbing aggression.
     
  3. Nobote

    NoboteValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    334
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Indiana
    Ratings:
    +170
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    You may want to install some FRP or something water tight.on the ceilings and walls..with the confined space and tankload you may incur some humidity issues.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    Ok that is a great idea there is a small half size window in the room I might be able to run a dehumidifier
     
  5. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    427
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Midwest
    Ratings:
    +255
    Experience:
    5 to 10 years
    Are you sure your planned filter system will remove all the chloramines? I watched a video from someone selling RO systems for aquariums who said some small amount of chloramine would remain even after going through two solid block activated carbon filters. Apparently a significant amount is left after the first carbon block. (Not saying they aren't effective, but 90% effective leaves 10% behind after one and 1% after two.) I would be very sure the filter you intend to use is going to do the job to the fish's liking.

    For your breeder tanks, have you considered putting a sponge filter of adequate size in each tank? That would allow you to cut any tank off from the sump and it would still have cycled filtration available. Alternatively, you could put the sponges in the sump and have them always ready to go.

    If the basement isn't already finished and extremely well insulated, I'd suggest adding insulation before you start. Where I live the basement gets down to about 60F at night during the winter, and that's with the furnace running. You might also want to think about adding a gas space heater if possible. Maintaining a 10F difference with electric heat is going to get very expensive. We had to use a space heater in one room this last winter and even when only running it at night it added at least $25 to the electric bill each month.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    Thank you for the suggestion I'll research the filter I also have the option of doing both, using a filter and maybe daily/weekly adding of water conditioners I just want to automate the system as much as possible. Also like I said the system will only change 5% water every 12 hours. So the amount of chlorine and chloramine will be minimal.

    The breeder tanks I was planning on running hang on back with media from the running sump to keep it cycled. It will run for the couple weeks to a month then boil the media and re add it to the sump after the fish are added back to the system. At the time the fish will be small so filtering a 40 gallon system will be easy. I don't like the sound of air pumps and I want to use wet dry sumps and powerheads for surface agitation and oxegen exchange.

    I would like to insulate the basement but I would have to frame it and then insulate it then drywall it. I may have to do that slowly because it is expensive. 2 of the 4 walls are framed but the external walls are not. Thank you for the suggestion I will need to factor this in. I have natural gas line in the house I don't know what it would take to run a line to that room the nearest line is about 20 feet away through 2 walls. I'm not sure if you where talking about a propane heater or not I just brainstorming. The basement is finished but the room I am using is not. Also the basement has forced air heat and AC I have one duct in that room so I would be only adjusting the temperature from what that is getting the room temperature to.

    Keep the suggestions coming guys this is excellent I don't want to get so far into it and then realize If I had only done something up front it would have been so much easier.
     
  7. Nobote

    NoboteValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    334
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Indiana
    Ratings:
    +170
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    If nothing else hang green board for drywall...its just drywall with a layer of plastic under the paper.

    Your exterior walls that are concrete...just drylock them. Goes on with a roller.
     
  8. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    427
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Midwest
    Ratings:
    +255
    Experience:
    5 to 10 years
    The chlorine probably wouldn't be an issue as it will escape to atmosphere pretty quickly, but the chloramine will stay in the water for a long time. It's much more deadly in small amounts because it gets into the bloodstream while chlorine gas damages the gill tissues but doesn't otherwise enter the body.

    If you don't care about the look there are other ways to stop heat loss aside from conventional fiberglass insulation. I saw a video where somebody used this stuff that looks like bubble wrap made of aluminum foil to insulate his aquarium directly. Further investigation found the material itself doesn't provide all that much insulation, but if you can get a column of dead air between two layers of the stuff the insulating factor goes way up. You could build frames from cheap 1"x2" lumber and staple the bubble sheeting on both sides, sandwiching the air in between. Then hang the frames against the wall. The stuff is called Reflectix and Home Depot sells a 400 sq. ft. roll for $130. Even if you just hung a curtain of the stuff in front of the exterior wall you'd probably see significant savings.

    Yeah, I was thinking natural gas. Propane would likely be rather expensive. Both would need to be vented though. That's likely to be the trickiest part.

    That does make it easier. My basement is also heated, though we tend to keep the vents closed most of the way or the main house doesn't get enough heat. The primary issue here is the main house gets set back to 67F at night. That lets the basement get to about 60F. The portions of the exterior walls that are below grade don't get much below 55F no matter how cold the air is outside, but the basement isn't insulated so there's constant movement of heat from the room into the walls. If I had it to do over I'd at least insulate the outer walls in the finished portion of the basement.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    So I spent some time researching removing chloramine from the water. Please correct me if I am wrong my understanding is limited.

    It seems that water conditioners i.e. prime only block it and prevent it from being harmful to fish while causing the chlorine to gas off. So this leaves water safe for fish almost immediately.

    What I was considering doing is using a 3 stage carbon filter 5 micron sediment filter then a 1 micron carbon block filter followed by a .5 micron carbon block filter then place an inline uv sterilization unit after that to breakdown the remainder of the chloramine. This should in theory remove all chloramine. Now I said in theory I have seen many auto water change systems using this method(in videos on YouTube).

    I really don't want a treated reservoir. My secondary idea would be turn off the return pump from the sump drain 10 gallons of water. Then treat the sumps volume with an auto doser, and refill the 10 gallons. After that turn the return pump back on. This should keep all the water treated and a 1 gallon jug of prime cost $90 that would last over a year even treating 55 gallons of water twice a day

    If anyone has other ideas to remove chloramine let me know.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  10. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    So I have been doing some thinking about my sump and auto water change system. I was going to buy an auto water changer system off of Amazon for like $200. But I am going to get a 40 breeder for my sump I was thinking of drilling it and setting that up to a drain. Then buying smart plugs that I can control from my phone. I would plug the return pump for my sump into one, a sump pump with a float switch to another, an auto doser, and a 110v solenoid valve on the incoming water line.
    The programming would work like this ever 12 hours:
    The return pump would power down
    5 mins later the sump pump would turn on and drain the sump to proper level based on the float switch.
    5 mins later the sump pump will shut off and an auto doser would dose prime for the 25ish gallons in the sump.(Total filled volume)
    5 mins later turn on the solenoid to fill the sump for a set amount of time based on flow through the valve.
    Finally turn the return pump back on.

    The idea is to give room for error and an overflow to prevent flooding. I think this might be the best solution to my auto water change system. Any ideas or tweaks are welcome.
     
  11. Islandvic

    IslandvicWell Known MemberMember

    Messages:
    2,803
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    South Texas
    Ratings:
    +1,633
    Experience:
    1 year
    @Zach B. , a gallon of Prime shouldn't cost that much.

    Kensfish.com has it for $74.

    Also, you should probably consider Seachem's Safe, the powdered version of Prime. 1/4 tsp treats 300 gallons and a kilo costs about $29 @ Ken's (LINK)

    I get Safe, Prime and a lot of my other supplies and fish food from Ken's. No tax and free s&h on orders over $49. I love that place!

    Regarding your water change system, look up Steve Poland Aquatics. I believe Steve had a couple of videos on his water change system in his basement.

    While we dont have basements in my part of the country, my recommendation would be to invest on infrastructure upgrades as much as you can first (electrical, gas lines, insulation, drains, water supply, etc etc). It may cost more to do it all at first before starting the fish room build, but that is better than dealing with a room that is too hot/cold/humid depending on the season.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    Thank you for the web site and your input @Islandvic If a need large orders ill use this and aquarium co-op as my two large online order places and my local fish store for individual purchases

    My new build plan:

    Seal external walls: ~ $40

    Frame walls: ~$500 (I will need a cement nail gun)

    Wire the room: $500+ I want to run the room on it's own GFCI breaker and I'll pay an electrician to do this.

    This is all value added to the home to this point for future buyers everything else will not be counted as home improvement. Except the insulation.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Do the plumbing with Pex hosing 3/4 inch. This is my ocd coming out but I don't want exposed plumbing except hoses coming down from the tanks behind it. So my plan is to frame the wall then build a dummy wall out 6 inches framed by 1x3 "studs and only going up to 1/3 the height (chair rail height) of the wall allowing all the plumbing to be exterior to the main wall but enclosed and not visible. This also provides me with a ledge behind the tank for supplies and also the ability to remove it easier if I move in the future( I don't want to but the wife may eventually). I will put in something similar to a clothing washer drain/water supply for each tank/rack and run the whole room on 1 and 1/2 inch PVC drain. ~ $400 ( might be a bit less expensive because pex is cheap)

    Insulate the external walls with regular fiberglass batting insulation. ~$100

    Drywall all the walls and ceiling. ~$300

    Paint the cement floor and walls ~ $150

    Buy this heater for the room: $450 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SMLKEUK/ref=twister_B00USZPVXI?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

    The gas heater was a good idea but venting the heater properly would be very expensive and not something I want to do. I still think this will be more efficient and safer than individual heaters in the sumps.

    Install a dehumidifier: https://www.amazon.com/hOmeLabs-Sma...+dehumidifier&qid=1566267028&s=gateway&sr=8-4
    This is probably big enough considering our outdoor humidity is on average 15-25% and with HVAC running 8+ months out of the year the humidity levels should be fine. ~$50

    estimated total cost with me doing most the work + 10% for error: $2800 but I will consider about $1500 of that home improvement.

    After all this is done I will start moving fish tanks into the room. From the looks of it I won't be even putting water in my 210 gallon tank for 3-9 months because I want to do it right and have it look very clean. I also agree that a good well thought out build will be very important to complete before I start populating the room with fish. I think ill be lucky if I have my 210 stocked by this time next year.

    P.S. I think I will buy 2-3 inch male peacocks and haps from 2 places I found on the internet all in 2 separate orders. I think this is better than growing them out myself at least for the initial group. Live fish direct for the bulk of the fish and goliad farm for a few of his nice looking hybrids (please don't attack me for liking hybrids each person can enjoy what they want). I have seen unboxing videos and review videos about theses two online stores and they seen reputable. I would like to hear if any of you have had good or bad experiences with fish from these places.

    Another long one but as always please provide any useful information I missed on the build or any comments you may have.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
  13. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    427
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Midwest
    Ratings:
    +255
    Experience:
    5 to 10 years
    I was with you right up to here. Being as tactful as I can, this would be an economically questionable choice. In this situation, heat is heat. You're going to get the exact same heat out of a $50 electric space heater as you will from this $450 unit. It's all going to be limited by the wattage you can get on a single electrical circuit.

    If you can find a spot for it, I'd recommend an oil-filled electric radiator. It's a much more gentle heat available over a longer time since it continues radiating after the heating coil turns off. You won't have hot air blowing in any particular direction, though it will be warmer right next to the radiator.

    Short of that, I'd get a cheap electric heater that blows air over warm coils. Maybe something that can be bracket mounted near the ceiling so it's up and out of the way. Also well away from any spills.

    Since you're going to have an electrician do the wiring, I'd consider running multiple circuits, with one dedicated to the heater. Might even want to consider having a 240V line put in. There are industrial 240V heaters that will put out significantly more heat than any common consumer version, even a Dyson. Check Amazon. There are quite a few that aren't even that expensive. Most are way cheaper than the Dyson.
     
  14. Islandvic

    IslandvicWell Known MemberMember

    Messages:
    2,803
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    South Texas
    Ratings:
    +1,633
    Experience:
    1 year
    I believe all of your due diligence is going to pay off. What helps me when starting house projects is sketching everything thing out to scale, with both overhead and front views. That way my wife can sign off on what she likes and ensures I am interpreting what she wants. Ha

    I think having the false wall to plumb the water supply and drain pipes is a very good idea, plus the 6" ledge on top is a very handy bonus!

    Wow, I cant imagine living somewhere with 15-25% humidity. That would be fantastic! It averages 70-90% year round here.

    You mentioned livefishdirect.com and Goliad Farms. Very coincidental, ha. My friend and I have made 2 group purchases from LFD, both times all fish arrived alive and healthy with no subsequent disease or illness. I did receive a female Red Neyrerei although I ordered a male juvie. I took some pics and emails LFD, then Josh refunded that fish and a % of the s&h. Very good customer service for that order. I took advantage of their 25% off all stock during the 4th of July Sale. They routinely have 20%-25% off sales during major holidays, so if you can plan future purchases around the weeks of 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Black Friday, etc etc, a lot of $ can be saved !

    We've also made 2 group purchases from Imperial Tropicals in Florida. Again the fish arrived all alive and healthy. We both would buy from there again.

    Although I have never bought anything from Goliad Farms, I would do so when the occasion arises. I discoved them last year when doing Google searches trying to find cichlid breeders in Texas. Although a very basic website, their blogs are very interesting. Then I saw the video tour that Cory from Aquarium Co-OP did of Goliad Farms with the owner and I was blown away and amazed with the operation! Having 100% natural filtration using all plants is awesome!

    For being a small family run business with minimal employees and having such a large operation, shows the dedication and passion of Goliad Farms, especially with the damage they incurred from Hurricane Harvey.

    If we ever set up a larger African tank, I would make attempt to actually go to Goliad Farms and select the fish myself to stock it. It's close enough to where we live to make a short day trip out of going there.

    I think you would be very happy with the quality of hybrids and other Africans from there.

    Keep us updated on any new plans/work. Having a thread with a fish room build starting in the planning phase will be very interesting!
     
  15. Nobote

    NoboteValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    334
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Indiana
    Ratings:
    +170
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
    You dont need a concrete pun nailer.
    Rent or borrow a hammer drill and get some tapcons....essentially a blue concrete screw w hex drive.
    You dont even need that many anchor points...2 ever 4 lineal feet of wall for what youre doing.
    You can also put a little liquid nails on your treated bottom plate. I accidentally smashed a tube of liwuid nails on my droveway 20 yrs ago....still there.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    @JayH Thank you all for your input the reason I selected the Dyson was for the reviews on even heating throughout the room because of the air flow and the accuracy of the thermostat. I agree that $400+ is expensive and as I always do I will continue to research to find an equivalent alternative that is not so expensive unless I can't find one. Also you will not offend me with constructive criticism as long as you are not name calling. Another thing that just occurred to me is even if the thermostat is +- 3-4 degrees the water will be the average because water won't change temperature as fast.

    @Nobote As far as the nail gun this is not the only finishing project I plan to do and they make $50 powder actuated nail guns with $20 worth of .22 caliber rounds and nails so I think the $70 investment will be worth it. A hammer drill with concrete screws with anchors would cost almost all much as the nail gun to rent. Great idea though I might go that route if I was only doing this one room but like I said I have a laundry room to finish also.

    @Islandvic Thank you for the reviews of the online retailers. I did consider imperial tropicals but their selection is less extensive than live fish direct but I will factor them in I am trying to minimize shipping costs I'll have to look into if they have free shipping @ x amount of dollars. I have had a bad experience ordering online through azgardens so I do plenty of research before I buy.
     
  17. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    427
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Midwest
    Ratings:
    +255
    Experience:
    5 to 10 years
    Regarding the Dyson, I'm sure it does do a good job. But any reasonable electric heater will do okay in a well-insulated 13'x13' room. The biggest issue with any of these is going to the maximum wattage. They ALL top out at 1500 watts unless you go to a 240V model. Some of those go to 3000 watts or more.

    Considering the volume of water you'll end up with, I suspect it would be a toss up as to whether the room heater or the aquarium heaters will be more economical to operate. You're ultimately heating the entire room, either with a room heater or with heat transferred from the water into the room. I think the operational cost is going to be a wash. So that leaves the cost of the equipment. You can buy a lot of aquarium heaters for $450.

    You aren't currently talking that many tanks, so it shouldn't be that many heaters. For $30 you can get an Inkbird heater controller that gives you very good digital control, meaning you can get away with using cheap heaters because they just have to come on when power is applied. Amazon has a number of very cheap heaters. A quick search found a 2-pack of 300W heaters for $18. I wouldn't dream of using those and depending on the included circuitry to control it, but when the Inkbird is doing the thinking, they should be just fine. So $48 and you've got the biggest tank dealt with. You probably wouldn't even need both heaters as long as the room stays within 10F of your target tank temp. Split up the 2-pack and you're at $38 per tank. That's under $200 for the five tanks you're talking about, plus you get the option to set different tanks to different temps.

    Of course, switch the Dyson out for a $75 oil-filled radiator or a $50 heating coil with a fan, and the equation changes rather dramatically. BTW, I'd seriously consider getting an Inkbird to control the space heater. It allows you to separate the temperature sensor from the heater and get a much more accurate reading. You would need to get an old fashioned heater with non-digital controls. The digital ones won't work right if you interrupt the power.
     
  18. Nobote

    NoboteValued MemberMember

    Messages:
    334
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Indiana
    Ratings:
    +170
    Experience:
    More than 10 years
  19. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    @JayH I have been doing research and there is a large difference in efficiency when it comes to heating a whole room versus a tank based on how the heat is delivered. It will run more or less frequently based on how well it controls. I agree 1500 watts of heat is 1500 watts of heat, but my point is 1500 watts of heat from a space heater vs 1500 watts of heat from submersible tank heaters will both heat the room and the tanks at different Kilowatt hours used per month. That said after doing more research I have removed the dyson from my plan and I am trying to decide on two different heaters.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005MMN75G?tag=isbestseekers-20 with the inkbird like you recommended( but I could only find inkbirds rated to 1200W is there a 1500W model I am not finding)

    or

    https://www.amazon.com/Dr-Infrared-Heater-Portable-1500-Watt/dp/B002QZ11J6/?tag=gearbeacon-20 without.

    From many review sights the Dr-infrared heater is one of the most efficient and accurate heaters for the price range

    The panel heater is wall mountable and rated highly for quality of heat but the efficiency I hampered by the terrible thermostat but with the inkbird thermostat I think it will be a beast. both would be a little over $100 much better than $450
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  20. OP
    OP
    Zach B.

    Zach B.Valued MemberMember

    Messages:
    187
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +68
    @Nobote would you then just run concrete screws or do anchor bolts with that?
     
Loading...
Similar Threads Forum
10 Gallon Tank Fishgirly’s Mini Fish Room Adventures Members Fish Tanks
My Fish Room Members Fish Tanks
Is Anyone Using A Camera To Livestream Their Fish Room/tanks? General Discussion
Starting A Fish Room General Discussion
Funny How Does One Get A Fish Room? Funny Stuff
Clovervalley’s Fish “room” Freshwater Aquarium Builds
Fish Room Rack/plumbing Freshwater Aquarium Builds








Become a Fishlore Member