180 Gallon Tank River Flow Tank Ideas

Slapp

Hello,

I'm not sure what this post is, I guess just a journal. Better than shouting into the void.

I am close to actually owning a house, so I am getting pretty excited about what I can keep.

I'm moving far, but my brother wants my current tanks.

Still, this is a few years out. No reason to not start planning!

With that background, here's my general plan.

I'm going to make a plywood tank. They're cheaper, more robust, easy to make, and I can add in all the functionality I want into the structure of the tank. I. E. the filters, powerheads, substrate, heaters, and really anything else. I'm trying to invest a lot in one tank, so I don't lose myself in a fish room.

I saw a thread a while ago, on another forum, about a hillstream loach biotope. They ran PVC under the substrate from one side with inlets and the other with powerheads to create a strong, laminar flow. I want to incorporate this in my tank on a larger scale. Additionally, I would want to run the PVC lines outside the tank. This would make servicing easier, free up space inside the tank, and generally just make the whole thing simpler.
I am still debating whether or not to use internal powerheads (such as Marineland maxi-jets) instead of an external utility pump. Because although the powerheads are simpler, more reliable, and mobile, they take up more space in the tank and don't have the power. Additionally, they have restrictive inlet and outlet sizes, and I would risk cavitation and death of the pumps. If I used the external utility pumps, I could get more power for less cost without sacrificing reliability. And free up space in the tank, which as I said is a main goal. I want a seamless tank, I want to make it look like I've cut out a piece of river and stuck it in my living room.

In terms of filtration, I want a sump. The only alternative for my seamless setup is a canister which would be expensive to implement at this scale. (Also repair is a pain.) I'd rather invest in a little more plywood construction that I could repair indefinitely.
It would have to be independent of the flow system as well. I really want bamboo shrimp, and I can't have my food immediately being filtered out and making ammonia bombs every time. Additionally, it would be helpful to be able to turn it off to clean the sump and keep the flow in the main tank on. My stocking would not appreciate flow and oxygenation dropping all at once. Speaking of oxygenation, I'm not against having bubbles coming out of the flow pumps. It would simulate waters down from a riffle pretty well.

I'm still quite loose on dimensions. But, I'm thinking a 6 footer, 2 feet deep, and 2 feet tall. At least those are the dimensions of the glass. I'd like for the left and right sides to not be at the end of the glass and instead have frames there. One, this simplifies construction and takes the weight off the glass, but two it lends to the seamless look. Almost like a portal to the riverbed. Additionally, seeing all the outlets and inlets and piping would break the illusion pretty quickly.
In the end, the tank would end up around 180 to 200 gallons. However, so far I'm planning on making a tray for the substrate, that way I can have a deeper bed without sacrificing gallons. (A deep sand bed really really helps with scaping I've found. It lets you hide basically everything you don't want to see.) So if it's a 180-gallon tank, it's got the swimming area of a bare bottom, (minus the scape.)

Speaking of scape, I really want a very simple scape. IMO all of those bougie rimless tanks with their perfect carpets, co2 injection, dutch garden-style pile'o'plants, are awful. Don't get me wrong it takes a lot of skill and care to make those tanks, and it's impressive in its own right. I'm no master aquascaper, but I despise them. So, I'm gonna keep it simple.

Big, round river rocks, medium, round river rocks, and small round river rocks. I love the look of a big rock in an aquarium. I feel a rock is rarely the centerpiece of a hardscape, usually wood takes the medal. River rocks lack direction, unlike seiryu or ohko stone, which makes it easier to create a naturalistic look. Also, these rocks are available in any size, so it's not hard to make details or find scale at all. I plan on this lending to a very natural look. I want my tank to look like a riverbed human hands have never touched.
I also want to not have any plants. They're expensive for such a big tank, but mainly I want to promote algae growth on the rocks. I like the look of algae-covered rocks, and my stocking choices would appreciate it.

Stocking! I'm very concrete on wanting Panda Garras, and Singapore Shrimp. The tank could support large groups of both. I'd additionally like some darter tetras, but they are quite "new" to the hobby, and there's not much information on them. I like Characidium Fasciatum for its markings and size. I would have a group of 10 Garra, 10-15 shrimp, and a larger group of the darters, around 20 to 30.
Now I have a choice: leave it as is, add a large school of Zebra Danio, or one large "Shark" like an SAE or Flying Fox.
I'm worried the Danios could over-energize the tank if I got too many, but miserably underwhelming if I got too little. I'd be worried about the sharks being aggressive. However, I would not be getting for their cleaning "ability", rather I just love how they look. If there is a suitable "Shark" for this tank let me know. (I'd prefer gray, brown, and silver, to maintain the color scheme.)

I think that covers everything I wanna pour out so far. Thank you for listening to my ramblings.
 

BPSabelhaus

Not much to say other than wow.
Definitely want to see :)
 

Slapp

Alright I have another idea.

Same tank, tank same scape, keeping the shrimp, keeping the Garras.

It's a nice, cool, simplistic, brown and grey.

And then BOOM! A school of rainbow shiners.

Very pricey school, but they're so new. I would definitely wait until they're not $40-50 a pop and then get em.

But just imagine a school of shiners of that color.

Or imagine a North American shiner, one with less color but all the behavior.

I wish "boring" fish didn't exist. It's not a betta, but it's beautiful in its own right.
Look at this little mystery fish. (My dad brought it home when it was probably just a few days old. Not really to my liking, but whatever.)


D182EAF3-41F2-47BA-9827-5BCA18765C7E.jpeg
He is the most voracious eater in the whole tank.
His scales are beautiful!
And his colors too!
Honestly a native tank is another way to go, but stocking 180 gallons with probably all wild caught fish is a little too much guilt for me.

North American Shiners with my other stocking in the place of Danios I think is my new favorite stocking.
 

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MickSG

Exciting project. Can you share any schematics / design drawings yet? What kind of flow rate are you aiming for.
 

Flyfisha

If I can add a little of my experience with a tank that I made using PVC pipes. I added internal pumps that pulled the water from one end and discharged it at the other. I had a couple of power heads as well.
The shortfall was each motor running in water slightly increased the water temperature. In my climate the tank run far to hot in summer for the cool water species.
 

Slapp

Exciting project. Can you share any schematics / design drawings yet? What kind of flow rate are you aiming for.
I do have drawings but they’re not very comprehensible. I want to have around 10 maybe 15 times turnover. I’d also like to control it or set it to randomize throughout the day like marine tanks do. Although all in the same direction.
If I can add a little of my experience with a tank that I made using PVC pipes. I added internal pumps that pulled the water from one end and discharged it at the other. I had a couple of power heads as well.
The shortfall was each motor running in water slightly increased the water temperature. In my climate the tank run far to hot in summer for the cool water species.
Hmm, that’s something you couldn’t guess for.
I’m planning this tank for when I get a place in Canada. Me and my partner are still deciding where, but it’s gonna be cold. This might minimize that fear, but I’ll definitely take it into consideration.
Without the native fish it would probably rest between 70 and 72. (Or more I would chill it or heat it to that. I don’t mind buying a chiller really, they prevent a lot of stress.) With native fish I would hover it around 68-70. Even if it is too hot,

I need the water very oxygenated to create the environment I want anyway, which is the main concern with temperature. (In fish at least.)
 

Mudminnow

For your powerheads: consider the gyre pumps that folks use for reef tanks. They give a nice laminar flow across the top that comes back across the bottom--a bit like what you might see in a hydraulic behind a big bounder in a fast flowing river.

For fishes that go with the panda garras but don't quite have the frenetic energy of danios here's some I thought of:
  • Odessa Barbs
  • Stoliczkana Barbs
  • Dawkinsia Barbs
  • Kubotai Loaches
  • Sumo Loaches
  • Siamese Algae Eaters
  • Spiny Eels
  • Parambassis pulcinella
 

MrBryan723

I have PVC running under the substrate all along my tank. It's 6' long. It's more of a spring effect with a canister powering the output amd the inlet is jjst somewhere in the midde of the tank. If you weld the joints, i don't see why it wouldn't work to the river effect just the same.
 

Slapp

For your powerheads: consider the gyre pumps that folks use for reef tanks. They give a nice laminar flow across the top that comes back across the bottom--a bit like what you might see in a hydraulic behind a big bounder in a fast flowing river.

For fishes that go with the panda garras but don't quite have the frenetic energy of danios here's some I thought of:
  • Odessa Barbs
  • Stoliczkana Barbs
  • Dawkinsia Barbs
  • Kubotai Loaches
  • Sumo Loaches
  • Siamese Algae Eaters
  • Spiny Eels
  • Parambassis pulcinella
Thanks for the pump suggestion, but I’d much rather have consistent directions of flow through the whole tank. That wasn’t the difficult part. I’ll draw up some better schematics.
Sorry to cut your idea off so soon, but it’s just not want I want for the tank. I wanted all levels to be the same flow, to really get that river feel with the fish swimming and such. Additionally, the gyre pump would prevent the “dead zones” some fish would need to rest. The scape with the big rocks will fraction the current enough to prevent exhaustion.

And thanks for those suggestions. You can never know all the fish, lol.
I have drawn some “schematics”

They look like children’s scribbles, I apologize. They get my basic idea down at least.


B28585FB-E878-45CD-9B61-3117955D5E08.jpeg
I’d have two sumps. One for dumping and pumping the flow water through. The other for Filtration. Gravity powered outlet flow. I would probably have more outlets than inlets to make sure the flow doesn’t double back. The filtration sump would have one outlet and one inlet. Because the water always passes through the display and mixes, I’m not worried about missing any.


1FE636CC-6A42-4749-8096-4DA47045305C.jpeg
To aid in preventing reverse flow, I’d prefer to run a manifold that can control the flow to the 4 separate inlets.

These inlets would be tubes running the exterior length of the tank. I’d seal them against the plywood and either drill into them like a spray bar, or cut a slit down the length.
9A25976B-DB35-4653-A7B4-33333F80EED6.jpeg
Building the tank is probably the best way to convey what I want. Well, duh. But my drawings will never do it justice.
 

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