First, simple, you need a lot of heat(ers) to keep a tropical tank in a freezing basement. I have a tank in the garage, but it is insulated on sides, bottom, back, and partially top, and I cover the front with a styrofoam pad when it gets cold.
Second, don't get any labyrinth fish, like Gouramies. They wouldn't like inhaling icy air.
Third, I'd be very concerned about evaporation and all related issues, like dripping ceilings, mold growing on walls, etc. If there is any chance moisture can get into walls I would cover that thing.
Thanks Wasserpest. The basement isn't freezing, but it's definitely cooler than the rest of the house. I'm guessing it's about 10 degrees cooler year round. My garage on the other hand is freezing!
I'm not bent on an open tank. I do like the look and think it would make maintenance easier.
I've been debating between building a canopy (AH Supply retrofits) that would sit on the tank or going with metal halide pendants. I was leaning towards the canopy based on the price of halides. Just wondering if any of the hanging fluorescents were comparable to the halides. I've only seen a couple fixtures that actually hang from the ceiling.
My gut says to stick with a covered tank, but knowing myself I will debate that decision forever unless I ask.
I just did a odno shoplight for about $40 ($26 for ballist, $2x2 for t8 bulbs and $10 for the light. Two of these would almost be excessive light. Not pretty though, but pretty is not that important in a basement.