180 gallon custom build, initial planning - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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180 gallon custom build, initial planning

Hopefully this is the right area to post, please remove if not. Planning on doing most of this DIY. I used to be an avid planted tank keeper before adulthood and kids, and I'm just getting back into it. After ten years, things have changed...! We are in the planning stages of building a house on some acreage, getting ready to plan my dream tank. This is the first custom/built in tank I've done so I figure the earlier I seek advice, the better!

Our dining/living area starts right after the entry way, the plan is to separate it with a partition wall. We would like to build in cabinetry on both sides for storage, and have a 48" long tank visible from both sides. On each side of the partition/cabinetry, to the left and right of the tank would be some countertop space. On the entryway side, this would serve as landing areas for us (keys, mail, whatnot) and on the dining/living area side, this would be a future mini bar/buffet space. The whole run is about 12.5 feet long.

My initial thoughts are that since non-custom upper cabinets tend to come in either 12" or 15" depth, I need to plan with those dimensions in mind. Including the support structure in between, that would mean somewhere between a 4'L x 2.5'D x 2.25'H (pretty tall because I want to keep altums in there) and a 4'L x 3'D x 2.25'D tank. Either way, there's going to be some counter space in front of the tank, because I want to use regular depth base cabinets. I'll use an internal overflow, beananimal setup. Sump lines would come in and out of the short sides and would be covered up with some extra panels. Tank is likely going to be DIY plywood. We will be having the area plumbed and with its own circuit.

Here are my questions:
1. Underneath the tank, would RTA plywood base cabinets work just fine if they were reinforced inside?
2. What would other folks do here in terms of cabinetry and size of tank? IKEA wall cabinets sound appealing for cost and modular nature (except under the tank of course, I know that's not enough support!). But IKEA wall cabinets are 15" deep and I'm not sure about having a 3 foot deep tank.
3. Haven't gotten this far in the planning but wondering if that extra 6" on the footprint (2.5' vs 3' deep) would make lighting difficult. (In terms of lighting needs, I don't want to do CO2, would plant fairly heavily.) I'm open to DIY LED, as I would like 24/7 capabilities without breaking the bank.

I seriously have been out of the hobby for so long, I am feeling really unsure! All thoughts appreciated.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 08:45 PM
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First of all, welcome to the TPT.

Personally I love watching large tank builds, and when you mentioned Altum's, well that's just icing on the cake.

I don't really have answers to your questions, but having built a custom stand, I would really research reinforcing base cabinets. Not saying it can't work, but with close to a ton of glass, water, and substrate, I would want to be very sure.

There's another guy on this board, @rballi, who is building a 240G Altum tank right now. You might want to check out his thread, or get in contact with him, he may be able to help you and answer some of your questions.

You should also probably start a tank journal here, as speaking for myself, I would really like to follow along and see what you come up with.

Good luck with the project, and looking forward to seeing where it goes.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 09:02 PM
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Actually the "best" method would be to custom build the tank section based on the dimensions of say a small end cabinet(w/ counter)
Get a unstained end cabinet and build a 2x6 frame faced w/ matching plywood species..
Most places that carry DIY cabinetry also carry matching doors that you can buy separately..
moddern euro hinges are easy to install (barring the fact you usually need to buy a drill bit set at a premium price)

All of this is "fairly" easy to accomplish.

3/4 plywood can really hold a lot of weight but I personally would rather do dimensional lumber for a large tank.
My 55 came w/ a stand that, in my way of thinking, shouldn't hold up a goldfish bowl..but it does...

bottom line is use whatever cabinets you want but custom the tank section..
Using cabinets w/ finished sides (or DIY) you can build the center section to whatever width you want..
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Only construction advice would be to face the lumber frame w/ the plywood facing slighty extending beyond the frame. Allow some trim room to match the pre-builts..
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 09:12 PM
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I love the idea of a tank being in the kitchen. Wife wouldn't go for that right, maybe one day.

Look forward to seeing this progress!


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
Actually the "best" method would be to custom build the tank section based on the dimensions of say a small end cabinet(w/ counter)
Get a unstained end cabinet and build a 2x6 frame faced w/ matching plywood species..
Most places that carry DIY cabinetry also carry matching doors that you can buy separately..
moddern euro hinges are easy to install (barring the fact you usually need to buy a drill bit set at a premium price)

All of this is "fairly" easy to accomplish.

3/4 plywood can really hold a lot of weight but I personally would rather do dimensional lumber for a large tank.
My 55 came w/ a stand that, in my way of thinking, shouldn't hold up a goldfish bowl..but it does...

bottom line is use whatever cabinets you want but custom the tank section..
Using cabinets w/ finished sides (or DIY) you can build the center section to whatever width you want..
[]---[]


Only construction advice would be to face the lumber frame w/ the plywood facing slighty extending beyond the frame. Allow some trim room to match the pre-builts..
Thank you, super helpful! This is definitely what I'd been thinking but was wondering if there was some huge aspect that I'd missed. Like I said, it has been a while!
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-08-2017, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rballi View Post
I love the idea of a tank being in the kitchen. Wife wouldn't go for that right, maybe one day.

Look forward to seeing this progress!


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I love this. It's like sounding a horn, and you showed up!

But since you don't have this link in your signature, here is the link to Rballi's build. Amityfish I think you will like it.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/12...k-biotope.html
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 04:35 PM
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I have seen quite a bit of DIY-ish stuff using the outdoor 6000K LED spotlights. It might be a way to do decent lighting on a budget.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rballi View Post
I love the idea of a tank being in the kitchen. Wife wouldn't go for that right, maybe one day.

Look forward to seeing this progress!


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Rballi, I finally got time to look at your tank, gorgeous! I might be pestering you with questions after I read through the whole thread.

As for tanks in the kitchen, I am the wife, and happen to do all the cooking, so the hubby didn't have much reason to object! It isn't actually going to be in the kitchen to be fair though, since our dining area is a little ways from the kitchen proper.

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I wonder if you all have any thoughts on aquascaping a tank with a 3' by 4' footprint that's also two sided? I'm wondering if I run the risk of a) water clarity issues from looking through three feet of water and b) difficulty making a layout work where the fish are viewable. Trying to think it all through before we get too far into the design...

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Last edited by Darkblade48; 03-12-2017 at 08:12 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 04:45 AM
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I wonder if you all have any thoughts on aquascaping a tank with a 3' by 4' footprint that's also two sided? I'm wondering if I run the risk of a) water clarity issues from looking through three feet of water and b) difficulty making a layout work where the fish are viewable. Trying to think it all through before we get too far into the design...

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I think that it is doable if you have a large feature in the middle of the tank, and scape it basically like 2 tanks.

“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” -Jules Verne
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 05:23 AM
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Rballi, I finally got time to look at your tank, gorgeous! I might be pestering you with questions after I read through the whole thread.

As for tanks in the kitchen, I am the wife, and happen to do all the cooking, so the hubby didn't have much reason to object! It isn't actually going to be in the kitchen to be fair though, since our dining area is a little ways from the kitchen proper.

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It's a good thing that we aren't both into this hobby or it would be out of control. A good check and balance.


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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It's a good thing that we aren't both into this hobby or it would be out of control. A good check and balance.


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Haha could not agree more. I shudder to think of what would become of us if we were both as tank obsessed!

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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I think that it is doable if you have a large feature in the middle of the tank, and scape it basically like 2 tanks.
Why haven't I thought of that. I've been obsessing so much over hiding the overflow, but this would make a lot more sense!

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 02:00 AM
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Why haven't I thought of that. I've been obsessing so much over hiding the overflow, but this would make a lot more sense!

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Think of it almost like a U shaped tank. Is the overflow going to be on one end?

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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Think of it almost like a U shaped tank. Is the overflow going to be on one end?
Yep, on one of the 3 feet sides, it'll all get hidden in the cabinetry. (Hopefully, if I actually pull this all off!)

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 03:35 AM
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Yep, on one of the 3 feet sides, it'll all get hidden in the cabinetry. (Hopefully, if I actually pull this all off!)

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I can't wait to see it.
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