Need Advice on a 100+ Gallon Tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Need Advice on a 100+ Gallon Tank

Sorry for the long post, but I am seeking advice on set up for a 100-180 gallon freshwater tank. This will not be a planted tank, so please delete if these kinds of posts aren't allowed.

My job is building a new facility within the next 6 months. I have a 30 gallon tank sitting around at my house that I was going to put in my new office. I approached my boss to see if he was cool with that, and his response was "No, you're not going to put a 30 gallon tank in your office. What we're going to do is install a 150 gallon tank in the wall so that it can be seen in both in your office and the reception area. You just need to maintain it."

Pretty cool, right?

But a tank that size presents a number of problems for me. I've never had a tank that large before. The largest tank I have is a 55 gallon high tech planted tank. Also, the tank will need to be viewed from two sides, which means that I can't use the back of the tank to hide hoses/overflows/wires/etc.

So, doing some searching and brainstorming over the weekend, this is what I was thinking:
-The boss said 150 gallon tank, but I'm thinking a 180 gallon would be better, since it is shorter than the 150 gallon and will be easier to get my hands in there to reach the bottom if needed.
-How to handle water changes is something I need to figure out.
-An African Cichlid tank. Probably Lake Tanganyika, unless y'all have a better idea. This tank will not be planted as to save money, and to save on maintenance.
-The tank will require a sump, which means that,
-Since the tank needs to be viewed from two sides, bulkheads for the overflows, outlets, etc. will need to be drilled into the center of the bottom pane of the tank.
-The overflow in the center of the tank will be hidden by rockwork.
-I've never used a sump before, so I need to study up on that.
-I need to figure out lighting here. I'm guessing some sort of fixtures hanging above the tank would be cheaper than buying something made for aquariums.

That's what I have so far. Thoughts/concerns/advice will be very welcome. Thank you.

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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluecheese View Post
Sorry for the long post, but I am seeking advice on set up for a 100-180 gallon freshwater tank. This will not be a planted tank, so please delete if these kinds of posts aren't allowed.

My job is building a new facility within the next 6 months. I have a 30 gallon tank sitting around at my house that I was going to put in my new office. I approached my boss to see if he was cool with that, and his response was "No, you're not going to put a 30 gallon tank in your office. What we're going to do is install a 150 gallon tank in the wall so that it can be seen in both in your office and the reception area. You just need to maintain it."

Pretty cool, right?

But a tank that size presents a number of problems for me. I've never had a tank that large before. The largest tank I have is a 55 gallon high tech planted tank. Also, the tank will need to be viewed from two sides, which means that I can't use the back of the tank to hide hoses/overflows/wires/etc.



I don't have much advice for the tank itself, but wanted to share some interpersonal advice about work tanks. I would stay away from a large central tank that is in the office reception area if it were me. Even with my little 2.5 gallon work tank there are social problems. Going through an algae or bacterial bloom? Everyone in the office comments on it and assumes you are bad at fish-keeping. Have a sick fish, that is also your fault. Everything about the tank will be your "fault" since you are in charge of it, and non-aquarists do not understand the challenges even the best kept tanks have. One particular problem I have found is that people are uncomfortable with the tank being dark during business hours, but then the longer photoperiod (about 10 hours for me) creates algae on the glass every 2-3 days that I have to scrape. I cant imagine if it were in the main reception area and was larger. Also, you will get rude comments about your choice of fish. If properly stocked, people will think the tank looks too empty. If you choose common fish or more nuanced fish, people will think that the tank is boring. At least in your office you have more control and less visibility.


What happens if you get water on the floor during a water change? Will you be expected to conduct maintenance on your own time in addition to your normal duties? What if the tank leaks? What if the heater or filter breaks, who pays? Do you trust the staff to conduct maintenance while you are on vacation? Unless you have a very good casual atmosphere at work, this sounds like trouble to me. I would want a smaller tank in my office, or would want them to hire a company to design and maintain the tank.


Moving away from my social advice:


I would not suggest drilling etc. I would insist on a tank that is pre-designed. Something like this: https://www.fishtanksdirect.com/tsun...yABEgLE4_D_BwE
I would also insist on heavy automation. Something like the Neptune Apex system, or at the very least a solid UPS and smart outlets. I would not want to screw around with the old-school timers etc. Don't skimp on components. Buy a good smart light, reliable filter, high-end heater, etc.


If this is going to be a permanent fixture in a new facility, the boss should have the plumbing set up to allow auto-water changes. Remember, the tank might be there much longer than you.


I do think a cichlid tank is a good option since the colors are some of the brightest, which is what non-aquarists tend to appreciate most. The larger size is also more impressive to non-aquarists.

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Last edited by ohaple; 07-29-2019 at 06:04 PM. Reason: dertails
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 06:12 PM
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Planted tanks require less maintenance and are far more beautiful.(IMHO). I would get a south american biotopic tank with a school of like 125 neon tetras and lots of plants. They are low maintenace fish and with that many plants it would be super super super low maintenance.

Bump: or cardinal tetras.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 06:15 PM
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I have done this before.... What the above post stated is correct.
Just be aware of the maintenance..... and if the smallest algae growth occurs- are you to blame?
in that sort of situation- can a recommend a 'false' coral tank?
(freshwater- so you use schooling freshwater fish, ottos, shrimp, etc). I just built one in one of my tank journals. I was just propositioned to do another.... it is colorful and bright, even without a high fish bioload. Of course it is filled with live plants- but also has a really interesting landscape that is removable/scrubable and colorful.

??

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 06:40 PM
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Personally I tried drilling a tank once. Ended with breaking the tank. I know it can be done, but I'll never try it again personally, especially on a tank that's not mine and/or not expendable.

If the tank is going to be embedded in a wall, you still have the two sides to work with for in and out hoses that shouldn't take away from the front and back viewing angles.

I would do research on getting the whole automated system set up properly and provide a price to your boss that's overestimating by a chunk. Many people have no idea what it will cost for a tank setup, so make sure he's ok with it up front rather than trying to cheap out and cost him more in the long run (and maybe cause issues between you and him when you end up with price overruns and/or issues). If price is going to be an issue, maybe suggest something a bit smaller. I don't know the size of your space, but a 55g tank still has a pretty large viewing surface for even larger room sizes. Better to do smaller better than large and cheap out on things, at least as far as frustration level goes.

Lighting, if you're not going planted it should be basically enough to light up the tank and no more, to keep algae issues to a minimum. I'm not sure how you would put hanging lights up if you are trying to have the tank inserted inside a wall, I would think that would leave a large gap above the tank so it would eliminate privacy in your office. A basic LED strip light may be easier and fit better, with a glass top on the tank (to keep fish in AND people out).

I used to do saltwater and I can say that I found sumps to be a bit of a pain, but maybe no more so than a grouping of canister filters when you get up to that size tank. I always had a lot of issues with evaporation, it gets warm underneath with all of the various pumps going and it's hard to keep a tight lid on it with everything going in and out, so maybe do a bit of research on finding a good design that will work for the components and size tank you are getting.

If you can't get plumbed for auto water changes, you definitely need a python for that size of a system. Actually even for a smaller tank, if there is a water faucet accessible it's far better than lugging buckets of water around the office and the associated collateral damage that may ensue with that type of endeavour where there are co-workers around.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 06:57 PM
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Agreed. 150 gallon...
Lily pipes on one side.... canister beneath, overpowered. Lighting fixture : WIFI powered (Chihiros LED?) is a good option... but keep lighting LOW. But water changes? 10- 25% of 150 gallons? you can do the math. Ouch. Unless you made it extremely narrow??? I did that once... it was very neat with some stone, and things like Java creating depth.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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I should have prefaced my OP a little better. Our office is very casual in nature. We work in construction, so most of the people coming into the office either work for us, or they are vendors/contractors coming to meet with us. If we were more of a customer driven business, I'd probably attack this tank differently.

Planted tanks are great, and that's what I have in my house. But the added expenses of CO2 (if I'm doing a planted tank, its gonna be high tech) fertz, trimming of plants, lights etc. was something I was trying to avoid. I figured with an African Cichlid tank, the bulk of the work would be water changes and occasionally cleaning algae off the glass.

As far as being to blame for normal tank issues like algae, the occasional fish death, whatever, I'm not worried about it being seen as my fault. I will be maintaining the tank on work time, not my own time. As far as I'm concerned it would be part of my normal work week to keep up with the tank. The floors will be concrete, so the occasional spilled water will also not be an issue. The boss is also my friend; he's godfather to my daughter. If he has any issues with how the tank looks/maintenance/anything else, I can tell him to jump off a bridge. Its either going to be done my way, or I'm not messing around with the aquarium and I'll go back to my original plan of having a 30 gallon in my office.

So let's assume I have free reign over what goes in the tank, and how it's maintained. That being said, what I was planning on doing was coming up with a list of kinds of tanks for the boss to take a look at, and let him input what he liked better. If he likes a full planted tank, great; that's what I have the most experience with. But I have a feeling he will want something like a cichlid tank as the fish can be larger.


As for the tank itself, I wasn't planning on trying to drill it myself. I Will either have to find a tank that already has a bulkhead drilled into the center of the bottom glass, or I will need to have one made that way. I will be very upfront with the boss on how much this will cost to get done.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 07:14 PM
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A peninsula style tank would be what you are looking for or drill the short sides for the overflow and return. The points raised above are all accurate and concerning. A local store charges roughly $200 an hour once a week to come out and maintain a reef/planted tank of that size. Consider that in terms of the maintenance you'll be performing. I'd also think that without all the automation via Apex etc it would be a non starter.

If there's a reliable LFS that builds and maintains public/office/store displays have them consult directly with your boss about costs, desires, necessities, and downsides. He'll get a good dose of reality from someone that is not you. He needs to have a clear understanding of whats involved before you start.


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Botia dude View Post
A peninsula style tank would be what you are looking for or drill the short sides for the overflow and return. The points raised above are all accurate and concerning. A local store charges roughly $200 an hour once a week to come out and maintain a reef/planted tank of that size. Consider that in terms of the maintenance you'll be performing. I'd also think that without all the automation via Apex etc it would be a non starter.

If there's a reliable LFS that builds and maintains public/office/store displays have them consult directly with your boss about costs, desires, necessities, and downsides. He'll get a good dose of reality from someone that is not you. He needs to have a clear understanding of whats involved before you start.
The peninsula tank is an interesting idea that I'll have to explore. I have seen tanks with the bulkhead in the middle of the tank like I described earlier. My thought was that having the outlet there, the water flow would be more consistent throughout the tank as opposed to having the water flow running left to right where the flow would have to reach 6 feet to the other end of the tank. I could be wrong in my thinking though,

That's another issue I'll have; the boss man doesn't understand the cost involved not in just building this size tank, but also the maintenance cost and time.

He likes fish tanks, and is always impressed with mine when he comes by the house. He just doesn't want to have to mess with them himself. We could hire an outside contractor to maintain the tank for us, but I'm not sure if that's what I'd want, since I'd like to be hands-on with the tank.

But, for the purpose of this post, let's assume that cost is not an issue here. I'd like to get ideas on what kind of tank, and what kind of set up for the tank would be feasible.

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-31-2019, 05:38 PM
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Um.....there is so much going on here it will be hard to address everything. There are companies that charge thousands to setup tanks like this especially when it comes to plumbing.

I guess to start off, the biggest question is how much water change is your company willing to do? All filter/fish keeping/water quality problems can be solved with constant water changes. If you have a constant trickle of fresh water then you can keep any fish that matches your water parameters.

That leads to my next question, do you have a reservoir to hold the water while it dechlorinates? Unless you have access to well water, you need a container to dechlorinate the water first...

All in all, a proper aquarium is not just 1 tank. It is 3 tanks: main aquarium tank, sump tank, water reservoir tank.

Once you have this figured out (majority of it will be plumbing) then the rest (picking lighting, fish, plants) will be easy.


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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-31-2019, 06:54 PM
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So the office politics issue has been brought up and would be a concern of mine if my old boss who was super chill ever asked me to do this. That aside, another concern of mine would be the window into my office from the reception area. Anyone in reception can look in and see what you are doing at any time. I don't care how busy I am there are always moments when my mind kinda blanks or I'm eating my lunch. I wouldn't want comments about it. The general consensus is that this is a bad idea. However, after putting my 2 cents in on that I find the technical issues to be interesting.

First off everything being done will be substantially simpler to deal with if the hole in the wall on your side of the office is a LOT larger then the hole in the wall in reception. From the reception side you simply see the tank itself and nothing else. From your side its a standard fish tank on a stand that is located in an alcove. This eliminates the need to build custom stands, deal with weird lighting issues, or having trouble with access for maintenance activities. I would definitely handle filtration through the short sides of the tank and not the bottom. A couple of reasons for this. 1) Most standard tanks have tempered bottoms. You can not drill them. So you would need a custom tank that has the hole drilled before tempering, or you need a tank with a much thicker annealed glass bottom. Either one is more expensive then a regular old standard tank and using the short sides for filtration. 2) It creates flexibility with filtration. If you drill the bottom it will always be a sump. You can easily do 2 canister filters if that is your desire (one on either side), or go the sump route with intakes on either side drilled through the walls if you really want to do bulkheads. I personally would steer clear of diy options unless you know what you are doing is going to work. The reason being that if you break something like say the tank which costs lets say $800, does your boss or you buy the next one? I would put together a price list of what this is going to cost and present it to the boss and see if this is still even under discussion. I can't imagine getting this off the ground for the less then 2000$ not including whatever the construction costs (since you are a construction company I am assuming that cost is essentially nil).

Last edited by minorhero; 07-31-2019 at 07:08 PM. Reason: reasons
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-31-2019, 07:26 PM
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I agree with @minorhero. The cost will be tremendous. You have to make a 6 foot wide hole in the wall, you need to add supports within the wall or the tank will break it. You also need to support that tank correctly as you don't want 150 gallons of water in your office. You certainly need to add reinforcements in the crawl space or the tank will crash through the water. Your tank will 1500 pounds with water. And then 200-300 pounds of substrate. One heck of a sump. Probably a 50 breeder for a sump. MAYBE a 40. You also need to have like 15 heaters. What style of tank does the boss like? Does he like super overstocked tanks with lots of fish and little decor? Or does he like the more serene planted understocked tank? He also needs to be aware of the price involved. Probably $15000 because you need to add a lot of supports in the crawl space and the wall. The sump will probably cost like $500 because of all that filter media.

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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-31-2019, 11:52 PM
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I've done this before in offices. As others have said, water changes and maintenance are a pain. If it's going to be 150 gallons and the boss wants plants and fish, at least make it sparsely planted and sparsely stocked with fish so you can change less water. Get real creative with rocks and wood to make up for it.

I would build an internal overflow/ false wall across one short side and hide everything there. You don't want an ugly pipe in the middle of your nice display. Make the tank wider, maybe 24" so you have room to build a rock / wood structure that look good from both sides.

A cannister(s)would be better because of the noise a sump is likely to make and less mess. You could do an internal overflow with a cannister; you just need to make sure your water level is always high enough over the overflow slots and high enough behind the overflow wall. An automatic top off would definately be needed. If the slots where unusually deep i think it would work. I've put together quite a few systems but never that way, so I can't claim with certainty that it would
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-01-2019, 05:01 AM
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First thing I thought of was this tank: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...l#post10848873

Of course your's would be half the size. And he was using CO2. So maybe not quite like that but maybe you can get some inspiration? CO2 is not the hard part. As you said it's the plant trimming. This guys setup didn't look horrible with that respect.

But than I saw you were in New Orleans. I'm assuming that means hard water out of the tap. Maybe African Cichlids would be better? But you say you do well with planted at home so you'd be a better judge of that.

I spent many years doing aquarium maintenance commercially. Most of the tanks on my route were >100 gallons, some significantly greater. They were all plumbed from the bottom. But they were all plexiglass. Any reason why you don't want to go that route? Aside from initial cost. So much easier to deal with when installing (easier to lift and simple drill bit from Home Depot to drill the holes). Might even be able to find a steal second hand? I wouldn't mess with drilling a hole in the bottom of a glass tank. I can only remember 2 and they both leaked. Think massive amounts of silicone around the bulkhead. Of course it was under the tank so you didn't have to look at it, lol!

We had acouple tanks that were completely plumbed from underneath (no overflow). Canister filters and inline heaters, multiple outlets into the tank. We had some tanks that were hybrids. Overflow on the side that went to a sump and a dedicated pump that pulled from one side and output to another (or multiple) drilled through the bottom of the tank hidden by aquarium decor. Most just had an overflow on the end some in the center like you are planning. Plumbing always drilled thru the bottom leading to a sump with bioballs no matter if it was salt or fresh (for those tanks that had an overflow). Those center overflows always leaked from the bottom at some point but I'm assuming you will have a pvc pipe on the inside raised to height of water line which usually solves that. On those tanks with overflows we always ran our returns back up thru the overflow and output at the top. We never trusted check valves to work on power outages.

I don't think it will be a big deal setting this up. Hope you post some pics if you get this going.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-01-2019, 06:57 AM
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If price becomes an issue look into a 100 gallon tank by Visio (if you have a LFS that can order from them). It is a 5 foot long tank almost 2 feet high and 18" deep and apparently because of the overall dimensions of the tank there is less wastage when they are cutting the glass for it so it is pretty reasonably priced compared to other tanks a bit larger and a bit smaller.


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