I wanted to design a new tank for myself, so here are some of the designs I'm considering. I'm having trouble deciding however, so I thought I'd solicit feedback here. Please share your comments and suggestions as you like. (Or steal the design and let me know how well it works out for you as I'm not in a rush!)
Each tank is a little over 2' x 2' x 2' which works out to approximately 66 gallons for the tank, not including the in-tank sump. I might scale that slightly, but I'm thinking between 40 and 60 gallons in any case.
I'm not sure about cantilevering the tank edges on a tank this size if it was to be in glass? I suppose that would work with acrylic at least. I'd prefer glass for the tank due to scratching issues, but the housing for the lids and underside of the tank could be colored acrylic.
The concept is to do an all-in-one tank, with a sleek contemporary look. I (maybe) might do black edging instead of white, but the white makes the design easier to read in these sketches at least. The white sand might 'clash' with the black bands though.
Lighting would be via low-profile DIY LED's mounted around the front and sides mounted on anodized aluminum angles sitting atop the splashguard,with the LED's thus angled inwards at approximately 45 degrees. The top cover would be a louvered panel to allow heat to dissipate while keeping the fish in and preventing any light spill. As the lights would be on the perimeter the fish would be lit from their front sides, (instead of from the back or above which doesn't display their full colors and iridescence). Due to the angles, the light shouldn't be hitting the glass which should minimize algae growth there.
The 'bands' along the top and bottom of the tank would be either directly painted on the outside or inside of the glass, or could be a band of white or black silicon applied to the inside face of the glass. I'm intending to use white sand and I don't want to see any algae growing in the substrate up against the panes of glass. Would an automotive painting shop be able to do nice glossy bands if that had to be painted externally?
I don't want to see any equipment anywhere and insist this needs to be absolutely silent. Accordingly, the tank should have one power cord to a powerstrip in the rear housing. Filtration would be via Seachem matrix biomedia, carbon, and a micron sock in the rear housing powered by a submersible pump there. (which being submersed should entirely dampen its noise?) I don't even want to see or hear any overflows or anything, so the sump would intake water from the side edge of it through a recessed mesh screen. With the use of an 'in-tank sump' that should prevent any of the usual complications, flooding dangers, noise, and external filter annoyances, right? The water pump's return would likely be via a spraybar along the bottom edge at the rear of the tank and pointed upwards, which would in any case be concealed by plant growth.
The rear compartment could be made bigger as well. I was generally thinking low-tech/low light, but I might still allow space for a CO2 bottle in the rear housing. I'd like to allow for an auto-top off reservoir as well in the rear housing, which could hold 2-3 gallons of RO/DI water. I'd want an auto-feeder to be contained in the top of the rear compartment as well.
I think I'd prefer for the tank to be self-contained to give me the flexibility to relocate it wherever I like. But I'd also construct it to allow for a drilled overflow which if I in the future desire, could be plumbed directly to a drain or empty barrel in the cabinet. In that way, I could stick a water storage barrel in the cabinet and then do water changes with just the flip of a switch. A water tubing closed loop could be allowed for in the future as well, in case I wanted to add an ozone reactor or UV sterilizer.
I would do the rear wall with a DIY 3D background, where I'd create a series of terraced pockets with substrate to allow the entire back wall of the tank to be planted. I would consider planting terrestrial plants rooted in the sump's biomedia as well.
I'd also want the tank to be designed and built to allow for it to be converted easily to a reef tank as well, in case I go over to the dark side... Even if I did I wouldn't want to use a remote sump due to the noise, so I'd use the in-tank-sump as a refugium.
(Tank designs from left to right)
A: is just a glass cube, with painted bands to hide the lights and substrate. The reservoir is set in from the back corners so that you would get a glass corner there instead of seeing the sides of the in-tank sump.
B: Has a slimmer profile around the lighting, with a slimmer bottom band to match as well. However, to prevent unsightly sub-substrate level algae (as the bottom band wouldn't conceal the full substrate depth) I would mix up a batch of silicon with the sand and apply this to the bottom edges inside the tank. In that way you'd be seeing this siliconed sand instead of the actual substrate.
C: This tank would be rimless, and would have the edges of the top light housing extending beyond the water surface to prevent any light from spilling. The recessed base would contain the full depth of substrate with just a thin layer bordered in siliconed sand within the 'tank' volume.
D: Self explanatory with similar concepts to the others.
E: Asymmetrical massing to give it greater sculptural dynamism. This also allows for a larger reservoir and potentially a hinged panel to access the equipment more easily.
F: Same as E generally, but in case the cantilevered edges prove unfeasible for a tank this size.