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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I’ve been lurking for years, but this is my first post. TIA for any advice or opinions you can share.

I got a 29 gallon tank 15 years ago and have had it set up 4 different times, and each time it had to be torn down within a year because I was moving. Now, my family is in a pretty stable spot and don’t see that we’ll move anytime in the near future. We just set up the same 29 gallon tank about 2 months ago and it is full of plants and fish. But I think it’s time to upgrade.

My wife, my 9 year old son and I live in a 2 bedroom open floor plan apartment in Philadelphia and there’s not a lot of extra room. Any tank I get needs to integrate nicely into the decor of the living room/dining room/kitchen common area.

As I’ve only ever owned the same 29 gallon aquarium, I lack a lot of experience with different tank setups, I’d like to get some advice on my tank selection.

I see these as the big criteria:

Dimension - needs to fit on the one wall were we could put it an be appropriate scale-wise.
Appearance - has to look nice and be all self-contained and have an attractive cabinet.
Flexibility - I have aspired to keep discus or maybe do a reef tank. I’d like the ability to be able to use the tank for the rest of my life for whatever.
Ease of purchase and installation - I want to purchase a “system” with an included cabinet and maybe a sump.
Cost - this is a concern, but I’ve been given the go-ahead to get exactly what I want. Plus, thanks to COVID, I have all my 2020 vacation dollars that could be repurposed.

What I’m stuck on:

Sump or no sump?
I would *really* like to eliminate visible equipment, so I’m seriously considering a sump-based system. This would go well with the desire to be able to do reef at some point in the future. However, I’ve never had a sump and really don’t want to flood the neighbors who live below me. I’ve seen some horror stories regarding sump leaks, but I suppose there are non-sump aquarium horror stories. If I’m spending the dough, should I just spring for a sump?

If a sump, peninsula or not?
The wall that I’m considering has a lot of linear space, and since the aquarium would be the focal point, I’m thinking I should fill as much of the space as I can. In the photos below, you can see the wall. The buffet in the photo is 48”. I'm weighing a peninsula because I don’t want a black background for discus. Placing the tank flat against the wall with the weir end to the right would allow good viewing from the kitchen, and dining and living rooms. The weir end would be reflected in the mirrors of the built-ins (what does the “back” of a peninsula system look like, anyway??). I’m really interested in opinions on this.

Size?
I’m leaning toward 60” or better tank. As I mentioned, the buffet in the photo is 48”, and I’ve always thought it was undersized for the wall. We can relocate the dining table and light to accommodate tank width. Should I just go big or would a 48” tank look okay here?

Red Sea vs Waterbox vs something else?
I’ve done a price comparison between the two in many different models. I’ve found Red Sea for less than MRP somewhere near me, so Red Sea ends up being less expensive. If I don’t go sump, I’d have to go with Waterbox or something else. I’m going to a shop that carries both WB and RS this weekend.

Am I crazy?
Is this a COVID-induced mid life crisis? If so, I suppose I could do much worse than buying an aquarium.

I look forward to any advice or opinions you can share. Thanks!
 

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Things to consider :

Check your lease agreement in terms of pets. Fish tanks are sometimes not allowed in apartments.

Anyway, nah you don't need a sump. You can get a lot of in-line equipment and very nice cabinets to hide other equipment in. Oase makes awesome filters that house a heater in it. 48" tank would look pretty nice there as @robmcd mentioned.
 

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I would do 48 inches. You also mention not wanting to flood your neighbors and avoid issues. I wouldn't do a sump and I wouldn't do silicone (glass). 99% of the nightmares you read about are glass tanks. 99% of the 1% of acrylic disasters are from DYI builds or a commercial builder.

I say do it right, don't mess with a sump and get a custom acrylic tank from a highly regarded builder and build it with top of the line quality equipment. You can work around a lot of other things and hide a lot of things(inline heater, inline co2 etc.), but what I've mentioned is the meat of the tank and is where the investment should go. Don't overdue it, don't overcomplicate it, invest where it's best. Work with what you have. You will enjoy the tank much more this way.

All this is my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback. This far, the consensus is 48” and sumpless. I hadn’t even considered acrylic because of scratching, but will definitely start look at it.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. This far, the consensus is 48” and sumpless. I hadn’t even considered acrylic because of scratching, but will definitely start look at it.
There are two type of fish keepers. When replacing the substrate, some like to flip it upside down and shake it all out. Others will take the time to scoop it out.

Scratching acrylic is overblown. If you’re somewhat careful it is not hard to avoid them. If you are clumsy or can’t be bothered with being careful/mindful glass is for you. These are the people who complain about scratches.
 

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I second the thoughts on checking with the landlord, or at least the lease. Also on checking if that wall is a load bearing wall or not. Something something tanks crashing through apartments like that one children's book where the kid jumps on his bed and destroys 10 floors or something.

Whatever you choose, make sure that you've already premeasured out how far the tank will stick out. 2' doesn't seem like a lot...until you actually measure it out and "oh whoops, that's actually a sizable distance".

If you go with glass, then starphire might be up your alley since you have oh so much money to spend. Acrylic is also nice, but you do have to be more careful as well.

Flexibility: I know a lot of people have said "4'x2'x2'", but if you're going reef...you might as well go big with a 180 (6'x2'x2') tank, since that can house most of the fish that you could conceive of (except sharks and stingrays and some of the larger tangs). Join a reef forum or something (and say hi to me on Reef2Reef!) for more information.

Ease of purchase/Installation: For any tank that's larger than 55, you'll have to go to the aquarium companies. 55s at least come with the kits from walmart (which are surprisingly decent). I've heard good things about Waterbox and RedSea, but haven't purchased them yet, since I'm not a big tank kinda guy.

Sump: Yes leaks can happen. But most of this is due to bad plumbing. Read up on how plumbing in a tank works (saltwater forums are great at explaining this), and using PVC, and cement, and silicone, and unions. I built my parent's 55 reef, and the only spillage that's occurred is from water changes. And yes that included the plumbing. Keep in mind that if decide to do drill the tank, that you don't use tempered glass. I would say that a sump is invaluable for a saltwater tank though, since there's a fair amount of unsightly/bulky life support equipment, and it increases water volume.

Peninsula: The only decision here, is yours. There are some very aesthetic peninsula tanks, but remember that if you drill the tank, it will forever have to be a peninsula tank, unless you choose to buy a HOB overflow and return.

Are you crazy? Maybe. But most fishkeepers tend to have a few quirks here and there. I would, however, sleep on the idea for a few weeks and plan everything out before making the first purchase, just so I could rest easy knowing "ok, I knew the price going in, and all the variables and stuff." and sleep easy knowing that yes, I did spend that much money.
 

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Mark out the space on the floor and the wall with some painter's tape for a week, maybe put some chairs where the front corners are, and see how that works for you. Remember that you can't put the tank right up against the wall; you need at least 4" (probably 6" or more) of extra space. You need to be able to clean it up if something jumps or spills out of the tank or you drop something in the back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
[/quote]
I second the thoughts on checking with the landlord, or at least the lease. Also on checking if that wall is a load bearing wall or not.
Thanks, @Econde, @ichthyogeek. Great advise. I did check our HOA documents before I installed the 29 and aquariums are allowed. Our building is a high-rise - the wall that the tank would go against is load bearing, 18" concrete.

For any tank that's larger than 55, you'll have to go to the aquarium companies.
I'm hoping to deal with local retailers for any purchase I might make so I can use their experience with delivery and setup. Especially because our building is a bit of a pain to work with for deliveries. On the flip side, we do have a freight elevator, so no stairs.

Mark out the space on the floor and the wall with some painter's tape for a week, maybe put some chairs where the front corners are, and see how that works for you.
My wife already suggested that we move the buffet in the photo out from the wall for a couple weeks to delineate where the tank would be. Great minds think alike.

I love the feedback. Thanks everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I second the thoughts on checking with the landlord, or at least the lease. Also on checking if that wall is a load bearing wall or not.
Thanks, @ichthyogeek and @Econde. Great advise. I checked my HOA documentation prior to setting up my 29. Also, my building is a high rise. The wall where we would install the tank is 18" of concrete.

Mark out the space on the floor and the wall with some painter's tape for a week
Ha! My wife mentioned moving the buffet out to mimic where the tank would go for a week or so. Great minds think alike.
@ichthyogeek, I definitely will not be making a rush purchase here. Planning then sleeping on it is a wise suggestion.

I love all the feedback - it's providing me lots of perspective that I wouldn't have considered. Thanks to all.
 

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One option is to buy a tank like the Fluval Spec or Marineland Portrait. They are very nicely packaged and very easy to set up. I have the Fluval Spec V and my son has a Marineland Portrait. You can find Specs up to 15Gallons if you want a larger tank. If you don't have a lot of space perhaps a couple of nano tanks would make more sense than one big tank.
 

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Personally, I would get the biggest setup you can afford. On that note though, you are renting an apartment, size is going to be dictated by ease of moving. Glass and arcylic both have pros and cons, glass is heavy, can crack or break and seams can leak if not set properly. Acrylic is a little lighter, has a tendency to scratch easily if not careful, has no seams to leak. In your situation I would choose a 75g(48x18x 21) , a great size tank for most purposes. Good canister filters, better lighting, maybe a CO2 setup, are all a little more affordable for that size of tank. The biggest piece of advise I can give you is , patience , don't rush into it , plan it out, know what you want to accomplish, and most of all relax and enjoy the hobby.
 

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One thing to note aesthetically is that an acrylic tank in this size will probably require top braces. They will be there to prevent the long panels from bowing out. So if you want a true rimless/braceless design, glass is probably your best bet. I also think the low iron (Starfire) glass is well worth it, especially with a large tank with thick glass. The uninterrupted views are great.

Waterbox is a brand that a lot of people like and they have bundles that include a nice stand. UNS makes great tanks, but not really an all in one system in this size. UNS also make nice stands if you can get your hands on one. If you are looking to keep in tank hardware to a minimum, go with the Oase biomaster thermo series and a nice inline CO2 reactor.

Good luck!

-AM

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I don’t know what I’ve been doing wrong, but two previous attempts to reply haven’t been posted. I’m not going to quote everyone for a third attempt, but know that I value everyone’s input. Thanks for all the feedback! It is very helpful.

We own our unit, so our living situation is pretty permanent. I checked our HOA docs prior to installing the 29, and aquariums are allowed. The building is a high rise and the wall where the tank would go is 18” concrete. So, yep. It’s load bearing 🙂.

I have a feeling this decision may take a while. I had envisioned a big green aquascape taking up the whole wall. I would get to build a new co2 system (hate my Aquatek), get nice non-budget lights, grow new plants and really do it up.

But this past weekend the whole family piled into the car and went to a local aquarium store that sold some of the brands I’ve been looking at. While there, I found my son mesmerized by the reef tanks. He’s 9. He loved the cleaner shrimp and the anemones and clown fish. This isn’t new. When we went on vacation previously he memorized the entire chart of reef fish and kept a checklist of species he saw while snorkeling.

So, now I’m considering downsizing significantly and getting a starter reef tank. It could be a great thing to share with him as he grows up. I’m not blind to the increased demands (time, $$) of saltwater, so it’s not something I’m considering lightly.

I might go bother some people on R2R. I hope they’re as friendly as everyone here.
 

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Ah, that explains the weird little notifications I've been getting saying I have post quotes and not having post quotes!

Sounds like your kid's gotten the aquarium bug! Might be worth looking into getting a nano for him, but only if he's a responsible kid. Otherwise I say you should just go planted, and have him help you with maintenance until he's ready for his own saltwater tank.
 
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