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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've only ever kept small tanks before. I'm getting more into the hobby lately, and I've always wanted a large tank. I'll be doing some remodeling/room addition soon, and I am looking at taking the opportunity to add a large tank. I will have the opportunity to build any specific structural needs into the project from the beginning, so at this point I'm thinking to go as big as possible. 225g is probably the upper end given the space. It would serve as a room divider and be visible from three sides ideally.

My vision for it would be heavily planted with dramatic hardscape. I would stock it with several species of small schooling fish to accentuate the sense of scale. I envision it to be biotope inspired, but not a true biotope setup. I would definitely include a sump, and because I have the opportunity I may plumb directly for water changes. That may be a bit ambitious, but as long as I am starting from scratch I'd like to consider it.

If you have experience with large tanks, let me know any of the pitfalls you've come across, or things you wish you'd done differently.
 

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馃榿 take weight into consideration. Take heating requirements into consideration. Take filling and draining into consideration. Hire plumbers and contractors that are familiar with aquatic or agriculture. Understand that if something leaks enough while you're away your damages will be in the 5 to 6 figure range.

I would say plan on adding at least tap access for your sump as well as a way to automate draining for water changes.

Large tanks are not very difficult after you get over the larger than life nature of it. There are a couple things to expect though- your electricity bill is going to go up. If you heat your tank and you live where it gets cold your electric will go up even higher. Your house will need a bit of modification to hold the weight- since you're building this part is easier, but expect to have to add support to the area under this feature. It costs a lot to custom order large tanks, large filtration, hard scape, substrate, the amount of plants and livestock needed etc.

If $ isn't that big of an object for start up big tanks aren't very different (you need it least a python) from normal tanks, more forgiving to a certain degree.

*Edit- my largest tank currently is 800 gallons
 

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my largest is a 75g. If I could do a sump easily on it I would. Unfortunately I got too many tanks and have to use that as storage until all my projects are done. Which likely won't be for awhile now.

Anyway, I like sumps simply for the ease of cleaning only the parts you want at the time. Canisters you have to pull out and generally some water in some places though not a whole lot. Also with a 225 you may need more than one canister. And HOB seems like a silly option for your setup. As far as direct plumbing, I would think about what you tap water parameters are first. If you have to doctor the water at all you may find it to be unnecessary as you will have to quarantine the water. Well it's better if you do. If you don't have a lot of extras you can probably just go for it.

But the benefits of a sump all all positives in my opinion, some not so huge, but all positive. Especially for that size tank.
 

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I've kept large tanks from 180 to a 700 gallon (9x3x2.5 feet) beast.

1. After weight, your first consideration needs to be ease of access. Make sure that you don't get dimensions that you're not going to be able to reach all areas of. For me, this is approximately 24" tall by 30" front to back if I get in up to my armpit. Seriously, you do NOT want a tank that you can't easily reach every single corner, crevice, and nook of, no matter how good/impressive other dimensions may be to you. The harder it is to maintain, the less you'll do it, and in a big tank a lot of crap can build up.

Make sure to account for a canopy as well. It doesn't help to have tank dimensions you can get to if the canopy prevents you from accessing where you need to go.

2. Filtration- If you get a sump, be Real [email protected] Sure it'll be big enough to hold the water you're going to need to both run it and hold the water that drains from the tank when the pump's off. I've encountered systems that can't stop the pump because a) the sump will overflow and b) the sump runs dry before re-filling the tank when the pump's off. Big tanks need a lot of media; when designing your sump I'd make sure there's room for at least a 5 gallon bucket full of media such as Matrix.

Forget filter socks, they'll need to be changed a couple times a week and that gets annoying AF. (again, easier maintenance = more consistent maintenance)

Get the biggest sump you possibly can and make sure it's got a large reservoir section. Big tanks evaporate a lot so you'll need an equally large reservoir to compensate.

Auto Top Off systems are nice but will fail and overfill at some point. It's inevitable. A handy option would be to have a spigot that you can use to directly fill the sump as needed. A long hose hooked up to a sink also works well.

3. Circulation- If you're going Penninsula style, make sure your pump's strong enough to circulate that amount of water across the entire length of the tank by at least 3 times; across the top, across the bottom, and enough extra to keep debris moving into the overflow. Anything less than this will increase your maintenance load quite a bit since you'll have to vacuum the substrate more thoroughly than you would otherwise have to.

DC, pressure rated, pumps. Don't consider using anything less.

4. The Overflow- I'd STRONGLY suggest investing in a tank that has a Coast-to-Coast overflow; ie, one that will go across the entire side of the tank that's got your drains in it. Big tanks produce a lot of leaf litter that loves, loves, loves to block overflow teeth. The larger your overflow area, the less likely it is to get clogged and cause a flood (always when you're not around to handle it right away).

5. Don't get one of those hang on the back style overflows. I loved mine on my 80 gallon, but it got clogged one night and my downstairs neighbor banged on my door at 11 o'clock..... DRILL THE TANK. Since it's going to be a room divider, drill the bottom and have the overflow be a second pane on that side. This will allow you to have a straight drop to drain into the sump and will hide the drains.

6. Don't silicone your drains into the bulkheads; you'll want to be able to pull them out to flush collected debris (and animals) into the filter.

7. Herbie/Full Siphon drain design is your best friend. Big drain pipes make big noise.

8. Don't plant a massive foreground of carpeting plants. Trimming square feet worth of something like HC or Monte Carlo is the path to insanity. A sand foreground is your best friend.

9. Lighting- If you're doing the peninsula thing, high-power LEDs will actually work well since they'll be running down the center of the tank and you won't need a lot of PAR for a massive carpet. Seriously. Don't plant a carpet. Trust me. T-5s are another strong option and can look very good if you get a good unit and suspend it from the ceiling.

10. Get a siphon hose long enough to drain to a tub and the connections needed to hook directly to a sink. This will make water changes much easier.

The 3 most important things-

1. Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan, and over engineer, over engineer, over engineer. True Union gate (not ball) valves are going to be your best friend. Make everything modular for easy removal and maintenance. Check out the large tank sections of reef forums for builds. They're still the experts in this area.

2. Don't cheap out. Seriously. Buy the very best you can from the very start. Big tank hardware is expensive and it'll be cheaper in the long run to fork out the money once rather than having to replace something that broke/wore out/wasn't sufficient to begin with.

3. If you can, rig up an emergency drain in your sump just in case. Replacing a burnt out pump is cheaper than replacing flooring and/or having to pay someone to come deal with water damage in the walls.



I hope this helps and I'll be more than happy to answer other questions that arise.
Phil
 

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Everyone has given great advice I'd just emphasize price and maintenance. Hardscape for my 75 gallon (still in early stages thanks to tanks being backordered) is going to be dramatic as you put it. I bought 300 dollars worth of wood because I can't get good wood in the wild. My rocks are thankfully all from the wild. If they weren't from the wild they would cost about 1000 dollars by themselves. I am expecting plants to run a few hundred dollars but possibly as much as 600 dollars. Fish will be fairly understocked but still expect to spend 100-200 dollars there as well. Equipment for my 75 will be around 800. Bigger then this means even more expensive for pretty much everything. I would make sure you don't go over 24" deep unless you are only keeping things like java fern or anubias down near substrate. Its definitely possible to get super powerful lights that reach deeper but its another increased expense and limits your options.

Maintenance is also compounded the bigger you go and the more hardscape you keep. Scrubbing rocks each week becomes more annoying the more rocks you have.

Anyway I personally would be leary of going from small tanks all the way to a 225 in a single step. Something like a 5 foot long 120g would be my goto for something used as a room divider. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much for the great feedback! I read a couple things that I hadn't considered, so I will definitely be referring back to this post as I plan.

I hate to chicken out before getting started, but I am getting cold feet on such a large tank already. At first my thinking was to shoot for the moon since I am building out the space and can accommodate everything I want right from the start. I am beginning to think perhaps half the volume would be a wiser choice. A 120-ish tank will likely give me plenty of joy. My house is not very big even after the addition, so a large tank will really dominate the space.

The builder I am working with has done in-built tanks before, but I don't know of what size. I'll be sure to work it out with him before settling on size.

Thanks again for the feedback!
 

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Make sure you would be able to easily stick your arm in and get tit he bottom with a tweezers or something.
馃槀 my 4ft tall tank wishes I had thought of this, as the maker of those grabber things laughs at me... If you go for a tall tank expect to have to stand on a ladder and you will wind up with the top half of your body in the tank with your fish either nipping at you or scared crapless of you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Browsing the forums, I found this stunning build:

Pretty much exactly what I had envisioned but in peninsula form and larger. It's so helpful to see a post like that to get a good idea of what is in store for anyone attempting such a project. That would be very expensive to have built professionally, and very time consuming to do oneself. I don't think I have the time and/or patience, and I don't know if my builder would be willing to do it.

I'm definitely going down in tank volume from my original vision. As an alternative I've been look at the Waterbox Peninsula series and may consider that an option. I could have my contractor build out the space to accommodate whichever model I choose, and install it myself.
 

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Thanks so much for the great feedback! I read a couple things that I hadn't considered, so I will definitely be referring back to this post as I plan.

I hate to chicken out before getting started, but I am getting cold feet on such a large tank already. At first my thinking was to shoot for the moon since I am building out the space and can accommodate everything I want right from the start. I am beginning to think perhaps half the volume would be a wiser choice. A 120-ish tank will likely give me plenty of joy. My house is not very big even after the addition, so a large tank will really dominate the space.

The builder I am working with has done in-built tanks before, but I don't know of what size. I'll be sure to work it out with him before settling on size.

Thanks again for the feedback!
If you go for a 120 (gallon?), check out the 5' model at PetSmart; they've got awesome dimensions for planted tanks and won't be a huge block in the middle of your space.
 
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