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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In my early 20's I got big into planted tanks... or as my ex-husband would put it, big into spending money on "one more fish tank we don't need." LOL. Unfortunately, in my late 20's I sustained a series of neck/back injuries that left me unable to perform maintenance on my larger tanks... I got out of the hobby.

Now, in my mid 30's, I have an 18 month daughter, and I really want to set up a tank in our home. My current (read as: much better than that old a**hat) husband is completely on board, but we really on have room for one tank. So, I am looking for suggestions on tank sizes and brands that are not tall. I've seen a 20 gallon long at my local petsmart, but I would really like to have a bigger tank.

Do they make larger tanks that are not as tall as regular tanks? I did some measuring and I could probably get away with maintenance on a tank as long as it wasn't much taller than 16 inches.

What do you guys think?
 

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There are a lot of various sizes out that would suit your needs, but most are custom tanks.

Since your just getting back into the hobby I would wait for Petco's $1/gallon sale and pick up a 40 Breeder and start there. You can always upgrade later. ;)
 

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I think the first question to the op should be, what size tanks did you originally have, and what limited you so that you could not maintain them?

All the suggestions made would be good tanks sizes for many people, but they might not be good for you. 40 gal tanks 55 gal tanks, and 60 or 80 gal frag tanks are all fairly large tanks, and might not be suitable.

The op might also consider a larger tank, but mount it on a very low stand, perhaps a stand that is only 12 to 24 inches high.
 

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You could do as the other poster said, and put any 55 gallon about 2 feet off the ground, and get a rolling stool going along side while you reach in and mess with stuff. It may turn out to be something we could all do as we get older too. :} But still, what a great hobby to have when you are limited physically and maybe stuck inside more often because of it. If you have children, they can even reach in the tank and help out, or totally mess things up! When my kids were young, we went to the NC Aquarium where they could reach in and pet the skates. No reason why you can't have a similar situation on a smaller scale. Fun for the whole family!
 

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You could go with either a 40 breeder or a 40 long--both are 16" high. The 40b would be cheaper, easier to find, and better for aquascaping because it is 18" deep. Like others have said though, you could always go for a custom built tank or harder to find sizes like frag tanks and the like which will be considerably more expensive than the $40.00 you would spend on a 40b during one of the DPG sales. Deep Blue actually has an 80 gallon frag tank (48"x24"x16" high) retailing for 300 bucks that looks interesting.
 

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I would concentrate more on stand height than actual tank size. Choose the tank that you would like and have a stand that puts the tank in a ergonomical position that suits your restrictions. Pythons, pumps, these are your best friends when you have a bad back. There are also many tools you can use that help with maintenance on tall tanks, these may really help you as well. A lot will depend on your reach. Also, depending on your mobility, I would steer clear of canister filters too. Canisters can be back breakers if you can't squat or get down on your knees for maintenance. These would be very important factors to be considered.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'll try to clear a bit up as to the nature of what I am looking for.

I have a neck injury. I specifically had trouble reaching into my taller tanks. Tank wall scrubbing became a nightmare, so did aqua-scaping. I know my limits now, and feel that any tank that was 16 inches (or less) tall would be okay. I hadn't thought about stand height, but I will also keep that in mind.
 

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Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'll try to clear a bit up as to the nature of what I am looking for.

I have a neck injury. I specifically had trouble reaching into my taller tanks. Tank wall scrubbing became a nightmare, so did aqua-scaping. I know my limits now, and feel that any tank that was 16 inches (or less) tall would be okay. I hadn't thought about stand height, but I will also keep that in mind.
Now we are getting somewhere.

Among the more or less standard side tanks the 20 long you were looking at would be ok. I think a standard 30 gal (36x13x16) tank would work well. A 40 gal breeder (36x18x16) should work well also.

Those would be your typical choices and you should be able to easily find them. However there are also some more unusual tank sizes that also might work for you. Here is a link (offsite) to a chart of various tank sizes - Standard Aquarium Dimensions Chart and Dimensions to Gallons Calculator You may need to special order those.
 

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Lots of good advise here and I'll add my $0.02 in.

I have a lot of running tanks of various dimensions and even more sitting dry in the garage. Over the years, it become obvious to me that the tanks I care for most and enjoy the most are the ones that are the easiest to work on, disability or not.

My personal all time favorites are 24 x 12 x 14 (aka ADA and clones 60P) and Mr Aqua 36 x 12 x 12 (aka 22 long). On a budget, Petco's 20 Long is hard to beat. Small? Maybe. But there is soo much one can do with those footprints. This is where bigger is not better. X x 18 x 18 tanks are very popular and for a lot of good reasons, but if you cannot reach the bottom or the far wall they become neglected and unloved.

To summarize:
- low stand
- all around accessibility
- HOB filters
- LED lights
- "low tech"

I see 0 reasons why you and your family cannot enjoy this wonderful hobby. You go girl!
 

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When I spend time designing a few stands I figured out as long as the top lip is no higher than about 1.45 meter (4 3/4') (that's about the height of your armpit), you should have no problem working on a 55gal, as long as you don't have short arms :p That being said, lifting buckets is a no go, so you need to plan a hose or python setup too.

If you can stand next to the tank in the shop, check from the front top corner to the bottom rear, that it is not longer than your arm.
 

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I think one thing we are forgetting here is tools. I use an algae scrub brush or a mag float 98% of the time. Since going planted years ago I've learned that it isn't hard to keep a planted tank essentially algae free. And now we have many LED's with a night time mode so there is no reason to limit viewing time either when running a tank on a timer.

For reaching the substrate there are tools as well, such as soil spades or extra long gravel vacs. For planting pick up a whole aquascape kit with tweezers. It is hard to adjust to, but once adjusted it is actually a really simple way to get things done. :)

I'm not trying to advocate looking at a bigger tank, I'm just thinking these may help as well. :)
 

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You might also want to consider what plants you like to grow. Rooted plants that stay put once they've established are going to have lower care requirements than stem plants. Vacuuming around plants (when needed) can be done with some pvc stuck on the end of your water change tubing, but you'd upset an established sword plant much less when poking around than a collection of stems.

Since you have a supporting DH this time around, I'd hope you would have help with the initial setup and planting, so maintenance would be your only long-term consideration. If you pick plants and a layout appropriately, and use a good water change system (python, tubing and water pump, etc....), and go lower tech, there really should not be tons that would be hard to maintain, regardless of size.

That said, I also recommend a XX x 18" x 18" tank. I'm short and am having fits with my 180 gallon, which is 72" x 24" x 24" and I'm perfectly healthy.

I also second the recommendation against canister filters, and would recommend a sump. Wet/dry can be good, but I just have a wet sump with media and foam dividing the sections. Maintenance is easy peasy. and filter capacity is huge.
 

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As for tank size, if you want a large tank, they can always be made. Could find somewhere to build a 6'x18"X16 or something, but that will cost. For water changes, pythons are going to be the way to go. If you have a sink near by. If not, you can always order the python base and order custom length hose. For maintenance, I cannot recommend the Flipper magnet scrubbers enough. They make it so the only time you have to reach in the tank is for trimming and planting.

Flipper Magnetic Cleaner - Bulk Reef Supply
Flipper Nano Magnetic Cleaner - Bulk Reef Supply
 

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I would concentrate more on stand height than actual tank size. Choose the tank that you would like and have a stand that puts the tank in a ergonomical position that suits your restrictions. Pythons, pumps, these are your best friends when you have a bad back. There are also many tools you can use that help with maintenance on tall tanks, these may really help you as well. A lot will depend on your reach. Also, depending on your mobility, I would steer clear of canister filters too. Canisters can be back breakers if you can't squat or get down on your knees for maintenance. These would be very important factors to be considered.

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I would agree with what Buddha said about the tank stand. You can own a bigger tank assuming you can use a custom stand that will cater to your height and reach. The only limiting factor to a big tank is the height since maintenance require you to access both the bottom and bottom back of the tank.

Canister filters will be too much work removing from the system so a sump might work best. HOB's are easy to remove but will require cleaning too often.

Also do not forgot to take into account your husband, who can and should perform the filter maintenance :p

The python is a requirement for owning a tank 20 gallons or more. In fact, every aquarium keeper should own one. No need to be bring buckets back and forth from the sink.

A 33 long tank is nice for size and height but I would recommend a 40 breeder or a 50 breeder if you can have a custom stand with a lower height.
 

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My absolute favorite tank among the many I've had/have is my 33 long. It's the footprint of a standard 55, only much shorter. I've got mine heavily planted and stocked with big groups of nano fish (ember tetras, emerald rasboras, gertrudae rainbows, tinwinii danios, etc.) but there's lots of things you could do with that footprint. And super easy to work in, even on a standard height stand.
 
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