What would you want in a custom built tank? A beginner building his first tank need some help 180-200g..

Hezam

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Hello everyone,

I am finally starting my first reef tank soon. I spent the better part of a year just soaking up knowledge and researching to start this hobby, and to my surprise I finally have the chance to spec out my first custom built tank which happens to also be my first tank. Friend of a friend builds tanks and he managed to get a good price for me. Where I live saltwater tanks aren't really common at all. This guy builds mostly freshwater tanks with much simpler plumbing. He straight up told me "I don't have much experience in saltwater just tell where to drill the holes." So I want to ask, what should the best custom built tank have? This is fully from scratch. Any Size, any type of overflow, any size sump etc..

I am extremely overwhelmed. So I am gonna regurgitate some thoughts and you guys let me know if I am in the wrong train of thought. Thanks in advance.

1- Tank Size: The basement where I can fit the tank in fits 7ft long maximum. I could go whatever height I want, but width is restricted to 24in as I want to stay inline with the cabinets on the right and left of the tank. I was thinking 6.6ft(200cm) x 24in x 24in. For the height I am thinking minimum 24in but also thinking swinging for 30in. Is that too tall? Tank stand will be 40in I decided. I had a freshwater tank with a 36in tall stand I did not like how much I needed to bend to see the tank. I could go for a full 7ft tank but see point 2 as I am trying to avoid the price jump of 15mm glass.

2- Will 1/2 (12mm glass) will good for a 200cm (6.6ft) x 24in x 24in tank be good? Online aquarium glass calculators with a safety margin of 3.8 pass the test with required thickness being 12.88mm. Tank builder guy said its fine buts the maximum hes willing to go for those dimension, he said any longer or taller I would need 3/5 or 15mm glass thickness. All options are braced. I think he will do center braces plus euro brace. Is that overkill? Should I just do euro braces? He also does traditional metal bracing option. Should I consider that? I am not thinking of rimless at all, since I am already kinda pushing it for the glass thickness I think?

3- What is the best overflow for this tank? I am so confused on this. I obviously don't want an internal overflow right? External? Should there be a box outside the tank? What if there is no space for an extra 3 inches for external overflow box? I want to have 24in width, does that mean I have to bring the tank further from the wall a couple of inches more? So the tank from the wall be 27 inches accounting the overflow box? That wont be inline with the cabinets.. I don't want to make the tank narrower. Should I consider internal? Aldo what type of "drain method" bean animal or Herbie? Is there a best one? I am liking the one with three drains, one siphon and 1 trickle and one emergency.

4- I am thinking of doing a big sump, 90 gallon If I can or bigger. I wanna be able to have a "frag" rack in there also if possible. I am accounting for everything, refugium, skimmer, filter roller (in future), space for bio media. I have no idea if I need reactors now or soon, but I will just make space for everything for the future. I might have a gigantic empty sump for now. That I will eventully populate with equipment as I progress through this hobby. Is that okay?

5- Tank stand will be made of metal and painted black. The tank will be 40inches high plus 24in of the reef. It might be too tall but I really like the height. Also plus a lot of space for fun activities in the refugium. In case I want to stick my head and work there, its tall enough. I will have to figure out to do matching cabinet for the stand later on, but it will have an exposed sump for now. Also is it okay for sump to sit on the floor with some type of foam or neoprene? The metal stand is a square with no "bottom" if that makes sense. I am thinking maybe I could ask to weld sheet metal to make it elevated from the ground but is that necessarily? Floor is basement level and its all concrete so all good in the weight department.

What are you guys thinking? I am going at this at he correct way? I still haven't made space for the ATO reservoir, so I will either make it fit in the sump (smaller sump). Or I am thinking of emptying the cabinet with junk on the right of tank and putting it in there and getting a bigger ATO (bigger sump.) This is all so overwhelming, because I have to think on EVERYTHING I NEED, like 5 years down the hobby. I didn't even begin to mention anything about plumbing? Do I need a manifold? Size of pipes? Size of bulkheads? Return location.. ugh so much stuff to plan.
 

littlefoxx

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Not good with custom tanks. But the tank I got this month I took over from another reefer who built it himself. He took a basic Aqueon 125 with internal overflows, drilled holes in the bottoms of the overflows and ran plumbing down to the sump and then back up. I can post pictures of the plumbing and over flows if that helps, to be honest I have no idea how he built the tank but it works really well!
 

FishTruck

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1. 30 inch tall max, 24 is easier to take care of
2. euro brace is nice to avoid splashing out of the tank - my tank is cross braced too. It is a little bit of a pain for shadowing but I like the security
3. an external overflow will indeed cost you three inches. Also, you need to be able to reach your hand up there to deal with the bulkheads. An internal one might be better for a tank against the wall. Pros and cons.
4. Big sumps with lots of options are a good thing
5. if your floor is level, just a sheet of pink foam board is a good idea under the sump. Paint it if you like.
 
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Hezam

Hezam

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1. 30 inch tall max, 24 is easier to take care of
2. euro brace is nice to avoid splashing out of the tank - my tank is cross braced too. It is a little bit of a pain for shadowing but I like the security
3. an external overflow will indeed cost you three inches. Also, you need to be able to reach your hand up there to deal with the bulkheads. An internal one might be better for a tank against the wall. Pros and cons.
4. Big sumps with lots of options are a good thing
5. if your floor is level, just a sheet of pink foam board is a good idea under the sump. Paint it if you like.

Yeah I agree with 30in plus the stand might be too tall. I mocked it up today and no way I am reaching the bottom without taking a dip in the tank first.

For point 3, should I consider side overflow box, or is that not a thing? I searched it up but it doesn't look good at all and obstructs the view from the side. Hmm I might have to make the tank like 24in and just make it stick out a bit... for the better overflow options.

yeah floor is level but Ill have to double check, can I shimmy it if not?
 
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Hezam

Hezam

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Not good with custom tanks. But the tank I got this month I took over from another reefer who built it himself. He took a basic Aqueon 125 with internal overflows, drilled holes in the bottoms of the overflows and ran plumbing down to the sump and then back up. I can post pictures of the plumbing and over flows if that helps, to be honest I have no idea how he built the tank but it works really well!

Interesting I might have to consider internal overflow but I am bit sad for losing some space in the tank. Pros and cons like FishTruck said. Just to understand BOTH internal and external will work good for well.. overflowing, there is no "better" design objectively speaking? Just what fits the bill if I understand correctly
 

FishTruck

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A side overflow might be a good solution. I have a stealth overflow from custom aquariums on my tank, which is a peninsula.

It will block the view from one side though.

Corner overflows, or just a center overflow can get the job done with more aquascape room. It does not need to be coast to coast. Corners can be a challenge if you are trying to do a bean standpipe setup.

An internal coast to coast is superior for skimming the surface and lots of room for any kind of standpipe setup. You have room for your returns to come through it too, and they are easy to build. They also give you a flat back wall which is easier to clean. But... the cost of aquascape real estate.
 

SteveMM62Reef

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Euro-Bracing for Peace of Mind, also keeps splashing of outside glass down. Either an Internal or External Overflow. Return Holes in the back glass, and if an Internal Overflow, three holes. Two for Drains, other one for either a return or emergency drain. Sump, Two Electrical Sources, IE Two different Breakers and GFCI. Two Return Pumps. Either an end Door or Removal Panel, on the Stand. Also before setting up the Aquarium would put at least two Coats of Spar Varnish on the Stand, ideally Three Coats to the inside and bottom of the Stand, the part that goes next to the floor.
 

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I would go coast to coast, built in, external overflow with at least (4) 1 inch drains. Euro braced with center front/ back brace. Star fire glass, clear silicone between the glass, not smudged in corners. Dimensions up to you, this is minimum requirements for my next tank
 
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Hezam

Hezam

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I would go coast to coast, built in, external overflow with at least (4) 1 inch drains. Euro braced with center front/ back brace. Star fire glass, clear silicone between the glass, not smudged in corners. Dimensions up to you, this is minimum requirements for my next tank

Oh I heard about the starfire glass, is that the one with low iron content that makes it clearer? Would have to ask about that.

Why clear silicone if I may ask? I was thinking black silicone but never had a tank with black silicon.
 
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Hezam

Hezam

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Euro-Bracing for Peace of Mind, also keeps splashing of outside glass down. Either an Internal or External Overflow. Return Holes in the back glass, and if an Internal Overflow, three holes. Two for Drains, other one for either a return or emergency drain. Sump, Two Electrical Sources, IE Two different Breakers and GFCI. Two Return Pumps. Either an end Door or Removal Panel, on the Stand. Also before setting up the Aquarium would put at least two Coats of Spar Varnish on the Stand, ideally Three Coats to the inside and bottom of the Stand, the part that goes next to the floor.
Yeah euro bracing is a must reading from these comments.

Two electrical sources is a check, but I have to ask, is the GFCI an Outlet or are power strips "GFCI." I will need to do more research here I know.

Also I read that plumbing for two return pumps is not easy and I should just have a spare in hand, what do you think?
 

Reefering1

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Oh I heard about the starfire glass, is that the one with low iron content that makes it clearer? Would have to ask about that.

Why clear silicone if I may ask? I was thinking black silicone but never had a tank with black silicon.
Starfire, or low iron glass, looks blue on the edges; rather than green. And yes its more clear. Clear silicone disappears, black outlines the seams.. purely preference.
 

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Personally, I wouldn't want a tank over 24" tall. In my opinion, it's more water to dose, change, and maintain but the enjoyment bonus is pretty minimal. All pain no gain.

Also, you'll need a tool every time you want to reach the bottom of the tank.

I'd rather have more space front to back if the room allows for it.
 

Reefering1

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Personally, I wouldn't want a tank over 24" tall. In my opinion, it's more water to dose, change, and maintain but the enjoyment bonus is pretty minimal. All pain no gain.

Also, you'll need a tool every time you want to reach the bottom of the tank.

I'd rather have more space front to back if the room allows for it.
I wouldn't say "no gain". My current tank is 30" tall, and it is a pain, but well worth it imo. But I am 5'12", with long arms, and need a ladder to reach in.. I like the open water above rocks. So do the fish
 

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I wouldn't say "no gain". My current tank is 30" tall, and it is a pain, but well worth it imo. But I am 5'12", with long arms, and need a ladder to reach in.. I like the open water above rocks. So do the fish
That's fair. I shouldn't have said, "no gain". I was just trying to work the "all pain" cliche in. :)

If height were "free" I'd take it I think. It's just that the extra volume has troubles that prefer to avoid.
 

SteveMM62Reef

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Yeah euro bracing is a must reading from these comments.

Two electrical sources is a check, but I have to ask, is the GFCI an Outlet or are power strips "GFCI." I will need to do more research here I know.

Also I read that plumbing for two return pumps is not easy and I should just have a spare in hand, what do you think?
I prefer the GFCI Receptacles, it would be a pain to have to go upstairs and into the garage, if I was trying to find out what tripped it. Also I don’t put my GFCI Behind the Aquarium, they are upstream in the Circuit. The TV is on one, and the WiFi is on the other. If either Trips, someone is going to tell me about it. LOL Also I have Plastic Code Compliant Weather Proof Covers in the Receptacles, behind the Aquariums.
 

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That's fair. I shouldn't have said, "no gain". I was just trying to work the "all pain" cliche in. :)

If height were "free" I'd take it I think. It's just that the extra volume has troubles that prefer to avoid.
It is a real pain. The top of my tank is about eye level and it has a canopy. So when its time to dig around in there, I'm on the 2nd step of a ladder ducking under the lid, armpit deep fingering around. Kinda motivates you to keep your arms out the tank. A wider tank(front to back) presents similar issues reaching the far bottom corner. A lower strand helps but takes away from cabinet space. The bottom of my tank is 38" off the floor.
 
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Hezam

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why are you restricted to 24"in width?
Not really restricted physically but more of a design choice. The proposed aquarium will sit between some cabinets left of it and right of it. They are 24in depth. I wanted to match it but it's not that important. I am willing to go deeper. Although I see a lot of people here go for 24in deep. I like the rectangular look ratio. But I am open for any ideas to be honest I am not set on anything
 

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Not really restricted physically but more of a design choice. The proposed aquarium will sit between some cabinets left of it and right of it. They are 24in depth. I wanted to match it but it's not that important. I am willing to go deeper. Although I see a lot of people here go for 24in deep. I like the rectangular look ratio. But I am open for any ideas to be honest I am not set on anything
If it were me, I'd go minimum of 30" if not 36 wide. So much more room for aquascaping. I'd also keep it 24" deep and then you could go long as you like to get the volume size you want. At 5' long you'd be at 180 gallons going 30" wide if I recall correctly.
 

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If it were me, I'd go minimum of 30" if not 36 wide. So much more room for aquascaping. I'd also keep it 24" deep and then you could go long as you like to get the volume size you want. At 5' long you'd be at 180 gallons going 30" wide if I recall correctly.
I strongly agree with the 30" wide minimum. My previous tank was 24" and that extra 6" makes a huge difference. Also adds lots of gallons which is nice. 22-24" deep is perfect. My current tank is an innovative marine EXT 200 which is 6'x30"x22". I love the dimensions. You can see my videos or others with innovative marine 200 tanks. You could copy the design of those tanks using dimensions, glass thickness, etc. They have both EXT and INT tanks so you could design the tank either way.
 

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