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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been pondering (for a very long time) what aquarium to get for mbuna. I will most likely get a custom tank built. I can't go crazy on size, lest the strata council have a conniption fit and blame me for the fact that the front of the building has sunk (which it has, but that's not my fault :D ). 60 gallons is my approximate target. I am considering a footprint of 72" x 12" (which would give a height of 16") or 60 x 15 (height of 15) or 48 x 18 (height of 16).

The largest fish I have considered stocking is the Acei.

If you had 60 gallons to play with, what dimensions would you consider to be optimal and allow the greatest versatility of stocking options? (BTW, I know a standard 55 gal would be much cheaper but I don't like that much height in a smallish tank.)
 

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You will hear that a 72" tank gives the most options, but most 72" tanks are at least 18" deep. I think a 12" tank would be too narrow.

I'd probably go with the 48x18x16. It is only one less species than a 72" tank but the 18" depth gives a better environment IMO.

Or you could go with two 33G tanks that are 48x12x13. I'd skip the acei with those, but same number of species.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
72 x 18 x 16 would be awesome! Unfortunately I will already be pushing the boundaries with 60 gallons -- the property manager told me I am only permitted a 10 gallon aquarium! That is not what the bylaw says, it says "a reasonable number of fish" (open to interpretation, lol), so I am going to get my tank before someone decides to amend the bylaw. Hopefully that way I will be grandfathered in.

I think I will likely go with the 48 x 18 footprint.
 

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If you have to meet those limitations a 48x18 would be a good choice. We have several 48x18 tanks and they work very well for mbuna.
Keep us posted!!!
 

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fishndogs said:
72 x 18 x 16 would be awesome! Unfortunately I will already be pushing the boundaries with 60 gallons -- the property manager told me I am only permitted a 10 gallon aquarium! That is not what the bylaw says, it says "a reasonable number of fish" (open to interpretation, lol), so I am going to get my tank before someone decides to amend the bylaw. Hopefully that way I will be grandfathered in.

I think I will likely go with the 48 x 18 footprint.
If you are going to use the 48x18 foot print there is no need for a custom tank; both the standard 75 and 90 gallons tanks use that footprint. The 75 is 21 inches tall and the 90 is 24 inches. The taller face makes for a much better display than the shorter heights you have mentioned.
 

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I'm using the quick reply button but my reply is not very quick.
I really like this question. All three have about the same total gallons (volume). All three have about the same footprint (area of bottom). So dealing with cichlids that stay closer to the bottom, one might say that any of these will work to accommodate the same number of fish.

But there is a third aspect that most do not consider. Maybe not the most major factor, but a consideration. How far is it diagonally on the floor of the tank (back left to front right) or how far is it three dimensionally from say top back left corner to bottom right front corner? I like to consider this in case two fish are fleeing each other and want to be as far away from each other as possible, or say two males are setting up shop and want to have territories away from each other. Remember when you learned the Pythagorean Theorem in math and you told the teacher you'd never use this again? Well now you do.

Well, luckily for you I am a retired math teacher so I will work it out for you and save you the anguish. The 72 inch long tank has a foot print diagonal of 73.0 inches and a 3D diagonal of 74.7 inches. For the 60 inch tank it is 61.8 inches and 63.6 inches. The 48 inch tank works out to 51.3 inches footprint and 53.7 inches in 3-D. Basically the longer the tank, the longer the diagonal, and the squarer or more cubical (think like a sugar cube shape) the tank, the shorter the diagonal.

So you know mathematically on paper I like the six foot long tank. But there are few practical considerations. Will you be housing fish that grow close to a foot in length? A foot wide tank will hardly give them room to turn around. Will a six foot tank take up too much space along a wall? Will it be hard to maneuver or move? Will the stand be more expensive than a four or five foot long one? Might the property manager at any point see your tank? A six foot long one will look huge compared to the four foot even though the same volume of water. Only you can answer those questions. Personally I'd probably opt for the five foot long tank (60 x 15 x 15) in case you ever want fish that grow longer than the three inch mbunas and you need a little more width for that longer fish. It still gives a decent diagonal length on the footprint. Plus aesthetically a six foot by one foot tank might look a little weird too.

Last consideration - are you buying the glass by the square inch? Including glass top, the 6 foot takes 4416 square inches, the 5 foot needs 4050 and the 4 foot needs 3840. The more cubical it is, the less glass it takes. In fact, a 60 gallon with the least amount of glass would be 24 x 24 x 24 inches. Unless it were a grow tank for fry or for a sump, I'd never do that one. It would have only a 34 inch diagonal and it would look too weird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Actually, I learned the Pythagorean Theorem long before it was taught to me in school -- picked it up from a Danny Kaye movie :D . It has come in handy at times.

I have pretty much ruled out the 6 foot option but find myself still vascillating between the 5 foot long and the 4 foot long tank. If I didn't have big brother property manager looming over me I would probably get a 75 gallon tank and be done with it. It would be less expensive.
 

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That's what I would do. What if you just don't fill it?
 

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And if anyone asks, convert to Imperial gallons and say 62 gallons, not 75; it will sound smaller!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Aha! Imperial gallons -- brilliant!!

As for not filling it, I really hate the look of a tank that is not filled right up to the top frame.
 

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Then I would do 2 33G tanks for 48x12 and stock 2 species in each.
 

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If I were told I could only have one fish tank and it had to be under 40 gallons, I think I'd maybe go with the 33 gallon I already own. It is 36 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 18 inches tall. Not sure what I would put in it if it were my only tank, but right now I am using it as a grow-out tank for cichlid fry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My hesitation with the 2 x 33 gallons is that it would reduce my options, notably the acei and probably some feisty species such as msobo.

I have had one other thought: one 45 gallon with a footprint of 48 x 18 by 12" tall, so a broadened 33 gallon long, basically. Then I would feel I could risk a second tank -- 20 gallon long. One always needs another tank.

Would acei be doable in such a tank, or do you think it would be too shallow?
 

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Shallow tanks reduce escape distance and increase jumpers. Definitely cover all tanks anyway. I don't have a problem with the 33G tanks which are shallow, but covers are crucial.

I would not do acei in 48x12 but I would be OK with Metriaclima. Really anything that is OK in a 55G I would do in a 33G.
 

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If you can do custom the 60" x 15" (height of 15") sounds interesting.

But i'm not sure what the cost differential is from a standard 55g, but if you are going to pay extra you should increase the length. Violent aggression is really about fish not being able to leave the area, since they are trapped so that escape distance helps. Volume of water also helps water quality and stocking, so you don't want to short change the gallons if you are shooting for 60 gallons.
 
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