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I polished up a 55G 48x13x20 TruVU and now have ambitions to build a 48x12x12 acrylic and a sump. All three tanks are to be housed in one stand. The smaller tank will be for shell-dwellers at about 29G.

My stand idea is at 56x14x36. I'm finding it hard to keep it lower than 36" high, the height where a 20"H tank will reach my armpits. There is 5-6" space from top of the 2nd tank to the top frame. I'm stuck on the room for the sump.

I've never built a sump before, so I don't know the physical limitations of how creative one can be. The bottom space is limited at 49x11x9. If the entire volume is utilized, there is room for about 20G of water with equipment not included.

Can I still build a sump in this space?
Should I drop the sump idea for another DIY filtration system?
Should the filtration be separate for both tanks?

I considered making the 48x12x12 into a sump w/the fuge on display though I'd rather keep it as an aquarium. If I lack options I may revert to this idea. I'm guessing it'll reduce the living space from 29G to approx 18G (36x12x10).

Please also comment on the design and structural integrity. I've seen designs for 55G w/o center posts, but mine is a bit longer at 56". I could add them to the back.

Notes:
-to save space, middle and bottom frames are laid flat
-middle frame (laid flat) is for 48x12x12 @ 29G. enough support?
-to not obstruct view of middle tank, no center posts for top frame.

 

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Top will be fine but I'd be hesitant to but a 29 on the middle as the corners of the tank wont be on corners of the stand. I would put a support under where the edge of the 29 gallon will be. I built a rack and had a 40 breeder tank on the bottom row. I used 2x4's upright and the shelf was level. I thought I would be fine and that the 2x4 would be fine even though the tank stopped at 36" and I had 20" of shelf left. Well it bowed and did so quick. The tank cracked and was junk.
 
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