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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a little nuts, so sorry if this thread wasn't what you thought :p

I have the itch to build a giant fish tank. I've had this itch ever since I set up my 125. I WANT BIGGER! 8)

Unfortunately, I can not have a bigger tank right now :(. I'm a renter. I'm lucky to be able to have the tank I do. I do not have the space for a bigger tank (ok, ok, maybe I could have a 6x2x2 but my wife wouldn't see the point and would kill me for getting ANOTHER fish tank :D ). I could put a monster tank in the basement we hardly use, but whats the point. Within the next couple years, we will move and buy a home... hopefully.

But I still have the itch. I'm OCD, I think. Once I start thinking about something, I can't get it out of my head unless something else more compelling comes along to be the focus of my brain.

So, being an engineer, I'm privy to some pretty cool 3D modeling software. I've decided in order to satisfy my itch, I will design AND build the tank... virtually. And I will post the pictures here of my progress for you guys to comment, advise, criticize, whatever - just as if I were really building an actual, physical tank.

This isn't an entirely pointless exercise. My wife has already given me the go-ahead to build a big "in-wall" aquarium in our currently hypothetical future home we will own. She said it would be cool - first time she said that in regards to my hobby :) So, this thread can be more acurately described as "Designing a Giant Fishtank for a future build", but since I'm currently in a bit of a narcicistic mood, I thought I'd get more page views with a clever-er title :p. The difference between this, and other design threads, is that the actual build will be at least 2-3 years away, and many other things have to fall in place first. So thats how long you (and I!) will be kept in suspense. My apologies... ( :lol: )

So, on to the virtual build. I imagine this tank being the foundation of a small fishroom. A "in-wall" tank, viewable from the front, with access to the other 3 sides in a back room for maintenance. The room will have a drain in the middle of the floor, and dedicated plumbing and electrical for operating the tank. Around the outside of the room, I may have other tanks, shelves, closets, etc... anything a small fishroom dedicated to the operation of a big fish tank might need.

The tank itself as its currently designed in my head will be nominally (LxWxH) 8'x4'x4', measured externally... :) Actual internal dimensions in inches will be 87.5 x 38.5 x 43. That is an internal volume of 627 gallons... :D The tank will have a front viewing window of dimensions 80.5 x 36, and glass will be [3/4" or 1"] thick - haven't worked out just how thick it will need to be yet. The rest of the details will be presented along the way during the virtual build/design process.

So, onward to the build. First up in the next post will be, building a sturdy bottom frame. Stay tuned! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Building the bottom frame.

I'm going for overbuilt. The front, back, and sides will sit on top of the frame and be connected to the bottom frame via lag bolts and glue/epoxy.

PICTURE 1: Layout top down view of the bottom frame - Two 8' length 2x4's, connected by 10 2x4's on nominally, 1' centers. The two boards close together at the ends are to provide a sturdier base on which to lag bolt down the side frames onto, which you'll see in a few more posts.



PICTURE 2: Prospective view of the frame laying flat - The frame will be held together with wood screws.



PICTURE 3: Adding the plywood - planning on 3x4" thick. If I spring for expensive marine ply, I could possibly get 1 sheet of ply up to 12' long, alowing me to scale up the tank if I chose. The ply will be glued/epoxied and screwed down to the frame.



Eventually, I will figure out a screw and bolt pattern, so that I'm not not running screws and bolts together.

Thats all for this post. Next post: Building and attaching the back frame. Already done, so stay tuned :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Building the Back Frame

PICTURE 4: Frame Layout - the back frame will be built much the same way the bottom frame was built, simply to a different dimension. The difference is, the short "studs" will be staggard so that they are in between the "studs" in the bottom frame. This is so when I lag bolt the back frame into the bottom frame, I can get bolts into not only the long 8' 2x4, but also the short studs in the bottom frame, for a very secure and sturdy joint. Again, the 2 studs near each other at the ends are for securing the side frames.



PICTURE 5: Attaching the back frame - The back frame will be attached to the bottom frame before the addition of the back plywood. At this point, I will clamp the back frame into place, and predrill the holes for the lag bolts. Then I will unclamp it, apply some epoxy to the wood to wood joint, and then reclamp it and lag bolt it down. The end result will be a phenomenally strong joint that absolutely can not leak.



PICTURE 6: Through the magic of computers, I can make the bottom plywood partially transparent, to show how the studs in the back and bottom frame are offset.



PICTURE 7: Installing the back plywood - Now its time to "glue and screw" the plywood to the back frame. I will be careful to seal the bottom edge of the plywood with epoxy before installation.



At this point, I'll drill any bulkhead holes in the back and bottom for filtration and draining.

And, thats as far as I've got. Next post will be building and attaching the side frames. I plan to get it done during my lunch break at work. Look for the next update this evening or this weekend.

I hope you're enjoying this little virtual build :) Not quite as fun as building for real, though, and there really isn't a payoff at the end. :(

Comments so far?
 

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Awesome! :thumb: If anything when It comes time to build the real one you will have ALOT of plans you can build from! Can't wait to see more of this thing :popcorn:
 

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Ummm....

That's pretty sweet and something I would definetley do lol Definetley do as in OCD over a tank that isn't even built yet and drawup plans and hypotherorize (I know that's not a real word, but fitting for this situtation 8p) all the aspects of the tank. Good job on the structural aspects, looks hella sturdy and would be a sight to see IRL.
 

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Ummm....

That's pretty sweet and something I would definetley do lol Definetley do as in OCD over a tank that isn't even built yet and drawup plans and hypotherorize (I know that's not a real word, but fitting for this situtation 8p) all the aspects of the tank. Good job on the structural aspects, looks hella sturdy and would be a sight to see IRL.
 

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Looks virtually overbuilt.

Kidding :lol:
 

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You can't over think and over plan as far as I'm concerned. I obsessed with every little detail before getting my setup and we were really happy that I did in the end. Looking good so far, I hope you get to go through with it soon!
 

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Really cool! I can totally picture myself doing something like this. Best of luck with this, and hope you will be able to get a home soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've got an update today:

Installing the Side Frames



Continuing the theme. The installation process will be similar to how the back frame was installed. First, clamp each side in place and drill the holes for the lag bolts in the bottom and back. Then, unclamp, apply epoxy to the wood joint, reclamp, and lag down.

No need to install the side ply just yet - save that until after the front frame is in place for ease of assembly - need to be able to drill lag bolt holes and screw them in from the side frame to the front frame. Look for the update early next week ;)

Glad you all are enjoying the read! :) I was afraid everyone would find this all a bit silly. Well, it IS a bit silly, but I find it a pretty fun thing to do.
 

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Maybe this is simple to most, but never having used them, I'm not sure how and where they go. Can you show the lag bolts? Are they going into the studs or through the plate and secured with a nut?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This is what I mean by lag bolt:



They screw directly into the wood, no nuts required.

I found this image through a google search which is very similar to how I intend to use the bolts:



Just ignore all the extra stuff and just focus on the twp 2x4rs, the ply, the predrilled hole, and the bolt and washers. Next week I'll mock in some lag bolts in my model to show where I intend to put them.
 

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Rhinox said:
PICTURE 3: Adding the plywood - planning on 3x4" thick. If I spring for expensive marine ply, I could possibly get 1 sheet of ply up to 12' long, alowing me to scale up the tank if I chose. The ply will be glued/epoxied and screwed down to the frame.
Neat thread. Being an engineer I can appreciate the OCD nature of his thread. I do this everyday in my job - plan it out as much as possible, look for the possible issues, adjust the design, think through it again before you begin building.

Question on your plans to attach the plywood. Do you want screws going through the plywood? This would seem like you are creating a potential leak point or area that is at higher risk for leaking. I undestand the concept of overbuilding by both glueing & screwing, but this may be a spot where you want to use just glue and skip the screws. Just a thought. You haven't suggested what you plan to theoretically do to waterproof the theoretical plywood yet either so maybe your plans accomodate having screws through the plywood.

Also, if you use 3/4" plywood, you need to think what you are going to use for bulkheads. I used 3/4" plywood and then used shower drains as bulk heads and this was very touchy as the plywood is too thick and leaves little threads left on the shower drain fittings. I looked for different styles that could accomodate the thicker plywood, but couldn't find any locally. You can order special bulkheads that can accomodate this, but prices are higher and you have to buy the screens separately.

Just some challenges I ran into and thoughts I had that might improve the probability of your theoretical build being successful.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress! :D
 

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I love this idea! I think the one thing thats missing from most monster tank threds is a good set of blueprints. This definitly feeds my want of a monster tank. Thanks for the free engineering advice!
 

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I'd suggest the back wall frame to have horizontal beams. Not vertical studs like the diagram indicates. The reason is the pressure of the water, particular when 3 foot high or more, will bow the longer walls. You need the horizontal beams, like banding around wine barrels, to keep the walls from bowing out. The side walls should be fine as they are a shorter length of only 4 foot.

I've built such a tank and that's how I did it. I glued and screwed everything. Take your time to pre-drill holes, putty fill them, sand back etc. Time spent now is time saved later and ultimately the prevention of water leaks.


 

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holly tsnk gotta love i wish i was this creative to think of doin something like this i am indeed handy when it comes to building and usein tool but would have never thought of this how are u seallin the seams on the inside of the tank to keep them from leakin???and the side walls from absorbing all the water??
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Sorry, no picture update this week, but I wanted to answer a couple of the posts in the thread I've been thinking about.

auratum: I do this in my everyday job too, but in a much different field.

Regarding the plywood: I don't think I can just glue the plywood down, because it would take an awful lot of weight to "clamp" the plywood down and get a good bond everywhere. I at least need to use screws to clamp the plywood to the frame until the glue sets. After that, I suppose I could remove the screws and fill the holes. However, I plan to seal everything up with epoxy and some fiberglass, so I'll probably just leave the screws in, and after its sealed you won't even know they're there. No worries about leaks at the screws.

Regarding bulkheads: Not something I've thought about, so thanks for the heads up. I know people have used shower drains in plywood tanks before, but I was actually thinking of just using aquarium bulkheads. My 125 has 1/2" thick glass I think, I'm pretty sure I had thread left over on my bulkheads. They're not too expensive individually, but I can see how the price can add up if I start thinking about getting like 9 or 10 of them. A couple options: 1) increase the framing on the tank to be able to use thinner plywood, or 2) Install the bulkheads permanantly.

1) Isn't a bad idea anyways, I think it will be cost and weight saving.

2) What I mean is actually epoxy the bulkheads in place (assuming the epoxy bonds to the bulkhead material) while I'm sealing the tank. I can't see a reason I'd ever have to remove a bulkhead once its installed on this tank, and there's a certain comfort in never having to worry about a bulkhead leaking.

alexlee04 and Barra-aquariums: Thanks for stopping by the thread! I really hope to be able to put this plan into action. It'll be a great day when I can actually start building this tank.

Jawi: I've thought about your post the most, and at first I didn't believe you, but you're absolutely right. The way the back of my tank is designed, the vertical studs will follow the bowing of the top of the tank and not do anything to prevent it. My thinking was, shorter studs means less deflection, but the vertical studs only prevent deflection in one direction, and its not the direction I should be worried about.

However, I think if I brace the top of the tank between the front and back, the problem goes away. If the top can't bow out, then the vertical studs will do better than horizontal ones, I think.

Thanks for all the comments everyone! More eyes on the project than just mine will hopefully prevent me from doing something stupid :p
 

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I'm not convinced that the vertical/horizontal debate really matters at the end of the day.

You could add top bracing, like I had done, but it really does not do much. The greatest pressure/force is at the base of the tank.

If you have vertical studs, the sideways force of the water pressure is displaced vertically downwards towards the floor. Hence the is a tendency for the wall to try and sheer away from the floor.

If you have horizontal stud then the force is displaced horizontally to the vertical corners. Hence one wall tries to sheer away from the other wall.

DIY tanks are, for the most part, over engineered anyway so it doesn't matter what route you take. When is comes to vertical studs and bracing ... just think of all the above ground pools manufactured. None of them have top bracing. Most have vertical studs and they are all 4 foot or higher and hold a lot more water and hence a lot more pressure than a fish tank.




Your vertical studs will do fine :)
 

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amazing! I cant wait to see the end result! what program are you using for your virtual build?
 
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