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Thats a big undertaking. If you want to be able to switch to salt water than I would definitely go with a sump. A sump will allow you to do pretty much whatever you want. Be careful with the design of the sump, however. If you do ever switch to salt water you're going to need space for a protein skimmer and some type of nitrate removal (live rock, deep sand bed, etc). If that is something you are definitely planning to do I would almost design the sump for saltwater use and then use it as is for freshwater. You'll still be able to. It'll be more difficult (I think) to design the sump for freshwater and then convert to saltwater. You might not be able to without building a new sump.

Are you going with glass or acrylic to build the tank? If glass, where are you planning to get it? I've done a little research into this because I was thinking about building a tank myself. However, I found that it would actually be more expensive for me to buy the glass panels individually rather than just buying an assembled tank. I hope you have a good resource for glass.

Good luck with this, its a big undertaking. Nice size tank too.
 

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Oscar6 said:
Having built (mostly successfully) several tanks from 70 to 475g, I can relay to you that it really only becomes an advantage, from a cost saving point, when going very big. 8ft and up plywood with a glass front panel. Several hundred gallons. Glass and acrylic tanks of this size cost a few thousand dollars. The build is vastly less. Not such a margin for smaller, say under 200g. There also comes the peace of mind with a quality manufactured tank, with warranty. No matter the experience level, DIY builders always have in the back of their minds... "will it hold?"
I found that there is literally no cost savings when building a tank of this size, quite the opposite actually. I have priced glass panels 5x2 foot on three different websites that offer custom cut glass. Even a normal annealed glass (non tempered) panel of that size, 1/2" thick, is about $300 on all of the websites. Tempered are even more. You need three of those plus the side panels to build a tank of that size. That ends up being significantly more expensive than buying a 5x2x2 foot glass tank from customaquariums.com (which run $895). I was actually quite surprised by how expensive they were. Perhaps a local glass shop would be cheaper?
 
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