lefttitle rightitle
barleft baright

Plant List
PyPoker Feedback

Building a Mini-Fishroom

Design Goals

We were interested in building a small fishroom to house some of the  interesting freshwater fish unsuitable for our community tanks and for holding pairs of saltwater fish for some marine breeding attempts.  We were looking to build a system that would hold from 6-9 10 to 20 gallon tanks, and provide enough room for fry grow-out.  We were not willing to modify the structure of the house or do any hard plumbing. The tanks are individually heated and tightly covered to eliminate humidity problems as the tanks sit in a home office/computer room.  Hot and cold water feeds have been teed off the appliance sources in a nearby closet housing our washer and drier.  Wastewater is siphoned into buckets then pumped via a powerhead and flexible polyethylene tubing into the washer drainpipe.  All tanks are stocked lightly and filtered by air-driven filters.  The idea was to keep everything flexible, simple, and non-permanent.

Construction of Racks

fishroom1 The basic design of our racks was inspired by those seen at Randy's Aquaria. The idea was to design two or three modular 3 tier racks which we could easily move around or expand. We designed one rack for a standard All-Glass 10 gallon leaders and one rack to hold All-Glass 20 gallon long tanks.  The 20L rack also houses 5 2.5 gallon All-Glass tanks on the top shelf which are used for fry rearing and quarantine.  We framed each shelf in 2x4s so that the trim of the tanks sit in the middle of each 2x4.  The top is covered with 3/4" plywood and then a layer of pinkboard (more later).  You'll notice we used 2x4s on all four sides of the shelf, if we were to redesign them again we would leave off the front 2x4 and taper the 2x4s on the sides.  The point of doing this is to maximize working room above the tank.

fishroom2 After we made a shelf for each tank, they were painted black using Rustoleum black indoor/outdoor craft paint.  I recommend using something with decent water resistance.  Each shelf was then mounted on four vertical 2x4s, the foremost vertical supports were mounted on the sides to maximize viewing area and allow for easy access into the tank.  It is very important to mount these shelves completely level.  To accomplish this we used 4 heavy duty C-clamps and a level, adjusting until everything looked okay.  We then sunk 4 woodscrews into each vertical support to hold the shelves up.

fishroom3 Originally we kept the tanks directly on the plywood, but we actually managed to crack a brand new 10 gallon tank, as it did not sit flush.  A fellow hobbyist suggested using pinkboard found in the insulation isle of most home improvement stores.  Other than being somewhat of a pain to paint, the pinkboard solved the problem.  It also is an added cushion against bad craftsmanship (which was a recurring problem during the entire project).  We built the entire project using a circular saw and electric drill.  If you have access to a power miter saw, radial arm saw, or table saw its worth the extra time and effort to get all of your cuts as flush as possible.  


fishroom4 We originally planned on using the largest hobby-grade air-pumps we could find to drive the sponge filter in all of tanks.  We found these pumps to be basically worthless, especially pumping against 5-6 feet of head in some places.  A call to Jehmco and purchase of a LPH #26 linear air pump with 20 valve manifold solved all of our problems.  The pump is completely silent and we have plenty of extra air to expand to our third rack of tanks should we decide to do so in the future.  While expensive, in the long run it is much cheaper than purchasing 6 or 7 $60 diaphragm pumps.   Be sure to pickup a spool of airline tubing and manifold with the airpump order.

Finished Product

fishroom5 We are very happy with the finished product, although working on the 10 gallons can get a little frustrating due to lack of space.  This system ran for basically an entire (very cold) winter with no noticable humidity problems.  Daily maintenance on the tanks is usually half an hour or so, everything gets a 30% water change once a week, this takes roughly 2 hours.  As a fan of high-light planted tanks, this allows me to explore the lower light plants which I have neglected for a few years - all types of mosses and ferns do really well.  Loads of java moss is the single most valuable resource in the fishroom, fry tanks under the 4" twin T8 shop light also double up as propagation tanks for rarer medium light plants.