Comprehensive planning of your aquarium

By Ricardo Pinto 10 years ago2 Comments

When planning your tank, nothing is ever too much. On my previous setups, almost immediately after the tank was fully working I noticed some kind of mistake. I don’t know about you but this has always happened to me.

One of the great advantages of internet forums is the ability to communicate with thousands of reefers and share experiences. Many mistakes that we make when conceiving an aquarium have already happened to other reefers, so they can easily help you.
I understand it isn’t easy to spread your ideas to other people, especially when you are writing in forums. The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” really is apropos to this subject.

This is why I´d like to introduce you a very useful tool when you are planning your aquarium – Google SketchUp.


What is Google SketchUp?
It’s a free downloadable program, used for creating 3D models. You can make objects as small as a pump or as big as your entire fishroom. Heck… some SketchUp designers are even able to reproduce large buildings or entire cities. Of course, I’m not expecting the average reader to be able to do such a herculean task.

The software is very user-friendly, and it doesn’t require any great designer skills. I can speak for myself because I’m the worst guy on earth regarding drawing and I was able to produce some nice sketches with this program.








Additionally, the software comes with a small tutorial which will help you to get familiarized with all the tools. There are also a lot of tutorials on the internet about Google ShetchUp.
Even in some local forums you can already find libraries with objects that can be inserted directly in your sketch, like skimmers, power heads or lightning fixtures.
Another great advantage is that you can print your drawings and give them to your aquarium designer or to your carpenter, so they can see exactly what you’re thinking of.

Finally, if you have great designing skills you can also easily persuade your wife/husband of  “How nice our future tank will fit in our living room”.







You can find it here: Google SketchUp

Have fun planning your aquarium!

I would like to acknowledge Andrew (aka V1…rotate) for sharing his images

  DIY, Equipment, Tanks

 Ricardo Pinto

  (6 articles)

I am from Portugal (EU). I am a medical doctor and I also run the European reef blog H2O + Something. I´ve been a hobbyist for the past 15 years. I´ve started with freshwater aquariums - planted aquariums and African cichlids - and I´ve been doing reefkeeping since 2004.


  • tosiek says:

    Before people get frustrated with the program trying to recreate the beautifully rendered pictures Ricardo and Andrew made you have to realize that it takes a little time and practice to get your shapes to look like glass and the room to have moldings on the doors. That doesn’t mean that you can’t create shapes to give an overall feel the first 20 mins of playing with the program. Its extremely easy to quickly mock up a room to scale and start placing things inside.

    Its a great program and worth the time put into learning it.

  • Ricardo Pinto says:

    Hi Tosiek,
    Thanks for your feedback.
    You are right when you say that is not clear-cut getting images like I posted. People need to use a Plug-in for rendering sketches, to get light effect or glass shapes like you said. But even that, I consider really easy to use. The software is very user-friendly. I can speak for myself, it doesn´t require any special abilities… I was a newbie when I started and I have poor drawing skills. Like you said… after 20min I was able to replicate my idea.
    Thanks for your comment.

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