Tips for would-be in-wall tank builders

by | Sep 15, 2007 | 0 comments

A selection of useful tidbits of information and tricks for the marine aquarist submitted by Advanced Aquarist’s readership. Readers are encouraged to post them to our Hot Tips sticky in the General Reefkeeping Discussion forum or send their tips to [email protected] for possible publication. This month’s Hot Tip theme is “Tips for Livestock/Hardware Buying.”


Hot Tips: Tips for would-be in-wall tank builders

Make sure you have a well ventilated ‘fish room’ behind that wall with about 100cfm in bathroom/power fans per every 150 gallons of water, and have doors above the tank so you can get in the tank from the front.

Submitted by: wetworx101

My glass is flush with the wall. The way I did that was to build my stand with the 4×4’s (legs) even with the wall studs. That way the drywall is flush with the wall and the stand. Then I put a double layer of marine grade plywood on top of the stand and had it hang over in the front by a half inch (the width of drywall). Then we used joint compound on the edge of the plywood to make it look 100% flush.

Then I used molding to frame the whole front of the tank to make it look like a picture hanging on the wall.

Submitted by: Louey

My tanks are behind a wall, so I have room behind for a large sump and equipment. I wish I had made the supporting studs away from the tank. I get salt creep in areas I can’t reach and my magfloat can’t get to all the corners. Other than that, it is very convenient.

Best advice I can give: Think it through for a while. Decide what you would change in your existing tank, then design that into your final design.


Here is my built in photos


I hated not having easy access to lights and equipment, and frags that fell in the back of the tank. I also did not like the fact that I could only have certain creatures that are compatible. The design I came up with is 3 separate medium sized tanks that are all plumbed to one sump. Chemical testing, water changes, fry raising and general tinkering happen behind the wall. Access is very accessible from the front panels (on hinges).

Submitted by: SeahorseWhisperer

Here’s the last in-wall tank that I did. Plan ahead and take your time! Use waterproof drywall below the tank, and think twice before deciding you don’t need front access. Not being able to access the front of the tank (from the front) causes all sorts of headaches.3459_1079380334.jpg

And if you don’t have construction skills, this is not the project to learn with…have someone else do it.

Submitted by: JimM

Ive just finished building (helping) my third “In wall”. Two for fellow reefers and one for myself. Ive learned a few things:

  • Plan a large budget. House remodeling materials aren’t cheap now days.
  • Build your tank in a part of the house with water and drain pipes. Transporting water for top off and water changes gets old and makes alot of work out of the hobby.
  • Wire in at least three dedicated circuits. The metal halide/actinic lighting alone (on a large tank) uses one 20 amp circuit. A chiller and large CL pump will eat up another real quickly. Its better to over build than to “wish I had done it differently”.
  • Access from the front is a must. This is something most try to avoid due to the look of it all. Everyone wants a picture frame look. Get over it and thank yourself later for adding the access.
  • Make a removable/liftable light rack if possible. Access from the back of the tank can be just as valuable as front access.
  • Isolate your pumps with as much flex hose as possible. The tank is now part of the house. If a noisy pump is vibrating the tank it will resonate through the walls to other parts of the house.
  • Keep the concrete or use tile in the tank room. Mopping floods is much easier than drying carpet.
  • Keep the tank room well ventilated. A large, quiet bath fan setup with a dehumidistat will automate the moisture removal for you. Of course, the room will need a fresh air intake to accomodate the air you are removing.
  • Make sure you are happy with the size of your new tank. You cant simply buy a bigger tank and stand two years from now. This is more permanent than most pieces of furniture in your house.

Submitted by: trido


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