Setting up a Big Tank on a Tight Budget –
240G Lake Tanganyika Community Setup
Back in Germany at one stage I had been forced to give up a tank of mbunas due to aggression issues, and I had always attributed this issue to the limited tank size. When I decided to get back into the aquarium hobby in Ohio, I did not want to run into that problem again. Also, I now owned my own house, so surely there should be space for a decent sized tank. Unfortunately at that time I did not have a work permit for the US, and we were dependent on my wife’s income alone, so money was a bit of an issue, but at least I was able to put a bit of time into do-it-yourself projects. After doing some research online about how to get my hands on a big tank for little money, I decided to build a 750G L-shaped plywood tank. I had the whole thing planned out pretty well, and actually finished building the stand, when I ran into two problems:
- My wife decided that the space the tank occupied in the basement would be needed for other purposes.
- Another member of the GAAS who had extensive experience in plywood tank building informed me that L-shaped tanks were more trouble than they were worth.
Apparently because of the way glass and water break the light, it is impossible to see into the far corner of an L-shaped tank. This of course could cause problems when anything unexpected happens in that area, like a large fish dies and ends up there – and of course according to Murphy’s law any dead fish would end up in that corner in such a tank. I have never seen an L-shaped tank set up, but I took his word on it. More importantly, when over time a straight tank settles a little more on one side than on the other due to the floor or stand sagging or some such thing, all that happens in that the tank is slightly out of balance, which is no big deal. If the same thing happens with an L-shaped tank, it puts stress on the seams connecting the legs of the L to the area in the far corner. Apparently this would make it virtually impossible to get an L-shaped tank leak free over any extended period of time.
Stand for planned 750G plywood tank.
These arguments convinced me to give up the idea of an L-shaped monster tank in the basement, but before I dismantled the stand, I got my wife to agree to an 8′ tank to be set up in the living room on the ground floor. I had been eying up that space for a while, but had expected the battle for an area in the basement to be an easier one to win. In the end it was not so. The wall in the living room was exactly 8′ long from the way into the hallway into the corner. So an 8′ tank would fit that space exactly, giving the impression of a custom made setup. Also, I had seen that Glasscages was offering 240G long tanks measuring 8’x2’x2′ at a very attractive price of $450. This was for a glass tank; that is not acrylic or plywood. The whole plywood thing became more suspect to me the more I read up on it. I’ve seen some absolutely awesome looking plywood tanks online that people built, but usually those are not the first tanks these people made, and a lot can go wrong if you don’t know exactly what you are doing. Especially the longevity of plywood tanks that are not made absolutely perfect doesn’t seem to live up to a glass tank. I consider myself to be quite handy, and I enjoy woodworking, but my hobby was fish-keeping, not tank-building, and I wanted to keep it that way. I’ve never had an acrylic tank, and the idea doesn’t really appeal to me due to the low scratch resistance. I’ve actually managed to scratch some of my glass tanks quite badly when algae scraping, so I hate to think what Iâ€™d do to an acrylic tank. Last but not least, I’ve always been fascinated by glass. For example, being able to work with glass instruments played no small part in my decision to study chemistry. In summary, the Glasscages offer greatly appealed to me, and after I found out that not a single local fish store could order in a tank longer than 6′ regardless of how much money somebody might offer them, I went ahead and ordered the tank from Glasscages.