DIY Homemade Custom 110 gallon Aquarium Stand Plans

I brought my 110 gallon fish tank to FL from storage in WI. This post is going to be as large as my tank!

I have big plans for my big aquarium. I have a pass-thru from the kitchen to the living room. I am going to build a stand that is tall enough to put the tank so it fills the ‘window’ in the pass-thru so I can watch my tank from the kitchen. This tank stand will be custom built for this specific space, but I will also take into consideration the need to move. It will be against a wall, or possibly BE a wall in the future.

This 1 tank stand will actually house 5 or 6 different tanks. It will also house as much extra water as I can put into it as part of a sump filter. I am also going to have some built in planters that will utilize water from the tank to water the plants – probably straight up hydroponics. I doubt I will use it for foodstuffs, but it would be fun to experiment.

Download Google Sketchup File

Tank 1 will be the 110 gallon tank. This will be the display tank. Decked out. Live plants. Under-gravel heating coils. LOTS of light. CO2 injection. Basically, a thing of beauty. I will have lots of little fish – the largest fish I will have in it will be a breading pair of Angel fish.

Tank 2 will be a 55 gallon tank. This will be the only tank I will need to purchase. This will be housed in the cabinet. It will also be a planted tank. No under-gravel heating. It will be a plant rearing tank. It will only have bottom feeder type fish in it and few at that. It’s main purpose is to run (lit up) at night to maintain CO2 and oxygen levels in the system. It would actually be considered to be part of the ‘sump’ filter.

Tank 3 and 4 will be 10 gallon tanks. These will also be planted tanks. One will be hooked into the main tank water supply; the other will be independent, but able to accept water from the main tank. The one piped into the main system will be my fish rearing tank. I can keep delicate fish in this tank or use it for rearing fry. The other tank, which will posses it’s own filter system, will be my sick tank. I will probably be able to attach/detach it from the water system. I may get a UV sterilizer for it to keep it as a sick tank, but keep the main water system hooked up to it on low flow, primarily utilizing it’s own filtering. Not sure yet on that part. Gotta research that idea. These two tanks would be in each end of the stand. They will probably both be set up to slide out on drawer hinges. Make it easier to access the tanks as there will be limited room above the tanks.

Tanks 5 and 6 will be my 4 foot by 4 inch by 4 inch nano tanks. By coupling them to my big fish tank, I don’t need to worry about all the little problems that come from a very small water volume tank. One will be incorporated into the fish tank stand on the ‘front’ underneath the main tank. The other will sit in the passthrough. These will be both set up as stream tanks with a decent amount of water ‘current’ running though them. With 2 of them, I may set them up differently. The one in the stand will probably be planted, as I can hide a light in the stand, and the one on the pass-thru will probably be just piled rocks.

The main filtering will be done by a type of filter called a wet/dry filter or sump. These sump filters look to be sized about 20-40 percent of the tank volume. I will see if I can push mine to be at least 50%. Each ‘stage’ of my sump might actually end up being separate containers nippled together with PVC pipe. I will probably end up using garbage cans due to their tall size and square form factor. That and they are cheap! The first section will hold bioballs. This is the one that the 110 gallon tank will flush into. I will probably have this one taller then the rest to support an extra column height of the bioballs to splash the water and air around in. This will probably flow into a second one, into a third, into a fourth, etc. The final stage of this sump filter will be the 55 gallon fish tank. I will pump water out of this 55 gallon tank into the rest of the tanks. And the water will gravity & siphon feed back into this tank through the rest of the sump filter. The water level in the 55 gallon tank will be the only water level that will fluctuate. I will probably position the pump pickup 1/3 to 1/2 half the way up this tank so I have room for 25-30 gallons of evaporation loss.

All the tanks will be filtered using a internal/external weir or sump overflow box that leads to the central sump filter. These are boxes that hang on both the inside and outside of the tank. They operate by creating a siphon from the inside to the outside box. As you drain water out of the outside box, the water flows out of the tank. These will be set up so that if the power were to go out, they would not siphon all of the water out of the tank. I will accomplish this by having the pickup tube either be a stand-pipe in the outside box or have a 2 chamber, outside box with the siphon leading into one part of the box and the water flows over an internal wall into the drain half. If the tank were to stop receiving water from the pump for whatever reason, the tanks will drain down to the top of the standoff or the inner wall height in the overflow box. By building the overflow boxes so they can handle several times the water flow of the water pump, I don’t need to worry about any clogged overflow boxes causing a tank to overflow.

I am thinking of building a storage tank automatic re-filler. I can’t plumb the tank to the water supply directly (as I live in an apartment). I like to ‘treat’ my water by aging it with an aerator. This aerator(s) will be the only aerator in the system – well maybe I might have one available for the rearing and sick tanks. The premise here is you let all the chlorine that the city may add to the water out-gas into the air. I also am not precipitating out any trace minerals out of the water that those treatment drops can do. This is important for raising live plants. I will use a toilet float (actually 2 in series) to allow water from the aging tank to flow into the 55 gallon tank to top it off. The aging tank will probably be a large, shallow tank/tub or two right below the main tank, above all the sump tanks and gear. This will have many baffles in it to force water to travel a long path to get from the entrance to the exit point. This will help prevent freshly added water to race it’s way to the 55 gallon tank and enter it un-aged. I will add a manual cut-off valve so if I allow the aging tank to drain completely, I can shut off the flow into the 55 gallon tank and fill the aging tank. This will force the water to age for 24 hours to out-gas and temperature acclimate. Then I can top off the 55 gallon tank, shut off the aging tank, age the water, turn the auto-fill valve on, and go back to my regular topping off routine. Kinda complex, I know, but call me paranoid. I just don’t like adding ‘fresh’ water to my tanks, either from the tap or from a pet store! I float my fish in a bucket of water that I siphon tank water into, and then net the fish into the main tank, so I don’t add any fish store water to my aquariums.

The main structure will be of treated lumber designed so that all load bearing surfaces have a direct path through ground. This basically means that there won’t be any screws or hanging brackets that bear weight. These are only to hold the thing together. I should be able to assemble the whole frame without any screws and it should be free standing. This baby will have a LOT of weight! 110+55+10+10+3.5+3.5 X 8.34 lbs/gal = about 1600 pounds of water, not including what is in the sumps, piping, etc. This is in addition to the roughly 275 of glass in the 110 gal tank, hundreds of pounds of rock at the bottom of the tanks, etc. As one website put it, it’s like standing your vehicle on it’s nose in your living room.

I will probably trim out the stand using oak, which, while not cheap, seems to be readily available here.

As for the lighting, I haven’t figured out exactly all the details of this. 3 watts of florescent per gallon is nearly 600 watts of lighting with the possibility of dimming lighting to simulate sunrise/sunset and blue/red/black lights for night viewing. The one thing I thought of, though, is that I am not going to want to pay the electric bill for this thing! I may end up seeing if I can run the bulk of it off of solar panels. The bulk of the lighting is during the day and into the evening, so I think this may work out. I am also thinking of running all the water pumps at 12v and running these off of solar charged batteries as well. I will probably run the two separately, or if combined, allow the lighting to drag the battery down through an inverter only so far before switching over to 110v from the power grid. Another benefit to this is that WHEN the power goes out (it does it a lot down here in Florida), my pumps have an inherent backup system. Additionally, if the batteries are running low and 110v is available, I will at least partially charge them back up. Just in-case it’s been rainy all week, etc. I could also top the batteries off before a hurricane, so I can run just the pumps for an extended period of time.

I plan to have this tank ‘wired’ to the internet. I will be making leak detectors, water level sensors, lighting sensors, temperature sensors etc. and wiring them into a rabbitcore Ethernet enabled micro-controller. This will allow me to ‘page’ my cell phone via its email address if there are problems with the tank. While the tank should be able to find it’s own safe ‘stasis’ level, maybe one of my cat’s could get inside and really bugger things up! I am also probably going to wire in at least one webcam into the tank. I may include a pan/tilt inside the cabinet as well. The feeders will all be the automatic feeders I am building. The lighting will be controlled as well, so if I want to watch a movie, I can turn the lights down low on the tank.

I am thinking of building the tank stand about 4-6 inches larger then the tank on the ‘front’ 3 sides and build into it a hydroponics setup around the base of the tank. The tank will feed the plants water and food and I can utilize the stray light coming off of the tank for the plants. I probably won’t use this for edible plants, but at the very least, I can have some nice low flowers like violets that will be 0 work plants.

I really like the looks of my CO2 reactor. I am thinking I may incorporate two of them into the outside corners of the stand and backlight them with black light or something. If I did that, I would probably bubble them up from the bottom or somehow make a separate bubble counter.

I have always wanted to incorporate a small bookcase into this stand. It is starting to get a little full, so I may do a book display type concept instead. I can display a few fish/aquarium related books on it. Maybe something low so the little kids have something to read – and identification books. Oh, maybe a photo album type book with photos of all my fish and a little about each type. That might be cool.

Anyway… what are your thoughts?

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  1. All that water movement between tanks and a wet/dry sump and you will off gas most of your C02.

  2. Yeah, I figured I would gas off the CO2 on the way into the sump. I was thinking of injecting into the sump, and also on the way from the sump back to the main tank. Not sure if this would be overkill, or if injecting into the sump would be good enough. I can play with it.

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