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Build Preparation (Video)

By Saltwater Ambitions on

Brian Howell:
Hi, everybody. This is Brian Howell from Saltwater Ambitions, a project sponsored in part by Custom Aquariums. I wanted to give you guys a quick update today on build preparation. One of the first things that needed to be evaluated as part of the build was the construction concept. Meaning, how the wall was actually going to be modified to allow for the tank and the stand and of course, the electrical needs associated with the project. As you can see from some of the pictures here, the previous owner of my home had a long wire shelving unit along the wall where the build is going to be going.

She used it for storage above, and hanging below, and also had a large wooden panel hung on the wall presumably to prevent her clothes from touching the bare insulation and the wiring. Of course, all of this is needed to be removed in order to identify the electrical needs behind it. Unfortunately, taking these two items down was much more time-consuming than I originally expected.

Whoever hung these things did so sort of haphazardly. It wasn't as simple as taking my drill and removing some screws or taking the claw hammer and pulling out some nails. As you can see from the images here, the shelving unit and board were hung up with a variety of hardware, most of which wasn't properly installed. I'm telling you this not to harp on the poor construction habits of previous residents or the previous owner, but to instead share a bit of insight with you that can help you in future projects.

Things that appear at first glance to be easy tasks which won't take much time, they can often turn into much more time-consuming steps. In this case, something that I thought was going to take 5 to 10 minutes, ended up turning into a half an hour project in and of itself. Always plan ahead for that, and allow yourself enough time to do things right rather than rushed. You'll be happy that you did. After getting the shelving unit and board removed, I was able to identify the electrical needs without any kind of obstruction. Fortunately, the wiring and electrical behind the paneling proved to be minimal, and it won't require much work to adjust.

There are three items in the wall to consider, two sets of light switches that operate the lights in the bar area, and a set of outlets that service the wall behind the bar, and cabinetry inside the bar itself. Partly because of good planning, and partly due to sheer luck, the aquarium stand and display are going to fit right between the two sets of switches and therefore, I don't believe I need to move them at all. There were one set of wires that were fixed to a stud that's being removed. I was able to relocate them without much hassle.

The set of outlets however, I need to take another look at, and we'll probably have to work around them during the build. I haven't determined yet if I'm going to move them or if I'm going to figure out a way to construct around them so that cosmetically, nothing will have to change on the display side of the wall. I've already consulted with licensed electrician, and I'll be having several outlets, as well as a secondary breaker panel installed in order to accommodate the aquarium's power needs, and also the needs of other items like my RODI water making and mixing station that I'll cover in future updates.

Just to sum up, there are a few key points to remember here. Number one, make sure to evaluate all of your construction needs prior to bringing in your display tank, your stand, and other equipment. It'll allow you more room to work and limit the chances of damaging something on accident because it was in the way. Number two, allow yourself adequate time, and also buffer time for even the smallest portions of your project. Oftentimes, things won't be as easy as they seem on the surface, and you don't want to have to rush. Rushing not only leads to costly mistakes, but it takes all the fun out of the project.

Number three, spending the extra time and money to consider the electrical needs will help ensure a clean build free of messy wires, and overloaded power strips, and circuits. Make sure to always use a qualified licensed electrician. Don't risk burning your house down or hurting yourself to save a buck. Thanks for taking the time to check out this update. If you guys have any questions or anything you'd like to share, feel free to contact me. Thank you.

About Saltwater Ambitions

Brian installed a custom 240-gallon reef aquarium as the centerpiece of a remodel in his home, complete with filter system and welded iron stand.

Started in May of 2017, the Saltwater Ambitions project was created to document the journey from concept to reality and beyond of a 240 gallon in-wall Lifetime Aquarium build. Owner Brian Howell has partnered with to showcase some of the features and functionality of the Lifetime Aquarium display tank, Seamless Sump, H2Overflow, Siphon Stopper, and more.

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