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My NEW Aquarium – Biggest Aquarium in 20 Years of Fish-Keeping

By Tank Tested on

Alex: Hi, I'm Alex, and this is Tank Tested. Beside me is a giant shipping box from Custom Aquariums. Inside is an aquarium that we'll be unpacking this episode. This is the start of a series where I'll be taking us from this box to a beautiful aquascape. It'll take a few months. So if you're interested, hit that subscribe button so you can follow along. Let's get started.

Before we go any further, first of all, the tank is in the background, so you know it got in safe. I want to give a little bit of context. See, I got this tank from Custom Aquariums because of all of you. Your support for this channel meant that Custom Aquariums was interested in sharing with me a tank of my choosing. That means this tank is yours as well. I want to give you guys the opportunity to help me figure out what goes in the tank. Stick around to the end. I'll give you some parameters along the way and then we can start figuring out what's going in that tank.

Now back to the unboxing. Let's find out what's in this box. Not an aquarium. I guess the stand is on the top and the aquarium is on the bottom. I was super impressed with how well this tank was boxed. I've never gotten anything in the mail that's quite as secure as this. They literally built a crate around the aquarium. I had three friends helping me with the tank; Forrest, Nick, and Gabriel. You've seen Nick before or you've seen his work and a lot of my videos, but you've never seen Gabriel before, and without his support, encouraging me to keep going, without him, Tank Tested probably wouldn't exist. Special thanks to him. This is the first time you've ever seen him on this channel, so I just want to thank him personally.

Once we'd completely taken apart the packaging, we moved the tank indoors. I don't have footage of that process. I meant to record it on a GoPro and I forgot, so you'll just have to trust me that it was actually a pretty easy process, at least with four people. We did have a special secret weapon though, six suction cups. These suction cups can lift, I think it's around 200 pounds. Just squeeze that little lever down, pump all the air out of the suction cup and it's just securely attached to the tank. You can see here me shaking it and that is my lighting falling off the tank, but the suction cup did not detach, which tells you how strong they are. It's an incredible feat of engineering. I guess it's not that surprising. Suction is pretty powerful, but it still blew my mind how easy it made moving that tank.

We'll get to the dimensions of the whole setup later, but the tank itself holds about 150 gallons and then the sump below holds about 80 gallons, so this was quite a process. I've never had a tank this large before and the process of filling it up really highlighted how big this aquarium really is. As of filming this video, this tank has been running for a few weeks. It's empty except for a couple of pieces of driftwood, a tiger Lotus that I kept, and a couple of rainbow crimps that I also kept. Everything else I've gotten rid of and I've given off to other people, so this is pretty much my entire collection of fish and plants at this particular moment.

All right, I've put this off long enough. Let's talk about the actual tank. See, Custom Aquariums reached out to me and they basically said, "Let us know what tank you want and we'll build it for you." I would have loved to have gotten a really big monster aquarium, like a 500-gallon tank, but I think that would have been unrealistic given that I live in an apartment. Maybe I could have fit a 500-gallon tank in this space, but it would have just been an apartment with one aquarium and nothing else. Instead, I wanted to think what is the biggest aquarium that I can put in this space and have it still feel like it's a part of the apartment rather than dominating the apartment.

This tank is what I came up with. It's 5ft long. It's 2ft wide and it's 2ft tall. It was partially inspired by a cube tank that I saw at Aquarium Zen. I thought about maybe I want a really big cube tank that sits in the center of my living room. That didn't really make a lot of sense. Instead, I said, well, maybe I want to cubes sitting right next to each other and it'll be a 4ft x 2ft x 2ft tank. That was my original proposal. Then I thought about it a little bit more, and I thought about where I could put it in the room, and I thought, "Well, I think I could one more foot out of the tank and still have enough space to really move around the tank, stand far enough back from the tank that I can appreciate it and still have it be as big as possible. That's what I settled on, 5ft x 2ft x 2ft.

Another thing that was really important to me was that this tank be rimless, which unfortunately meant that the glass had to be way thicker. They basically just installed five-eighth inch thick glass instead. It's low iron glass, so it's super, super clear. I think it looks really great. The base of the tank does have a rim, but it's a nice metal black rim, so it feels really strong, it feels sturdy and it really feels polished.

The other thing that you've probably noticed and maybe screaming at the screen about is the tank is really, really high off the ground. I did that with intention. See, it's actually about four feet off the ground and that's because I'm six foot four, and in 20 years of fish keeping, I always have to bend over or crouch or be seated to look at an aquarium and that's always been really frustrating for me. I would love to just be able to stand and look directly into a tank. When I had the opportunity to build a custom aquarium, it felt like it was a great opportunity to build a tank that's four feet off the ground.

That does mean that the rim of the tank is six feet off the ground, which is kind of crazy, but as long as I use a ladder or a stepping stool, I can get in there pretty easily. When I'm scaping, it could be a little bit of a pain. We'll see. There's probably a reason why tanks are not built this high. But for me, this was really, really important. If I'm going to put all this time and effort into building a beautiful aquarium, I want to be able to just walk right up to it and look in. I don't want to have to crouch over to enjoy the work that I've put in.

The other thing you've probably noticed is that I put this tank away from the walls in my room. That means it's accessible from three sides, unlike a traditional aquarium that's up against the wall. Both long sides of this tank are completely cleared. That was also part of the plan. Custom Aquariums actually built the overflow and the inflow for this tank on one side of the tank specifically because I wanted to be able to look at this tank from either of its long sides. That's the first of the big things that I want you to consider as we think about what we want to do with this aquarium.

It's important to me that whatever scape we put together for this tank and it will be an aquascaped aquarium, whatever scape we put together needs to be viewable from three sides from both of the long sides and one of the short sides. That really, really limits what types of aquascapes I can put in this tank. I think it will be more interesting for me and more interesting for all of you because there are multiple sides for us to look at, which means it's kind of like we have three tanks in one.

The other limiting factor is that the overflow is hardwired into the tank. They drilled the holes in the tank and the Customer Aquariums overflow is really, really great. It's super quiet. I really, really love it. But it does limit what kind of scapes we can put together because I can't move that overflow. I can't move those inflows. It's a compromise that I was happy to make, but it's a compromise nonetheless. Whatever we do, you have to keep in mind that the inflow and outflow of the tank is pretty much locked in. Unless I do something crazy, that is where the water is coming and going.

While we're on the subject of overflows. I want to talk about the sump as well. I've never had a sump in an aquarium before. I've always used canister filters, and wow, I'm a full convert to this. I know this sounds like I am just gushing about this aquarium, and I am, I acknowledge that, but it's the coolest aquarium I've ever gotten to have. Having that sump is just amazing. That means that all the media is really, really easy to clean. It's really, really easy to see what's going on in my filtration. I can put my heating in the filtration rather than in the tank.

I can probably put my CO2 reactor in the sump. I'm not actually sure about that. I'm going to try it and we'll see what happens because I would love the idea of not having anything in the aquarium at all. It might be less efficient. It's probably less efficient, but I'm curious whether or not it's doable. I've never done it. I actually haven't asked anyone if they've done it. I'm sure it's fine. It's probably fine. Let me know if it's fine in the comments. It's probably fine. The other thing that the sump provides, the other advantage is more water. The tank itself holds about 150 gallons when there's nothing in it. When I set up an aquascape, when I build up a rock mass and a wood mass in that tank, it might only hold 100 gallons. It might hold 90, it might hold 120. I'll find out once I've set up the scape. Either way, I'm losing water volume. The sump holds about 80 gallons which means that I've got an extra 80 gallons of water capacity that helps stabilize my water column.

It means my fisher happier. It means I can stock a little bit more aggressively and not worry about over-pressuring my system. I'm so excited to actually have a sump. It's never been a thing that I've had the opportunity to work with and man, they are incredible. I love this tank. I love how it looks in my living room. I've left a link to Custom Aquariums in the description of this video just because I'm so thankful for them for giving me this aquarium and this opportunity to share the setup with you guys.

Before we end this video, I want to talk about what the future of this tank holds. Next month I am going to present a couple of options, a couple of aquascapes that I think would look really good in this tank and I would love for you all to give your own suggestions. If you have an idea for what kind of aquascape you'd like to see in this tank, what kind of plant in the tank, or even if it's a black water tank, let me know if that's something that interests you.

If you have specific tanks that you think I should take inspiration from and you have a name of an aquascape or a name of the tank, leave that in the description as well because I'd really love to be able to just put together a whole photo list of, "Here are all the tanks that people are inspired by." What little elements from each tank can I borrow and reassemble into the scape that makes me happy? Then I'd love for next month you guys to give me your feedback on what of the options call out to you most.

If you want to follow along on the journey of this tank, and you're not subscribed already, hit the subscribe button right now. Hit the bell, so you're notified. I want you all to be a part of this process.

[00:12:50] [END OF AUDIO]

About Tank Tested

Alex Wenchel from the YouTube channel, Tank Tested, has been aquascaping and keeping aquariums for over twenty years, sharing his knowledge and expertise with the YouTube community. Watch the video filmed at Aquashella, Dallas 2019 here, and check out his channel for some great info on aquarium care.

"Tank Tested was created by me, Alex Wenchel. I've kept aquariums for more than twenty years, but it's only been in the last few that I've gotten into aquascaping. By trade, I'm a documentary and natural history filmmaker based in Washington, D.C. and I've been producing digital series for years. If you'd like to see some of the series I've produced, check out Nat Geo Wild's Wild_Life with Bertie Gregory or Symbio's Wild Warrior."

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