150g Build – The Stand

For our main display we chose a 150 gallon tall aquarium.  This decision was based on aesthetics (tall tanks are always impressive to me) and our need for an aquarium that could realistically fit in smaller spaces.  Due to our careers, we move quite frequently, so a 4′ long aquarium was the best choice. 

The aquarium itself is a Marineland single-overflow 150g.  We opted against Starphire glass since we decided to make the aquarium a peninsula (3-sided Starphire glass tanks are very expensive compared to regular glass.)

Marineland 150g Aquarium

Planning an aquarium of this magnitude requires more forethought than for smaller aquariums.  No matter what the size aquarium, start by listing your requirements.  Our main requirements were to have as large of an SPS-dominant aquarium as possible that would fit into about a 4′ x 2′ space and fit under normal height ceilings.  We also wanted an aquarium that we could place against the wall or use as a peninsula depending on our house layout.  Lastly, we decided for aesthetics that all equipment must fit in the stand. 

From those requirements we determined our budget and tradeoffs.  The aquarium we chose is a Marineland single-overflow 150g. We opted against Starphire glass since we decided to make the aquarium a peninsula (3-sided Starphire glass tanks are very expensive compared to regular glass.)  The lower cost of regular glass was a tradeoff so we could use the saved money toward other equipment. 

The height of the aquarium was 31″, and typical stand height is 30″.  By the time there’s a canopy on top of the aquarium, the canopy could interfere with the ceiling.  So, the canopy has to be the right height to not have the lights burn corals but also not interfere with the ceiling.  The aquarium height is set.  The stand height could be lowered to allow more room for lighting, but the skimmer has to fit under the stand.  These design constraints determined what brand/size of skimmer to buy:  the Octopus Extreme 250. 

Since we decided all equipment (auto-topoff system, media reactor, dosing pumps, electrical systems, etc.) must fit under the stand, we chose to design/build our sump before the stand to make sure everything would fit.

Testing the sump for leaks

We decided the aquarium stand should look like a piece of furniture, so we used red birch and big leaf maple burl wood.  Since the aquarium was designed to be a peninsula, we designed it with doors on all four sides (6 doors total).  Also, with an aquarium of this magnitude, make sure the stand you design will actually hold the aquarium.  Luckily (or unluckily, however you look at it), my husband and I are both engineers, so this stand was designed to hold an elephant. 

Basic stand with sump test-fit
We also decided that a shelf around the aquarium would be useful during water testing, feeding, etc.  So, why not use marble? 
Making the shelf
To add a bit of grandeur, we added lots of moulding.
With finished doors

A good portion of the moulding was handmade
The shelf is coming along

This project required a lot of puttying and sanding!

Once the stand was fully built, the marble was taped over, and the stand was stained.  We stained the doors off the stand to help prevent runs and missed areas.

Shelf during staining

Doors drying

Due to the very limited space under the stand, we built a small removable shelf out of acrylic.


Completed shelf

Don’t forget to cut out a hole for the plumbing! (And yes, that wood was stained later.)

Trim stained and polyurethaned
Completed stand without doors (we installed the doors once the aquarium was in place)

In order to minimize the number of wires running around the aquarium, we ran a single 20A line that plugged into the side of the aquarium.  As a side note, I recommend running an aquarium on multiple circuits with GFCI and arc-fault protection, but we were unable to run multiple circuits.
Aquarium stand 20A plug

Plugged in!

From there, we ran the wire to an electrical box with GFCI outlets, then to guitar strips

Hooks on the doors for odds and ends

Tips for installing an aquarium on carpet: 

1.  Make the stand have a flat bottom (piece of plywood, etc.)  This will allow the weight of the aquarium to evenly distribute across the entire floor surface instead of a few legs.  The carpet and padding will not crush as much with the flat bottom.

2.  Cover the carpet with plastic and then cement board on top.  This will help prevent water damage to the carpet…and thus help prevent mold damage.  Additionally, wet stained wood can transfer the stain to the carpet…leaving an impossibly hard-to-remove stain.

3.  Ok, this isn’t about carpet, but nonetheless, place some sort of plastic material behind the aquarium to protect drywall.  Salt creep and moisture can do some serious damage to drywall with constant exposure. 

Finished product (until the canopy & other equipment)

Stay tuned for the canopy build!!

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