Building An Aquarium Into Your Walls


We looked through the build log for this in-wall aquarium and were a bit horrified by the before pictures. You look at the original basement photo and there’s wood paneling, an incredibly rusty plumbing stack, and good god what is that wire jumble hanging from the ceiling? But the project’s not about building codes, it’s about the infrastructure that supports this fish tank.

This corner of the basement has a window and the electrical panel in it. It needs to be this big in order to enclose that window, but that offered the opportunity to add in the aquarium while still allowing easy access for feeding and cleaning. Hot and cold water pipes were run over to the location for easy filling. There’s even a drain line running to a utility sink in a different part of the basement for easy cleaning.

This seems like a bit of an upgrade when compared to the coffee pot fish bowl.

[via Reddit]

16 thoughts on “Building An Aquarium Into Your Walls

    1. that’s CO2. Because i have such a large amount of light for this tank I need to inject CO2 into the water to facilitate faster plant growth. i’m starting to get algae though, so i may need to up co2, and reduce light from 8 hours a day to 6-7.

      1. I was actually about to do that with the 400 gallon in-wall tank I’m putting in my basement, but the final layout meant there would be no room for the bathroom.

        It’s actually really easy to do and maintain full privacy; If you face to perpendicular sides of the tank into two different rooms, you will not be able to see into the other room. So if you put the long end facing into the basement and the short end facing into a bathroom, as long as the opposing short end is physically blocked from view, you would be able to see the tank from both the basement and the bathroom at the same time while assuring privacy.

    1. I recently watched a episode of Tanked. They built a tank in the wall between the bathroom and the living area. On the living area side they fitted switchable glass for privacy so when the bathroom is in use the aquarium is only viewable from the bathroom when the glass is switched on.

  1. Looks nice and has it’s own maintenance room – that’s a very nice touch. Did anyone get what size tank that is?

    Holy mackerel, that filtration system is larger than my main aquarium! Anyway, that’s A LOT of infrastructure for a fresh water aquarium which normally requires much less water treatment and in that size of the tank can totally become a stable ecosystem in a couple of months. His filtration tank (if I understood the design right, the one on the floor, wrapped in blue painter’s tape) has plants growing in it! Holy mackerel once again! Are the fish in the main tank going to be packed like sardines in a can?

    Anyway, it’s a beautiful build, certainly done by a very devoted aquarium enthusiast, and it shows! Well done!

    P.S. Those cichlids are totally gonna kill those barbs eventually. Nothing else survives in a tank with cichlids.

    1. polytechnick, thanks for the kind words!

      the tank itself is a 125g, with a 40ish gallon as a sump. I have some riparium plants growing out of sump for now, that eventually go into a 20g brackish tank that was freshwater before.

      the sump doesnt have much filtration, other than some sponge for mechanical, as with a fully planted tank there is plenty of surface space for the beneficial bacteria to grow on.

      There is plenty of room for the fish i have planned. five banded bards and congo tetra, maybe 20-30 of each, some dwarf african cichlids, and a leopard bushfish.

      the dwarf cichlids won’t bother the barbs all that much, since they only reach 3-4″ max for the male. they’re only somewhat aggressive when protecting their fry, which is nothing more than chasing off other fish, or each other.

  2. Not bad. Did something similar in my house and we ran into the same problem of light leaking out of the top of the tank. Since the tank was already black we put a black frame around the inside top and bottom of the tank and now it looks like the entire wall may be full of water without a clear line at the top.

    1. Hey Garbz, I’ll be doing something similar when I get around to it. I was more worried with getting the fish tank started up. Just wasnt sure which route to take with it. I don’t want it to look like a picture frame, so i’ll probably go with some plain poplar 1×2 or something to that effect. I’ve toyed around with the idea of a pallet wood wall on the “big side” of the tank.

  3. Hey, thanks! I haven’t been on hack a day before, though I have heard of it. A buddy let me know I “MADE FREAKING HACK A DAY!!!!!”

    I really appreciate this aquarium making the cut! I’ll be sticking around as well as the content is right up my alley.

    Yes, the wiring it terrible, and we are working on it. The house was built in 1961 and has had a couple owners prior to us. the original being the one, most likely, who has sinned. Considering we found fence post in one of the walls we took down while renovating.

    Any wiring we ran, or walls we put up, were to code. 16″ on center for studs, a base plate of treat 2×4 bolted to the cement. While my father in law and I aren’t contractors, he’s done this work before, and we had a contractor double check things. in some areas we went a little overboard, apparently.

    as far as the fish tank stand/area… i’m not sure what code would be. the wall that has the door we did to code, but the fish tank, who knows. we do know it’ll hold a car if need be! and it is tied into the wall itself. the outlet in the room is a GFI, which then feeds another one. I do wish I figured a better way, like maybe a separate enclosed space for the electrical/plugs. I hate having LED drivers screwed to 3/4 plywood right above the tank. maybe i’ll box out the area with the outlet to keep all that expensive gear a little further away.

    Again, thank you so much for the mention here! Great website.

  4. If your not an electrician – at least look up or ask advice to see how to run wires so its up to code. I see electrical boxes with the Romex wire not secured with nail clips / extension cords running over a fish tank / and the wrong type of electrical box/cover. Look up an electrical handy box. Adding a GFI is not the only code item for this project

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