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I'm Building a Fish Room - "are you nuts?!"

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When you tell your family and friends you want to build a fish room - "Are you nuts?!" is probably the most common response you will get. However, with the right motivation and reasoning you can typically get others (mainly your significant other) to go along with this crazy dream you have.

My reasons for building a fish room were:

1. More tank space for me

2. Condense the tanks all into 1 area

3. Reduce electric bill by having the waste heat from the basement be used for the room

4. Ease of maintence

5. Offer to build more storage shelves for my wife outside the room - this was my bribe to get my wife on board

Planning the room is probably the longest, most difficult part of the whole process. You cannot do enough research or talk to enough people about what has(n't) worked in their rooms. I spoke to everyone I could and the responses I got were all different. This is because every room is built in a different house, different environment, with different tanks, etc etc. The number 1 thing that came up in every situation was moisture control, followed by insulation. Since this is something that can ruin your house you need to have plan A, plan B, all the way through plan Z. You will not know how much moisture you will have until all the tanks are running and you need to know ahead of time how you will deal with it if its too high. In my case i have a dedicated electrical outlet for a dehumidifier if needed. But with tight lids in my case I haven't had any issues.

Draw up your fish room, my favorite tool was excel - I would make every cell 1x1 or 2x2, then say each block was 1 or 2 inches. This allows me to move things around, adjust, and determine the best placement. Don't forget things like spacing between tanks or racks

Once you have layout done... its time to budget, and understand you WILL exceed your original budget. Here is the final breakdown of my room build:

Tools: $150

Insulation/ Drywall/ Lumber: $900

Tank Shelves: $250

PVC: $400

Electrical: $300

Tanks / Airpump / Livestock: $850 (bought another fish room)

Lids: $300

Sure things can be done for cheaper, but you do not want to have to do any of this more than one time, so build it how you will want it when its all done - even if that means you don't have all the tanks originally planned. I am still short 1 rack until time and money becomes available to invest into it. 

Go shopping!

And this is why it is nice to have friends in the hobby. 

My insulation system on the exterior walls is a 1.5" thick pink board that is held in place by furring strips. Over this there is another 1" foam green board. The interior walls have a 2" foam board attached to them. I used washers to hold the foam in place rather than relying on just screws. 

Then it was time for the exterior walls, this is where things really get interesting... unless you have a brand new house, things will not be perfectly square, so this is when being OCD is not good. You need to accept the phrase "its good enough". The important thing is once it is up, will it ever be a problem. If not then move on to the next phase of the project, don't obsess trying to get a wall 100% perfect - we spent 2 hours trying to straighten and square one of the walls just to find out the floor wasn't perfectly level and the wall was fine. 

Once the structure was up, it was time to finish the insulation and drywall. If you build a room anything similar to this, be sure to consider access - If my furnace needs replaced I do not want to end up removing a wall, so the door is wide enough to allow for complete access, I made sure I can get large tanks in/out of the room easily, and made sure I can access all aspects of the hot water tank. 

Plumbing and electrical is when things start to get exciting! You start to see the light at the end of the tunnel - but again be sure to take your time. At this point I installed 2 individual breakers for the room, installed new lights for the room on its own individual switch and installed all of the new outlets on the ceiling. I then ran the 2" air supply around the room, and installed a tank drain system which flows out to my sump pump on the other side of the basement.

Once you get the first water in your new fish room, things get real all of a sudden. My wife though I was nuts, but I was jumping for joy when I got these 2 stands in place with the breeder tanks all in. 

The room is always changing when it comes to what is in each tank, but because of the amount of time I spent prior to building the layout and tanks have yet to need to be moved or changed in anyway

At this point water changes take around a hour on 22 tanks, and the electric bill is the same as it was prior to doubling the number of tanks I had. Effificency is key! I plan to add the last rack over the summer and all of the 30g Breeders are beginning to be swapped over to fish/shrimp tanks. If you have any questions about the room or if you are in the process of designing your own room and want some input - feel free to shoot me an email at tritonaquatic@gmail.com

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