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New Project, 500G fish only!

Andrew D

Active member
Feb 27, 2021
Hi everyone. Life is busy and I don't have a lot of time (or frankly at my age energy) for long build threads but I do plan to post some pictures of my progress on this site. Although not as well travelled as some, it's local, friendly and frequented by some who've been to my place and I've been to theirs, and lots can be said about that! Anyway, I will provide more background on the tank in a future post, but for now I'd really like some feedback on my aquascape.

The tank is a custom 66 by 48 by 36 inch tall tank, holding approximately 500G according to an online calculator. I've always wanted a cube but I also wanted to maximize the space I had so i went a little longer as well. It's tucked into a corner with the overflow built into an open wall, so viewable from 2 sides. Lots of aquascape options at this size, and I've spent the last year collecting live rock predominately from people leaving the hobby but also a few choice pieces from REd at CRS.

My original plan was to go with three islands, large one in the back corner, small one in the front left corner and a middle sized one in the middle but closer to the large one and up against the glass. I wanted a fair bit of negative space for fish to swim. When I started to set up the rock though (had to get in the tank to do it which was fun), because of the tank height I had to go wide on the large island to get as tall as I wanted without looking like a tower which encroached on the space for the middle island. I tinkered for a bit and then said WTH and got rid of the middle island. SO now I have one large island with a nice horseshoe space (best seen unfortunately from the top) built with nice large interestingly textured rocks with lots of arches and crevices. The pictures don't do it justice unfortunately, from the short side it looks like a rock wall but in person it is more dynamic.

Anyway, pictures are enclosed. I have already decided to move a couple of the large rocks at the top of the large structure to better fit the grade and also to build up the small island in the front, maybe even connect it to the larger one. I really want to complete the fill (which is touch to do if I'm still getting into the tank) so I'm asking for feedback now.

Thanks in advance.


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New member
Feb 23, 2021
It is looking really good Andrew, the only thing that is important is how you feel about it. Since you are asking for feedback: I agree with your decission to build up the small island, it would benefit from a little more height.


Staff member
Feb 19, 2021
I love it! I like the arches and all the pathways through it. I’m sure the fish will love it. Where are you putting this one? In your basement also? Along the same wall as your main tank?
it’s been a while since I’ve been in your basement. Just trying to picture It

Andrew D

Active member
Feb 27, 2021
Thanks guys. I told you I'd be late in posting update to my build thread. Work has been busy and I've been sick/tired so I've not made much progress. I did end up changing the aquascape a bit, actually connected the second island to the main one, looks a lot better. Although I love the height of the tank, it does make aquascaping more challenging because unless you use reinforcing rods or putty the higher you go the wider you have to go too to make sure everything is stable enough.

Cliff, this tank is one level up from my reef, so on the ground floor of my 4 level side split. I can't recall when you were last here but we converted the garage into liveable space and when we did that reno I made sure to design the space (and reinforce the floor) to accommodate the tank that I always dreamed of building. Good thing too because at 500G that's a lot of weight!

I've enclosed some pictures of the new scape which is viewable (and somewhat interesting) from two sides, as well as the location of the tank. Also below is a picture of the coast to coast overflow which is recessed into the wall dividing the tank from the utility room where we have a second fridge and full freezer. The plan is to cover the hole with plywood which is easily removable when you need to access the overflow. I did some re-wiring such that I have four boxes with 4 outlets each (all GFI protected on 3 separate and dedicated breakers) so I should have enough power for everything. Nice thing about a fish only is that you don't need as much equipment, only cheap lights (had planned to go black-box LED but for now using a spare 36 inch 6 bulb T5), a protein skimmer (bought used from Shawn at UTS a few years back), powerheads (2 MP60s under the overflow and 2 MP40s on the back wall) and a return pump (Danner 2400). Included a picture from under the tank which shows my 2 tank sump system (40G breeder and 40G plastic tank from a farm supply place). I still need to add a 29G tall for top-off and don't have a lot of room for much else, so I have to be careful to make sure that nothing overflows when the power shuts off. I've got thick plastic sheeting under the tank in case there is a leak, won't help with a big one but will keep things dry through anything small. Unlike my reef tank I don't have the luxury of a concrete floor with drain so I have to be VERRYYY careful.

Lots of work still to do including a walnut bartop and homemade cabinetry but I figured I'd show some pictures of my progress thus far. I;'m a little discouraged with how long things are taking but at the same time, like many/most of you I think, I most enjoy setting up a tank and quikcly get bored when things are running themselves. Take my reef tank for example, I don;t think I've cleaned the glass in three weeks lol.


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Feb 19, 2021
cant wait to see the end results
really loved all the arches in my last
re- rockscape

Andrew D

Active member
Feb 27, 2021
LOL Luigi, does it ever really end? It's been a while since I've posted and while progress has been slow I finally finished the cabinetry around it and have also started to move my fish over. The water I used was a mix of fresh and aged from my reef tank, and most of the rocks were in water for at least 3 months so I think that expedited my cycle. I moved past diatoms to green hair algae pretty quickly, so put some snails, crabs and urchins in maybe 4-6 weeks in. I also put 3 convict blennies in that I had in QT for quite some time, along with a few weeks later a bristletooth tang I picked up cheap at Big Als in Hamilton. These were all doing well, so a couple of days ago (maybe 3 months from first water) I put in my blue faced angel (in QT for months waiting on this tank) and my large regal and vlamingi from my reef. I wanted to wait on the last 2 but the bristletooth was beating up the small angel so I wanted to put some larger tangs in to help keep the peace. It worked, and everyone is doing very well, all out in the open eager for food. I'm going to wait a while to make sure the bacteria levels catch up to the fish load, before adding the 3 raccoons currently in QT, a nice large ebili angel (can't call him a dwarf because he's HUGE (thanks Red at CRS!), my humuhumunakua trigger (aka picasso) and eventually my remaining tangs. Once my tangs are out of the reef I hope to be able to catch those f'en clowns that have killed more lps than I can remember. And then I'll slowly replace the tangs with small versions. As I said, it's a process and as we all know the journey is more fun than the desination.

Anyway, here are some pics from tonight. Crappy iphone pics, looks much better in person. I can't wait to have people over to take a look, I'm really pleased with how things are going. Oh, and the reef is doing OK too now that my attention is focused elsewhere lol.


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Staff member
Feb 12, 2021
love the corner idea different perspective for viewing, as always great job Andrew


Feb 19, 2021
any updates??
even though I'm taking time off from the hobby, it's always nice to see a system build

Andrew D

Active member
Feb 27, 2021
Hi everyone, work and life has been busy so I've not had much free time to fiddle with the tank or post about it's progress. Probably for the best because it is REALLY REALLY hard to pace yourself with a new tank especially when you already have some livestock waiting to go in!

I love my reef tank but I've discovered that I REALLY REALLY love the fish that can't go in a reef tank. OMG I can't believe how many beautiful angels and especially butterflies there are, I'm glad I went so large because it will be difficult for me to pick only a few. A few weeks back I added 4 racoons that I bought a while back along with an emperor angel that was bought more recently but looked well enough to move over. They transitioned very well, with very little aggression. I find I have to feed a lot though, because some fish are slower or pickier eaters than others and I want to make sure that everyone gets enough. I added a lot of nassarius snails along with some serpent stars from my reef tank and they seem to be staying on top of any excess. The only fish that doesn't seem to get their share are my convict blennies. I saw one today under his rock but they are almost never out anymore. It's awful to say but I wouldn't be too upset if they didn't make it, my wife was quite upset when she saw these as she hates snakes and these behave in very similar ways.

Not sure when I'll add more fish. I've got a small french angel in QT along with 3 pakistani butterflies, 3 oval or melon butterflies (not sure which, they look similar, but either way beautiful fish that are supposed to be hard to keep but have been eating like pigs for me), a saddleback puffer and a hawkfish which will all eventually go into the fish only, likely before I add any more tangs. I am looking for a larger powder blue and naso which I'd like to add at the same time as the large dussumeri in my reef in order to manage aggression when I add them. And of course my yellows, purple and scopas from my reef which will likely terrorize any butterflies added afterwards. It's a large tank but these guys are used to the ocean so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my latest additions, along with a few of the fish in QT. I've also included a picture of the inside of the canopy (lots of room with the single 3 foot T5 which I've also fitted with a powerful bathroom exhaust fan that I still need to vent outside), a picture of the 2 tank 2 skimmer sump (already had a water accident so had to pull everything out and install a heavier tarp underneath) and a picture of my fresh water ATO tank (which is a pain to fill, has to be filled often (it's only 29G) and operates on a small eheim pump running into my sump once a day for a minute).


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