Im about to start a large 1300 gallon woody.


New member
So, i found this forum researching wood tank construction and i thought i would throw this out there.

Im planning a 96x96x34 plywood tank. This is going to be a inwall build that faces into a theater room. My ideas are to keep this project within strict power consumtion guidlines. I know that might sound rediculious with a tank of this size, but small things add up.

First, my biggest challenge so far with this is how to get enough water movement in the display. I want to stay away from closed loops due to power requirements on the pumps, and noise. I was thinking of building in tunze style wave boxes around the perimeter of the tank, flush with the sides so that they do not project out. I was hoping for 6 total, 2 in the back, and two on each side. Do you think this will provide enough movement? Is it overkill?

I am planning on setting up islands of rock througout the tank. Each island is going to have a dedicated light. I dont want to light the whole tank for two reasons, one obviuosly is power, 2 is cost of replacements on bulbs. Im thinking that i will have 6 major structurs, with 6 400's or 6'250's. they will rotate on during the day so they will not all be on at the same time. probably 3 on one side of the tank for a half a day, then 3 on the otherside of the tank for the late part of the day. I will also have islands with out direct light on them for low light/non photo sythentic species.

Natural Filtration: I am planning on running a 4 inch sugar fine sand bed. Im not interested in the bare bottom look, and i think this looks most natural. I am also planning on about 1000 lbs of live rock. I dont want the tank to look crowded, so i am going to buy rock in 500 lb increments. I will also have a large refugium in line with the return.

Mechanical Filtration: The skimmer is going to be the main part of this filtration system. I am not really planning on running anything else except clarifiers like ozone and UV. I am considering skimmers from ATB and Reefflo. Suggestions welcome. Power consumtion is the main key here. I would rather run multiple needle wheel skimmers then one huge beckett style.

Other equipement: I will be running a neptune controller, and undecided brands/sizes of calcium reactors, kalkwasser reactors, phosban reactors, and litermeter dosing pumps for other additives.

Stocking: This tank is going to have a multitude of things going on, i will have SPS sections under the lights, LPS and softie sections in the lower light areas, and plenty of fish.

Once i get my tank design down, i will start a build thread. But the basics are going to be a firberglass/epoxy mix for the inside, low e glass for the display, and a framed shell for the tank. I am not relying on plywood alone on this one. I will have 2x4 walls on 12 inch centers holding the sides together, 2x10's for the base on 12 inch centers, with insulation everywhere between the tank and the outside skin.

More to come,
thanks for looking! please let me know what you think.


New member
Thats a big tank and you might be surprised by the costs you have not even considered. You can save power but thats just one part.

Good luck , I look forward to watching how you go about building it.


New member
Im sure there are things i have not considered. This by far is the biggest tank i have attempted to keep. I have kept reef tanks from the 6 gallon to the 300 gallon range. The upfront cost are not the biggest concern, and i know what it takes for water changes, supplements, etc. I am sure the math is not linear, but i can roughly multiply the 300 gallon system by 4 and get a good idea. My 300 gallon system was not that efficient. ie sumps on concrete floors, big beckett, over lighting, etc.

The only reason i am making this tank this deep is i want to be able to give the illusion that it never ends, i think i can accomplish this with shadows and correct lighting. I have alot of space to devote to this project, so i figure why not??. I just got back from my LFS, and talking to them, my largest challenge will be flow. Looks like a closed loop is going to be the only solution that will insure that i get zero dead spots in the center of the tank.


Colored Sticks addict
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=15437805#post15437805 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by woodyways
The only reason i am making this tank this deep is i want to be able to give the illusion that it never ends.

hanging out in the movie room, loungin, wating a movie/reef....sounds pretty cool... good luck with it... maybe solar tubes with less halides? starfire glass on front?


New member
Ok then you should have a good idea of what to expect.

I think the illusion of a never ending tank is great, its what I would build in a perfect world. Flow will be a pain, I think you might need a closed loop and wave boxes combined.


New member
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=15437904#post15437904 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Turbovr3six
hanging out in the movie room, loungin, wating a movie/reef....sounds pretty cool... good luck with it... maybe solar tubes with less halides? starfire glass on front?

I think what i am going to do, is run 6 400's spread over the tank, i will run 2 at time for 4 hours, going from side to side. Something like the sun moving over the water over time. The tank will be in the basement of a two story house, so solar tubes really wont be much of an option. I don't need to blast the whole reef all the time. I can also accent specific areas with smaller lights, maybe even t5's. Im going to build a rack that will hang above the tank on ballasts so i can move lighting easy. Its going to take some tinkering to get the exact effect im looking for.

I like wave boxes too. Not sure how well they will work over that much volume of water, but im sure to try. I have built many of dump systems in my day, never have been happy with any of them because of the micro bubble effect. I think i can design one with a electric solenoid (if i can find one large enough) that might help.

Thanks for your imput!


New member
The part i am struggling with the most is the actual tank build. I am not that great at sketchup.. so its pencil and paper for me!

The first and most obvious choice of materials for this tank is the size. The second main reason is so i can install insulation around the bottom and three sides of the tank. Im not sure if this is a good thing or bad, my thoughts are if i can get r13 or better in the walls, i will most likely be able to control the temps of the tank more consistantly with less swings, and less heater load at night and in the winter. I would love to be able to store some of that heat that is going to come off the lights.

Im having a hard time coming up with the faceplate installation. I want the glass to be as flush to the theater wall as possible, but also want to be sure the front doenst pop off because i built it too thin. I am thinking of fabing the front plate out of angle iron, and bolting the frame to the body of the aquaruim. Any ideas here?

The floor of the aquarium is another point of concern. Not sure how big or the correct centers should be for the span and load. There is not that much data out there on woody tanks of this size. If i cant do the math, i think i am just going to overbuild the heck out of it.

How well will the fiberglass matt lay out on a vertical plane? This tank is not going to be able to be flipped on its side for glassing. Everything is getting buit in place.



Here is a link that CougarMan built his tank based on. I am currently building my tank (starting next week) using Cougarman's actual front piece after he disassembled his 600 gallon.

The main advantages of this design:

1) it can be fabricated outside of the actual location and then assembled and silconed on site.

2) you can lay the sides flat to epoxy or waterproof (note the epoxy or ??? coating on the plywood only on the plywood .. not the joins - silcone is still required for waterproofing .. just like a glass tank

3) you have the ability to insulate bottom and sides

4) you can modify the basic design to suit your needs (ie making it stronger as your tank is going to be much bigger - incorporating angle iron or/and eurobracing with 6"x1" oak - anything that suits your needs and makes sense for you)

Some of the mods that I am going to make are to add a viewing port on one of the sides and creating an interior overflow using a non supporting false wall .. also using it for powerhead attachments (overflows are going to be angular in the back corners) and finishing it to make it prettier.

Anyway ... FYI hope you get some ideas.
Good luck.



Premium Member
Wow, ambitious project for sure, good luck!

Have you considered a surge tank or tanks? With a system this big, it is somthing to think about especially if you have lots of space to spare.


New member
Bump. I am trying to get to 50 posts so I can break my tank down and sell it here, sorry i just don't have much to say. Good Luck with your build