My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

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Viktor Jarikov
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My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Hi All,

I am starting to put together the beginnings of my Public Aquarium. I've spent a lot of time over the last year reading everything that I could possibly find about big tanks or ponds with windows. The stickiest point is, of course, the window. I think I've more or less carefully considered and consulted, where I could, with professionals on the fish tanks made of fiberglass (mass produced and custom), acrylic, glass, concrete, stainless steel, aluminum, rubber liner, PE, plywood/wood, etc.

For the sake of a convenient (but limited) comparison, let us mostly focus on a roughly 700 US gal tank, something like 8’x4’x3’ of water. I aim this to be my smallest exhibit size.

(1) Glass: very expensive, around $3500-$4000, and very heavy. Breakable and breakable in an unsafe manner, unless tempered. Tempered glass is usually 30%-50% more expensive.

(2) Acrylic: even more expensive, $4000-$4500, up to $6000 (seen the show “Tanked”? – sure they can do anything for you if you are made of money). See the on-line price lists of companies like Fintastic (GA) and Tyde Pool (CA). Acrylic has the advantage of having the best and strongest seams - if properly made and maintained, the seams are never expected to leak.

(2a) Polycarbonate can be mentioned here but I know of no polycarbonate tanks. Only windows. From what I was told, these windows are approx. functionally the same as acrylic. Although some claim they are more scratchable than acrylic, others say they are not.

(3) Stainless steel+window: cannot find a precedent of a large tank described on the net and having a window. Projected to be as expensive as acrylic or even more – problem is not only the high price of the SS but also the length of time and the high labor intensity of the very slow welding process of SS. Do not have even a rough estimate though yet. Working with Al’s Custom Fab of Naples, FL on it.

(4) Concrete+window: this is a popular choice and, of course, a permanent and immobile construction. Examples: 2500 gal, 2 windows http://www.anythingfish.com/Todds%20ray ... shTank.htm
5000 gal, 2 windows http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forum ... by-JohnPTC
2600 gal, our own ElTofi http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... =5&t=32680

So, this has been done and more or less well described but only (in my search) by DIY-ers in US as well as by several UK companies (google “koi ponds with windows” – some of them are out of business already but all of them, strangely, are in UK). Waterproofed by epoxy, fiberglass, pool-type waterproof concrete, and other coatings, which I do not know what they contain, e.g., used by ElTofi. This option may come out to be less expensive, especially if I do it myself, perhaps, $1000-$1500 in materials and zero for my labor.

Yet, there is no assurance whatsoever that my constructions won't leak sooner or later – it’s likely too risky to be learning as you go, in my circumstance. On the other hand, I cannot find any professional who knows exactly how to and has experience in building above-ground ponds/pools with windows (apart from those who build for millionaires and even those are very rare).

I have to find someone who built local “real” Public Aquaria and/or underwater Zoo exhibits, I examined how they are put together but I don’t know what that thick rubber stuff is in which windows are usually embedded on both sides and I never spoke to anyone who built those exhibits. Big Public Aquaria usually have very thick concrete walls, like a foot or two thick. It’d be nice to find someone locally but even nationally may be acceptable.

As said, there are some in UK but that's no help - I don't think flying and hosting them here would be financially feasible; and the US materials differ from UK materials.

(5) Precast concrete+window: here are some quotes from OldCastle Precast: “... The 8'x4'x3'bottom and walls only would be $1000. The stainless steel frame, epoxy coating, bottom drain would be something we could fabricate in the structure but will require more time to get those prices. … 10'x5'x3' (1100 US gal) would be priced at $1844…. the 20'x10'x3' (6000 US gal) would be $5703 and would weigh ~22 tons.”

The problems are the same as with item 4 above. I’d have to waterproof and install the window. Learning as you go may not be good here.

(6) Plywood+window: been done, examples: 1700 gal one window http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/d ... tank_1.php
2400 gal one window and 8000 gal 2 windows : Ted built plywood tropical tanks in his backyard in Seattle http://www.anythingfish.com/images/Ted/ ... rIndex.htm
600 gal, one window, exceptionally well described http://www.jonolavsakvarium.com/eng_diy ... itres.html

Well, again, DIY. Not good for me right now. Besides, the longevity may not be there.

(7) Rubber liner+window: I’ve seen the pics of such pond-aquarium hybrids on the net but never came across how the liner+window seam is made waterproof. I can imagine a few options. But out of all ponds, I have the most experience with rubber liner ponds and I do not want to deal with them anymore. They are unsightly. Big fish puncture them and some chew them. The liner would have to be under a protective layer of something, e.g. concrete or acrylic sheeting, etc. I do not like it.

(8) Polyethylene or polypropelene, etc (PE): relatively cheap, big, fish-friendly tubs are available, e.g., $800 for 1000 US gal water storage tanks. Never found anyone putting a window in one of those. Strongest, least buckle-prone, and cheapest are the cylindrical tubs, which means the window will have to be curved. That’s a con. Would need a strong frame for the window and would have to be DIY/learn from your mistakes kind of a deal again. Not good.

(9) Aluminum: as discussed here and other i-net places, can be toxic to fish, not good. http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... =+aluminum

(10) Finally, Fiberglass tubs+window: these are the front runners for my smallest exhibits -
Aquaticeco.com, near Orlando FL - only two sizes suitable for me, 8’x4’x3’, $2000, 8’x4’x2.5’ $1600

(EDIT Feb 24 2015, new URL http://pentairaes.com/tanks/show/all )

(EDIT Feb 8 2016: an informative new thread from MFK on these tanks http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forum ... ws.646391/ )

These are mass-produced I think in Malaysia or Indonesia.

Interesting that others sell them 50% more expensive, e.g., the same 8’x4’x3’ is $3200 here http://www.fishfarmsupply.ca/mm5/mercha ... fiberglass

Dolphin Fiberglass Products, Homestead, FL - - http://www.aquaculturetanks.com/
Nice Company and nice owner, Jack Broyl. Spent a few hours with him. They cannot beat the above $2000 price for a 8’x4’x3’, the closest would be $2500-$3000 but can make any size and have the molds for many bigger tanks but they are all exponentially more expensive – see their nice on-line collections of photos and the price list.

That’s where we stand, folks. Does anybody have a time-tested experience with those fiberglass tubs+windows (front runners)? Also, please share grounded, helpful opinions and suggestions on anything foregoing.

Thanks much in advance.

Viktor
Last edited by Viktor Jarikov on 09 Feb 2016, 00:56, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by MatsP »

The public aquaria in England certainly use concrete + window.

I wouldn't worry too much about "glass breakable". As long as the tank is well set up, glass is a very strong material. Ask TP how easy it is to break 15mm (approx 5/8") glass - he had a 6ft tank to take apart, and the only way he could figure was to break it in pieces. And it took a huge amount of force to break the glass. I have broken a large sheet of 8mm (5/16"), and just as a loose sheet, it takes heavy blows with a 16oz hammer. It is very unlikely that a glass tank will "explode" (despite what they show in films), much more likely that it will gently crack and the water comes out like a fountain [which is of course bad!]

See if you can find a couple of 100+ gal tank, and try to break them by different means. I think you'll find that it takes quite a bit to break the tank. [Make sure you set up a video camera and put it on youtube for our enjoyment as well]

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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

bump
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Suckermouth »

I don't know much about construction, but I'm curious if are you legitimately setting up an aquarium open to the public, or do you just want a tank as big as one?
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by crkinney »

HEY we are in America WHAT A COUNTRY! ^:)^
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Yes, I intend to attempt to make a living out of it. My wife and I formed a C-Corporation for that purpose last Spring. We invested both of our entire pension plans into it. We moved to FL, for that reason, to build it in a more or less stable tropical climate and avoid having to build a building and the heating costs. I am up to my ears in expenses trying to get the needed permits to open my business by Feb next year (IRS demanded time line). So, yes, it is a serious effort and we have abandoned our relatively cushy Rochester, NY life and put everything we've earned so far on the stake.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by 2wheelsx2 »

I have no input other than to say Bravo! for chasing your dream. Please keep us updated on the progress of this. Are you on Monsterfishkeepers? There must be lots of people with experience with this sort of thing. One guy there has a 10000 (something like that size) gallon Arapaima tank.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Thanks. As I said about this endeavor before: fool's dreams usually die with their owner.

Yes, I am there but barely active. MFK is a great resource but of DIY-type constructions, unless you are made of money, which I am not.

If you are referring to Arapaimag, aka Micheal Bryce, your fellow Canadian, with a 15,000 gal and 50,000 gal tanks, then yes, I am in contact with him. He posts on PC sometimes.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by 2wheelsx2 »

Yeah, some of those guys are loaded. I have followed Bryce's threads, but there was another guy in California I think, that even had webcams set up so that he could see his tank 24/7 from anywhere. I'll have to try and dig that up.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Then, I am rather sure you are talking about JohnPTC (from LA) and his 5000 gal, 12'x10'x6' arapaima tank. The MFK thread about that is linked above in my examples of the concrete+window structures.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Suckermouth »

Viktor Jarikov wrote:Yes, I intend to attempt to make a living out of it. My wife and I formed a C-Corporation for that purpose last Spring. We invested both of our entire pension plans into it. We moved to FL, for that reason, to build it in a more or less stable tropical climate and avoid having to build a building and the heating costs. I am up to my ears in expenses trying to get the needed permits to open my business by Feb next year (IRS demanded time line). So, yes, it is a serious effort and we have abandoned our relatively cushy Rochester, NY life and put everything we've earned so far on the stake.
Hi, I wish you luck. I don't know how much of a businessperson you are, but you shouldn't have to do this simply on your own money. A public aquarium can be a tourist and educational attraction. The local government, businesses, and universities may be able to provide you support for an aquarium. Expect to really sell this idea to people so that they can support you. Money is not an easy thing to come by, but you won't get any money if you don't look for it.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by 2wheelsx2 »

Viktor Jarikov wrote:Then, I am rather sure you are talking about JohnPTC (from LA) and his 5000 gal, 12'x10'x6' arapaima tank. The MFK thread about that is linked above in my examples of the concrete+window structures.
Yep, that's him. :D Love that setup.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Jools »

Viktor Jarikov wrote:If you are referring to Arapaimag, aka Micheal Bryce, your fellow Canadian, with a 15,000 gal and 50,000 gal tanks, then yes, I am in contact with him. He posts on PC sometimes.
He's also a really nice guy and one of those I think of when I say flippantly "I know about five people that properly look after big fish". :-) Should be a help.

Good luck with this endevour Viktor, I am sure we can put some customers your way. Will you blog construction and plans as you can?

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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by RickE »

Viktor I'm no expert and have certainly never constructed tanks of this size, but reading through all this carefully and looking at all the links you included, I think you would need a pretty strong argument NOT to go with concrete with windows.

I guess you like the look of JohnPTC's tank from your comments (I certainly do). His thread describes in some detail what he used and how he did it and you could probably get more information from him if you needed it.

It's adaptable- you can build the tanks to suit the enclosure they are in rather than having to make the enclosure suit the tanks and it is also cheap. As you say, you could provide most of the labour.

I can tell you that when I worked at Waterlife http://www.waterlife.co.uk/waterlife/history.htm back in the 80's, we had a small public aquarium on the site which is not there any more. The main exhibit was a 'reef' tank which (from memory) must have been something like 30' long by 20' wide by 10' deep. It could have been bigger. It was constructed from blocks and concrete waterproofed with a layer of fiberglass and had acrylic windows which I think were 3" thick. They had to be cleaned of algae regularly and were pretty badly scratched after a few years.

The filtration was a 'deep bed' at the back of the main tank which we believed offered denitrification through anaerobic activity. Heating was via a stainless steel heat-exchanger and gas boiler.

Good luck, whatever you decide.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Thanks guys for the feedback and well-wishes. One correction already. Compliments of Greg - the master tank builder and the owner of Fintastic (GA), now I know that the mentioned aquatic-eco fiberglass tubs with windows do not look like that pictured on their website. The one pictured is probably a small(er) tank.

The 600 US gal, 8'x4'x30", $1630 tank (product # FT523W2) has a 69"x17" window.

The 720 US gal, 8'x4'x3', $2005 tank (product # FT632W2) has a 63"x15.5" window (yes, even smaller).

The website pic is, therefore, quite misleading. Bummer. The aquatic-eco tanks are not my front runners anymore and hardly are in consideration.

The acrylic windows are pretty thin too at only 1/4".

Jools, I will do the best I can, of course.

RickE, scratches on acrylic are easily polished out, even under water, I am told and I read over and over. Never done that myself though. Scratches under water should be, by very far and large, less visible versus scratches at the acrylic-air interface. The underwater scratches are, of course, filled with water and water has a refractive index (1.3330) close to that of acrylic 1.4910 (versus the refractive index of air, which is 1.0003 at the wavelength of 589 nm and standard pressure and composition). (I know you are fond of higher mathematics but not sure if you like physics/optics :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_refractive_indices
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by RickE »

Viktor Jarikov wrote:Scratches under water should be, by very far and large, less visible versus scratches at the acrylic-air interface. The underwater scratches are, of course, filled with water and water has a refractive index (1.3330) close to that of acrylic 1.4910 (versus the refractive index of air, which is 1.0003 at the wavelength of 589 nm and standard pressure and composition). (I know you are fond of higher mathematics but not sure if you like physics/optics :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_refractive_indices
Heh, too long ago for me Viktor, I haven't done anything with optics since high school some 33 years ago :ymblushing:.

All I know is the scratches were quite visible from outside and polishing several windows of that size (I guess 5' x 3' or thereabouts)and in that volume of water would be a fairly demanding task!

Thinking about it, I think it is more a case of the light catching the edges of the scratches and glinting than anything else.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by MatsP »

If the scratch is a "clean cuts", where a "jagged edge" scratch will be much more noticable, because the edge itself will refract the light and cause aberrations. I know you can polish out the scratches, and possibly even under water.

Glass will also be scratched eventually, but it is a lot harder surface, so it won't scratch quite as easily.

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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Narwhal72 »

I used to be a diver at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB). We would only use a soft cloth (cut up tshirts) on the acrylic panels to clean them (every day) to prevent scratching.

Acrylic can be polished underwater but it is a very laborous task of sanding the area around the scratch to remove acrylic in the surrounding area down to the same depth as the scratch and then polishing it out. It will take hours to polish one small area.

Better to prevent the scratches as best as possible.

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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Thanks all.

Anyone knows if Aquatic Exhibit Group is still in business? http://www.aquaticexhibit.com/

They are not answering phones, voice mails, and emails.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

RickE wrote:Viktor I'm no expert and have certainly never constructed tanks of this size, but reading through all this carefully and looking at all the links you included, I think you would need a pretty strong argument NOT to go with concrete with windows.
Hi Rick and all, just have had a long conversation with John Polk, owner-operator of Tydepoolmarine (CA). He professes that all concrete tanks leak. Even the best built Public Aquaria tanks will start leaking after a year or so. No matter how well waterproofed, concrete can not hold water. Even the shallow ones, just like my targeted tanks of the 2.5'-3' depth.

The only leak-proof, big tank options are full acrylic or FRP(fiber reinforced plastic) with acrylic/glass windows.

Experiences? Thoughts?
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Hi All,

An updated scoop.

I am working on a start-up, Public Fresh Water Aquarium in Naples, FL. Nothing fancy – pretty much an extended hobby at this point - a 1-2 people, family business. Hopefully, eventually a $50,000-$100,000 annual revenue operation. No building but an array of free-standing, above-ground fish tanks in a 55'x55' screened-in lanai. Concrete, clay-tiled slab for the floor. Tarp or thin metal roof, roll-down plastic curtains for the side walls for colder times. Heavily shaded.

No marine fish, only fresh water and some brackish. I intend to display the largest fresh water fish there is (90% are 2' adult size and longer) from all five continents and pay great attention to the educational side of the business in addition to the obvious entertaining side. The vast majority of the fish are catfish and odd balls - arowanas, pacus, giant gouramis, gars, various carp, koi, eels, arapaimas, Nile perch, bass, sturgeon - stuff like that.

I intend to employ no heating or cooling of the water and no bio-filtering – it's a flow-through system: one pipe in and one pipe out and perhaps a few bubblers to keep the tanks well aerated and stirred. That's it. No furniture in the tanks except for a few sticks/tree trunks of driftwood, maybe. No gravel/sand (in my experience with large tanks/ponds, it does more harm than good by accumulating fish waste).

The exhibit water temp is about 80-82 F for the hottest months of the year and about 68-70 F for the coldest.

The incoming water is at ~74 F year round. It is a mix of my raw, low-end-brackish well water (TDS ~1300 ppm, out of whish 500 ppm is Ca and Mg) and RO water. Current RO capacity is 2000 gal a day. Will add another RO system or membrane(s). May or may not add a softener station. I will collect and use rain water too off of the whole lanai and our 3300 sq ft and 2700 sq ft ranch houses.

Apart from all the costly permits, site modifications, etc., I have only ~$35,000 to invest into the exhibits at the start. Very, very measly by any/most measures. Cannot hire a reputable professional, like Aquatic Exhibit Group, so have to seek other options.

IRS mandates us that the business must be in operation by Mar 2012, that is providing goods/services and paying taxes, W2 salaries, etc. But I need the tanks even sooner – the fish I have currently is in need of larger homes already and I keep collecting large fish as opportunities arise.

Unless cost-prohibitive, the tanks/exhibits should rest on either legs or a base (cinder blocks, or solid concrete, or concrete walls with gravel or sand inside, etc.), which should be 2'-3' high to bring the tank bottom level closer to the eye level of the viewers. The base/legs will rest on the lanai floor (which may be only 4" thick – I do not know for sure yet; may be too thin a slab for a static load; ok for a point load). Also, the lanai floor has a pitch for the rain water run off and two steps in the middle making one quarter of the lanai raised by 1-1.5'. This is a big inconvenience for installing the tanks level, making the level base even more desirable.

The window dimensions should be maximized, thus minimizing or ideally leaving no blind spots for the viewers.

The bottom of each tank, ideally, should be tapered on the inside at about 5 degrees towards the bottom drain at one end of the tank - the bottom drain may be just a dimple with a hole, into which I will install a bulkhead,.

I've spent a lot of time over the last year reading everything that I could possibly find about big tanks or ponds with windows. The stickiest point is, of course, the window. I think I've more or less carefully considered and consulted, where I could, with professionals on the fish tanks made of fiberglass (mass produced and custom), acrylic, glass, concrete, stainless steel, aluminum, rubber liner, PE, plywood/wood, etc.

I aim at a ~700 gal tank to be my smallest exhibit, something like 8’x4’x3’ of water.

(1) Glass: very expensive, around $3500-$4000 for ~700 gal, and very heavy but still on the table. Really, only Glasscages.com build such tanks that are available and affordable. They have a sketchy history of quality – a lot of satisfied customers are out there but there are plenty dissatisfied. Try Google.
135 gal 72x18x25 $369 2.7 $/gal
240 gal 96x24x25 $759 3.2 $/gal
300 wide 96x30x25 $1201 4.0 $/gal
340 gal 130x25x24 $1455 4.3 $/gal
375-8 wide 96x36x25 $1819 4.9 $/gal
500-8wide 96x48x25 $2669 5.3 $/gal
610-C2.5 130x37x30 $2940 4.8 $/gal

(2) Acrylic: even more expensive, $4000-$5000, up to $6000 for ~700 gal. See the on-line price lists of companies like Fintastic (GA; http://www.fintastic.us/Tenecor_JUN2011_MSRP.pdf ), Livingcolor (FL), and Tyde Pool (CA). Acrylic vs. Glass: very long but informative discussion http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forum ... S.-ACRYLIC (I’d pay attention to only first 10 or so pages, after that the quality degrades a lot and also people start repeating the same things).

From the Tenecore price list: these are the kinds I'd be interested in. I may choose them as they are or choose bigger (e.g., imagine joining these together and making 2-3 very long tanks but still at 4' (preferably 6') wide and 2', 2.5', or 3' deep; may be straight or L-shaped). These are outside dimensions:

Ultra-Rectangles U525 120x48x24 4,525$
Ultra-Rectangles U670 120x48x30 5,032$ (appears the best match for the combo of my needs and price)
Ultra-Rectangles U775L 120x48x36 7,126$
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Why is this one, only 2' shorter, so much less expensive??
Ultra-Rectangles U620 96x48x36 4,503$ (vs 7,126$)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
This price difference may be more understandable??
Ultra-Rectangles U535 96x48x30 3,719$ (vs 5,032$)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Greg Sowers (Fintastic owner) wrote to me:
Tenecor lead time will be 8 weeks but 3 guys just left Tenecor recently and started their own company. Their tank builder worked as Tenecor’s Lead Senior Tank builder for 12 years and went with them, so I feel pretty comfortable that the tank quality will be the same. They are telling me their lead time right now is 4 weeks. They will also be competitive to Tenecor. Tenecor is from Arizona and the new company I am actually not sure. I will find out but it will not change shipping more than 2 days. You should plan on a week for shipping to be safe anyhow.

From another vendor (that works with Fintastic) that is a little higher end and are full acrylic units (freight and crate are extra):
96x36x36.. 3/4" acrylic.. $4,375 ea.
96x48x36.. 3/4" acrylic.. $4,625 ea.
120x36x30.. 3/4" acrylic.. $4,875 ea.
120x60x36..1” acrylic.. $12,000 ea. 1,122 gallons.

(2a) Polycarbonate can be mentioned here but I know of no polycarbonate tanks. Only windows. From what I was told by Jack Broyl (owner-operator of Dolphin Fiberglass Products), these windows are approx. functionally the same as acrylic. Although others on the i-net claim they are even more scratchable than acrylic; still others say they are not.

(3) Stainless steel+window: cannot find a precedent of a large tank described on the net and having a window. Projected to be as expensive as acrylic or even more – problem is not only the high price of the SS but also the length of time and the high labor intensity of the very slow welding process of SS. Unlikely – too expensive.

(4) Concrete+window: this is a popular choice and, of course, a permanent and immobile construction. Examples: 2500 gal, 2 windows http://www.anythingfish.com/Todds%20ray ... shTank.htm
5000 gal, 2 windows http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forum ... by-JohnPTC
2600 gal, our own ElTofi http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... =5&t=32680

So, this has been done and more or less well described but only (in my search) by DIY-ers in US as well as by several UK companies (google “koi ponds with windows” – some of them are out of business already but all of them, strangely, are in UK). Waterproofed by epoxy, fiberglass, pool-type waterproof concrete, and other coatings, which I do not know what they contain, e.g., used by ElTofi. This option may come out to be less expensive, especially if I do it myself, perhaps, $1000-$1500 in materials and zero for my labor (~700 gal tank).

John Polk and I have had a long conversation (owner-operator of Tydepoolmarine, CA): John professes that all concrete tanks leak. Even the best built Public Aquaria tanks will start leaking after a year or so. No matter how well waterproofed, concrete cannot hold water, fresh or salt. Even the shallow ones, just like my targeted tanks of the 2'-3' depth. The only leak-proof, big tank options are full acrylic or FRP (fiber reinforced plastic) with acrylic/glass windows.

(5) Precast concrete+window: here are some quotes from OldCastle Precast: “…. The 8'x4'x3'bottom and walls only would be $1000. The stainless steel frame, epoxy coating, bottom drain would be something we could fabricate in the structure but will require more time to get those prices. … 10'x5'x3' (1100 US gal) would be priced at $1844…. the 20'x10'x3' (6000 US gal) would be $5703 and would weigh ~22 tons.”

(6) Plywood+window: been done, examples: 1700 gal one window http://www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/d ... tank_1.php
2400 gal one window and 8000 gal 2 windows : Ted built plywood tropical tanks in his backyard in Seattle http://www.anythingfish.com/images/Ted/ ... rIndex.htm
600 gal, one window, exceptionally well described http://www.jonolavsakvarium.com/eng_diy ... itres.html

(7) Rubber liner+window: I’ve seen the pics of such pond-aquarium hybrids on the net but never came across how the liner+window seam is made waterproof. I can imagine a few options. But out of all ponds, I have the most experience with building rubber liner ponds (no windows) and I do not want to deal with them anymore. They are unsightly. Big fish puncture them and some chew them. The liner would have to be under a protective layer of something, e.g. concrete or acrylic, etc. I do not like it. But it is so economical relative to other options!

(8) Polyethylene or polypropelene, etc (PE): cheap big tubs are available, e.g., $800 for 1000 US gal water storage tanks. Never found anyone putting a window in one of those. Strongest, least buckle-prone, and cheapest are the cylindrical tubs, which means the window will have to be curved. That’s a con. Would need a strong frame for the window. Even so, this material just bows too much – the window will never last leak-free, more than likely.

(9) Aluminum: as discussed here and other i-net places, can be toxic to fish, not good. http://www.planetcatfish.com/forum/view ... =+aluminum

(10) Finally, Fiberglass tubs+window: these are the front runners at the moment.

Aquaticeco.com, near Orlando FL - only two sizes suitable for me, 8’x4’x3’, $2000, 8’x4’x2.5’ $1600
http://www.aquaticeco.com/subcategories ... 1063569469
These are mass-produced I think in Malaysia or Indonesia. Problem with these: the aquatic-eco fiberglass tubs with windows do not look like that pictured on their website. The one pictured is probably a small(er) tank.

The 600 US gal, 8'x4'x30", $1630 tank (product # FT523W2) has a 69"x17" window.
The 720 US gal, 8'x4'x3', $2005 tank (product # FT632W2) has a 63"x15.5" window (yes, even smaller).

The website pic is, therefore, quite misleading. Bummer. The aquatic-eco tanks are out of consideration.

Their acrylic windows are pretty thin too at only 1/4". What's wrong with this thickness? Greg Sowers wrote: These tanks are for fish farming and not public aquarium viewing. The acrylic will bow and is not very good quality as these things are not designed for what you are wishing to use them for. They will not leak, but will not be a good long or short term option in my opinion.

Ok. I guess, I'd be open to getting roughly the same gallonage for the same price. That is,

-- if I bought 5 to 10 of the 600 gal $1630 tanks, I'd get 3000 to 6000 gal of tank space for $8150 to $16,300. That's 2.7 $ per gal.
-- if I bought 5 to 10 of the 720 gal $2005 tanks, I'd get 3600 to 7200 gal of tank space for $10,000 to $20,000. That's 2.8 $/gal.

Current front runner: Dolphin Fiberglass Products, Homestead, FL - - http://www.aquaculturetanks.com/
Nice Company and nice owner, Jack Broyl. Spent a few hours with him. They cannot beat the above aquatic-eco $2005 price for an 8’x4’x3’, the closest would be $2500-$2750 (but with a nice big window). They can make any size tanks and have the molds for many bigger tanks - see their nice on-line collections of photos and the price list – almost all the tanks of my interest – square, semi-square, and rectangular can have windows installed.

Please, take a look a their, for example, semi-square fiberglass tanks - $14,000 (well, maybe $14,500 or $15,000 today) buys 25'x25'x6' = 23,000 gal. Throw in acrylic window(s) and it will be close to $20,000-22,000 or so. Result with windows: ~1 dollar per gallon.

This is just an example - I'd only be able to get these huge tanks when/if my business takes off. At the moment, I am more interested in their newest product (not listed in their catalog or their price list yet) – semi-square tank 13'x13'x4' = 5000 gal for only ~$7000. Add window(s) - maybe $10,000-$12,000. Result: ~2 dollars per gallon.

I spoke with Jack Broyl, owner of Dolphin Fiberglass Products again last week. Asked about warranty again and the history of their aquariums. Jack says even though they guarantee their aquariums against leaks for only 2 years (with proper install), he has never had a single leak complain on or after warranty in 15 years that he has been making aquariums. I am meeting with him tomorrow again.

I have been also considering Dolphin's rectangular tanks, price list page 6 and 7. Something like 20'x7'x3' = 3000 gal, ~$6000, add windows, perhaps $10,000. That's still 3.3 dollars per gallon. Better than 7.5 $/gal for the U670 Tenecor tanks cited above.

Greg Sowers: I just received the information from another supplier. This will not meet with your deadline, but it is an aquarium that I think would meet your needs. 1,430 gallon rectangular fiberglass tank – 36” tall x 48” wide x 192” long, flat bottom, open top with top lip, fabricated from a premium grade, isophthalic resin with a smooth pool blue gel coated interior and a textured gray pigmented exterior. Complete with two (2) 30” tall x 81” long (viewing area) windows and one (1) 2” drain fitting $23,000 FOB Texas – lead time 18 to 24 weeks ADA (after drawing approval).

This is too expensive, 16 dollars per gallon, even compared to the fully acrylic Ultra-Rectangles U670 120x48x30 5,032$ (7.5 $/gal). For $23,000 I can have 4.6 (say 5) of such tanks totaling 3082 gal. This is far better than 1430 gal for 23,000.

Shawn J. Rich (Director of Sales, Living Color): We have come up with the Fiberglass/Acrylic tank proposal as requested. The dimensions we discussed on the phone were: 180" Long x 96" Wide x 30" High. The acrylic view window would only be on one side (the 180x30 window). The acrylic viewing panel will be 1.25" thick, seamless and fully transparent. The cost of the design and fabrication of the tank only = $27,600. Shipping, installation, filtration, lighting and sales taxes are excluded.

2200 gal for 27,600 - 12.5 $/gal. Also more expensive vs. U670's. The reason we are considering the fewer-but-larger-tanks scenario is to save money in dollar per gallon. This is the same reason to go with FRP+windows vs. full acrylic.

#############################################################
As of today, I am hoping for two Dolphin Fiberglass tanks, 13’x13’x3’, 3750 gal with two 8’x3’ acrylic windows each – that’s ~$20,000-$25,000 and ~$10,000-$15,000 worth of glass tanks, say seven 135 gal $369 and seven 240 gal $759, from Glasscages (I dot think I will be able to keep buffing out the scratches from acrylic display tanks).
####################################################################################
I hope reading this was not a waste for you.

Viktor
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by MatsP »

Viktor, nice to see that you are making some progress on your project.

One point is making me wonder:
Viktor Jarikov wrote:I intend to employ no heating or cooling of the water and no bio-filtering – it's a flow-through system: one pipe in and one pipe out and perhaps a few bubblers to keep the tanks well aerated and stirred.
I know you have access to large quantities of water, so maybe it's not a problem, but I would've thought that some biological filtration is required, as the ammonia (and probably nitrite) would be released by the fish in the tanks, and unless you replace literally all water in less than 24 hours, it could reach leveles where the fish are affected. But I have never tried to run a large aquarium without bio filtration, so I can't say for sure.

--
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Yeah, Mats, I'd like to bypass bio-filtering (namely over and above what occurs naturally) but don't know if I will be able to, especially at higher stocking levels. But I'd much rather increase the flow - this will keep the water temp (and maybe oxygen) in check too - than set up bio-filtering. Summer highs average 95 F in June-July-Aug. Winter lows average 55 F in 1/2 Dec-Jan-1/2Feb. Although I will have a greenhouse-kind of an effect, incoming water at 74 F may be my saving grace.

This is how koi-farms are set up around here in large, open concrete ponds and their stocking density is high. Anyway, time will show. I won't be able to start with a heavy bio load.

On the same topic, I hope to be able to get tubs with relief walls to increase the surface area dramatically, e.g. 10-100 times.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by crkinney »

Hey Viktor , That old ship looks better all the time.
mule :d
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Bas Pels »

Viktor Jarikov wrote:Yeah, Mats, I'd like to bypass bio-filtering (namely over and above what occurs naturally) but don't know if I will be able to, especially at higher stocking levels.
actually, I think - assuming unlimited watersupply - this will be the cheapest way by far

Any filtration costs money - energycosts and it needs space, thus bigger or more buildings.

For a tank, we normally speak about a 3 times an hour turnover of the water through the filter. This water is supposed to come out of the filter without any ammonia or nitrite, but eventually loaded with nitrate.

No filtration, but a flow through system could provide water free of ammonia or nitrite but also poor in nitrate - as the natural water is most often low in nitrate. This water would, I think, not even flow through with a speed of 3 times an hour or more, assuming the tank has a few current producing pumps

But even in case one would replace the water 3 times an hour, the energy cost could be similar to the original situaltion (each tank its own filter) without the need for a place for the filter

Put differently, in such a case the lake is used as a biofilter. BUT in my country such use of a lake would require permits (and, as the water is too cold here, the whole idea would not work)
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Thanks, Bas. I am hoping for a 50% of the volume daily-turn-over in the 2000-5000 gal tanks and 100-200% in the small 135 and 240 gal tanks to start with and then monitor and adjust as I go on and keep adding inhabitants.

Koi farmers do not have to care about treating well-water much. At most, just soften it a little bit or use as is (low end brackish). I have to RO my water and then mix raw and RO water in about 30%-70% or 50%-50% ratio and then also put (all of it or just raw) through carbon filter because the raw water is greenish, I presume from tannins. Moreover, my raw water has 0.25 ppm ammonia - so I have to put it through a bio filter; lacks oxygen completely, so I need to aerate it; and smells of sulfides a little/a lot (depending on your sensitivities), so has to be treated with an oxidizer, like a peroxide to kill the smell but aeration usually does it too (ozone, I suppose; but not on my flow rate - I'd have to deplete all ozone above Naples FL :) ).

Yeah, I know of ozonators and used to own one 60 W. Ozone may also kill tannins and ammonia to clean up and clear up the water too. So can hydrogen peroxide, which is pretty cheap. Decomposing peroxide will also oxygenate it :)

Still, I agree with you that bio-filtering is still less desirable, from both energy consumption point of view and labor and space.

I am dumping the used water in my several million gal lake and am told by the County and others that all they care about is that the water returns to the ground and no drainage is changed. Will see.
Last edited by Viktor Jarikov on 09 Nov 2011, 16:29, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

crkinney wrote:Hey Viktor , That old ship looks better all the time.
Kinky touches with unknown outcomes can be added later on but gotta start with the basics :)
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by crkinney »

kinky me? :d
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Suckermouth »

Hey Viktor, I have just visited the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. They have a ton of huge fish, and species that get huge, from various parts of the world (Arapaima, Pacu, Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, Flathead Catfish, Koi, Sturgeon, Paddlefish, Gar), so I'd consider either visiting, contacting them, or both.
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Re: My Public Aquarium: exhibit blues - how to make them?

Post by Viktor Jarikov »

Thanks Milton. I looked at their webpage - nice place.

Small update, Dec 15, 2011: a month ago or so, I ordered

(1) two 13'x'13'x4.5' (outside dimensions; inside ~4500 gal) semi-square tanks from Dolphin Fiberglass Products. One 8'x4'x2.5" acrylic window (7.5'x3.5' visible area) per tank. $15,000 each tank. Acrylic window is ~50% of the price tag (ouch) - as much as the tank itself and the labor to put it all together. Comes in 4 pieces that I will have to put together; and

(2) ten 240 gal glass tanks from GlassCages.com, 96"x24"x25", $759. Their delivery would be ~$1500.

Sometimes I think/feel I am way in over my head... and then I remember I am.
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