Need some help -- Fish Tank in TV Niche (hole in wall with no back access)?
I've done an exhaustive search of the Internet, Google, Google Images, etc., and can't find anything on this. I thought everything was available on the Internet. So, now I come to you guys for some help.
WHAT I WANT TO DO: Install a fish tank in a TV wall niche. This is going in my 2-story family room, above a gas fireplace (the niche really doesn't change temp with the fireplace on). The wall niche is 52" wide x 30.5" high x 26" depth. I then want to picture frame in the tank so that it basically looks like a picture. There is no access from the other side of the niche. There is, however, an outlet in the back of the niche.
ISSUES: (1) weight -- I assume that the niche is fairly secure given that it was built for a large CRT television, but any thoughts on how heavy I can go?
(2) dimensions/access -- I'll need access to the tank routinely so I'm thinking of putting the top part of the picture framing on a hinge and then accessing that way. Any thoughts on how much access room (4" - 5"?) I'll need at a minimum?
(3) equipment -- any thoughts on the filter I should use given these restraints?
(4) glass(regular/starfire?)/acrylic -- I know this is subject to debate, but any thoughts on this one? Acrylic would seem to be stronger, but the starfire glass (only one side) might provide a better view.
Given all of this, does anyone have any thoughts on the dimensions of the tank and/or know where I can get guidance from a website/someone who has done this in the past? In short, I basically need to install a very heavy fish tank in a place where I won't have rear access.
Any and all help appreciated.
Hmm... If it was me, I'd try to get the back of the tank right up against the back wall and have room on the sides for filters, etc. That should be a bit easier to reach, and plus, you won't have to worry about fish jumping behind the tank where you can't save them. I haven't ever tried anything like that, I'm just chucking an idea at you.
You could try two or more smallish filters instead of one big one?
I like the frame-on-a-hinge idea. Maybe install some kind of a little latch to make it stay up while you're doing work? Or have it swing to the side, otherwise you'll have to hold it up with one hand.
The biggest problem I can see is that it might be really hard to get into the tank to do stuff without being a contortionist or dislocating your elbow. For example, nets. I don't know if you could get a net in there very well... Maybe a short-handled one.
I hate hearing people say "it's only a $3/$5/$1 fish/shrimp, so it's ok if it dies, I can just get another." It's still an animal! All animals should be treated like they're worth $10,000.
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That would be an interesting setup. Curious what's the distance between the floor to bottom of this TV niche? I think if too high it won't be fun to watch your fish. You definitely need adequate space to perform maintenance; I would imagine a tank with a depth more than 20" will require full access from the top, unless you're like 7' tall with an elbow to finger length of 2+ ft.
If you go for a smaller size tank how wide will the picture frame need to be and would that look good? Curious what's behind the niche, another room? Could you upload a picture of this area, including fire place? The possibilities are endless.
What type of fish do you want to keep? Will this be fresh or salt water? Any thoughts if you want this as a planted tank? So much to think about.
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I would fist suggest checking to make sure this shelf can hold the weight of a tank. Assuming you can use almost of the listed space for a tank, that would give your about 150 gallons of water. After factoring in the weight f the water, tank, and substrate, that would be about 1,350 lbs.
My first concern would be that most structures like what you are describing are not always built to support that much weight.
I would suggest confirming that part before you start planning anything else
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Thanks for everyone's input! I was surprised to see such thoughtful responses and I really appreciate it. You've given me a bunch to think about. I've come back with a picture of the current space to give you a better idea.
Some additional info: I'd like this to be a fresh water tank and, no, no live plants. I'm trying to minimize the work given the location.
Fishkeeper -- Good call on coming up with a way to hold the swinging door open. "Little" things like that aren't something you think about but I can already see what a pain that would be. On moving the tank to the back, I'm not sure that would work as the tank would have to be quite big to fill the entire space. I do like the idea though and may build something behind the tank, regardless, to make sure I don't get jumpers I can't access.
IJankrom -- Good points on the picture molding. I think I need the tank to fill much of the space so that the picture molding looks reasonable. I may need to come up with something different so that there is picture molding on all four sides, but the top has an additional flat piece to hide my top access. As for potentially more access to the tank, I had a thought last night about adhering furniture movers (those plastic slippery disks) to the bottom of the tank, which might give me some small maneuverability to get to parts of the tank. I do realize though that in order to do anything major I'm going to have to move the fish and remove the water. On the issue of height, I think it should be decent viewing height. The space was meant for TV viewing and it is a great room/open concept so you get to see the tank from all over.
Cliff -- Yes, I'm very concerned about the weight. I think the area was built to hold a bit of weight because it was meant for a very large CRT television, but you're right about the weight it could get up to. For that reason, I'm thinking of going with around a 66 gallon tank. I would think that would have the weight at around 600 pounds, which I think would be doable. I'm thinking dimensions of around 48 x 12.5 x 25, which would give me almost 6" access above the tank. I'd likely put some sort of background behind the tank so that you didn't see all of the dead space behind the tank.
To be clear, if the tank fails in the niche, I'd just get a stand for it and go the conventional route. I just wanted to give this a try first. At some point I'll just need to take the plunge and try it, but I want to try and plan as best as possible first. The picture framing details can always be altered to be made to work. The tank will be MUCH more difficult once in place.
Any thoughts on whether it is worth it to go with Starfire glass for the front? Or Acrylic? Or should I just go with normal glass?
Last edited by ZMonet; 12-09-2013 at 01:01 PM.
Do you use the fireplace? Does it get hot at all on the wall behind or under where the tank is going when in use?
Looks like routine weekly maintenance will be a huge pain with the height of the opening and the size of the space.
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I highly recommend more than 6" opening... I recommend either a 55 or 75 tank, they are shorter in height. I would want 12" for a larger tank.
If you did that, I think the whole set up is doable... however you should consider wiring a switch to the outlet, so if you are changing the water and want to turn off the heater and filters you don't have to climb behind the tank
Thanks for the additional feedback and good call on the switch to the outlet. If I get too lazy to deal with the switch, I could also use the breaker, which isn't far away. There is a blower on the fireplace so it doesn't get much additional heat the few times we use the fireplace. I put a temp gauge on top and let it run for 3 hours and the temperature rose about 4 degrees, which is probably what the temp in general around that area rose.
OK, now thinking of going with a standard glass 55 gallon tank (48" x 13" x 20"). That would potentially give me 10"+ of clearance. Thinking of going with a look like this, painted white, which gives up some aesthetic but generally looks good. Any thoughts on that?
I think it'd look great. You really need to look into the weight that the shelf can support... I'd say you are probably fine... but you don't want to bust the aquarium all over the fire place if it were to fail
The nice thing about 10-12" clearance is if you need to get behind the tank, you still kinda can, its tight but doable.
I would recommend two aquaclear 70's for filtration, they are relatively easy, and reliable.
Do you know what sort of fish you want to stock?
Oh, another quick tip idea, you might want to consider a thin 3D background on the back and sides, you could make one out of foam (pretty easy) and then seal it and silicone it in place.
Then you wouldn't have to see the inside of the walls. Just a thought
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