How Should I Measure for a New Aquarium?

People often ask the question: How should I measure for a new aquarium? Once you’ve determined where you wish to place your aquarium inside your home, the next step is to determine how the layout and space will accommodate its needs. Below are the most important factors to consider when planning space for your new aquarium.

1. The Room Itself

Your tank will likely be the focal point of the room. However, you don’t want it to be so large that it completely dominates the room. You will also need adequate space around your tank to be able to work on it. Therefore, the equipment located both above and below the tank should be easily accessible for you to manage.

It’s important to plan well and have enough space for not only the equipment, plumbing and wiring you need today, but also for additional equipment and expansion down the road. The last thing you’ll want is to be stuck in a situation where you’re unable to access certain equipment, whether it be for regular maintenance or for potential upgrades and replacements should the need arise.

2. Electrical Power

How Should I Measure for a New Aquarium?

Electrical power is another important factor that needs to be taken into account. While equipment is becoming increasingly more energy efficient, it is still highly unlikely you will be able to run your whole system on a single outlet, or even a single circuit for that matter.

If possible, we recommend having a qualified electrician bring in one or two dedicated circuits, specifically for your aquarium’s needs. This will ensure you have the necessary power to maintain a smooth operation. Additionally, it will also prevent your aquarium equipment from impacting the electrical needs of other items in your home.

3. Plumbing

How Should I Measure for a New Aquarium?

Many things need to be carefully considered when plumbing for an aquarium. So it is essential that you are fully prepared for this particular aspect.

Here are some of the most common and important questions to consider when determining the plumbing for your aquarium:

  1. Are you planning to return water from the sump through the bottom of the aquarium or behind it?
  2. If you are planning to set up plumbing behind the new aquarium, will there be enough room between the tank and the wall to fit the necessary plumbing?
  3. How big of a drain line and return line will you need to run in order to gain the proper flow?
  4. If you’re routing the water through a bulkhead into the aquarium, is the hole in the tank big enough to support the necessary flow?
  5. If pipes cross, will you run into any potential issues as a result?
  6. For overflow drains, will there be enough space to route the drain to the sump?

When planning your aquarium’s plumbing setup, it’s important to consider both the pipe size as well as the number of elbows and bands in the pipe. The larger the pipe, the more flow you will have. The more elbows and other bends you put into the plumbing, the more it will restrict and reduce water flow. You’ll also want to consider the routes your plumbing will make to ensure adequate space for larger or taller equipment.

4. Lighting

Pictured above: ATI SunPower T5 Fixture

Which type of lighting are you planning to use for your tank? LED, T5 or something else? Generally, LED lighting takes up less space than T5 lighting, but all types of lighting still require a sufficient amount of space both above and below the lights for proper cooling and light distribution.

Another important thing to consider is how you are planning to mount or install the lights. If you wish to have lights hanging from your ceiling, you’ll want to first see if you can easily attach hanging wires. This can prove to be much more difficult with vaulted ceilings, for instance.

5. The Aquarium Stand

How Should I Measure for a New Aquarium?

Another major factor for planning is the stand’s height. As a general rule, it is always best to have plenty of excess space whenever possible. Taller items, such as protein skimmers and reactors, will need sufficient room to stand upright. Additionally, you will need extra space for removal, service or maintenance of these items. Therefore, you should choose a stand that not only has a sufficient height to accommodate the size of your desired equipment, but one that has additional room for both maintenance and potential expansion.

We advise weighing the potential tradeoffs between aesthetics and practicalities before set up. Stand height not only affects the appearance, but it also plays a major role in how much space you have for equipment, as well as how difficult it will be to conduct maintenance.

For example, let’s say you wish to have a tall stand with the aquarium at eye level and plenty of space underneath. Is this still worth it to you if it requires a step ladder to do just about anything inside the tank? Ultimately, this decision comes down to personal preference. But if you’re new to this hobby or aren’t certain of these answers just yet, we recommend getting a feel for everything first before making any significant or permanent arrangements.

6. Safe Zone

How Should I Measure for a New Aquarium?

Last, but certainly not least, is safety! It’s always important to plan for the worst possible outcome(s). You never know when a potential disaster may arise. Therefore, you should carefully examine the surroundings to ensure the safety and security of both your aquarium and other household items.

For instance, how far will the aquarium be from other electrical equipment or hazardous objects? Are there any objects around the space that can potentially become damaged, such as a family heirloom? Also, are there any objects around the space that could potentially damage the aquarium?

We cannot emphasize enough that it is extremely important to ensure you have an adequate distance between your aquarium and any other important fixtures or objects. Otherwise, in the event of a possible overflow or spillage of water from the tank, the consequences can be disastrous! Take your time and carefully examine the entire area to ensure you’ve taken all the precautionary measures necessary to prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

Planning Matters!

As with most things in life, proper planning will save you from a lot of heartache and frustration down the road.  While you’re probably excited and eager to get started on your new aquarium setup, we strongly encourage you to take your time with the setup, to ensure you’ve covered all the bases. By using proper planning and due diligence in advance, you will have a more fun and rewarding experience. Not to mention, the animals you wish to keep will ultimately benefit too.

Do you have any further recommendations or tips to share with us? We’d love to hear about it! Please feel free to drop us a line here. If you have any questions about planning for ATI products, we’re also happy to help!

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