A big decision on major project

Tom Michael

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16 Nov 2014
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Hi all


I’m considering converting and knackered old concrete garage (approximately 5.8 x 2.8 m) into a fish room. I have already done some research so understand the importance of insulation, heating the air and minimising maintenance.

My aim is to have 15 - 30 aquariums to be stocked with a variety of small interesting/rare fish for aquascaping. I’m happy to source these far and wide and I might look to sell some to cover the running costs.

I don’t mind investing more up front, if this will pay-off long term. I will probably plumb water into the room and wire electrics. I think I will heat the room via electric heaters, although I know this isn’t cheap.

Filtration - the cheapest option seems to be a large air pump with sponge / matten filters cons being noisy and perhaps not the best looking. I will of course have live plants including floating.

Water changes- the big negative is that due to my location I have a water meter. No way around that, I am considering whether I can somehow recycle the old water in some way, such as in a greenhouse (would this be edible?). I might also collect some rainwater, however this would only be for a couple of soft water aquariums as we don’t get that much rainfall on the south coast.

Automatic water changes- this is probably the way forward, although the thought of drilling tanks isn’t the most appealing!

Lights- probably some cheap led strips- will be mostly low tech.

Thoughts /ideas most welcome?!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I might also collect some rainwater, however this would only be for a couple of soft water aquariums as we don’t get that much rainfall on the south coast.
Yes, to collect enough water you would need a really <"big storage tank">. So that you could store water during the winter (to tide you through the summer) and for if you have a big thunderstorm in the summer.
the cheapest option seems to be a large air pump with sponge / matten filters
I would <"definitely go that way">.

Have a look at:


cheers Darrel
 

castle

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norfolk
You're right insulation is key - this will save you a fortune, but not all fish will breed at 23°C - some will need a warmer temperature. A good radiator will do the job, but don't place it behind any tanks.

Filtration, while matten filters are excellent and have some very good positives I think a sponge filter is the cheapest and most perfect filter for a fish room.

I helped maintain something like this, a long time ago but it wasn't automated you turned a valve and water left, you cleaned, then turned another valve and the tank filled up.

Going cheaper...
I would have a staging tank (1000L - half your total tank volumes) which you can treat for chlorine or run an airstone in over days, and simply auto top off from this. Water changes in these kind of systems, especially on a water meter can super costly. Bury it, and run your guttering into it if you're not doing lots of water changes.

I watched this some time ago, and thought it was a nice system:
 

rubadudbdub

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TA aquaculture in Birmingham have a few pictures and descriptions of the construction of their fish house.

Includes a description of their rain water collection, but picture doesn't seem to be working. Also their first fish room video on YouTube gives a brief look at their shop rain water collection.

There's stuff about polycarbonate sheeting for roofing to optimise natural light that may be useful for you.
http://taaquaculture.uk/Fish_House.htm

http://taaquaculture.uk/index.htm
 

dean

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Warrington, Cheshire
Insulation insulation insulation
I would recommend 150mm thick dense polystyrene or even better kingspan if the budget will allow

How tall is the building ?
Can you insulate the floor ?

Clear roofs are not good as they will not be as good as an insulated one plus you have no control of how much light enters the tanks which can cause you lots of problems

Drilling tanks is very easy get some scrap glass even pint glass to practise on

Have you thought about a central system ?
Pros - very stable water conditions- easy water changes via one pipe
I ran one for years with a constant water flow in via a Hma - all I did was glass clean

What size tanks will you use ?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Tom Michael

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16 Nov 2014
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Insulation insulation insulation
I would recommend 150mm thick dense polystyrene or even better kingspan if the budget will allow

How tall is the building ?
Can you insulate the floor ?

Clear roofs are not good as they will not be as good as an insulated one plus you have no control of how much light enters the tanks which can cause you lots of problems

Drilling tanks is very easy get some scrap glass even pint glass to practise on

Have you thought about a central system ?
Pros - very stable water conditions- easy water changes via one pipe
I ran one for years with a constant water flow in via a Hma - all I did was glass clean

What size tanks will you use ?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks Dean. I was thinking Kingspan as I also don’t want to loose to much internal space. It’s a concrete construction so v cold. The building is just taller than me (6ftt) so I was thinking about adding more height to make it a bit more pleasant- thinking about it I could insulate the floor better this was, although I don’t want too much of a strep in.

The garage also has a void area where a mechanic would fix the underside of a vehicle. Would be great if I could use this for something like water storage but imagine how cold it would be in winter!

The current roof is asbestos so needs to go. Not sure if flat on a angle or pitched would be best? Probably don’t want to use natural light as I would like to control and leds are pretty cheap to buy and run.

I need to do a bit more research re a central system, ease of maintenance is going to be the priority, although not sure my diy skills are sufficient!

Tank wise probably a combination of small and medium. I am tempted with opiwhite, but I guess the costs could massively spiral!

I need to find the balance between function and asthetics....
 

Tom Michael

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ABAD7638-1F0D-4EF4-BDE9-430A1B5CCA4D.jpeg
DCB578C8-9EF0-4038-8DD1-B3DBE9480625.jpeg
 

Tom Michael

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As you can see...it’s a concrete garage!

In addition to insulating the hell out of it, it needs a new roof (not decided whether pitched) new window that can open, a larger door as I keep banging my head and removing the existing garage door and filling in with bricks/breeze blocks.

The conversation cost alone I’m guessing will cost from 7-10 k.

Perhaps tanks and equipment another 3-6 k
 

Tom Michael

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Hi all, Yes, to collect enough water you would need a really <"big storage tank">. So that you could store water during the winter (to tide you through the summer) and for if you have a big thunderstorm in the summer.I would <"definitely go that way">.

Have a look at:


cheers Darrel
Hi all, Yes, to collect enough water you would need a really <"big storage tank">. So that you could store water during the winter (to tide you through the summer) and for if you have a big thunderstorm in the summer.I would <"definitely go that way">.

Have a look at:


cheers Darrel
Thanks for this Darrel - having never used rainwater I’m interested in a large container as the link you provided. Do you use this type of a solution? How do you pump the water out from the container, and realistically how many tanks, say 100 l each could rainwater support?

Cheers
 

lazybones51

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As you can see...it’s a concrete garage!

In addition to insulating the hell out of it, it needs a new roof (not decided whether pitched) new window that can open, a larger door as I keep banging my head and removing the existing garage door and filling in with bricks/breeze blocks.

The conversation cost alone I’m guessing will cost from 7-10 k.

Perhaps tanks and equipment another 3-6 k
I have a very similar concrete garage and if I was thinking of doing as you are... I would knock it down and start again :nailbiting:. Mine occasionally leaks at seams between some of the sections and also where the panels meet the floor. The roof designs isn't great and lets in driving rain whenever there's a storm. Have you just moved in to the property or have you lived there for a while? If the later I guess you know if yours is water tight or not.

For the cost of converting, lining and insulating the garage, you could build a new timber framed building in its place, utilising the existing concrete base. A little bit more money would get you a new block built garage. Just a thought.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Do you use this type of a solution?
No, I've just got five water butts connected to the <"house guttering down-pipes">. I still have the same five butts that I bought over 20 years ago, although some of them have had new taps (the photo was 2010).

back_wall-jpg.jpg
How do you pump the water out from the container
You <"can get pumps">, because people have been very worried about Legionnaires disease a lot of these systems use <"underground storage">.

If I was setting a system up I would the water to feed out of the storage tank under gravity, and I would also want the water tank to act as a "thermal mass" in the fish house.
realistically how many tanks, say 100 l each could rainwater support?
If you said 50% water change a week, ten tanks would get through 500 litres, and you would need at least five weeks storage so that would be 2,500 litres.

cheers Darrel
.
 

Tom Michael

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I have a very similar concrete garage and if I was thinking of doing as you are... I would knock it down and start again :nailbiting:. Mine occasionally leaks at seams between some of the sections and also where the panels meet the floor. The roof designs isn't great and lets in driving rain whenever there's a storm. Have you just moved in to the property or have you lived there for a while? If the later I guess you know if yours is water tight or not.

For the cost of converting, lining and insulating the garage, you could build a new timber framed building in its place, utilising the existing concrete base. A little bit more money would get you a new block built garage. Just a thought.
That’s a thought. I presumed that using the existing walls would be cheap, however including my labour costs a wooden, modern and insulated off the shelf design may be best.

We have been here for a year and a half and it is leaky.

Just to find a competitive quote to dissemble and dispose off (asbestos roof)
 

Tom Michael

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Very helpful- many thanks.

When you say gravity do you mean that the water would be stored above the height of the aquariums?
 

lazybones51

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That’s a thought. I presumed that using the existing walls would be cheap, however including my labour costs a wooden, modern and insulated off the shelf design may be best.

We have been here for a year and a half and it is leaky.

Just to find a competitive quote to dissemble and dispose off (asbestos roof)
The fibre cement sheets only contain a small amount of asbestos. Providing you dampen them and don't break then up, they're easy & safe enough to remove with basic PPE. Our local recycling center take them, you just have to call them in advance. The only requirement is that they're securely wrapped up in plastic.
 

rubadudbdub

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Just to find a competitive quote to dissemble and dispose off (asbestos roof)

FYI you can get the roof material tested to confirm if it has asbestos in it. We had an insurance claim as someone running from the police fell through our garage roof like yours. The insurance company tested the material, presumably because forking out for professional asbestos removal is expensive. In our case it was just pressed concrete.

This may turn roof removal from an expensive job to a cheaper job or even something you may be prepared to do yourself.

If you do remove it yourself and its concrete you will still need to contact the local disposal and get the proper asbestos bags as the dump won't accept anything that looks remotely like it might be asbestos sheet. I found this out the hard way.
 

Tom Michael

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Hi all, No, I've just got five water butts connected to the <"house guttering down-pipes">. I still have the same five butts that I bought over 20 years ago, although some of them have had new taps (the photo was 2010).

back_wall-jpg.jpg
You <"can get pumps">, because people have been very worried about Legionnaires disease a lot of these systems use <"underground storage">.

If I was setting a system up I would the water to feed out of the storage tank under gravity, and I would also want the water tank to act as a "thermal mass" in the fish house.If you said 50% water change a week, ten tanks would get through 500 litres, and you would need at least five weeks storage so that would be 2,500 litres.

cheers Darrel
.
Very helpful- many thanks.

When you say gravity do you mean that the water would be stored above the height of the aquariums?

Sorry you lost me a bit with thermal mass! Is this related to retaining the heat from the building?
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
When you say gravity do you mean that the water would be stored above the height of the aquariums?
Ideally I do, the water enters the container under gravity from the guttering, and then is distributed to the tanks. It just does away with the need for a pump.
Sorry you lost me a bit with thermal mass! Is this related to retaining the heat from the building?
<"It is">.

cheers Darrel
 

Tom Michael

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16 Nov 2014
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I have been researching pre fab garden rooms and there are a few wood structures- some which state they are fully insulted such as :


My guess is that the insulation is pretty poor and given I will need a constant temp of say 23 they are not the best option? Perhaps I could add an additional layer of insulation attached to the inside wooden panels?

Thanks
 
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