A Unique Living Room Centerpiece: Building a Coffee Table with a 65-Gallon Fish Tank

If you’re looking to make a bold statement in your living room, a coffee table that doubles as a 65-gallon fish tank is certainly a conversation starter. Combining the elegance of a coffee table with the mesmerizing beauty of an aquatic ecosystem, this unique DIY project is a testament to creativity and ingenuity.

The Vision: Uniting Coffee Table and Aquarium

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When embarking on this ambitious project, the goal was to create a coffee table that stood apart from the ordinary. The idea of incorporating a functioning fish tank into the table seemed not only fascinating but also a strikingly different approach to home decor.

A Lesson in Trial and Error

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Without extensive research, the journey began. The process involved setting up a saltwater tank, and as the creator himself admits, this was a rather daring plunge into the world of aquaristics. The initial year of tanking was fraught with adjustments, plumbing changes, and numerous ideas tested and discarded. However, the journey was also a source of invaluable lessons.

Balancing Act: Tank Size and Filtration

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Given the unique nature of a tank-in-a-table concept, the inclusion of a sump, while doable, was initially considered too arduous. In hindsight, the decision might have been different. The tank holds 65 gallons of saltwater, and the filtration system plays a pivotal role in maintaining water quality. The choice for filtration led to the installation of an API xl canister filter, a component that evolved over time to its current configuration.

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The filter now incorporates a combination of course pads for mechanical filtration, bio pellets for biological filtration, purigen for chemical filtration, and a medium floss pad. Occasionally, activated carbon is introduced to manage any odors, typically about once a month. Maintenance includes cleaning the filter weekly and conducting a five-gallon water change every two weeks.

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In addition to the canister filter, a Tunze 9004 comline skimmer resides in the display tank, discreetly positioned on the back wall. While some might find this placement unattractive, it surprisingly remains unnoticed by visitors. The focus invariably shifts to the captivating array of corals and fish.

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To maintain water levels and to supplement the filtration system, an auto top-off system with a 4-gallon glass cube and an Aqua Maxx xs media reactor running GFO (Granular Ferric Oxide) were added. The pump circulates water from the display back into the tank, effectively combating a previous issue with brown wafer algae.

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The display tank also accommodates a Jebao dosing pump, managing Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Alkalinity (Alk) from a small storage tank holding the three solutions. A Jebao cp 40 power head in the display tank enhances water movement.

The Residents of the Tank

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The fish and invertebrate residents of this unique coffee table aquarium include a Purple Tang, two Clownfish, a Lawnmower Blenny, a Mandarin Goby, assorted cleanup crew members, and a Fire Shrimp. Their presence adds dynamism and color to the underwater world enclosed within the coffee table.

The proximity to the floor posed challenges when it came to maintenance, particularly cleaning the substrate. Traditional siphoning was impractical, but the adoption of a Fluval Aqua Pro Vac revolutionized the cleaning process. This device allows for efficient removal of detritus and maintenance of the sand bed.

Aquatic Life Flourishes

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As a testament to the success of this DIY coffee table aquarium, nitrate levels are maintained at approximately 10 ppm, and the growing coral community exhibits vibrant health. Lighting the tank is achieved with Orphek 48-inch bar lights, although the close proximity of the lights to the water may limit the types of corals that can be grown due to potentially high PAR levels.

Despite not having a PAR meter, the coral inhabitants, especially the Hammer and Leather corals, appear to thrive. Even the delicate Zoanthids demonstrate their resilience to the lighting conditions.

In Conclusion: A Unique Masterpiece

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This coffee table fish tank stands as a testament to the creator’s vision and the journey of exploration. While the process included its share of trial and error, the end result is a living room centerpiece that combines the elegance of a coffee table with the captivating allure of a vibrant marine world. It’s not just furniture; it’s a unique masterpiece that sparks conversations and brings the wonders of the ocean right into your home.


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Design, Art & Architecture

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