Inside Wall Aquarium Blog

Tips for DIY "Built in fish tanks".

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It’s ok, your aquarium can be deeper than your wall

It’s true a 5” or 6” wall aquarium can hold most pet fish species however, a bigger aquarium can hold more.  You can put a deeper aquarium in your wall by having one or both sides overhanging.  This can be done by having a base underneath 1 ½” thick and firmly secured to the wall studs below.  You will not need any additional supports as long as your overhang on one side doesn’t exceed 2”.  If you want one side to hang out more you will need to add some triangular/gusset pieces to support the base.


Who will install my tank?

HandymanMikeCostanzaTruckYou want a wall aquarium but are not handy or just don’t have the time.  In this case you will have to hire a local contractor.  Each product on our website ( has a link to its instructions on the product page.  You can print these off and bring them to contractors for quotes.  Contractors can be found online, in your phone book or on Craigslist (not recommended).

Contractors will charge by the hour ($50 – $100 typically) or job ($800 – $1500 for a wall aquarium).  A red flag might be no website, no good references (family/friends do not count) not answering the phone as a business (thank you for calling…), not insured or bonded.

A typical install can take 1.5 to 3 days.  Some maybe longer with custom trim work etc…  You get what you pay for so maybe the cheapest is not the way to go.  The aquarium must be on a flat surface, can be scratched and any electrical should be GFCI so pay close attention to these details.

Wall aquarium fish.


The general rule for fish in a thinner tank is to make sure the fish will not grow too long.  Your fish should have at least a 1” space between them and the walls however 2 ½”+ is recommended.  That means that if your tank is 6” deep you should have fish 3 ½” or smaller or if your tank is 8” deep your fish should be around 5 ½”.  The good news is that most aquarium fish fall under this category.  You can refer to these charts to help you choose.

6” tank depth

8” tank depth

Basic install.


To put a tank in your wall you are going to need some experience with electrical and knowledge of how a stud wall is built.

Plan out your wall opening.  Is your tank going to sit flush or hang-out on one side?  You are going to need to leave a gap on the left and right side of the tank.  If you have a hanging filter that gap will have to be large enough for it.  You will also need a minimum space of 5” above the tank.    

Next open you wall.  Secure your stud work around the tank to support it and the wall above.  Make a nice flat base with plywood and shims.  If the tank is hanging out of your wall the base will have to hang-out too. 

Now run your electrical wiring.  Place an outlet in one or both top corners of your opening.  Do not place it in the center because it might get in the way of the light.  Use a GFCI outlet, it’s important. 

Next clean up your drywall.  Mud, sand, mud again, sand again and paint.

At this stage you can put the tank into your opening and box it in with some trim.  Make your own from wood boards or use premade baseboard trim.  If needed you can make the top piece of trim removable or hinged so you can get in to feed and clean the tank.  The larger the opening the easier it is to get your hand in.  Keep in mind that you will have to cover the opening with trim so if it’s too large the trim looks odd.  A 6” gap is what we recommend.

That’s it.  A more detailed set of instructions can be found here:

Wall Aquariums are sold here:


Load bearing walls.

openDo you want a wall tank but have concerns or don’t know if your wall is load bearing?  The good news is that you can install an aquarium into a load bearing wall.  The key is to transfer the load around the tank.

First you start by building temporary supports in front or behind the wall.  The can be done with some vertical 2 x 4’s or 2 x 6’s and a header stud firmly against the ceiling.  These supports will take the load above while you cut into the wall.

Next you are going to open your wall up larger than your finished opening and fasten all the studs together with a footer and header stud.  If the wall is under load beef up the header with a couple 2 x 6’s on their sides and if possible put some studs directly under them to transfer the load to the floor.

Once everything is secure remove your temporary wall and you’re done this part of the project.

Alternative pets in a Wall Aquarium.

cat_in_aquariumOf course we know that a wall aquarium makes an awesome fish tank but what else can we put in them?  A few ideas come to mind, let’s explore.

How about a shrimp tank?  Shrimps are cool guys to watch as they interact with each other and roam around.  Red cherry shrimps are very popular and grow to around 1”.  A few in a tank can multiply to a hundred in no time at all.  They make a cool freshwater tank colony and are not very demanding so of course they work well in a wall tank.

How about lizards or amphibians?   It would be cool to have a branch with geckos, frogs or turtles inside your wall.  You can have a little pond area in the bottom and a leafy green area above but will it work?  Of course it will.  Just add critters that don’t grow too big for your tank and rig up a heat source.  Be careful not to put heat directly against an acrylic tank or it might melt.   You also might want tape off any holes where they can escape from.

What about an ant farm?  Although I have no experience with ants and don’t know what I’m blogging about I can’t see why not and say, go for it (if it doesn’t work you didn’t get the idea from here).

Perhaps a wall aquarium makes a great tank for your cat or dog… Umm, no.

How awesome is a tank built into your wall?


This is a silly post however, if you are thinking of adding an in wall tank to your house, it’s because they are really cool.  A normal fish tank can look nice and clean but a tank in your wall, one that you see-through between rooms is georgeous!  Guests first response is one of shock and amazement followed by a guess at the cost.  When you tell them that a tank like this costs one-tenth of what they thought and you did all the handywork yourself, they have a new respect for your abilities and think of where they can add one to their home.

Java moss, an easy aquatic plant.


Java moss has gained popularity with the aquarium hobbyist however it is difficult to find in a pet store.  It’s surprising because Java moss requires no special lighting, looks amazing and grows in a variety of water conditions.  Shrimp (another recent favorite with hobbyist) and fry love to hide and eat algae off the moss.  It can also be used to make a moss wall instead of a backdrop and it improves your overall water quality.

So, I recently purchased some, not from a pet store but from ebay:

Surprisingly it can be shipped without dying but from the ebayer’s feedback it looks good, can’t wait to put some up!

Running electrical for a tank inside your wall

Obviously your in-wall tank needs to plug in somewhere to run the lights, filter and heater.  First, any outlets around the tank should be GFI (ground fault interrupt).  This is the same type that you have in your washroom.  It will prevent any shock hazards from the water in the tank.

This outlet should be inside your wall opening so you do not see it when you are looking at your tank.  Typically it will be hidden under some trim out of view.  If your opening is tight do not place it in the top center.  It might get in the way of the light (the top corner is preferred).

3 – 4 devices will run off of this outlet so either a double outlet or  power-bar will be required in the end.  Any wire slack can be stapled out of the way.  Do not worry about seeing the wires off to the side, when you look into the aquarium the ends inside the wall will reflect the light inside the tank like a mirror.

Tips for plumbing an aquarium.

Plumbing your aquarium can save lots of time in the end.

You do not have to run any plumbing to your tank but if you can it will save you lots of maintenance time in the end.

First, if you have access to your pipes, it is a good idea to run both hot and cold lines above your tank.  You need both so you can regulate temperature as you fill the tank.  Pex is the easiest way to add new lines.  I personally use 1/2″ Pex with the rings and crimper.  Crimpers can be expensive but if you look around you should find one for around $50.  I have taps on my hot and cold and then merge them into 1 line attached to a float.  A float will stop your tank from overflowing.  It has saved my hardwood floors more than once.  Get an industrial metal float (not plastic).  I purchased one from ebay.



Next, if possible run a drain under the tank.  This will let your get rid of your waste water and if you make a pan around it, you can clean your filter media there without going to a sink.  I have my canister filter sitting in the pan.  I never have to move it and if it overflows it goes into the drain.  2″ black ABS pipe is easy to work with.  The pieces slide together and bond with solvent in 30 seconds.  You can purchase them anywhere.


Final note, if you run some Pex into your tank that is hooked up to cold water  and another end runs to a drain.  You can easily start your siphon by

  1. Open the water tap which clears out any air.
  2. Close the water tap and open a tap that goes into a drain.

I have my vacuum tube on a quick connect garden hose end that I click onto that Pex in my tank.  I don’t move any tubes for maintenance.  Everything is already there.


I know this may be confusing.  It took me a long time to work it out before I started however the time savings is huge.  I have this plumbed to a 240 gallon tank in my house that is 8′ long and it takes about 30 minutes for me to vacuum the gravel and do a water change (takes 1 hour to fill – on its own).  Cleaning the canister filter takes 15 minutes and I don’t move it which is great because it’s heavy when full of water.