5.5g “Office” Reef



  1. 5.5g All Glass Aquarium Tank ($12)

  2. Mini-Jet 404 Return Pump ($15)

  3. 25W Top Fin Heater ($10)

  4. 3/8” Lexan (2 Sheets) ($6)

  5. Aquarium Safe Silicone ($5)

  6. Rio Duckbill Return ($4)

  7. 5lbs White Aquarium Sand ($4)

Total Project Cost: $56

Project Details:

This tank is based on a basic AGA 5.5g glass aquarium.  I built two overflow chambers with a return in the center.  I got the idea when I saw an AIO someone had built with a 5.5g.  They built the extra chambers on the side of the tank and looked in on it the long way.  It was a neat idea, but really limited how much of the tank you could see head on.

That’s when I had this idea.  Create a trapezoidal shape in the back and I can keep the widest viewing angle.

I was able to create all of the pieces I needed out of two small sheets of Lexan that I got from the local home supply store.  Lexan is easy enough to cut with a glass knife so I just scored it a few times and then cracked it across a straight edge.  I used a router bit on my Dremel to cut the slots and just drilled out the return opening. (Dimensioned Design Drawing)

I attached all of the pieces using regular ole aquarium safe silicone.  This was my first experience having to silicone in an area this tight and it was NOT pleasant.  After a few days of reapplying silicone in areas that were leaking I was good to go.

I’m a fan of deep sand beds so I went with a nice 3” deep one for this tank.  I took about 2 cups worth from my established tank to seed the new sand.  I used two nice pieces of live rock from that tank too.  I filled the tank with water change water from my established tank also.

I put chaeto in one of the return chambers and filter floss in the other.  The center chamber houses the return pump and the heater.  It’s an extremely simple design and it gets surprisingly efficient flow through it.

This tank is currently taken down since it got overrun with caulerpa algae.  That stuff is EVIL!