(Need advice) Turning giant unused fire suppression vats into indoor ponds (Part 1: Research)

GeorgeHaddaway15

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Sep 14, 2017
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Crested Butte, Colorado
Hey guys.

I got an idea recently. A good idea. We have 3 unused fire suppression vats in our basement. Each has a gallon capacity of 1,550 gallons. I am planning to have a plumber (or myself) cut the top off of at least 2 of the empty ones, and drain the 3rd as the bleach-water has gotten rancid and smells like something died in there. I am wondering if the plastic vats are safe for my fish, and how many times I should rinse and re-rinse. We also have a huge electronic pump that is clearly meant for draining the tanks and (hopefully) filling them up. I can attach pictures of pump and plumbing, per request. I am super excited about this idea, and my dad is just as excited. I am currently keeping Siberian and diamond sturgeon, golden orfes, and mirror/leather carp. All these were EXTREMELY hard for me to find and cost me a crap ton of savings haha. Especially when you have sturgeon shipped to you in the middle of no where, where the closest major airport is over 6 hours away. So air-frieghting fish is a special occasion. Usually have to pay what FedEx wants. Sorry if those last couple sentences were off topic, I tend to wander off a bit when writing occasionally. Any tips/helpful advice?

Also,
Being into such an expensive and time consuming hobby at 14 (almost 15) is tough. So this may not happen, but my dad and I are hoping it will work out. Once sturgeon get too big for tanks, they will be moved into a 1 acre outdoor pond. We also live in high alpine Colorado, so keeping cold water fish is the only thing possible, unless I want to put a 5,000 (or more!) tank in my basement for warm water fish. I doubt that's gonna happen!

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thebiggerthebetter

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Dec 31, 2009
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Naples, FL, USA
Just a few initial thoughts.

I have seen these at places like Tractor Supply and they are marketed as water storage tanks. I believe they are cast from pure PE or PP and as such they cannot be toxic to fish. If in doubt, rinse a few times and fill, cycle, and add tester fish, e.g., cheap danios or some such, and keep and observe for some time. That is when it comes to unused tanks or those that contained only water.

They may have some commercial lubricants or detergents on the surface from the manufacturing and machining, hence I'd rinse perhaps with soap once, then with clean water a few times.

If you cut off the top, I'd leave at least a ledge of good width because otherwise you might not be able to fill the tank high or it will warp or even fail because the top reinforces the whole thing structurally.
 

thebiggerthebetter

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Dec 31, 2009
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Naples, FL, USA
I've contemplated many times to buy some of these for my purposes. Not new but off Craigslist and such, much cheaper.

My ultimate idea is to experiment with such exact tubs by installing a flat acrylic window into them to create far cheaper fish tanks than full acrylic of even fiberglass or concrete with acrylic. If God is willing, I will try that. I think that would produce the cheapest yet reliable monster fish tanks.

From having experience with Dolphin Fiberglass (Homestead, FL) tanks, I know a curved polycarbonate or acrylic window can be easily installed too and in fact it doesn't distort the view all that objectionably ... but it of course depends on the curvature radius. A 7,000 gal tub with 4 small curved windows that Rodrigo of PredatoryFins has in his shop has shown me that the fish can be still observed fine more or less.

Also fishtankphil fishtankphil has gotten a 1,500 tub from Dolphin Fiberglass with a curved window, so he can chime in with his view.

Another "grand" idea is to see if metal-cage-enclosed IPC totes are made in large enough sizes of thousands of gallons, because these are rectangular and might be retrofitted with a window, even though they have ridges.
 
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