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Fish room planning- buying new house


Kat_Rigel
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I am lucky enough to be in a position where I am currently shopping around for a new house. Foremost on my mind is keeping an eye out for a place to put my fish room, so I am looking for a few tips.

Ideally I'd love a basement, but unfortunately that just isn't common in my area. Right now we are looking for something that has a first floor bedroom so that I can commandeer it for the fishes. I know there have been a lot of talks on the forum about how much weight a floor can take/how many tanks; my understanding is that once you start going over 60 gallons, you need to be careful and make sure it doesn't fall right through the floor. Right now we haven't been finding a lot of options with first floor beds; I think this is super important. What do you guys think?

Second question is flooring. It will depend on what kind of subfloor the building has, but I think concrete would be ideal. However, I remember Cory saying something about using gym mats. Does anyone know why that might be the case? Because it's easy to dry and is not slippery?

Obviously I'll keep a look out for water and drainage access, I plan on using Gladiator shelving, and I plan to install a linear piston air pump. Still working out whether to install an auto water change system... Initially I want to say "I won't have THAT many tanks!" But we all know how that goes...

Please let me know if you have any tips for things that are often forgotten when scouting out a new fish room. 

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Like you said, obviously proximity to water and drain is something to look for, or if you or someone you know id handy, is it possible to run a couple water lines into new room and install a sink and drain? For flooring, if it's not concrete, I would look for something vinyl or something that won't absorb any water and hold it. There are several options out not in vinyl plank flooring that is supposedly waterproof. I'm going to be looking more into it myself soon as we are doing new flooring in a majority of our house. If you do find a first floor bedroom, if it has a crawlspace, go underneath and look at the floor joists, see which way they run. If you have a larger tank, try to place it in the room going the opposite direction of the joists, that way the weight is spread out over for than one or two. Also, look at electrical outlets, are there plenty, maybe even more than one circuit in the room? 

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If you live in an area where basements are uncommon, your home is likely built on a slab. That solves the weight issue to a large extent. At least on the first floor. If the house has a crawlspace then weight becomes an issue again, but most areas where basements are uncommon (Florida for example) tend to have homes built on a slab. This is especially true of more modern homes. It's just cheaper and easier to build on a slab than to enclose a crawlspace. With the threat of radon gas and other issues (moisture, bugs, etc.) most crawlspaces have to be sealed, typically with concrete, so if you're going to put the concrete down anyway, you might as well just build atop it. Dimensional lumber used for flooring joists has gotten fairly pricey in recent years so if you don't need to use it, most builders won't.

Many fish rooms get built in garages, so that's something you might want to keep in mind. You typically already have a solid concrete floor. (If it holds up a car, it'll hold up fish tanks.) Water and power are often nearby. (Hot water heaters tend to live in garages.) The space is typically pretty easy to insulate, heat, cool, and ventilate. There's typically a window or two for ventilation and portable/window air conditioner to use in the summer. Heat can come from a variety of sources depending on your location and needs. Having something like a kerosene heater as a backup can be easily done in a garage also. And getting tanks and racks in and out is very easy with a full garage door that opens and closes. Noise from the air pump shouldn't bother the rest of the house if it's in the garage. You can typically get to and from the garage pretty easily also. A two-car garage gives you lots of space to play with, but even a one-car garage makes a nice sized fish room. Cars don't melt in the rain, so they can be kept outside if need be. Water spilt in a garage isn't a big issue either. Garage floor typically slope to the outside so wet, snowy cars can drip away and the water just runs outside. Garages tend to be made for higher humidity since wet cars end up in them fairly often.

Simply Betta on YouTube had converted a spare bathroom into her fish room, but now has her home on the market so the fish room had to be converted back to a bathroom. It's much easier to convert a garage back into a garage. Open the garage door, drag out the fish room stuff and the garage is back to being a garage. A garage can go from a fish room back to a garage in a single day with minimal effort. Also should you have a prolonged power outage, it's pretty easy to set up a generator just outside the garage door and run the cord under the door to power the fish room. (Just watch out for neighbors stealing the generator. A common issue during long power outages.)

So, keep in mind garages as much as spare bedrooms when looking at homes in your area. Regardless of the house construction, most garages will hold a fish room quite nicely and have fewer of the problems that you have with a fish room inside a home. Some HOAs get a bit edgy about homeowners leaving a car outside a garage. You'll want to check that out if it's an issue in your area. If no one leaves a car in their driveway, chances are the local HOA prohibits it.

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You could also consider if you end up buying a home with a crawlspace under a bedroom, whether there is easy access underneath for running additional electrical, plumbing, adding joists to strengthen the floor as well as jacks, posts/piers for additional support, etc. I used to live in SoCal, and plenty of the midcentury houses, and even the newer ones, had crawlspaces instead of slab foundations. Here in Vermont, it's mostly basements.

@Kat_Rigel where are you looking to buy, if you don't mind me asking?

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29 minutes ago, Kat_Rigel said:

I am in the Northern California area, think Oakland but quite a bit more inland.


Oh hey! I grew up in Moraga CA. (We moved away when I was 9.) I have great memories of going to the San Francisco Bay aquarium. It’s a beautiful area, but even many years ago the housing market was already getting insane.

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