Here's the story...
My oldest, who is 12, asked for a fishtank. We don't currently have any pets, and mostly like it like that for a variety of reasons. But he persisted, and we thought that this could be okay. But we wanted to first be sure that he was committed to the work involved. A solution presented itself when he found a tiny 1 gallon tank - complete with pump, gravel and even fishfood, on the curb one trash day several months ago.
So he set up this tank, filled it, and we got a few tiny fish. Then after a few months of proving himself, we decided that a fishtank would be okay.
But buying new was out of the question. First, it's expensive. Second, there are so many tanks being sold on kijiji.ca, (think: Craigslist) that we didn't see the point of paying new prices.
After a while we came across a moving sale advertised where they had 3-4 tanks. So I took my son off and we had a look and came home with a nice tank. They told us it was a 20 gallon but when we filled it with water it turned out to actually be 15. Nice tank, fully equipped, but SWMBO was disappointed in the size.
But we set it up anyways, and bought some more fish.
We placed the tank along a short wall that is sort of at the crossroads of our house. On one side is the family room (school room for us, homeschoolers) and on the other is the main hallway leading right into the kitchen. Our plan all along has been to build a cabinet to go there. It would contain the fishtank supplies, as well as provide a place to 'hide' the kitchen trashcan, and some other needed storage. Currently, the tank is straddling two cabinets that my dad built for me 18 years ago when I got married, as nightstands.
So I started designing...
Time passed, as it tends to do. I had other projects on the go, and other things going on, and this remained just a design. I poked at it every now and then, and we looked at trash cans in the store -- the "drawer" on the left and the trash can do sort of need to match each other.
But then this past weekend one of our neighbours held a garage sale and I wandered over to look. I was almost out the door when I noticed the small post-it note on their cash box that read "ask about fishtanks"...
Well to make a long story short, we suddenly found ourselves the happy new owners of a Thirty gallon tank for a song.
We don't really want two tanks. So the new plan is that I need to build a cabinet to suit the new tank, get it set up and running, and then we'll get rid of the old tank.
Back to sketchup.
My original design was 36" tall, just like the kitchen counters. And I really liked that drawer that went across the top. But the new tank is much taller, not to mention wider. (no bigger from front-to-back, though)
So here is design #1
The thermostat on the wall is a problem. This forced me to shorten the cabinet by at least three inches.
We didn't really like it. I miss the drawer at the top. It feels cramped, and seems to have much less storage than the first design. If you go back to the first photo you see that "mail organizer" on the wall. That has to go when we build this cabinet, so I was planning on the top drawer for the mail storage (and some related stuff). Keeps it central, but now gets it out of sight. And we did want to have room for other stuff.
So after some thought we decided that we should just bite the bullet and move the thermostat. If I do that, then we can go back to the full 36" height that I had originally planned.
Also, I was concerned about the weight of the 30 gallon unit (I googled and came up with a figure of about 250lbs for 30 gallons of water!?) So I had designed in a 2" thick torsion box for the top. But again, that took space away that I could have used in drawers. After looking back at the original stand that came with the tank I realized that they just had some 5/8" particle board for the top, and a simple box for the base. So what was I worried about? Furthermore, when looking at this design, I realized that without the drawer across the top, there was no reason I couldn't have a middle "wall" in the cabinet that would give me lots of support.
So on to the latest design:
I do miss the full-width drawer, but I like the security that the middle divider gives. This proposed cabinet is 36" tall, and the top is 37-1/2" long (the tank is 36") and the cabinet is 17-1/4" deep (18" for the top). The four top drawers are identical (6" vertical opening), with one extra tall drawer on the bottom-right for fish supplies, and the large cabinet on the bottom-left will hold a trash can, and also a small recycling bin. The trash section is not a door, but rather a very large drawer platform, much like I built under the kitchen sink five years back.
And that is where we stand so far. I like to think about designs for a while, so we'll probably sit on this for a few weeks, and hopefully get going on it in the second half of august.