Building a fish room I: The shelving.

Being new faculty, I am in the process of getting things set up.Shopping for lab equipment, figuring out space, etc. I was fortunate to get shared space to house fish, maybe other organisms depending on where my research goes. I figured I’d post a blog on the progress of the room, since I always find it interesting how others use their space for their animals. Some of the hobbyist pages(here and here) have been helpful and everyone does things slightly differently depending on their needs. So, here is my version.


Getting the room ready, old shelving is still up, all the shelf bases had to come down, but the wall brackets stayed.

The room was already set up for fish, with some shelving and air piped and plumbed in. There are also several drains in the floor and sinks. Perfect for a fish room. There is also a good amount of wall space. The problem I was having was how much weight the existing shelving could support. It seemed like it could support a lot, but I didn’t want to put that one last tank on, or one last fish in, causing the whole thing to come crashing down. Aside from putting weight on and testing it out, I decided to get some new shelving in, that I knew how much weight each shelf could hold.

The back wall, the old shelving is down, new ones going up.


The side wall, about half of this will have continued shelving

I have about 28′ of space, which is great. I had previously put together some fish rooms during my dissertation, but I wanted to make sure I did this one right from the start, although my fish room at UCR was nice, I had a great amount of space for a grad student.


More shelving going up, and tanks to get an idea of how they will fit.

The other problem, well not problem, but thought I had was whether I wanted it to be dedicated for small live-bearers like the Xiphophorus I work with, or have a space that would allow me more flexibility. While I do have plans to continue working on Xiphophorus, I have ideas for other fish, and ectotherms. My current thinking is to allow myself some flexibility, while have some dedicated swordtail racks. After looking at shelving, and checking out some great hobbyist sites, I decided on heavy duty industrial shelving. These shelves can support 1500 lbs, per shelf. I got wire rack shelves, which are studier, and easier to maintain. These shelves are 6′ tall, 18″ deep and 48″ wide.


Last two for the back wall

I have taken down the old shelving on one wall, except for the very top shelf, which still sits nicely above the new shelves and will allow for some extra storage. I’ve put together the shelving for that wall. I had most of the tank sizes I plan to use except for the 2.5 gallons, which are good for housing individual fish. Using what I had I was able to determine spacing.


All 16′ of shelving along the back wall. The top shelf has been left off the last three until I get some 2.5 gallon tanks and see what fits.

My plan is to have a 33 long on the bottom shelf of each rack. The swordtails really seem to like these tanks, as they better represent a stream environment. Second shelf will be a bank of 10 gallons, 4 across; followed by a bank of 5.5. gallons, 5 across; finally a row of 2.5 gallons, about 7 across.

I still have to see how the 2.5 gallons fit on the fourth shelf and whether or not I will put the top shelf on all racks, and if I will put more 2.5 gallons up there. I’m also not sure how I will set the other wall up yet, although I may just keep it the same for now, the spacing allows for lots of tanks of various sizes, providing me with some flexibility. After the shelves are done, then tanks and plumbing the air. As I mentioned, the room is already equipped with air, I just have to get some pvc and tubing to distribute to all the tanks.


The 33 longs fit perfectly along these shelves, and will serve as stock populations of fish.



Close up of the shelves.

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One Response to Building a fish room I: The shelving.

  1. Sarah says:

    They do look sturdy! I hope you keep us updated with your progress.

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