Free Standing Installations

If you cannot afford a built-in aquarium, you can have plenty of fun—not to mention impress your guests— with a skillfully done free-standing system. When making the recommendations that follow, I am assuming that one of the aquarium's main purposes is to be an artistic focal point for your living space. Some of my suggestions, therefore, merely enhance the look of the finished tank without affecting its functionality. You can cut corners on these purely decorative options to save money. Do not scrimp, however, on the recommended filtration or lighting, as doing so will make a big difference in the health and longevity of your fish. Building a successful aquarium with off-the-shelf equipment poses few problems if you know what to look for.

A free-standing tank costs a lot less than a custom built-in one, of course, but be prepared to spend around $500 and up for a complete system with a nice cabinet, proper lighting, live plants, and the fish.

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