Unless you plan on ordering a custom-built tank, you will have to make do with one of the stock sizes. In my experience, people usually purchase a tank based on their budget. I would suggest you consider both the size and proportions of any tank in terms of how your intended habitat will fit.
Appendix C lists typical aquarium sizes from 20 to 300 gallons. A quick inspection of this table reveals that manufacturers maintain certain proportions from one tank to the next. In aquarium lingo, depth is the distance front to back, while the dimension corresponding to water depth is referred to as height. Thus, a 20-gal-lon tank is two feet in length, a 30-gallon is three feet, a 40-gallon is four feet, and all three are the same height and depth. It is worth mentioning that tank capacities are nominal. The actual volume of water in the completed tank will be somewhat less.
Manufacturers produce tanks in different proportions with the same nominal capacity. Thus, you will see a 20-gallon long-style (base dimension 30 x 12 inches) only twelve inches in height, and a 29-gallon high-style
54 Saltwater Aquarium Models with similar base dimensions but a depth of twenty inches. As a rule, long-style tanks are long and narrow and high-style tanks are exaggerated in height. The long-style lends itself to shallow water minireef designs, while high tanks work well for deep water or open-ocean designs. Some tank sizes shown are impractical for a minireef, usually because they are difficult to illuminate adequately.
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