1400 Gallon Timber Frame Tank Aquatic System Build

This project was a long time coming, I transformed a platform we had built for a water catchment tank into a 1400ish gallon fish tank using a EDPM liner.

The system currently has 4 ebb and flow beds but this is not true aquaponics but rather an aquatic system using a aquaponics component as a bio filtration system.

The body of this is built with 4×4 pressure treated lumber designed for ground contact.  The first layer is 4 inches below grade and held into the limestone with 12 inch hot dipped galvanized spikes, which were aided in penetration by hammer drilling into the limestone layer.  The other layers are each attached with 20, 6-inch galvanized spikes per course (5 per piece of lumber).  Translation it isn’t going anyway.

Plans now include creating a floating plant island to prevent floating plants from being pummeled by the overflows and aeration wand.    Adding cinder block towers and benches for emergent vegetation and of course adding a lot more fish.  We also need to do some plain old landscaping around the area to make things look better now that the heavy part of the project is done.

17 Responses to 1400 Gallon Timber Frame Tank Aquatic System Build

  1. Adam Bremner

    Would a system like this work in a climate like Ontario? Assuming that I use local fish, would the fish be able to survive the winter?

  2. Andy Russell

    Along the same lines as the above question Jack how will you keep everything from freezing? There in Texas will the moving water prevent the lines from freezing? I guess you don’t need to worry about ice forming on the surface of the water? I would love to try a project like this where I live in PA but can’t imagine it not needing to be deeper in the ground or having it in a heated building? Thanks for the awesome idea and thanks in advance for any responses/answers to questions! ~Andy

    • Modern Survival

      We will shut off and drain the ebb and flow during freezes the continuous pump won’t freeze up in our winters. It will keep at least part of the surface open on the main tank. Fish are fine in water under ice unless your freeze solid you are good.

    • I’m a bit north of you in zone 6b/7a depending on what map you look at. Our winters can be mild, but do expect several freezes throughout the winter with thaws in the morning. For someone that was out of town, would a stock tank heater be some extra insurance against freezing?

      I’m interested in how well your flood/drain beds do with filtration over time. I looked at Rob Bob’s RAS system but he had several different filters in there. The flood/drain is a much simpler solution IMHO.

  3. Where did you buy your liner? This is a super cool project and has me rethinking my plans to set up IBC’s this fall for fish production.

  4. Modern Survival


    Shipped really fast and I didn’t pay for fast shipping so don’t. It shipped like the day after I ordered it.

    Keep in mind with shipping these are HEAVY, mine was a 20×20 and it weighed 120 pounds.

  5. Dang Jack, killing me using those spikes!!! We use these Timberlok and similar Tork drive fasteners in the log home and timber frame business. Works great with impact drivers, and saves time and elbows… Pro tip-
    dip the ends in light oil or spray with oil right before use, goes in even better. https://www.amazon.com/Simpson-Structural-Screws-SDWS22500DB-R50-22-Inch/dp/B0084KQUAC/ref=sr_1_sc_3?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1498918596&sr=1-3-spell&keywords=Simson+tructural+screw

    Another item of the day….

    • Modern Survival

      I’ll take a look at them but the shearing force on the lower levels is pretty extreme with water, as you go up of course it goes down though. There is over 11,000 pounds of water exerting outward not downward pressure on the walls, but a lot of it is mostly downward so perhaps the spikes are overkill.

      Driving them wasn’t bad, I used a long wood augur bit about 1/3rd the diameter of the spikes to pre drill, and a lot of the 4x4s had some warping, but with a 12 lb hammer and those spikes, well, they ended up nice and flat and tight.

      If I do this again I will try your screws, they would sure cost less!

  6. Tyrone Thompson

    Nice build Jack. Been thinking about something like this for some time now, though about half the size of your system (to go inside a greenhouse). I’m happy to see that someone has finally done a tank in the manner that I was planning to see how it goes together. I have a smaller tank made out of an old hot tub that I was going to stock with locally caught bluegills, but I just found out yesterday that doing so here in Oregon is illegal. I do have some locally purchased channel catfish in my small aquatic system though. Really looking forward to see how this new system of yours pans out!

    • Modern Survival

      On the bluegills, let me ask, do you ever speed?

      I am sure the answer is yes and the reason is you most of the time can get away with it, unless you are driving like and idiot cops often look the other way and if you do get caught all you get is a fine.

      So what are the odds a fish warden is going to bust you for keeping some live gils? Once you have them home who is to say you didn’t buy them from a hatchery. I mean don’t go posting it to youtube like I do or anything but………

  7. Jack, this is badass! I like it. just wondering tho you said you might be using led lights along the edge. will you be putting something up to prevent the fish from jumping out from going after the bugs?

    • Modern Survival

      Any that bail die! That said I don’t think the lights will increase bailing out.

  8. I just realized another benefit of the fish from systems like this. Fertilizer. I have seen people put a fish head or two in a hole with a plant. In what other ways can you use fish for fertilizer? Ex. adding fish to compose pile?

  9. I’ve wondered the same thing about using the carcass for fertilizer. I figure if you’re pulling out a couple fish at a time you can go with the throw them in a different hole each time in the garden method. I have considered stocking fish in IBC tanks, growing them out and harvesting them, in which case I’d have way more fish carcasses than I could bury at one time. I considered looking into how to make a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer that would store longer, but figure I might have to have a dedicated blender.

    Although, after seeing this project I’m leaning more toward keeping fish year round instead of stocking/harvesting, and storing my fish “on the hoof” so to speak. Then burying or grinding a couple carcasses at a time wouldn’t be as big of an issue.

    I don’t think a compost pile would take more than a couple before you wind up with a smell, definitely open to further fish fertilizer suggestions and methods.

  10. To increase size & health of fish & plants look up o2grow.com or make your own…