Looks good at every angle.

I am a huge fan of Mr. Aqua and AquaMaxx 12-Gallon Long aquariums.

There are tons of amazing aquascapes, both freshwater and reef, that can be found online of what hobbyists are able to create with the uniquely long and narrow dimensions of the 12-Gallon Long. More than just a fish tank, these aquariums become pieces of living art.


Being a seasoned hobbyist, I also know the challenges of trying to maintain stability in such a small body of water. Temperature, pH, salinity and organics' levels can all change very quickly and drastically when there is so little volume of water to act as a buffer. Frequent monitoring, testing, supplementing and water changes are crucial for success.

Unfortunately, I knew my less-than-optimal reef keeping habits were not going to allow me to have a successful aquarium this small.

Bombay Chest Overhaul - Voila - Vintage! Bombay Chest Overhaul - Voila - Vintage!

When I found out that there is a larger 22-Gallon version of the long bookshelf tank available from AquaMaxx, I was extremely excited and ready to jump in! Doubling the water volume not only gives the tank much more stability, it also has enough capacity to house a decent amount of fish alongside corals without running into too much of a waste problem.

Sittin' pretty

After making up my mind about this new project and placing my order for the 22-Gallon Long with Marine Depot, I found a used Bombay Chest with perfect dimensions for the tank. A little patching, sanding, and painting brought new life to the chest and made it "wife-approved." I really wanted to create something unique with this tank and the funky, old chest of drawers ended up looking awesome inside my home and is definitely not something you see everyday under a reef tank.


A little aging technique I decided to try actually turned out better than expected and made the decorative trim on the chest match perfectly with the vintage drawer pulls.

The end result was reminiscent of those ornately framed, vintage tanks created by the pioneers of home aquariums.

A few days after receiving my order from Marine Depot, I had a chance to thoroughly inspect my new tank. The craftsmanship of the AquaMaxx aquarium is impressive. The low-iron glass is ultra clear, all the edges are polished to a smooth finish and the silicone seams are just about flawless.

Compared to all the fish tanks I have owned and have seen, this AquaMaxx aquarium is a step above the quality of Mr. Aqua aquariums and on-par, if not better, than even ADA. I also found the AquaMaxx logo laser etched inside the glass to be a nice touch; both sides of the glass are perfectly smooth making for easy algae removal.

With this gorgeous aquarium in hand, I am now ready to dive into the world of long bookshelf aquariums! I decided to use AquaMaxx's new Prism LED light for this tank, which is the successor to the wildly-popular NemoLight.

I love the look of the Prism lights. The specs show it has more than enough power, spectrum, and control features to keep me happy for years to come.

The filtration, aquascaping, and livestock are still undecided... but these are the funnest parts of building a new tank! Researching new and exciting livestock and deciding on the equipment to maintain the right environment for these animals to thrive is exhilarating. I suspect a myriad of hang-on equipment will be employed. Be sure to check back soon for more posts as this build begins to take shape.

Let there be light...

I am definitely looking forward to the next few months of working on this aquarium and watching it come alive.

Feel free to leave questions or feedback in the comments below. We'd love to know what you think of these long bookshelf style tanks!

This post is the first post in a multi-part series by Joseph Chang. Read the second entry in this series, The AquaMaxx Prism Proves You Don’t Have To Spend A Fortune To Get A Powerful Controllable Reef Light.