The lighter side of real estate

Fish Are Better Than Dogs: Turn Your House into an Aquarium

Turns out, your friend Nemo offers many health benefits. So what would it be like to turn your house walls into one massive aquarium? Movoto found out.

Kristin Crosier


44 articles, 3 comments


Got fish?

As it turns out, your dear friend Nemo is good for more than company when you’re feeling lonely. Recent studies have found that your resident fish bowl can help with everything from reducing stress to Alzheimer’s. Dread those long nights in front of the television (and next to your aquarium) no more!

Being the eccentric real estate bloggers that we are, the Movoto Real Estate team had to ask, if you’re going to build yourself an aquarium, why not go all out?

And by “all out,” we mean turning your entire house into an aquarium. As exciting (and apparently beneficial) as it is to replace one wall with a large aquarium, we figured the health advantages would only increase if you were to turn every wall and floor in your home into a massive fish tank.

The best part about making your home extremely fish friendly? You’ll have one of the sweetest pads in town–that is, if you can figure out how to make your electricity function. Oh, and did we mention that this fish-tastic habitat would require 60,556 gallons of water?

If you’re as intrigued and perplexed by that number as we are, then read on to learn more about our aquatic abode.

The Underwater House You Want to Own

Before we could get to the fun part of filling up our sea-sational home with water, we needed to calculate the sides of our super-sized aquarium.

After covering a house in bacon and building one of gingerbread, we’ve grown pretty comfortable with the standard American house size of 2,500 square feet. This gave us a building that is:

  • 50 feet wide
  • 50 feet long
  • 10 feet high

You’re starting to get excited now, right?

We now know the sizes of our external walls. But we soon came to realize that turning just those four walls into an aquarium wasn’t satisfying enough. Instead, we decided to turn all interior and base walls, plus the floor, into one connected tank for our future fish.

Using the width of your standard 75-gallon tank, we made each section of the tank a foot and a half wide.

For the lengths of the interior walls, we chose fairly arbitrary numbers based on a four-room, one-bathroom layout. This gave us five walls that:

  • Range in length from 17 to 21 feet
  • Are 1 ½ feet wide
  • Are 10 feet tall

As for our building material, we chose to make our tank out of high-strength acrylic plastic rather than the traditional glass, primarily because acrylic will give your fish casa a better chance of survival. (Yes, this does make our house see-through, and yes, it does mean you should avoid walking around your aquarium home in the buff).

For all you fish (or wanna-be fish) fanatics, we used the information on this site to assume that for every height increase of 30 inches, the width of the acrylic should increase by ½ inch.

Side note: Thickness matters! This is because the taller the tank, the more water the acrylic must be able to support without bowing in the middle.

This means our acrylic panels would need to be at least 2 ¼ inches thick, so if you’re serious, you better start saving up for your acrylic (you’ll need custom-made panels at that width).

Now it’s time for the fish frenzy to begin.

There’s Something Fishy About This House

Once we knew the dimensions of our fish tank masterpiece, we tapped away on our calculators to figure out how much acrylic paneling would be necessary. We would need 8,295 square feet of acrylic to attempt our water-filled house. (Just be aware that we can’t guarantee this idea will actually work, so store your valuables in a fortified non-water friendly space).

Now what about how much water we’d need to fill it up? As fish tank connoisseurs know, we had two options for the type of water put in our tank:

  • Saltwater
  • Freshwater

We went with freshwater, since it’s more practical for those of you who don’t happen to own an oceanside vacation home. After fooling around with our crazy dimensions, we calculated that our aquari-home should hold about 8,095 cubic feet of water.

That’s the equivalent of 60,556 gallons of water. To help you wrap your head around that doozy, an Olympic-size pool holds about 660,000 gallons. Our aquarium holds about one-tenth of that. (We suggest you build yourself a small lake nearby to siphon water from as needed.)

Of course, no aquarium is complete without its underwater dwellers. Using your run-of-the-mill pet fish as an example, we tallied how many goldfish we could fit in our massive tank: 7,570 fish.

We got there with the following bits of information:

  • Average goldfish is 8 inches long
  • Standard rule of thumb is one gallon for every inch of fish

Your home could be on par as one of the largest goldfish habitats in the world.

Bonus Round: Water, Water Everywhere

For added fun, we also chose to calculate how much water it would take to completely fill up our house if the entire frame became an aquarium. Because really, what would an article about turning your house into an aquarium be without such information?

Armed with our previously mentioned house dimensions of 50 feet by 50 feet by 10 feet, we figured out it would take 187,013 gallons of water to fill our home with water.

Practical? Maybe not, but boy would it be fun if you really love the water.

Don’t forget that adding all of your furniture will also lower the amount of water needed. Another thing made easier? Keeping your wet habitat tidy, since you’ll be conveniently located in the tank, ready to scrub away whenever the need should arise.

Just Keep Cleaning, Just Keep Cleaning

Perhaps the biggest downside to our aquarium house is the necessary cleaning methods it will entail. (Yes, we have indeed put some serious thought into our fishy home.)

It turns out, keeping the entire tank clean will require a sizeable amount of water, so you might want to rethink that saltwater tank.

Your new cleaning schedule will be this: You should change ⅓ of the water every two weeks for a new aquarium and once a month as it gets older, according to an exotic pet veterinarian.

This means you will need to keep handy 20,185 gallons of salt- or freshwater–easy if you can use a hose, not so easy if you need to purchase saltwater. (Or you could just buy salt to add to your water, although this isn’t actually how you make saltwater so we can’t officially endorse it).

Our aquari-pad may require relatively light furniture, a lot of upkeep, and some creative maneuvering on your part, but remember this: you’ll be able to call yourself the most committed health nut in the neighborhood.

Think about it–your house brings a whole new, healthier meaning to the idiom “sleeping with the fishes.”

The Movoto blog is a service of Movoto Real Estate. If you’re looking for a new home, keep us in mind. We have up-to-date real estate listings and local agents throughout the country. When you want to take a break from browsing homes, you can keep coming back to read awesome blog posts like this one.

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posted on: January 16, 2013
840 views, 2 comments


  1. Mike

    Another great infographic. i have no idea how you guys think up these awesome topics, but I want to know the secret. Awesome stuff!

    • Megan in response to Mike

      Hey Mike! It usually involves copious amounts of coffee & a bunch of over-active imaginations. 😉

      Seriously though, we just like making real estate fun.


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