Adding a Fish Tank to your Bar:

Staring into the bubbles of your beer glass is fine, but adding a fish tank to your bar is better. The soothing bubbles and cruising fish create a mesmerizing backdrop you’ll stare at for hours.  Many of our members have added fish tanks to behind the bar and even directly into the bar itself.

fish tank bar

home bar with mesmerizing fish tank

Handling Water Weight

One gallon of water weighs 8.3 lbs, so a 50 gallon tank weighs an incredible 415 lbs! A sturdy 2 x 4 framed tank stand is a must. Top the frame with 3/4″ plywood (I used treated) to support the entire perimeter of the tank.

2 x 4 lumber can support a lot of weight, a single four foot long 2 x 4 can support up to 2,713 lbs! Be sure to add side panels to the fish tank stand to make it solid.

Before you fill that tank, be sure to frame out the rough opening with hardwood trim. Rear access to the tank is a must, especially for larger tanks.

Having rear access through an adjoining  utility room allows you to get to the power filter, air lines and water supply.

Automatic Tank Maintenance:


Algae eating machine

Nothing is worse than seeing an neglected home bar fish tank with half the water gone. Of course warm fish tank water evaporates quickly and you’re probably not always tending bar to keep an eye on your scaly friends. Luckily there is an easy solution to keep your water level topped off and those fish happy.

Tap into the nearest cold water line and run PVC pipe to your tank location. Add a cheap adjustable plastic float valve to keep the water topped off. This prevents that dreaded, half empty “tank of doom” look.

Be sure to get an automatic feeder too in case you are away. Those fish gotta eat too.

Finally, get an algae eater of some kind. The trusty Plecostomus will always keep your tank glass clean.

The proper breed of fish can be important for tank maintenance. We accidentally acquired some pesky mystery snails whose population exploded. A good solution was found by adding four YoYo loaches. They’re active, entertaining and total pigs when it comes to eating snails. Fun to watch, however, they have a long way to go in controlling that snail infestation. UPDATE: In 2020, the four YoYo’s had long devoured the total snail population of the tank. I am now setting up a snail breeding tank just to feed those little monsters!. 

A big school of Neon Tetras makes for an inexpensive, colorful and low maintenance home bar fish population.

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salt water fish tank bar

salt water tank built into bar

Built In Salt Water Tank:

This modified salt water fish tank bar project is documented in our photo gallery with details of it’s construction. The bar top flips up to allow for maintenance and live feeding.

Again, you will need ample access to all support equipment, filters, pumps lights, heaters, etc.

A standard fish tank built into a bar will likely reduce the amount of space you have for prep areas and bar equipment, so think how you can incorporate both with a custom tank.

Custom tanks come in narrow or wide models – see:

kitchen bar

curved fish tank kitchen bar

Everything including the kitchen sink:

This unique project incorporates a custom round fish tank into the lower portion of the bar.

The tank size and position ensures that it won’t interfere with the work space counter top, yet the design allows for plumbing to be fed into the tank top.

This custom project uses pieces and parts of the plan sets. The general framing was from EHBP-04 L-shaped bar  and the rounded corner was adapted from the EHBP-08 round bar project. Of course it all had to match the curvature of the fish tank.  Check the fish tank link above for curved tanks. Larger tanks are best purchased locally.

This curved fish tank bar project is photo documented in the builder’s gallery showing custom plumbing and filter lines. Quite impressive!

dream aquarium - no mess

an electronic aquarium – no muss no fuss

High Tech Fish Tank Option:

Of course if you want to take the easy, high-tech way out, you can install a large LCD TV screen and display this incredibly realistic aquarium screen saver instead.

This way you have no water, no filters, no live fish, no feeding worries. Once you are tired of watching them, turn off the TV or change channels to your favorite movie or show.

Try the electronic fish tank demo for FREE. No adware.


Easy Home Bar Plans