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Bill Wann has the largest fish tank in North America

If you are now wondering who this Bill Wann guy is, just as I was a few days back, let me first tell you he is a local man but you can now recognize him for owing the largest tank in North America. Wann is a successful entrepreneur who designed and built a 24-foot-long, 10-foot-wide and 10-foot-deep 20,000-gallon reef tank for his living room. He himself designed all the support systems of the tank as well.

Today, the tank is a gleaming wonder. The concrete walls are 12 inches thick, with 2½-inch thick acrylic windows measuring 6 feet by 10 feet. They weigh so much; it took 11 people to lift each one into place. Many of the 20,000 pounds of rocks are from a mine in Montana, and the sand which is 2,000 pounds worth is from the Bahamas.

A large living room with supple carpets and attractive decors invites visitors to lie around and watch the 160 fish swim. The fish are stunning, but the thing that makes Wann’s tank unique and tough to care for is the coral. If the fish get under the weather, he can’t put in medicine, because it will kill the coral. The temperature is 78 degrees, and if it varies, the coral will die.

Everything is controlled by a computer system that Wann built, with huge backup generators to make sure the pumps and heaters never stop. The tank is heated with two 200,000 BTU boilers, although one is merely a backup. Cooling is done through 3,000 feet of PEX pipe buried t10n feet in the ground with glycol running through it. Filtration is through one sand filter running and three massive skimmers.

Circulation is one massive closed loop with nine 2 in. motorized ball valves and 60GPM flow with a surge system that fills up every 5 min. and dumps 150 gallons through six 3in. motorized ball valves randomly controlled by the controller.

To make this posh system improved is everything is programmed and run by a touch screen PLC. To avert moisture build up in the air, the humidity is controlled by an exhaust fan and a set of motorized louvers that draw in outside air. Lighting is done by 16 400 watt 10k bulbs on electronic ballasts.

Wann says that the tank has become smart over the days since it fixes itself whenever the ph goes down. A home built aquarium might bring up images and smells of disordered pipes and foggy water, but there’s nothing Rube Goldbergian about Wann’s tank. There’s no reek at all. The water is crystal clear like as if you can even watch TV from inside the tank, if you’re so apt.

The basement and pipe rooms are immaculate. The well-organized design makes graceful sense. That’s because Wann is the sort of person who thinks an 800-page textbook of organic chemistry is light reading, you can say the sort of person who can invent massive systems in his head.
“I never write anything down. I thought it up as I went,” he said.

In his basement, he takes care of the job that pays the bills, fixing and refurbishing high-tech equipment like mass spectrometers for crime and science labs.