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The Perplexed Plumber
Answer :

The rectangular closed cistern that shall hold a given quantity of water and yet have the smallest possible surface of metal must be a perfect cube—that is, a cistern every side of which is a square. 
For 1,000 cubic feet of water the internal dimensions will be 10 ft. × 10 ft. × 10 ft., and the zinc required will be 600 square feet. 
In the case of a cistern without a top the proportions will be exactly half a cube. 
These are the "exact proportions" asked for in the second case. 
The exact dimensions cannot be given, but 12.6 ft. × 12.6 ft. × 6.3 ft. is a close approximation. 
The cistern will hold a little too much water, at which the buyer will not complain, and it will involve the plumber in a trifling loss not worth considering.

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