“I’ve made a huge mistake but no turning back” my 180g build has begun

The Life Aquatic

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Hey all!

Figured it was time to get this build thread started. You can find a bit of my background here.

Tank: TruVu 84x24x20 .5” acrylic. Ordered 2 weeks ago so expecting it in 2-4 more weeks.

Stand: Tenecor “magnum” t-slot open stand. Just got my shipping notices! Note I’ll likely do some customization as I’m worried about load distribution (more on that below)

Equipment - much of this is tbd. Some already purchased, some not:
- Skimmer: Quantum 160, showed up today!
- Sump: Trigger Triton 44v2. Got one “blemished” for half off and honestly what a deal because it seems absolutely perfect.
Lights: haven’t ordered but leaning aquatic life 61” T5 hybrid and will add Kessil 360s as time goes on
- RODI: yes, more on my mixing shed below
Everything else: pumps, wave makers, heating, ATO etc will be added in the coming weeks but not as worried.

Mixing: I live in NorCal where it never really gets too hot or too cold. So I set up a mixing station in my shed. I have both tap and well sources within 5 feet of the RODI and may play with both. The tank will be in a room approx 12 feet from the shed and I plan on doing water changes from the window by pumping water in and out. It sounds simple in theory but let’s see how it goes.

Rock - here is an area that seems to have changed a lot in the 10 years I’ve been out of the hobby. I was shocked how much “dry” rock is used now and that the phenomenal pacific live rock is a thing of the past. I ordered 60lbs of Caribsea Life Rock (good sale a few weeks back, got it for $3/lb). Will also add 100lbs of “live” rock closer to startup from sources like KP and maybe try a few others and mix it up. I will probably ordered 30-40lbs and start “cycling” it in my sump to get a head start and also get some “good” water going that I can pump into
the tank at startup.

I’ve been “cycling” the Caribsea rock for the past 48 hours in a mixing tub. I added “fish less fuel”, some flake food, and turbo start and now have .5ppm ammonia, 5ppm nitrite and 40ppm nitrate so something is cooking. Plan is to keep this cooking until startup. I’ve seen some advice to NOT use this water for startup but I’m leaning towards using it assuming testing looks good as 1) I hate the idea of wasting all this water and 2) I’ve always been a believer in seeding the tank with some “live” water, albeit my only hesitation is idk what possibly leached out of this dry rock but it seemed very clean.

Placement: this was a bit of drama. We live on a raised foundation on a very very tight crawl space and although possible to reinforce it would be a pain in the ****. Lucky for me, my brother is a structural engineer and after getting our hands on the house plans and getting into the crawl space I have a location that I’m fairly confident in. For those wondering, right on top of a load bearing wall with 6 joists running perpendicular.

I should also mention that the thought of earthquakes has scared me away from keeping a tank out here and part of my choice of acrylic, stand, etc is with the best level of prep in mind. Although nothing is fool proof. The stand I got has those leveling feet and I will likely build a very very basic support structure under it that is a combo of rubber and HDPE, similar to the seismic structures they use for buildings and bridges but there is no great way to know
If it will actually do anything. It will likely slosh more than tip and I plan on keeping the water level a bit low while the bracing style used by Truvu will naturally keep a bit more water in, but in a big enough quake that will all be moot as I’d have much bigger issues to worry about.

My wife told me it looks like I’m cooking meth in the shed so I may need to name this the “Heisenberg” tank.

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The Life Aquatic

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I’m now questioning going with two overflows instead of one. I have a few days to potentially change it but leaning towards keeping it dual.

Dual:
Pros:
- Better surface coverage for skimming
- redundancy
Cons:
- More complicated plumbing
- Space

Single: Just an inversion of the pro/cons above

I think the pros and cons weigh out in favor of the dual. Anyone want to make a case for single?
 

slingfox

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I feel you. I also just started the hobby with a 130g system but sometimes wonder what I have gotten myself into!

I am two months in and battling hair algae, ulva, and dinos right now. If I could rewind and start over I would order a small amount of live rock from KP Aquatics (or some place similar) or at pick some up from an LFS. I have spent more money on trying to combat the uglies than any amount saved by going the 100% dry rock route.
 
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The Life Aquatic

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I feel you. I also just started the hobby with a 130g system but sometimes wonder what I have gotten myself into!

I am two months in and battling hair algae, ulva, and dinos right now. If I could rewind and start over I would order a small amount of live rock from KP Aquatics (or some place similar) or at pick some up from an LFS. I have spent more money on trying to combat the uglies than any amount saved by going the 100% dry rock route.
Did you “cycle” your dry rock before putting it in? Current plan is 50/50 dry and live rock but I’m hoping that “cooking” my dry rock will help too.
 
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The Life Aquatic

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Update time!

The rock:

My “cycling” rock is now showing 0 ammonia and holding steady at 2ppm Nitrite. Seems like it’s well on its way and should help start the tank. Next I will order some real live rock (well, the aquacultured stuff from Florida) and get about 50lbs of that cooking (in the sump probably) to make sure I can launch the tank with it. Then once the tank is running I plan on adding one last round of 50lb aquacultured rock.

The stand:

Tenecor stand came last week! Build quality was A+++. I had a few assembly hurdles and was missing a few bolts but Tenecor was great at support, overnighted me what I needed, and was genuinely interested in my feedback and product input. I question my own assembly skills and hope it stays upright . I am realizing I’ll have less working room under the tank than anticipated which may adjust some of my
plumbing decisions.

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The tank:

Started production this week! Should finish end of next week, arrive the week after, then the real fun begins.
 

ReefEco

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Looking good! I would strongly encourage you to cycle the florida live rock you have separately, and in a way that you can remove aptasia and predatory crabs. I added about 15lbs to my 400g display when I started it, and QT'd the live rock for about 6+ weeks. In that small amount of rock, I removed 6 gorilla-type crabs, and super glued over about 10 aptasia. It adds some great diversity, but can add pests too if you are not careful...

Also - are you going to run that whole tank off that one outlet/circuit?
 

blecki

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I think the pros and cons weigh out in favor of the dual. Anyone want to make a case for single?
Too late I am sure but... you made the right choice if you stuck with dual. A single overflow in the middle of my 6 foot tank has left me with a 'surface dead spot' I am trying to deal with where it just doesn't get skimmed.
 
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The Life Aquatic

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Looking good! I would strongly encourage you to cycle the florida live rock you have separately, and in a way that you can remove aptasia and predatory crabs. I added about 15lbs to my 400g display when I started it, and QT'd the live rock for about 6+ weeks. In that small amount of rock, I removed 6 gorilla-type crabs, and super glued over about 10 aptasia. It adds some great diversity, but can add pests too if you are not careful...

Also - are you going to run that whole tank off that one outlet/circuit?

I’m going to QT in the sense I’m going to keep it all separate for 1-2 weeks and try to pick off any pests. Will see how it’s looking and adjust if worried.

I have a second outlet to split it with, but it would all be on one circuit as far as I’m aware.

One less relevant note is that I’m on solar and generally generate a surplus so I’m eager to see if the tank ends up keeping me in surplus. Full house on battery backup but it only lasts 7-8 hours so I may find a way to only keep the essentials running (pumps/heaters probably).
 
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The Life Aquatic

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Small update: after flip flopping on lighting options I decided to pull the trigger. I was hoping for some good Black Friday sales and some good early discounts popped up. Going with:

1) Aqualight T5 hybrid 61"
2) Three AI Hydra 32s - Going to start with three and can easily add more later if needed but it will be a while before I add any SPS so I think this will be plenty for now.
 
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The Life Aquatic

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Small update time! Where to begin…

1) I realized today that my water source going into RODI was actually my well water. I thought it was my tap. I realized this when I just bought a TDS and the source shows at 400 TDS vs my tap is 20 TDS. I was wondering why my water bill didn’t go up last month and now I know. I have about half my needed water right now…I’ll likely do the other half from a tap source (RODI still but not the well source). Also explains why I went through my first DI cartridge so quickly.

2) my T5 hybrid fixture came in. Mounting was easy (wall mount) and she looks great. I’m slightly worried about coverage but I think it’ll be fine. My hydra 32s also came but I’m not in a rush to get them mounted.

3) Live rock! I ordered 50lbs from US Live Rock…had good prices and I liked their process. Rock is “fine” for base live rock…some macro algae but nothing crazy. I’m going to add another 40-60 pounds from KP next when the tank is up to try something new.

4) Ordered all my plumbing. Despite sketching it out and trying to get it perfect I know a trip to Home Depot is in my future because there’s no way I got this 100% right.

Tank should come later this week. And realistically I’ll get it set up next week.
 

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The Life Aquatic

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Two more updates, one big one!

1) I ordered 40lbs of "starter" rock from KP Aquatics and WOW this stuff is amazing. It looks more like the "premium rock" photos. I really wish I ordered my initial batch from them as well as it blows the US Live Rock batch away.

2) Tank comes today! My goal is to get it all set up and running by tonight, but then turn off the sump overnight so I can watch it closely for leaks tomorrow. I know it's going to be a herculean task to get it up and running in one night but I'm ready...here's to praying it all goes relatively smoothly as I know the number of setbacks could be plentiful.
 

Fish Styx

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Two more updates, one big one!

1) I ordered 40lbs of "starter" rock from KP Aquatics and WOW this stuff is amazing. It looks more like the "premium rock" photos. I really wish I ordered my initial batch from them as well as it blows the US Live Rock batch away.

2) Tank comes today! My goal is to get it all set up and running by tonight, but then turn off the sump overnight so I can watch it closely for leaks tomorrow. I know it's going to be a herculean task to get it up and running in one night but I'm ready...here's to praying it all goes relatively smoothly as I know the number of setbacks could be plentiful.
Yeah, KP Aquatics doesn't disappoint.
 
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The Life Aquatic

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Welp, tank came. I may have an "existential" issue and I'm about ready to abort this entire think.

They added an extra drain hole. I had it drilled for a Herbie (2 drains, 1 return) but they drilled it for a Beanimal (3 drains, 1 return). Not the biggest issue on it's own since I could either switch to a Beanimal style drain OR simple add a valve/cap to that drain and close it off.

But the big issue is that they placed the drain so close to the edge of the tank. It is sitting 1.5" from the tank wall. My stand has a 2" perimeter, therefore .5" of the drain would sit over the stand lip...I don't think this is a "me" issue as any stand for a tank this large would likely have a 2x4" type support on the perimeter, am I wrong?

My only issue seems to be to seal off that drain with something like an acrylic square and weld-on but that makes me very very nervous as a full solution.
 

Fish Styx

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Welp, tank came. I may have an "existential" issue and I'm about ready to abort this entire think.

They added an extra drain hole. I had it drilled for a Herbie (2 drains, 1 return) but they drilled it for a Beanimal (3 drains, 1 return). Not the biggest issue on it's own since I could either switch to a Beanimal style drain OR simple add a valve/cap to that drain and close it off.

But the big issue is that they placed the drain so close to the edge of the tank. It is sitting 1.5" from the tank wall. My stand has a 2" perimeter, therefore .5" of the drain would sit over the stand lip...I don't think this is a "me" issue as any stand for a tank this large would likely have a 2x4" type support on the perimeter, am I wrong?

My only issue seems to be to seal off that drain with something like an acrylic square and weld-on but that makes me very very nervous as a full solution.
Go with the Bean Animal and use two 45's for the clearance. Take a deep breath, and count to ten
 

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