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150 Gallon Tall, in-wall, rebuild

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So a few years back I lost everything to Hurricane Matthew. No power for a week and couldn't even get to our home for days. When we finally returned home everything in the tank was gone.

Fast forward a few years, and a few dozen repairs later and here we are, starting over from scratch.

I decided this go around to put the tank in the wall, and build a "fish room" behind the tank. I use that term loosely because the room is only 4' x 6', with 4 tanks in it. It's pretty packed.

First things first, I had to convince the wife to let me set the tank in the wall. After much grovelling, and a Peloton Treadmill later, she agreed.

Time to start!

The tank is going into the wall that faces our kitchen, and has a spare bedroom behind it. I started by building the fish room and putting bracing under the house in our crawlspace to support the extra weight of the room. The room will contain the 150 display, a 40 breeder sump, a 40 breeder refugium that will house some macro and some fish, and a 20 gallon qt tank.

I am taking my time with this build, making sure I cross all the i's and dot all the t's so i don't make any mistakes. Off to a great start!

I didn't take any pictures during the framing of the room, but it's pretty straight forward.

This build thread will be a slow one, as I'm not in a hurry to get anything wet until I have everything in it's place, although I do have a small tank cycling to house a pair of clowns to keep my sanity in check.

More to come!

Tank info:

150 Gallon Display
40 Breeder DIY sump
40 Breeder Display Refugium
BRS 150 GPD RO/DI w/ Booster Pump
MP40QD x 2 for display circulation
Waveline D10000 DC Return Pump
Reef Octopus NWB150 Skimmer
Gen 2 Radion XR30W x 2
20 Gallon QT tank


Still to add:
GHL Profilux 4
GHL dosing pump
GHL KH Director
Gen 4 Radion xr30W or GHL Mitras x 2
Vectra S2 x2 Return pumps
Vertex 6D calcium Reactor
Battery Backup x 3 for Ecotech pumps
Maxspect Gyre F330 x 2
 
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OP
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The fish room was pretty straight forward. 2x4 framing, header over the tank since it's in a load bearing wall. Had to build a temporary wall during construction, but nothing too crazy. I didn't get any pictures during this phase but did get a few after the fact.


I'm an operations manager for a stone and tile company, so why wouldn't I install a quartz countertop for the tank to sit on?
20180703_170523.jpg



I installed a humidistat above the tank that vents outside. It turns on automatically when the humidity gets above 65%. I also installed two new can lights and ran a new hvac line to help control temps in the room.
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I put a lip/shelf on the front side to rest my elbows on for taking pictures or for holding my beer.
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Test fitting the tank in place.
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Added some trim around the tank to hide the frame and somewhat hide the access door above the tank.
20180721_212159.jpg
 
OP
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I'll start by saying this design, while somewhat my own, is based on the Synergy Reef line of sumps, with some things taken from a few other DIY sumps I've seen.

First off, cost:

40 Breeder - $40.00 Petco $/Gallon sale
Glass - $63.00
Acrylic Sheets - $26.00
Foam Prefilter Block - $6.00
Uniseals - $4.00
RTV 108 Silicon - $16.00

Total cost: $155.00



I had my glass company cut several pieces of 1/4' glass, then sand all edges smooth, I also had them take a 1/4' notch out of any corner that would come in contact with the 40 breeder's existing silicon.


I started with the return section. This piece is 12" tall and 17 7/16" wide. Since I wanted this section 8" wide, and these cans just so happened to be 8" tall, I put them to work. I also glued in the 1/2" wide strip of glass that will act as the shelf for the egg crate that will support the foam block prefilter.



The next piece is the 7" tall x 17 7/16" wide piece that creates the bubble trap. This piece also has a strip of glass siliconed to it for support of the foam block.

I then siliconed strips of glass vertically to the front and back wall of the sump to act as rail guides for the adjustable acrylic weir.


For the weir, I drilled and tapped holes every 1/2" so I can adjust the weir from 7" to 12" in half inch increments for future skimmer upgrades. I could have routed out a channel but chose to go the tap and die route because I would have had to make something to insert the nylon screws into, and this method was easier.


Here you can see that at the 9.5" screw hole, the top of the weir is at 9.5".


For the display tank drain and filter sock section I siliconed in the glass baffle outside the sump and let it cure for a day before siliconing in the two pieces in the sump. You can also see a glass strip that will act as a shelf support for the filter sock acrylic pieces. Water will flow over the top of the piece standing up, down through the filter socks, and under the notch that is cut out of the piece laying flat. If the socks are clogged, water will just flow over the top of the weir into the skimmer section until I clean the socks.


I cut 2 acrylic pieces the same size to make sock holders. I clamped them together and drilled a pilot hole for both socks so when I drilled out the two different hole sizes later, they would line up perfectly.



I then siliconed the other strip of glass to the side of the sump to act as the second support for the sock holder, then siliconed the sock holder into place.

Finally I cut 2 pieces of acrylic and glued them together for the drain lines. I drilled out holes and inserted the uniseals.


I don't like how this piece turned out, I should have put them in opposite corners and I will be re-doing this piece later.

I still need to fabricate a probe holder that will be glued to the top of the adjustable weir so the probes will automatically adjust with the height of the water in the sump.

Full Sump shot:
 
OP
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Getting the water from my tank to my sump is pretty straight forward, until you look at my overflow.

I used to skateboard a lot in my younger days in SoCal and the though of a quarter pipe hit me for some reason. I originally wanted to use an 8" piece of pvc so the quarter pipe would be roughly 4", but a buddy who is a plumber had some 6" laying around and gave it to me for free.

I didn't take pics of cutting the pipe, but it's straight forward. I secured a few 2x4's to a table, then secured 2x6's to the sides of those to make a channel for the pvc pipe to lay in. I secured the pipe to the table and 2x6's with some screws so it wouldn't rotate. I then snapped a chalk line from one end to the other and grabbed my jigsaw and went to town. I did screw a third 2x6 to the top of one of the vertical 2x6's to act as a straight edge for the jigsaw to ride against, ensuring a straight cut.

***I would not recommend trying to cut PVC on a table saw, it tends to twist as it is cut and has a very high tendancy to kick back at you, very unsafe.***

I made my first cut, rotated the pipe 1/4 turn, and repeated the steps. I then clamped the quarter pipe to a table and routed the inside lip where water would flow over with an 1/8" round-over bit to aid in smooth flow over the pipe.

Next, I sanded the pipe inside and out and painted it black to match the background. I then siliconed it in place.









Here you can see the inside of the overflow. The first hole is for the right side return, the next three holes are drains to the external overflow box that will house the bean animal drain, and the furthest hole is the left side return. The returns are drilled 1/2" higher than the drains holes are.


The idea is that this will both reduce noise and salt creep by reducing splashing and also take up less real estate inside the tank. One thing I hated about my internal glass overflow boxes was air bubbles would get caught under them from time to time and it was a pain to clean under them. They also blocked some light at the back of the tank.

By this overflow being round I hope to eliminate all of those issues I had with glass box internal C2C designs.
 
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Installed my 150gpd water saver plus. Also installed a booster pump. Our house is 97 years old, and while I was getting decent water pressure at 45psi, this pump made a very noticeable difference.

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Our floors are original to the house, and have taken a beating over 97 years. I'm not helping with this project, but I made a deal with my wife to have the floors redone after the tank construction is complete, but before the tank has water in it.

Under the display tank is the sump, display fuge, and electrical section. Here you can see the stand I built for the display fuge, which will be fed by the return pump and gravity drain back into the sump via a 1" bulkhead and plumbing. I also installed a washing machine hookup box. This supplies the ro/di and also gives me a drain that I will utilize for water changes. The weight of the display tank is carried by these laminated 2x10s, that tie into supports behind the drywall.

I then covered the drywall with frp (fiberglass reinforced plastic) panels from the big box store. Frp panels are great because they're waterproof, lightweight, and easy to cut. The downside is they have fiberglass in them which caused my skin to itch for hours after cutting them haha.
20190704_182626.jpg


Under the sump and fuge tanks is a sheet of 1/2" PVC. This PVC sheet is then siliconed to the frp panels, to cutdown on water damage behind the tanks from splashing or accidents.
20190704_182618.jpg


I installed these cable passthrough boxes to run the mp40 cables and the ro/di cables to the bottom of the stand. I didn't want to drill holes in the quartz.
20190704_235816.jpg
 
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OP
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That all looks very neat and tidy, very nice indeed and keep the pictures coming!
Thank you for stopping by! The tank is a slow going process, but with this 4 day weekend I have some time to get some projects done that I've been putting off. Again though, I'm in no hurry.

Hoping to get some plumbing done soon to get this baby wet!
 
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Can't believe I haven't updated this since July!

A lot has happened since then, both with my tank, personal life, football season.... etc...

Where to begin?

Tank is wet now going on 6 months.

Added 60 lbs of gulf live rock I bought from a supplier in Tampa.

Added a thin 1" layer of sand to the DT, and about 2 1/2" in the 40 gallon refugium.

Bought a pair of mated Ocellaris clowns, and a Blue Damsel at the behest of my wife. Happy wife happy reef! So far he's been a model citizen!

Rescued a C. punctatofasciatus, or Spotbanded butterflyfish from near death at Petco and nursed it back to life.

Still haven't finished my fish room, but likely never will as I find new projects almost daily.

Made a trip over to WWC mega store for their end of the year sale and picked up a few frags.

More pics and posts to follow soon!
 
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Had a bulb burn out on my refugium grow light a few days ago and decided to diy something instead of finding a replacement bulb.

Made a trip to HD and picked up the following:

20200102_162320.jpg


2 - ceiling boxes
2 - 14 gauge power tool replacement cords
2 - LED plant growing light bulbs
2 - porcelain lampholders w/ built-in outlets
1 - dual outlet digital timer

I started by installing the ceiling boxes under my stand, a feat that would have proven much easier had I done those before the 40 gallon refugium was already in place and plumbed.
20200102_164029.jpg


Next I wired up the porcelain lampholders to the power tool replacement cords.
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I could have used plastic here, but the porcelain was only about a dollar more so why not? These have a built-in outlet that may come in handy down the road.

I wired then with a 14 gauge cord, which is slight overkill for their purpose, but you never know what I might plug into them.
20200102_162343.jpg


Next I screwed the lampholders to the ceiling boxes, and installed these plant growing led light bulbs.
20200102_162329.jpg


Time will tell how effective they are, but at only 9w each, I went with 2 for starters. Worst case scenario I have to get bigger wattage bulbs.

I routed the two plugs over to a 2 outlet digital timer. The main reason I went with plugs instead of hard wiring the lights is to be able to run them on a reverse light cycle with a timer.

20200102_164623.jpg


Everything wired up, plugged in, and set on a reverse light cycle from my DT lights.

20200102_164322.jpg


Time to throw in some chaeto and see how they grow!
 
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Thanks to my Secret Santa on R2R this year I recieved a second heater.

I've been trying to heat about 210 total system gallons with a single 250w heater.

Since my SS was kind enough to get me a second 250w ebo jager heater, I purchased a few heater controllers from inkbird.

I purchased 2 of the Wi-fi C929A controllers. They come with the aquarium safe probes. Not sure if I can post Amazon links here, but I'll try.

Inkbird C929A

They have an app that you download to be able to see what their current state and temperature is from anywhere, as well as get notifications of high or low temp alarms and notifications if they don't respond for 30 minutes.

A screenshot of the app:
Screenshot_20200102-183056_InkbirdSmart.jpg


I have it set to alarm at 77° and 83°. The heat turns on if the temp falls to 79° and turns off once it hits 80°.

I calibrated the probes in ice water and only found them to be off by +/- .2 degrees, which you can adjust for in the app.

So far I've had zero complaints about their performance, but they've only been running for about 2 weeks.

20200102_165437.jpg


I tested the high and low temp alarms with ice water and a cup of coffee to make sure both worked as expected, which they did on both alarms.

They sound an audible alarm, and also an alarm through the app.

Couldn't be happier!
 
OP
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For Christmas, my wife bought me an Avast Marine you-build version of their k1 kalk stirrer.

There is a great YouTube video of how to assemble the kalk stirrer below.


I'll add my own version in pictures here.

Step 1:
Unboxing. Everything came well packaged, wrapped in shrink wrap, and all other parts were in a sealed bag. I laid everything out and took inventory.
20200102_195326.jpg


Step 2:
Glue acrylic chamber to the base by applying provided glue inside the recessed ring on the base and then place tube into recessed ring. Go around the outside of the tube with more glue to smooth out the glue joint. Allow this to dry for several hours.

20200102_195741.jpg


Step 3:
Screw the motor to the top of the lid with the provided screws.
20200102_195758.jpg


Step 4:
Install bulkheads. The smaller one is for the john guest water inlet, the larger one is for a ph probe. There is a provided plug if you are not using a probe.
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Step 5:
Install rubber o-ring in motor housing to accommodate the power cord.
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Step 6:
Glue motor housing to the lid, and route the power wire through the o-ring. Wiring is straightforward. Two red wires get wired to one wire, the black wire gets wired to the other, and the yellow wire is not used. You can't wire it backwards, so nothing to worry about there.
20200102_200523.jpg


Step 7:
Using a hot glue gun, glue the lid onto the motor housing to make it easier to remove should the need arise later. Test the motor before gluing the lid on!
20200102_200651.jpg


Step 8:
Glue the stir rod to the stirrer. This assembly needs to dry for several hours. Once dried, it gets mounted to the motor shaft via a coupler and allen screws.
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Step 9:
Once everything is dry, I waited 24 hours, place the lid with the stirrer down inside the tube, and you're done! The lid does not get glued down since this is where you add the kalkwasser.

20200102_201824.jpg



This was my first time working with acrylic and @AVAST Marine couldn't have made the process easier!

Hope you enjoyed the read!
 
OP
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Got tired of the clutter of my test kits laying around so I decided to build a storage rack for all of my testing paraphernalia.

I normally take pictures as I assemble things, but this time I didn't. I didn't even sketch up a template, just built it as I went.

I had some scraps if red oak lying around, but it could've been built out of anything.

I measured the sizes of all of my test bottles and drilled holes to accommodate everything. I also drilled and inserted dowels to hold test vials as they dry. Both the bottom shelf and the middle shelf are two boards laminated together. I drilled completely through the first board for each hole before laminating them together with wood glue to make sure all holes were clean and uniform.

I installed it in place and laid everything out to make sure I liked it.

Only thing left to do is take it apart, putty and sand nail holes, stain, and coat everything with lacquer to make it water resistant, and reassemble.

I wrote in pen what is in each location, but I will sand this off, apply the stain and lacquer, then redo them with ptouch labels for a cleaner look.

All in all, I spent about 1.5 hours throwing this together. If this weren't hidden in my fish room, I would've made a better attempt to hide end grain and would've used different fastening techniques for the face frame, but im pretty much the only person who will look at this thing on a daily basis.

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OP
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First corals in the tank about two weeks ago. Pictures taken with white lights on via cell phone. Sorry for low quality pics.

Aussie Purple Torch
20200112_091617.jpg


WWC Nuclear Fusion
20200112_091631.jpg


Vietnamese zoanthids
20200112_091639.jpg


Festivus Favites
20200112_091645.jpg


Unnamed Stylo
20200112_091652.jpg



Everything spent the last two weeks in the sand getting acclimated to the lights. I'll move them to their new locations tomorrow probably.

The zoanthids already have 2 new polyps.
 
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I decided that the wall to the right of my tank was wasted space, and also was missing the ability to look down the length of my tank (my favorite viewing angle) so I did what any rational person would do. I cut a giant hole in my wall.

My wife is a saint I swear. She came home from work, looked at me, looked at the hole, and shook her head and laughed.

I still need to caulk, fill nail holes, and paint the trim, but I like the new view!

I also had to reroute my vortech cord, since it was previously going down under my stand via the wall I cut a hole in.

I added a piece of quartz for the viewing window to match the quartz under the tank.

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