16 Month 150g SCA Aquarium Research/Plan/Design/Build Project Thread

65Naja

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Post 1
My first marine tank was 90 gallons in Michigan during the mid-1980’s and as much as I loved it, I remember the challenges were endless. That setup lasted two homes and 5 years until the kids reached an age where everything revolved around there activities. Which made the effort to great, so I took it down. Now, many years later, and after making the decision to relocate to central Florida, it seemed like a good time for a new tank.

My research started in late 2019 and once I realized how much has changed, I knew I needed to get up to speed with both the biology and the technology. This is a recap of my journey.

It all started with research and you quickly learn not everything you read or watch on the internet is true. As if I had to say that.

Lesson 1: Learn the difference between those who are:
  1. Publishing quality information based on lessons learned from experience
  2. Publishing because they think they know what they’re doing
  3. Publishing just to make a commercial to sell something
We all know that everyone has to make a living and at the core, people publish articles with that in mind. What I did, was read and watch enough to be able to pick out what is the general understanding of the community and what is not worth it. I also picked up on the sources that have a proven background and have shown their results via a physical tank or tank(s).

Lesson 2: The internet is absolutely horrible about letting you know how old the information you’re reading and seeing is.

A search will return everything it can find on a subject. You can watch a video that is 10 years old and not really know it. As some things always remain the same, something like the advancement in biology or equipment is another story. Because this hobby is advancing so fast information that is only a few years old can and at times been proven inaccurate, and sometime by the same people. Think of it as, It was the best at the time but currently there is a better way. So, research a topic by reading or watching more than a few articles / videos.

OK back the the build:
Being how we were relocating I had about a year to research and run some tests of my own. As my career consisted of engineering, product design and fabrication all from CAD layout and CNC, I had the knowledge and the tools to do DIY projects. All my DIY projects start with a detailed CAD design, a bit of FEA analysis to prove it out and then is followed by CNC machine fabrication.

The Tank today is:
  1. 150g SCA Aquarium rear drilled for a Synergy 16" Shadow overflow
  2. Custom welded and powder coated square steel tube stand
  3. Bare Bottom tank with a mixture of marco, pukani, fiji, rock for the aqua-scape
  4. (3 ) Radion XR15 G5 Pro mounted on semi custom brackets from the rear avoiding the euro bracing
  5. Custom 24" in tank overflow with Bean Animal drain style
  6. (2) VorTech MP40QD - Mobius Ready QuietDrive
  7. (2) IceCap 4K Gyre Flow Pump With WiFi Controller
  8. Custom design 4 section Luna constructed 48x24x14 sump
  9. DIY 6" Custom Fleece filter roller
  10. DIY Custom built Carbon reactor
  11. (2) VarioS-8 Controllable DC Pump (2700 GPH) - Reef Octopus
  12. SM167 Skimz DC Internal Skimmer
  13. DIY Custom built Algae Scrubber
  14. Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155 (ATO)
  15. Neptune Systems Apex System Controller dual 832 Energy Bars
  16. Pentair Aquatics SMART 40Watt UV sterilizer
  17. (2) Innex 75Watt heaters with controllers

    Tank_4-22-2021.jpg


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Details - When designing the tank stand, I knew I did not want a front center leg or a bulky space consuming construction. I elected steel, based on the near zero center crossmember downward flex at the 60” width. The finished design is 24” deep, 60” width and 36” tall.

CAD DESIGN PHYSICAL BUILD
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The tank is an SCA 150-gallon Aquarium rear drilled for a 16” Synergy Shadow Overflow.
I designed a 24” overflow box and machined the acrylic on my CNC. Then assembled it using bulk head fittings
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The main and secondary drains pass behind the tank and into my DIY fleece filter roller in the sump.

The roller design is as follows;
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The water from the overflow enters the rear of the fleece roller from both the primary and secondary (left and center green drain pipe of pic), the emergency (on the right) empties directly into the sump above the water line.
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The filter fleece travels inside the acrylic filter panels shown above. Down inside the right panel, across the bottom and back up the left to the take up reel. The nylon threaded rod the hold the front to the rear panel are the guides to keep the fleece traveling against the filter panels. To hold the panels in the proper location there are slots machined on the inside of the front and rear panels.
As the water exits the overflow pipes inside the fleece filter, it must pass through the fleece either to the right, the bottom or the left.

This pic is the front and rear panels with the nylon threaded rods in place. Notice the slot in the front panel. This is the failure overflow. If for some reason the fleece gets clogged from filtering and the float does not trigger the advance the water just flows past the filter and into the sump. The fleece roll advance motor is a 12V geared and high torque, driven by a DIY controller. This rotates the take up reel at 6 rpm.
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Here are a few pics of the CNC operation cutting out the Rear panel, one of the fleece filter panel and the final assembly test

How doe it work – As the water passed through the fleece it traps anything and filters it out. This eventually clogs the fleece preventing the water from passing through. When this happens the water level inside the filter rises. Once it hits the high mark it triggers the motor to advance the fleece material. The clean material now in the sump lets the water freely pass thus lowering the water level, and stopping the motor from advancing. The motor will advance until the float drops which disconnects the float switch. The motor then advances and additional 8 seconds. The 8 seconds is so the filter get enough new fleece in the sump to prevent it from advancing to often.

THE SUMP
The sump is 48” long 22” front to back and 14” tall. It contains 4 sections. The fleece roller goes behind the skimmer in the first section. As the water fills section 1 it overflows into the bubble trap and then down into the section 2 - one of the pump sections. I have two heaters one in section 1, heating the water in that section and a second one under the bubble trap in section 2 that never really turns on. It is really a backup.
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Section 2 has a pump in it and serves the manifold which contains the carbon reactor (not shown) the algae scrubber and the UV sterilizer (not shown) The water then returns from the UV and dumps into section 4. Water that flows through the manifold to the algae scrubber exits straight down the pink pipe and also flows into section 4.

From Section 4 the water passes over the overflow and into section 3 which is were I have the Apex probes and a return pump feeding the display tank. Notice that water can pass between section 2 and 3 behind the pumps. This equalizes the water flow and water level for the ATO. It also prevents intake water from passing through the algae scrubber and the UV more than once.

The pump in section 2 runs much slower (UV sterilized flow rate slower) than the pump in section 3, it is designed for some water get filtered and heated and bypassed pump 1 and flow over into section 3 and into that pump and back to the display.

Also in Section 1 in the rear is where the Neptune Dos draws tank water out and pumps it to a drain. Then in section 2 the same Neptune Dos (line 2) sends new saltwater into the system. This is managed by the Apex Controller. I have also used the rear wall of section 2 to mount the Tunze Osmolator which manages the top off water.

More to Come
 
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65Naja

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Post2
The Plumbing


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Starting in the 24” long DIY weir overflow box, similar to the 16” Ghost Overflow except longer and with different heights due to euro bracing on the tank. A Bean Animal drain system moving water to the sump. The primary having a gate valve is a 1 ½” PVC pipe (Green) going into the DIY roller filter device. The secondary also a 1 ½” PVC pipe (Green) going into the roller filter. Then the emergency (Green) that dumps directly into the sump outside the roller filter.

Each of the pipes have a support clamp at the stand height that attaches and supports the weight of the plumbing and water from being all on the overflow box. The return plumbing is all 1 ¼” PVC (Blue) utilizing two returns.

Here you can se the UV sterilizer that is the in the mixing room next door to the tank.

The Algae scrubber is DIY. The water flows from the manifold to the scrubber between to large ribbed heatsinks that have LED's wired to them. The scrubber also has LED's on the bottom of the heat sink to illuminate the refugium if I so choose to use it to grow. The red line near the bottom of the pic is pointing to the down facing LED's

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Dukereefnz

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Wow what a build, hope you do not mind but I am planing to copy how your sump is setup, but at a much more basic level, obviously more at my skill level.
I found you previous thread where you had plumping for cleaning the sump, did you go with this option? Seemed like such a good idea. Best DIY build thread ever!

This so well thought out, your DIY skills are at another level.
Any more updates????
 
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65Naja

65Naja

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Wow what a build, hope you do not mind but I am planing to copy how your sump is setup, but at a much more basic level, obviously more at my skill level.
I found you previous thread where you had plumping for cleaning the sump, did you go with this option? Seemed like such a good idea. Best DIY build thread ever!

This so well thought out, your DIY skills are at another level.
Any more updates????
I did not go with the sump cleaning plumbing. I have the option to add it in, but so far have not seen the need for it. The only section of the sump that may at some point need attention is the refugium.
 
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65Naja

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Roller Mat update. I have been running my DIY roller mat filter now for a few months now and I have identified a few modifications I will more than likely incorporate.
Design and Performance. I designed the filter media to run straight down, then across the bottom and last return straight up to the take up spool. The media in this position works well for the fine filtering, media is brown coming out of the water on the take up side. What doesn't work so well is the larger particulates. Gravity has them falling back into the center section and not having them dragged out of the water. If the return media exited the sump on an angle the larger particulates would remain in contact with the media and then be removed at a much more efficient rate. This is noticeable in my design as the longer stuff stays within the filter box the greater chance it has to get around the edged of the media.
That is where I would make my second modification. I would maintain a 1/2" to 3/4" of flat at the sides where the media edges run, making it more difficult for something to get around the edge of the filter media. I will also explore adding a piece of acrylic above the media at the edges to create a groove for the media to travel in. Making it much harder to get stuff from getting past the media edges.
I did not go with the sump cleaning plumbing. I have the option to add it in, but so far have not seen the need for it. The only section of the sump that may at some point need attention is the refugium.
I am currently using a thick filter media in the side overflow boxes when I do any cleaning. It is simple to add and simple to remove and out comes everything with it.
 

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65Naja

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Update 4 months
I am very pleased with how things are going, The extensive planning has definitely made a big difference. I only had to contend with some minor things (cords, tubes). I have incorporated 2 part dosing and auto water changes using the "Neptune Dos". Yes they are loud but I have them running between 1:00am to 5:00am for water changes, so I never hear them. The automation makes the time I spend with the tank more beneficial as it is not doing the dosing and water changes but doing testing and cleaning where necessary.

Super pleased with the function of my DIY algae scrubber, I am cleaning out 50% of what grows every week. The pic shows what I am putting back in after a cleaning. I am not removing out too much, as I want a healthy crop in there to keep growing and utilizing the phosphates / etc. This is currently running opposite my lighting schedule, which is keeping the Ph day / night fluctuation in balance. Current Phosphates are consistently between .02 and .05

All in all things are now settling down. What I thought were stable parameters in the beginning were nothing compared to what they are now, and I hope they continue to get better. I am only 4 months in ugly stage was very minimal to date and I am starting to see Coralline Algae growing, so taking that as a good sign.

I have various corals and only 5 fish now. This week I have 4 more fish arriving. these will go into a new introduction box that will hang over the front edge. another DIY I recently completed to minimize the negative interaction. Get them use to each other a bit. (A least that is my wishful thinking)
 

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65Naja

65Naja

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How are you supporting your algae scrubber?
Looks to be inside the tank a bit.
Any design hints on that? Also planning to build one soon.
What LED's did you use?

The Algae scrubber is supported under it by the drain tube that rests on the sump bottom. This tube carries the weight of the scrubber and the exiting water. The scrubber is fed by the manifold which supports the scrubber balance, keeping it from falling over.
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The LED's are 3 watt mounted on a Star PCB. I used White 10 k -20 k, Royal Blue 445-455 nm and Red 615-630 nm. Similar to those in the picture attahced.
 

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65Naja

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Naja - cheeky question, I have access to a CNC machine that can cut out acylic, would you share your plans for your ATS? I use Autodesk inventor... at a very looooow level.

I am drawing plan to build one and any help would be very much appropriated.
thanks


The scrubber design is very simple and you can use as I did a CNC but straight cuts is all that is needed.
Here is the 5 primary piece that make up the body of the scrubber. My size was based on the 150g tank and the large Aluminum Heatsinks I found on Ebay. With the heatsinks and LED's being on the outside of the clear acrylic

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The Flow pipe.
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