220 Inwall mixed reef upgrade

phillybean

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There are some amazing build threads on here, don't give your hopes up for this being one of them :p but I'll do my best. Definitely will be asking for advice and pointers along the way. I apologize ahead of time for formatting, spelling and grammar errors. I am a combination of old school and new school, DIY and store bought, thrifty (aka cheap) at times and to my wife's dismay, other times not so much. I'm always looking for a deal by buying used, but try to support my local LFS's as much as possible as well.

History/Background
I first got into reefing about 15 years ago. I've always had pets growing up, including fish (freshwater). My wife and I were newly married and had a cat for about 6 months our land lady gave us. We were moving and found two potential places, one that allowed a cat and one that didn't. My wife wanted to give the cat to her parents (definitely a better home for an animal at that point), when I objected due to wanting a pet, she told me "Just get a fish tank". Little did she know how expensive that statement would become over the years. I spent about 2 years researching, reading and planning before I set up my first tank. It was a 75 gallon SPS dominate mixed reef with 2 175 Watt Metal Haliade's, closed loop on a Dart and a classic ASM G3 Skimmer. After going a little too heavy on the "Tang Gang" I upgraded to a 125 gallon a couple years later. The move never went well, although I did not have any major losses, the tank never "ran" right. After a career change that increased my hours substantially the tank was neglected, became a burden and after about 2 more years, I broke it down and sold it all away. The hardest thing was letting my Blonde Naso Tang go, without a doubt my favorite fish to this day, would follow me as I walked by, would eat from my hand and even let me stroke it's back. Of everything, I made sure she went to a good home and even years later still followed up on her.

Fiveish years ago, we purchased a house and in the back of my mind was thinking about where I could put a tank. One day, out of the blue my wife commented on a wall in the basement that an inwall fish tank would look great there. Two weeks later I had most of the equipment and we took off running.

Equipment & Plan
New tank is 72wx24dx30t, Starphire front glass, dual corner overflow with 2" drains.
Custom Steel Stand with adjustable legs
DIY 75 gallon sump with Jebao DCP18000 return
55 Watt Lifegard UV Sterilizer
2 x 24" Cebu Sun 250 Watt Metal Haliade with 4 x 24 Watt T5's
1 x 24" 8 x 24 Watt T5 fixture
2 x MP40's (Controlled by Mobius App)
Apex EL with Fire Tablet control
Bubble Magus Curve 9 Skimmer
Jebao Wifi Doser (Aquaforest Component + Acro Power)
JBJ Auto top off
TLF Phosban/Carbon Reactor
5 Stage RODI

That will pretty much be the set up to start, wish list to add is:
2 more MP40's
Trident
3 x DOS (One for auto water change, 2 for dosing)
Neptune AFS
Two FMM modules (ATK, Flow Monitoring and leak detection).

My goal is to make it as automated and safe as possible. I'm still figuring out the Neptune process & system, but am excited about the potential I can do with it.

Where we are today
Old 90 gallon as been moved across the room, "hole" in wall has been made and tank is in place. I need to reseal the front top of the tank, as water was leaking from the top trim. Two dedicated 15 AMP circuits will be installed from the garage Sub Panel on Tuesday. Plumbing has been ordered and will arrive by the end of the week. The goal for this week is to finish the sump, finish framing in the tank, get the tank on plywood & insulation foam and reinstall the door to fish room/laundry room. (Old door was 36", need to install a 30" door so tank will fit.

Pictures!
Last picture of the 90 gallon before the tear down:
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How it sits today:
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New Tank:
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Various pictures along the way:
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phillybean

phillybean

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I've been debating a lot about the sump. Ideally I would like to have a custom 60" sump made, but that just isn't in the budget. With the tank, I acquired the sump the previous owner was using, as well as a nearly new Jeabo DCP 18000 pump. Eventually I want to upgrade this to a COR-20, but for now, it will do the job.

The current sump is just a 75 gallon tank, but made with very thick glass. There are no baffles so I am working with a blank slate. I did toy around with the idea of doing a 36" sump and a remote refugium, but space is an issue. The "fish room" doubles as a laundry and utility room, everything needs to stay below the tank and I would like to leave space under it for a small frag tank one day. My plumbing will be blue pipes & white fittings, hence the "blue" theme.

Here is the sump as it sits today
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I've played around with a few ideas, but have settled on a design of:

Crash box for both returns
Flowing into filter sock compartment (3 x 4" socks, sitting in a recessed blue acrylic holder what will be sitting on top of glass)
That will go into the Refugium section, bare bottom with Cheato.
That will then flow into the skimmer section, which will also hold the dosing lines, probes and heaters. (More on this in a minute). Skimmer will sit on a blue Acrylic base (3-4") to allow the skimmer to sit in 9" of water. Finally will go into the return /ATO section.

I've been going back and forth on if I should go Fuge > Skimmer or Skimmer > Fuge. I think I've settled on fuge first, mainly due to clearance & size issues. If I go fuge first, the water level will need to be quite a bit lower reducing the volume of the Refugium, and due to the space under the tank, will be very difficult to get the skimmer out, without having the lower baffle that goes into the return section.

I want to try to incorporate some features and cosmetic's of the expensive, fancy sumps, but I also want the safety of glass baffles. I plan on removing the center brace, since the baffles will prevent any bowing. I'll be leaving the trim on however. I will silicone blue Acrylic to each baffle, both for cosmetic reasons, as well as to block the light from the refugium. I will have a blue cover for the refugium section, with a hole cut out for light (Chinese LED growlight). In the skimmer section, I will have two heater holders, a probe holder and will glue a blue acrylic piece which will hold 6 x 1/4 bulkheads for dosing. 2"-3" blue 1/4 tubing will go down into the tank, sitting above the water line. I'm going back and forth on if I want an acrylic piece over the crash box, with 2 bulkheads going into it. As of now, I think it will just be straight pipes without the bulkheads.

Definitely looking for any feedback on the sump, I've made a few of them over the years, but nothing this elaborate. I have seen some pretty great DIY sumps on here that have inspired me to try and replicate them.
 
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phillybean

phillybean

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Got a few things done this week so far, on Monday I received my Mobius chip to upgrade my old MP40. Took a bit of messing around to get it to update but finally got it done. I now have it running with my newest one on the 90 gallon, working in anti-sync mode in "Nutrient Export". It is turned up a bit now, I'm really noticing the bearings being loud on the dry side. I think I'll tackle the project on replacing them soon.

Had a buddy who is an Electrician come over tonight, we wired two GFCI plugs, each running on their own 15 AMP circuit to the sub panel. Also had him move a plug and light switch that the bigger tank was in the way of. I also picked up a EB8, the lighting alone will take up 8 slots, but between that, the EB832 & the 8 Plug "DJ Station" I should have enough plugs for everything. I had the plugs mounted just above tank height, still working out the plans for the controller cabinet, but it should work out great once done. We cut the hole for the box, but found a random horizontal 2x4 in the middle of the wall, so had to relocate it down a bit. Just some more drywall mud and paint to deal with lol.

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Started to frame in the new 30" door to the fish/laundry room, plan is to finish that, as well as the header/footer tomorrow. Also cut out the holes for the overflow in the plywood as well are trimmed down the pink insulation foam. Need to get a few hands to lift the tank to slide it under, once fully in place I can level the legs out.

I took Thursday & Friday off work this week, plumbing should arrive Friday, so hopefully I can get the glass for the sump cut Thursday, pick up the Acrylic Thursday/Friday and have the sump/plumbing and possibly a wet test done this weekend. Once that is done, I need to figure something out for light mounting, I have a "good" idea in my head, but haven't seen it done yet & am not sure if it will work, trying not to think too much about it yet, with too many more immediate things to do.
 

am3gross

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Wow! Sounds like you got your hands full there! You really have a great wife if she would suggest you do a reef tank!

As far as the sump goes, it sounds like you have it under control. I did a standard 75 which I bought some precut baffles off of ebay for. Then I have a 40 breeder that is plumbed right beside the 75 for a fuge. Very simple and very cheap really. I put most of the funds into the stuff that automates the tank.

Keep the pictures coming, the progress you are making is great.

Mike
 
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phillybean

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Wow! Sounds like you got your hands full there! You really have a great wife if she would suggest you do a reef tank!

As far as the sump goes, it sounds like you have it under control. I did a standard 75 which I bought some precut baffles off of ebay for. Then I have a 40 breeder that is plumbed right beside the 75 for a fuge. Very simple and very cheap really. I put most of the funds into the stuff that automates the tank.

Keep the pictures coming, the progress you are making is great.

Mike

Thanks, yeah she's pretty great.

I've been looking at those Ebay Sump Kits, this tank is a bit older so I am not quite sure the diminsions will work out. Got a quote on the acrylic/starboard and it looks like I'm just going to go tinted/black glass for the baffles and use a marine grade vinyl on the glass that won't touch the water to get the blue look I want. Was told I need to buy a minimum 48 x 96 sheet, $375 CDN.
 
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phillybean

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Didn't get as much done as I wanted this weekend, I did get the door back in place, finished framing around the tank and hung the drywall. Still need to mud/tape and then figure out paint. Look's like it'll end up with me painting the entire basement, which has been on the "honey do list" for awhile now. I'm a pretty terrible carpenter, but try my best. I thought I picked up some pretty straight 2x4's, but between the wall already not being square and my lack of ability, it's not quite perfect. That said, it's pretty close and I will use shims under the trim to get everything perfectly level.

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Lack of progress on the "fun stuff" made me take on a new part. Lighting. Tried to play around with a few different options and idea's. 3 different fixtures make it a challenge, but gives me lot's of options as well. Due to not having access infront of the tank, I need to be able to move the fixture out of the way so I can reach all the way in. The low ceiling height really didn't make a pulley system worth while. I toyed with the idea of a rolling set up, where I can move each fixture back 4-5 feet, but couldn't really come up with something that I thought would work. Settled on keeping it simple for now, I can always change it later. Just mounted a 2x4 to the floor joists above the drop ceiling and used chains to hang the lights from. I have 2 carabiners rated for 250lb's each at the top, when I need in the tank, I just need to put a sheet of wood over it, remove the chain and drop it down. Works not bad, the middle fixture is over the center brace which is about 20" wide, so I won't ever need to move that one. The one furthest from where the power will be however, will be an issue. Not quite sure what I'll do for now, but I have a feeling most of my current SPS colonies will go on that side, so I won't have to go in often.

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Plumbing will arrive tomorrow, hopefully I'll be able to finish the trim, drywall mud/sand and reseal the top trim before the weekend. Then this weekend tackle the sump, plumbing and hopefully a wet test. I'm hoping to have everything ready to move by February 6th.

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phillybean

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No big updates, my PVC pipe and 3 x 1.25" Valves came in. I think I'll have enough pipe, but we'll find out soon enough. The blue pipe look's awesome.

Did a final level on the tank, the laundry room floor is sloped to run into the drain, so I got the stand made with adjustable legs. Should have done it before I put the tank on the stand.

Need to make a few decisions over the next couple days. I'm procrastinating on the sump, can't quite make up my mind on the layout. I think I just need to bite the bullet and do it. I think I'll do bulk heads going directly into filter socks and the return pump plumbed into a bulk head as well, probably Vinyl or Silicone tube with a barbed fitting to the bulk head, then the hard PVC from there. If I go that route, I'll remove all the plastic trim from the top, and do a Eurobrace set up with 1/2" glass with holes drilled for bulk heads. Drains are 1.5" so won't be an issue, but my return pump is fitting are glued with 1.25" PVC, that's the size pipe & valves I ordered and I can't find 1.25" bulk heads. Will likely do 1.5" bulk heads on the return and use reducers before and after to cover the 1.25".

Bigger issue the the state of the 90 gallon. I kind of "threw" everything in there, don't have much height in the rock right now, so all the corals are tight together. My SPS are still looking mostly great, but I'm having a Dino issue, covering some LPS, Zoa's and pink birdsnest. Birdsnest is looking pretty rough. Covered in Dino's, Ive been blowing it all every day, but it just keeps coming back. All my Euphyllia aren't doing well at all. Mostly closed up, very poor extension. My GSP is typically my canary in a coal mine, but it is still really extended and looking great. Took my GFO offline today and replaced it with Carbon, will also do a 20 gallon water change tomorrow or Friday. Parameters look good, 8.4 Alk, Calcium 440, Mag 1350, Nitrate 2.5, Phosphate 0.037. I think proper placement for the corals to get better lighting & flow and running the UV sterilizer will help a lot, so puts more pressure on getting the new tank done & transfer done. Going to take a couple days off next week to finish the sump, plumbing as NSA rock structure. Really shooting hard for February 6th being the transfer day.
 
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phillybean

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Bit of a smaller update today, although a lot is going on regarding the build. Not enough time to post because of the work needed, but it's been awhile. Tank transfer won't happen this weekend, it could probably be possible, but would leave me with just Sunday to do everything and if something goes wrong I can't take Monday off work. Work is slow this time of year for me, so I am taking Thursday's & Friday's off this month, so shooting for next Thursday/Friday as the days to move everything over. Not as rushed and time to spend if things go wrong.

Onto the build. First off, finished up the trim. Still need to paint, but for the most part, the "construction" side is now complete.
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Second, bit the bullet...
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Got a great deal on a "used" BNIB Trident, FMM Module and a used PM2. I had already bought a 1" flow monitor for the UV Sterilizer and planned on buying an ATK and using a module on the FMM for it, but the deal was too good to pass up. Ultimately, I will still need another FMM so will likely be getting the ATK down the road.

Third - Finalized the sump plants. Might do a separate post on the DIY form because I'm pretty proud of it. Still have a few touches to do on it, but here we go:

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So glass sections with bulk heads thru the glass for the drains. Will have 1 1/2" valves to turn off flow for easy filter sock changes. Also in that area I have 2 1/4" bulk heads, one will be for the future auto water change, one to pull sample water for the trident. The sock compartment doubles as the refugium. This will also be the home for the heaters. The opposite side has blacked out glass, a 3" section of black eggcrate and then a 4" section of glass above that. Should block out all the light from the skimmer section. 3 baffles, one of which I may put a sponge or filter media thru. Return is a little wonky, pump is set for 1 1/4" pipe, but could only find 1 1/2 bulk heads, so will be running reducers. Still not sure if I will use tubing, PVC or SpaFlex from pump to bulk head. I have 2 holes drilled for 1" bulk heads, which I will use if/when I switch to dual COR20 or COR15 return pumps. In the mean time, this will be used for power cables. Also in that section are 6 holes for 1/4 bulk heads. Three for Aquaforest Components, one for Acro Power, one for auto water change and one for future use.

On top of the glass, I have blue Vinyl Wrap that match's the color of the PVC pipe, as well as the 1/4 tubing I will be using.

Still working out a potential probe holder and heater holder. Should have those figured out tomorrow, but I am leaning towards just using a magnetic probe holder.


Forth - Plumbing
Started today, but until the sump is done and under the tank can't do much more. I did make the standpipes though. With only a single 2" bulk head in each overflow I'm a little stuck going Durso's. Also due to lack of space, I needed to reduce them down to 1.5" and use 45 degree elbows to get some more room. I am happy with how they came out, due to space I had to assemble them inside of the overflows, so only the cap is glued in place. I used my Blue 1.5" PVC, I should still have enough for the drains...but we'll find out tomorrow lol.
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Fifth - Motivation
Since I am going Dry sand, decided to put the sand and some dry rock in the tank to give me something to look at. Sand is special grade, I'm super stoked on this, as my current sand is very fine and a major PITA. Tough to believe from this picture these 2 rocks make up 35 pounds...
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Might make another update on Sunday, but depending how it goes, will likely be Monday or Tuesday night.

Happy Superbowl everyone! 24.png 27.png
 
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phillybean

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Sorry about the formatting issues, not sure why those two pictures are staying at the end of my last post, tried to edit and delete them but they keep coming back...hopefully my plumbing results go better haha

As always, took a few extra trips to the store, but I did have enough blue PVC to finish the job. Only took six total trips to 4 different stores to get everything...not including the online order for PVC pipe.

Fairly productive weekend however. First off, I redid the ceiling/light hangers with longer eye bolts, now the bolts come down far enough that the desk grommets have no pressure on them and fit snugly. This simple job was surprisingly a major PITA. But it look's much better so I'm happy I did it.

I wanted a nice clean, compact control board, but due to space limitations, as well as wire length issues, I'm going to have to go with two of them. Tried to find a small bookshelf to fit beside the pump, but ended up using an end table my wife bought pre-covid to refinish and sell. Due to not wanting people over, she never got around to it. Fits pretty well, has a small drawer which will be handy for storage and by removing it, I can plug into the DJ Station easy. Bonus is that it is short enough my Trident fits right on top, I'll also be picking up a tablet holder to control the Fire Tablet that I have running Apex Fusion, Mobius and my Jebao Doser App.

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Plumbing was the biggest job and accomplishment however. I've never had bulk heads in a sump before, which was a challenge. Everything has to be so precise doing so. I've also never plumbed a UV sterilizer , so that added new challenges as well. All my previous plumbing was never over 1", so this being 2" bulk heads to 1.5" drains, 1 1/4" returns etc. really pushed my limits.

Overall I'm happy with the results, make a couple mistakes which I hope won't bite me. Biggest one was forgetting the screw on the coupler on the top part of the return. Sadly, everything was glued in, so unless I cut out the bulk head, replace a T, and Elbow and a Union from the Valve, I'm SOL. I ended up hack sawing the "nut" prying it over, threading it in place and then superglueing the nut back to once piece. I really tried putting pressure on it and it stayed, didn't split at all, so I think I'm good. I decided not to go with a manifold, I could possibly add one in the future, but I really only run carbon and GFO once and awhile.

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And lastly, possibly a mistake, but I hope not...I've decided to do my west test will RODI. I figure if something leaks I won't have to drain all of it to fix anything and I've always been nervous. Water going in now, hopefully will be full for Thursday to do a wet test. If not, I may pick up some RODI in 20 gallon brutes, LFS sells RODI and is only 5 minutes away.

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phillybean

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Waiting game is still going, RODI is slow, replaced the filters but did not speed things up much. Tank move won't happen this weekend, so looking ahead to next weekend now...

That said, it has allowed me to get a few other things done, finished the drywall and paint. Pretty happy with how it turned out. Need to touch up a couple edges, but overall look's good. As you can see, since Tuesday night, we're just above half way on the water. Changed the filters Wednesday night and it did make a pretty noticeable improvement, but at this rate, it will likely be Monday before it is full.

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Also finished up the control board, not exactly what I had in mind, but it will work for now. Once the move is complete I can move the rest of everything over. Once everything is in place, I will work on some cable management, one bonus is that the UV Sterlizer hides a lot of them and then I can tuck them behind the tank.

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phillybean

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Tank transfer went pretty good overall, didn't lose anything, but two acro's were out of water for a bit longer than I wanted or thought. Had some bleaching but they have both bounced back.

Not super happy about the rock on the left side of the tank, it does have a large cave system in it which the fish seem to love though. I just feel like it is a bit too much of "a pile of rock". Needing to put 3 decent sized colonies I needed a good base though. Might make a few changes to try to open it up a bit.

Changed out the JBJ for an ATK, took a bit to program but overall I'm pretty happy with it.

Added two Bangaii Cardinal's, both were pretty small, neither one made it. Not sure what happened, but I think it was acclimation errors. They made it a couple days, but weren't wrong enough to swim in the current. One got swept into the overflow and died shortly after. The other one just went missing. Lot's of bristle worms, including a couple large ones. They could take care of a small body overnight. Frustrating, to lose anything when I can only blame myself. Definitely need to add some more fish, not enough "action" in the tank right now. Thinking of adding a few more Lyretail Anthias, want to try for a couple more Bangaii's, but will try to get larger one next time. Also need to build a clean up crew, currently just have about 4 snails and two hermits. Don't think that I will add any more hermits, but a handful of Emerald Crabs and various snails.

Added a WWC Rainbow Loom, still waiting for the pink color to show up, also adding a RR Godzilla & WWC Yellow Tips tomorrow. That's probably all for now. Still need to finish up some cable management, I've been procrastinating on it, but will probably tackle it today...
 
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Been awhile since an update. Recently added 3 DOS's, one doing auto water change, two for Alk, Calcium, Mag & AcroPower. Mag levels are still high, around 1400 so not dosing it currently. It's been about 2 months since I've dosed it, it's dropping slowly but not much. Sand bed is messy, going to try to pick up some conchs, hopefully that will help.

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