90 gallon FO see-through DT build

DaddyFish

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Having recently joined R2R, I have been urged to post a build thread. My latest tank build is nearly 100% complete, but I do have some general info and several progress photos that I can share. So here goes...

When I purchased my current house back in 2013 it had this roughly 4-foot wide opening between the dining area and kitchen with a basic, narrow shelf suitable for passing dinner plates, drink cups etc. Nothing large enough or substantial enough to support any weight. But I thought way back then in 2013... "What a cool place to put a big aquarium!" I had not owned an aquarium in YEARS and a passing thought was about all that became of it all until mid-2019.

I decided then to purchase a 28-gal bowfront for freshwater, then a 54-corner for saltwater, then a 45-bowfront for freshwater, built a custom stand for it, then a 55-long for saltwater then a... You all know how this goes!

Early this year (2020) I started salivating and planning and plotting how to make that opening become a very cool looking, nearly see-through FOT setup. I almost purchased a monster 150 tall, but read an online review where one person mentioned "nice tank but it's so deep that I cannot reach the bottom for maintenance without sticking my face in the water while wearing goggles". That statement struck a chord with me and I settled on 4-foot 90-gallon Aqueon that was on sale at the local big box pet store.

General design criteria for the build were/are:
* 90-gallon 4-foot glass tank, no drilling or hard plumbing and removal of the tank must leave a marketable and usable counter space remaining.
* Approximate weight of the full setup would be roughly 1,100 lbs., requiring concrete pads, post jacks and support beam(s) underneath the engineered floor system of my house.
* Filtration, heaters etc. must pass over the ends of the tank instead of the back, allowing full, unobstructed view of both the long sides and at least partial view of one end.
* I don't like canopies but wanted a closed-top tank, so custom covers and lighting support systems required.
* Counter surface must match the existing kitchen countertops pattern. Support cabinet must rest directly on the subfloor and be functional for storage of equipment, supplies and even a few kitchen items displaced by the tank.
* Electrical is available at both ends, but battery backup for at least the primary filtration required.
* With the exception of a large HOB hanging off the one, blind end of the tank, no canister, UV etc. visible. As much equipment as possible needed to be enclosed in the cabinet below.
* I don't do reefs, sumps or live rock (generally), and a planned heavy livestock load meant a lot of biomedia and filtration required.

I purchased the tank, brought it home in the pouring rain and (with help) set it on the floor of a spare bedroom. It had begun!
 
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DaddyFish

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Demo of the existing bar/counter and supports revealed a reasonable stud structure, but over 1/4" drop across the 52" opening. I eventually settled on placing formers on each side and using floor leveling compound to create a smooth and level surface to help support the new counter shelf.
 
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DaddyFish

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I cut out the floating laminate flooring to allow a new custom-built support cabinet to rest directly on the subfloor. At this point jack posts and such are in place underneath in the crawlspace. Pictured here is the kitchen storage cabinet that is being removed/displaced, hence the need to use at least some of the new tank support cabinet for kitchen storage.
 
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Here is the new cabinet set in place with the tank positioned for planning.
Some details are...
* 3/4" cabinet plywood construction throughout. Verticals are all doubled-3/4 . Counter top is doubled-3/4" that's compression laminated together. Special order Formica laminated that is an exact match for existing kitchen countertops.
* One hole using a desktop cord grommet for trim planned on right side to allow hoses and power to pass in/out of spaces below. Power on left end will be used for HOB/skimmer, secondary heater and powerhead circulator.
* House HVAC has been completely replaced with attic-based unit and ducts, so that floor duct to the left is capped off and can be used as a drain/fill pathway later.
 
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UV was always planned, but the unit I originally purchased was slightly too large to reasonably plumb into the planned filter cavity, and mounting the UV externally was NOT a viable decor option. So I settled on a CoraLife TurboTwist 36-watt, which is rated to support killing parasites at my planned flow rate of 250 gph.

Canister is a SunSun HW-3000 that also has it's own 9-watt UV, but that's not even enough to effectively kill algae at 250 gph. It's there as a backup UV if needed.

The HW-3000 is my primary bio filter, so it's configured with only the first tray containing mechanical media. All other trays are loaded with Seachem Matrix. There's roughly 5-liters of Matrix in that filter now.

UPS backup for the filter, UV, lighting and one heater is in the very bottom compartment.

I opted for the expense of silicone hose for aesthetics and flexibility. Stiff and dark vinyl hose just didn't work for me. One very positive note about the SunSun canister... their over the tank fittings have removeable caps for easy access to the hose interiors. I can easily shut off the filter, remove the two caps and run a cable brush down the hoses to remove any residue and keep them looking sharp.
 
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I'm proud of my cabinet design and build. It helps to have a friend who is 3rd generation cabinet maker! I do the engineering, he builds the cabinet. Here it is all painted, tank filled, cycled and running.

I used decorative metal shelf brackets to support the lighting. They are spaced far enough apart that you can slide the light all the way to one side, releasing the bracket on the opposite end. That allows the light to be easily removed/replaced for heavy maintenance.

The Seachem Tidal-110 HOB on the left/blind end, serves as my skimmer and nitrate filter. It contains medium foam, 2-layer fiber pad, and almost 2-liters of additional Matrix. I've learned from Seachem that keeping the flow rate dialed-down to 50 gph or less allows the Matrix to function extremely well as a nitrate filter. The SunSun canister handles the bulk of mechanical filtration and Ammonia/Nitrite conversion, while the HOB handles Nitrates, skimming and polishing.
 
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Local glass company cut 1/4" glass for me. Cost was about $45 for both pieces. I made the glass 2" shorter than each half opening and used 1/4" acrylic as filler panels, allowing me to easily cut shapes/cutouts for plumbing, HOB etc.

The handles are made from very inexpensive 24" acrylic towel bar replacements that I silicone glued to the glass and acrylic.


IMG_20200420_135356218.jpg

Shorter pieces of acrylic towel bar siliconed to the glass covers make very good handles.
 
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I wound up building a removable "blind" for the dining room/living side of the tank top. As I said in the beginning, I don't like full canopies, but the glare and utility look of the fully exposed top didn't suit me. I will post a current photo showing the front blind installed tomorrow.
 

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great job on the stand! I lot of people will say the glass tops will not work well as you need gas exchange. so keep an eye on that but looks like you have a HOB filter to so that prob. will do the trick.

what do you have on the canister filter? make sure to clean it often I would start with weekly can adjust from there.
 
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Finished top "blind" that gives the dominant side of the tank a canopy look, without the bulk of a full canopy.
The blind is made from shelving board, painted semi-gloss black on one side, matte silver on the other to reflect light. Blind slides down into two grooved end pieces and rests flush against the upper edge of the tank.
 
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I definitely appreciate the compliments on the stand. The absence of compliments on the tank itself isn't misunderstood either. :)

I realize that exposed plumbing and heaters definitely isn't the way of reefers. But a big chunk of black plastic stuck inside each end of this tank isn't something I wanted. I have considered making some narrow "intake boxes" to dress-up the interior. The focus for me is to leave as much open glass as possible.
 
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Some progress notes and photos...

I increased the filtration on this tank by adding a second canister that runs in series with the first one. Water runs from intake, to stages of mechanical in the first canister, through a tray of carbon, then floss and a polishing pad. From there it passes into the second canister that's completely filled with stages of Pond and Regular Seachem Matrix. The media pieces are progressively smaller as the water moves up through the trays.

Next, water passes through a 36-watt Coralife TurboTwist 12x UV, and finally through my homemade DIY biopellet reactor (added after the pic was made, video attached).

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Today I have everything moved out and applying a coat of epoxy paint inside the cabinet bottoms. Apparently I did not get enough polyurethane into the lower cabinet joints to create a bathtub. Spills happen and leaks happen when you're experimenting. I should have taken more care with the original finish work.

 
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The white epoxy paint is cured and everything back in its place. Each section is now a legit bathtub.

Got lucky and found rubber drain pans that exactly fit the cabinet bottoms. Added water leak detectors to each section (3 for $19).
IMG_20201009_133606400.jpg

IMG_20201009_133750092.jpg
 
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Here's a current video of the tank...
Shipwreck 90 video

Residents list:
Moe - Dogface Puffer
Tweety - Yellow Tang
Twitter - baby Yellow Tang
Bloo - Niger Trigger
Thing-1 & Thing-3 - Molly Miller Blenny
Peck r head - Valentini Puffer
Eellie - Snowflake Eel
Stoopid Clowns
Mr. Crabs - Giant Red Hermit
 
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Minor update... Been working on migrating equipment out of the DT and into the closed loop below. Despite re-engineering their seals, I have abandoned all hope of ever trusting SunSun canisters and opted for Oase Biomaster Thermo 850 plus Biomaster Thermo 600 for primary filtration and nitrate reduction.
I'm now down to very limited plumbing over the edge and a single GYRE pump inside the tank. It's funny how where you THINK objects will interfere with visual appeal turns out to be different than reality. I'm happier now with the visual openness than when I started a year ago.

IMG_20201111_162029407.jpg
 
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A few more refinements worth noting...

* I used aluminum Z-bar flooring trim from Lowes to fabricate a reflector hood for the main light.

* Water leak detectors in each cabinet section with epoxy sealed cabinet bottoms and drip trays. I really like the cabinet setup now, and a teaspoon of spilled water triggers the alarms.

* Oase Biomaster Thermo 850 has proven to have sufficient capacity for general filtration, without the need for the Tidal-110 HOB. This tank is now down to one canister filter with integrated 400w heater and a modified Fiji Large HOB Refugium where the 110 formerly resided.

* InkBird heater controller installed as overheat protection.

* Jebao GYRE oriented vertically.

* SunSun HW-3000 pickup and return assemblies still being used for the system. They are simply the BEST over the tank hose setups available. 3/4", removable caps for cleaning, rugged and adjustable flow too.

The Refugium uses an LED grow light that I added to acrylic brackets that I glued to the fuge wall. We'll see how well that all works out over time. So far my nitrates remain low, despite the very heavy stocking bioload.

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A few more refinements worth noting...

* I used aluminum Z-bar flooring trim from Lowes to fabricate a reflector hood for the main light.

* Water leak detectors in each cabinet section with epoxy sealed cabinet bottoms and drip trays. I really like the cabinet setup now, and a teaspoon of spilled water triggers the alarms.

* Oase Biomaster Thermo 850 has proven to have sufficient capacity for general filtration, without the need for the Tidal-110 HOB. This tank is now down to one canister filter with integrated 400w heater and a modified Fiji Large HOB Refugium where the 110 formerly resided.

* InkBird heater controller installed as overheat protection.

* Jebao GYRE oriented vertically.

* SunSun HW-3000 pickup and return assemblies still being used for the system. They are simply the BEST over the tank hose setups available. 3/4", removable caps for cleaning, rugged and adjustable flow too.

The Refugium uses an LED grow light that I added to acrylic brackets that I glued to the fuge wall. We'll see how well that all works out over time. So far my nitrates remain low, despite the very heavy stocking bioload.

IMG_20201216_172437943.jpg
IMG_20201216_172221412.jpg
IMG_20201216_172257263.jpg
IMG_20201216_172731207.jpg
IMG_20201216_172711177.jpg
Looking great! I'm also running a canister filter on my 29 gallon and didnt even realize that they made in-line UV sterilizes. Are you happy with how it's working?
Also I actually came across your account on a rodi system thread. Where did you find your aquaticlife tds meter? When I search it on amazon I cant find it.
 
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DaddyFish

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The TDS meter I'm using isn't AquaticLife, it's another brand from BRS. HM Digital I believe. Sells for $30 from BRS.

I LOVE my UV setups. I was running four on four different canister filter based tanks. Because I'm preparing for the new 215-gal peninsula, I've scaled back to two now, both 90s, both running 36-watt UV on night time cycles. It has without doubt, been the best system change I've done.
 

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