Adam’s AquaSmarts Custom Reef

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Adam1985

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Hi everyone,

I’ve been reefing for years, but I’ve finally decided to design and build out a truly custom system. So… I’d like to start my first build thread in the hopes of this community joining me on this journey. I’ll try to do it in blog format with updates at least every few days.

The system will not be huge, but I live in a small, 26th floor apartment in Shanghai, so much bigger than I’m planning and I would have serious issues getting it into my home.

The concept drawings will be finished in the coming days, and I hope to take delivery and install around Christmas. Amazing Christmas present to myself, right! But the delivery timing is still not fully agreed.

Because I need to do everything in metric for my design, I’ll start posting with metric, but let me know if you prefer imperial units.

For my first post, I’ll share the specs of the main display tank.

The display tank will be a custom made tank; 1 m x 1 m length and width, and it will be 62 cm tall. The tank will be made of 15 mm ultra clear glass, and the silicone will be transparent. As you can tell from the dimensions, the form factor will be square from a top down view, with access to the sump from 3 sides (a square peninsula of sorts). It will sport a single, backpack style slim form factor overflow in the center of the back wall, with two return lines.

Total display volume will be 620 L or 164 g. I did consider a 1.2 m form factor, and actually marked up both the 1 m and 1.2 m form factors on the floor and wall; the 1.2 m just seemed too big and heavy for my apartment.

Stay tuned in the coming days for details on the stand, sump, refugium, lighting, and all other specs.

After all, it wouldn’t be as much fun if I shared all the details in one post.

Adam
 
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Adam1985

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Thanks! It’s been an interesting week on the design side and I’ve just completed the final sign off on the display tank—once the glass panes are manufactured and cut, there’s no turning back. Though at the back of my mind, I keep thinking about the 1.2 m.

I went through iterations of sump designs before finalizing. I’ll share the sump details in a separate post later, but essentially the sump is as large as it can be within the 1 m x 1 m stand, while still allowing room for my dosing containers and a recessed space for controllers and wires. I’m attaching a design drawing.

I’ve also planned a display refugium for on top of the sump. I plan to keep some nice looking macroalgae and cool fauna in the display refugium as I love macroalgae and my tangs make it impossible to keep in the main display. The display refugium is basically a 40 cm ultra clear cube.

Another thing is that I’m adding a side cabinet to the stand to house my skimmer and UV. It will also serve as a small workspace next to the tank when feeding, cleaning, etc.

Stand material is solid ash, and I plan to stay with the wood’s natural color.

I plan to do the plumbing in red and black PVC. I’d like to ask some advice though—for the main overflow drain the standard design is 40 mm (1.6”) while the main return and emergency drainage pipes are 32 mm (1 1/4”). I’m planning to have a throughput of up to 20,000 L/h (~5300 gph). Possibly higher. Do you think these pipe sizes make sense? I’m thinking not, considering changing to 50mm/40mm/40mm.

I’ll share updates as the project continues, and I’d really appreciate any comments/advice you might have.

Thanks all,

Adam

E9D89EBD-1101-4961-AB20-8341B7F1A16D.jpeg
 
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Adam1985

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Thanks! It’s been an interesting week on the design side and I’ve just completed the final sign off on the display tank—once the glass panes are manufactured and cut, there’s no turning back. Though at the back of my mind, I keep thinking about the 1.2 m.

I went through iterations of sump designs before finalizing. I’ll share the sump details in a separate post later, but essentially the sump is as large as it can be within the 1 m x 1 m stand, while still allowing room for my dosing containers and a recessed space for controllers and wires. I’m attaching a design drawing.

I’ve also planned a display refugium for on top of the sump. I plan to keep some nice looking macroalgae and cool fauna in the display refugium as I love macroalgae and my tangs make it impossible to keep in the main display. The display refugium is basically a 40 cm ultra clear cube.

Another thing is that I’m adding a side cabinet to the stand to house my skimmer and UV. It will also serve as a small workspace next to the tank when feeding, cleaning, etc.

Stand material is solid ash, and I plan to stay with the wood’s natural color.

I plan to do the plumbing in red and black PVC. I’d like to ask some advice though—for the main overflow drain the standard design is 40 mm (1.6”) while the main return and emergency drainage pipes are 32 mm (1 1/4”). I’m planning to have a throughput of up to 20,000 L/h (~5300 gph). Possibly higher. Do you think these pipe sizes make sense? I’m thinking not, considering changing to 50mm/40mm/40mm.

I’ll share updates as the project continues, and I’d really appreciate any comments/advice you might have.

Thanks all,

Adam

E9D89EBD-1101-4961-AB20-8341B7F1A16D.jpeg
 

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Adam1985

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Well, it’s been another interesting week. The most interesting part was realizing, after a nightmare about the topic, that the stand (1 m tall — taller than usual to accommodate the display refugium) wouldn’t have fit through the stairwell doors and elevators. I measured openings earlier, but forgot to measure again after designing in the refugium.

I’d have needed to hire a crane to get it in. Was a bit bummed, OK, a lot bummed, but a lot less bummed than I would have been with my stand in the parking lot and no way to bring it inside. Also less bummed than I would have been if I realized it 24 hours later after the wood for the stand had already been cut, making dimensional changes harder.

So the integrated display refugium was removed from the plan and stand shortened to 80cm. If doing a display refugium I’ll use another unused 45x45x45 cm cube and stand I already have, though I’ll add connections to the main tank plumbing from the beginning to make connections easy if I go this route.

Filter roller unit arriving soon for my inspection before forwarding it to the workshop, so we can ensure the sump design works with it.

Now considering lighting, and I’ve got a ton of ideas.

Initially I got my other half to give the green light to proceed with this tank because “I already have oversized everything so I won’t need to buy any new equipment, just the tank and stand, and move everything over, it will be very simple.”

Now, in retrospect, not so much. :)
 
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Tank shipped today and hoping for a smooth transfer! We did get the color of the sump wrong (I was planning black) but I didn’t feel it was a big enough issue to warrant rebuild

Next challenge will be getting in into my apartment. It’s going to be a heavy one.

9D8031CD-B990-4B77-A598-A9E6493E8889.jpeg
 
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Adam1985

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It’s coming along. Mostly finished plumbing, managed a couple of leaky seals, added water and salt. Photos taken last night right after adding salt. Black tray underneath was made custom and is ran to the bathroom to mitigate water spills or overflows.

Severely underestimated the weight of the thing. It was quite difficult to move, even with 3-4 guys, was a real beast to lift.

As a comparison you can see my current tank in the background of one photo.

I’ll probably do the transfer this weekend or next. Ran out of salt at 33 ppt, so need to wait for a new bucket before I can finish.
 

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polyppal

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Tank shipped today and hoping for a smooth transfer! We did get the color of the sump wrong (I was planning black) but I didn’t feel it was a big enough issue to warrant rebuild

Next challenge will be getting in into my apartment. It’s going to be a heavy one.

9D8031CD-B990-4B77-A598-A9E6493E8889.jpeg
pretty tank!
 
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Adam1985

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Also has bean animal overflow, dual return lines to the back walls. Main return is a Jebao 20,000 L/h which is a torrent, needed to dial it back with the ball valves even at just 30%. Two MP40’s on the back wall. Lighting is 8x36” T5 and a Kessil AP9X, 15 cm above the top of the tank.
 
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Bro, the cabinet is just ******* niceeee. Following with most interest. Whaths the ideea for stocking?

Thanks a lot, it’s a kind of ash wood native to north China/Mongolia/Siberia. Was a custom job. What’s cool is that I arranged most of the panels to be magnetically attached so they can be completely removed and set aside for easy access leaving the entire sump accessible from all around. I kept normal hinged doors on the front only where I’d open it daily and wouldn’t want to set the panels aside. In retrospect I should have gone magnetic on all.

Stocking plan is just to move my current stuff over as my tank is teeming with stuff. Mixed reef and large fish that have grown. Give my corals and fish room to grow. Corals currently growing into each other, and usually there’s only one winner in those cases. Sometimes no winners.

Stand doors and current tank as attached.
 

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Adam1985

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Thanks a lot, it’s a kind of ash wood native to north China/Mongolia/Siberia. Was a custom job. What’s cool is that I arranged most of the panels to be magnetically attached so they can be completely removed and set aside for easy access leaving the entire sump accessible from all around. I kept normal hinged doors on the front only where I’d open it daily and wouldn’t want to set the panels aside. In retrospect I should have gone magnetic on all.

Stocking plan is just to move my current stuff over as my tank is teeming with stuff. Mixed reef and large fish that have grown. Give my corals and fish room to grow. Corals currently growing into each other, and usually there’s only one winner in those cases. Sometimes no winners.

Stand doors and current tank as attached.

Tank photo is a bit old, can’t take a good photo right now as have no blue filter available and without it my phone can’t take a decent picture. But basically it’s teeming with coral now and the fish have gotten too big and have no room to swim.
 
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Adam1985

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Tank photo is a bit old, can’t take a good photo right now as have no blue filter available and without it my phone can’t take a decent picture. But basically it’s teeming with coral now and the fish have gotten too big and have no room to swim.

I’ve lost like 5 corals in the past two months as they’ve killed each other growing into each other. Of course my laziness not cutting them back is the true culprit.
 
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Some newer live rock in now and a few leathers, mushrooms etc. to start. Once they look happy I’ll move the rest over. Really enjoying the depth of field available from the three sides of the ~40” tank.

Sorry for the blue. Only T5’s running as I’ll move my LEDs when I move the bulk of the livestock.
 

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Adam1985

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Just some pics of the tank.
 

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