AlexGs 4200 Gallon Display + 2100 gallon fish room? --- New House = New Build

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AlexG

AlexG

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Update time

What a busy week it has been. Since the last 500 gallon water change many of the corals still seem to be improving although a few are still not turning around. However I am seeing some growth and consumption is going up. I need to balance my ca/rx and kalk dosing. My Magnesium was down from 1350 to 1290 again which means I need to dose 2 gallons of BRS mix to get back to 1350ppm. I think I am going to swap out my kalk for the brightwell +mag to see if that helps. Since I have done 3x water changes since November its time for another ICP test to see where things stand.

My Mantis friends are both doing well and I was happy the green smasher (have not identified yet) made it safely to my 100 gallon tank and the new Yellow spearing mantis (Pseudosquilla ciliata) now has the run of the 700 gallon refugium tank. I added a random lazy puffer photo for fun. I finally got around to it and got the 100 gallon arrival center tank fully running with a sump again. The hard plumbing took a extra day as I did not have some of the fittings I needed in my bins of PVC stuff. I still need a light though as the full tank shot with lights on was using flash lights LOL. The mantis can have the run of this tank for now but who knows I might leave it in there with new larger fish.

On the new 4200 gallon display I have completed the bottom seal beam brace install/construction. I went through all 378 legs on the stand and corrected a few that had high spots. Then I did the first round of my dreaded plywood runs. I got 9 4'x8'x3/4" sheets of BC plywood and I will just say it was not fun load/unloading the rental truck nor was it fun hauling all 9 sheets into the house and into the basement by myself but at least the plywood for the stand top in in the basement now. I only need to buy another 18 sheets of plywood for the actual aquarium bottom :(

Then I decided with the plywood downstairs to get the seal beams against the wall waterproofed so I mixed up a small amount of pond armor to coat the side that will be against the wall. One more coat and it will be good for installation. Now I need to clean under stand and do a final alignment before I start installing the plywood stand top. It will be exciting to see that step completed.



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AlexG

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I can’t wait to see this project finished! I’m drooling and in aw over the space you allocated towards it. Thanks for sharing!

On your salt water change system, what are you using to preheat the water before it gets transferred?

Well I have it stubbed out to use a radiant heating coil but I have not gone that route yet so its the one place in my big system I am using electric heaters on a temporary basis. I had a 500watt titanium that died during my last water change which was way undersized. I picked up the BRS 1200watt kit 2x600watt heaters and an inkbird controller. It heated up 500 gallons by 10degrees within a few hours so that will be my standby for now. I mount my heaters on a large PVC T so I can pull them in and out of the water storage tanks as needed as I won't leave them in saltwater unless they are being used. I have a platinum blue DC pump I use for recirculation between the tanks when they are not inline with the system.

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sneekapeek

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I was wondering, because it seems like the best way to heat that much water is a drop in heater. I like that idea of ziptie to pvc and pull in and out. Right now I’m running a 500w on my 100g tank and it’s a pain dealing with the heater. My last water change, the heater wasn’t fully submerged because of the short cord length and my tall tank was only partially filled. Half the heater was not submerged and caused a bit of steam and broke the heater! I said *** that and I just ordered a titanium inline heater (aqua logic 1kw) for ease and convenience. We’ll see how it works, just plumbed it up last night. I’d look into it too! I’ve always had to work around my heaters and I’m so tired of it and I haven’t found a better option out there! I hope this in-line kicks butt and stays rust free.
 
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AlexG

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I was wondering, because it seems like the best way to heat that much water is a drop in heater. I like that idea of ziptie to pvc and pull in and out. Right now I’m running a 500w on my 100g tank and it’s a pain dealing with the heater. My last water change, the heater wasn’t fully submerged because of the short cord length and my tall tank was only partially filled. Half the heater was not submerged and caused a bit of steam and broke the heater! I said *** that and I just ordered a titanium inline heater (aqua logic 1kw) for ease and convenience. We’ll see how it works, just plumbed it up last night. I’d look into it too! I’ve always had to work around my heaters and I’m so tired of it and I haven’t found a better option out there! I hope this in-line kicks butt and stays rust free.

This is a diagram of my radiant heating system for the main system. If I ever add a second loop to the system for water changes I will have a PEX coil in one of my water storage tanks. This is by far the most efficient and safe way I have ever heating my aquariums. There is no concern about the heat exchanger coil not being submerged as it can't overheat. I looked at inline heaters but for the cost of a good one I can basically pay for a replacement hot water heater.

radiant heating system.png
 

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That is a really cool idea on the heat exchanger through hot water heater. You looked into what pump you are going to use? I have done some radiant heat systems before in some pretty heavy use scenarios, and have found that while a bit more upfront, the Grundfos pumps are pretty bulletproof. Either that or a Taco. Also, what are you using for a heat exchanger? Just some loops of pex?
 

HPfunk

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Truly inspirational!!! Just found your thread last night and I binged it. I’ve always been interested in plywood aquariums and you take it to the next level. Thank you for your detailed explanations, and for sharing, it’s been pure edutainment.
 

sneekapeek

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This is a diagram of my radiant heating system for the main system. If I ever add a second loop to the system for water changes I will have a PEX coil in one of my water storage tanks. This is by far the most efficient and safe way I have ever heating my aquariums. There is no concern about the heat exchanger coil not being submerged as it can't overheat. I looked at inline heaters but for the cost of a good one I can basically pay for a replacement hot water heater.

radiant heating system.png
Thanks for posting, Looks like I’ve got some more research to look into a heat exchanger and pex coil.
My issue is I have a very tall vertical storage tank and the drop in heater is quite tacky and doesn’t hit the bottom of tank without a longer cord. I need a way to heat up my new saltwater fast so I can change water within 15 minutes. I haven’t needed to put a heater on my display tank in San Diego, the acrylic display, sump and drop in pump really creates/insulates heat. I’m running a chiller all year long to give an idea.
The pex coil system sounds like the way to go. Right now I have an inline 1kw, but I’m real interested in your pex coil.
 

Will F

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I use a coil of pex tubing to heat my 400G system. I have been doing it for years. I use a simple inkbird controller to open and close the zone valve off of the radiant manifold on my boiler system. It heats the water effortlessly, and consistently. Some suggestions, Make sure you use oxygen barrier tubing, You may want to do a primary/secondary loop off of your Hot water tank. Otherwise you may have cold showers and or cold water going to the tank when there is a call/need for hot water. Water heaters are not really meant to support BTU needs like this.
 
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AlexG

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That is a really cool idea on the heat exchanger through hot water heater. You looked into what pump you are going to use? I have done some radiant heat systems before in some pretty heavy use scenarios, and have found that while a bit more upfront, the Grundfos pumps are pretty bulletproof. Either that or a Taco. Also, what are you using for a heat exchanger? Just some loops of pex?
I am using a Bronze Grundfos single speed pump. I added a picture of the pex coil heat exchanger I have in the sump. I have seen titanium heat exchangers used before but I normally avoid all metals in my tank if I can help it. I honestly don't want an overly efficient heat exchanger because even the PEX coil is really quick and its a rather inefficient heat exchanger.

Thanks for posting, Looks like I’ve got some more research to look into a heat exchanger and pex coil.
My issue is I have a very tall vertical storage tank and the drop in heater is quite tacky and doesn’t hit the bottom of tank without a longer cord. I need a way to heat up my new saltwater fast so I can change water within 15 minutes. I haven’t needed to put a heater on my display tank in San Diego, the acrylic display, sump and drop in pump really creates/insulates heat. I’m running a chiller all year long to give an idea.
The pex coil system sounds like the way to go. Right now I have an inline 1kw, but I’m real interested in your pex coil.
I have been using the PEX coil solution for several years now and it works really well and its cheap to replace.

I use a coil of pex tubing to heat my 400G system. I have been doing it for years. I use a simple inkbird controller to open and close the zone valve off of the radiant manifold on my boiler system. It heats the water effortlessly, and consistently. Some suggestions, Make sure you use oxygen barrier tubing, You may want to do a primary/secondary loop off of your Hot water tank. Otherwise you may have cold showers and or cold water going to the tank when there is a call/need for hot water. Water heaters are not really meant to support BTU needs like this.
Since my hot water tank is in an open system and does not get to true radiant system temps a boiler produces I use standard PEX and its also why I went with a Bronze recirculation pump over cast iron. The run time on my heating cycles is rather low ~1hour (Sharp increase 77.6-78.1) and since its recirculating hot water back into the tank the hot water heater actually does not have to cycle long to keep the tank temp stabilized. Unless there is a hot water tank failure or its completely drained of hot water it should not be possible for cold water to enter the coil. (This might be an idea though for another line of protection to shutdown the heating loop if the PEX temp dips below a certain point.) The heating loop is also a one way loop since it has a check valve installed to prevent reverse flow from hot water calls reversing the plumbing.

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Red_Beard

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I am using a Bronze Grundfos single speed pump. I added a picture of the pex coil heat exchanger I have in the sump. I have seen titanium heat exchangers used before but I normally avoid all metals in my tank if I can help it. I honestly don't want an overly efficient heat exchanger because even the PEX coil is really quick and its a rather inefficient heat exchanger.


I have been using the PEX coil solution for several years now and it works really well and its cheap to replace.


Since my hot water tank is in an open system and does not get to true radiant system temps a boiler produces I use standard PEX and its also why I went with a Bronze recirculation pump over cast iron. The run time on my heating cycles is rather low ~1hour (Sharp increase 77.6-78.1) and since its recirculating hot water back into the tank the hot water heater actually does not have to cycle long to keep the tank temp stabilized. Unless there is a hot water tank failure or its completely drained of hot water it should not be possible for cold water to enter the coil. (This might be an idea though for another line of protection to shutdown the heating loop if the PEX temp dips below a certain point.) The heating loop is also a one way loop since it has a check valve installed to prevent reverse flow from hot water calls reversing the plumbing.

Screenshot_20220119-123815_APEX Fusion.jpg
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Nice! That answered my question :) I was wondering what you were doing with the loop, if it was in some sort of raceway or housing, but the pic answered that.
 
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Update time

Have to start with a mantis update. Mr. Stabby Stabby (Yellow Spearing Mantis) got a chance to go hunting this week and I got a slow motion video in the Instagram link below. My other mantis decided to put on a great threat display and pose for some pictures.

The display tank has some major changes incoming. I would have gotten a little further along but I was sick for 5 days with some recovery time. Now its back to work and I have installed the first 11 feet of the aquarium stand top. In the next week or two I should have that completed. Its nice to be able to walk on plywood and not balance on the tops of 2x4s when I walk on part of the stand now.


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Update time

Have to start with a mantis update. Mr. Stabby Stabby (Yellow Spearing Mantis) got a chance to go hunting this week and I got a slow motion video in the Instagram link below. My other mantis decided to put on a great threat display and pose for some pictures.

The display tank has some major changes incoming. I would have gotten a little further along but I was sick for 5 days with some recovery time. Now its back to work and I have installed the first 11 feet of the aquarium stand top. In the next week or two I should have that completed. Its nice to be able to walk on plywood and not balance on the tops of 2x4s when I walk on part of the stand now.


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Looking awesome, Alex!
 

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I have been using the PEX coil solution for several years now and it works really well and its cheap to replace.
Have you thought about using stainless steel tubing for the heat exchanger? Im using some 1/2" 316 stainless on my 600 and it seems to be working good. I'm finding the tank heats quicker with a more stable temperature which is leading to shorter run time for the heat pump. You also can run a smaller coil so its not taking up too much room. Corals and everything seem to be going good with out contamination from the tubing. The only draw back I have seen so far is there is a little build up of crud where the water and air touch the pipe.

I have a new coil made up and I'm going to either use uni seals or silicone to coat the tubing where the water meets the air to help keep from build up.
 
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AlexG

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Have you thought about using stainless steel tubing for the heat exchanger? Im using some 1/2" 316 stainless on my 600 and it seems to be working good. I'm finding the tank heats quicker with a more stable temperature which is leading to shorter run time for the heat pump. You also can run a smaller coil so its not taking up too much room. Corals and everything seem to be going good with out contamination from the tubing. The only draw back I have seen so far is there is a little build up of crud where the water and air touch the pipe.

I have a new coil made up and I'm going to either use uni seals or silicone to coat the tubing where the water meets the air to help keep from build up.

At one point I considered a titanium coil but the problem is that getting high grade materials free of impurities is expensive compared to the cost of PEX. There are lots of cheap stainless and titanium coils out there but I don't trust them not to leach metals into my tank. The run time of the recirculation pump is a small price to pay to completely avoid the risk of adding extra metals into the tank.
 
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Update time

Big visual change on the 4200 gallon display build. I have completed the installation of the stand top with 3/4" plywood.

Prep work for the stand top installation
  • Stand alignment (laser level and 10lb sledge)
  • 2x6 lower seal beam & support leg installation
    • Against the wall 2x6 cut down 3/4" and a 1x8 was attached to form an L-beam
    • Back side of L-Beam water proofed with 2xcoat of pond armor before installation.
  • check all 378x stand legs for high spots and cut down to level as needed (only a handful of corrections)
  • Cleanup on floor under stand
  • Check all 378x stand legs to make sure they are in contact with the floor and shim with composite shims if needed
    • A handful of shims were used due to the unevenness of the floor not allowing full contact of a few 2x4 stand legs.
  • Check stand alignment
  • Start plywood top installation using 2" ceramic coated deck screws
    • spot clean as needed under stand during plywood installation
Next step in the build is to start the construction of the bottom of the aquarium which means I get to purchase even more plywood and carry it into the basement.

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Awesome update Alex! How many layers of plywood do you plan to use for the bottom of the aquarium? I can't remember seeing you say it anywhere.

Great Question.

Tank Bottom - 1.5" 2x layers of 3/4" birch plywood jointed together and laminated(glued) together to make a single piece of plywood for the tank bottom. Add another 3/4" of thickness for the stand top. Overall the bottom is more or less 2.25" of plywood before waterproofing/fiberglassing starts.
 

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