And now for something a little different ...

LBReefer

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Introduction
I am not entirely sure what my inspiration was, but I decided that one is never enough and picked up a new (to me) 100 gallon acrylic tank last weekend off of craigslist. While this is not my first tank, its my first build thread, so please be patient with me. I will share my trials and tribulations as I try and get this tank off the ground and ask for your guidance on a few concerns as I confront them.

Tank Acquisition
I blame a slow day at work for this new money pit. I was trying to avoid drafting some talking points and was tempted by the dark embrace of the craigslist aquarium classifieds. I had purchased and setup an 80 gallon glass aquarium in my office and was looking to have something at home with which to tinker. Not far into my sojourn I came across a deal to good to be true: a tank, stand, t-5 light and sump for $200. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tank and stand were in pretty good shape and most importantly, small enough to fit into the back of my SUV.



I have since gotten the tank home and started the process of scrubbing off the dead coraline algae and rinsing the interior with several rounds of diluted vinegar. The wife and dogs have started to question my choice of cologne and desire to stand out in the rain. Any recommendations on scrubbing this stuff off - beyond patience and elbow grease?

I was lucky to pick up 80 lbs, or so I am told, of used, but dry live rock. I sorted through the pieces and began the curing process. I am very appreciative of the posts shared by several fellow reefers about the curing process, along with a relevant BRS video. I went the wimpy path and used diluted vinegar and RODI over bleach or acid. After one week I have a pretty good boil going I am on to round two of the water change.

Any advice on how long I need to go on the curing process before I go switch to saltwater and start the curing process?

The Stand
I wasn't sure about utilizing someone else's homemade stand, but a quick review of the construction made me feel much more confident. Nonetheless, the front board and one of the side pieces did seem a bit worse for the wear and I decided to replace them.


And sand and repaint the remaining pieces:


I am pretty happy with how it turned out and much more confident in the stand's ability to repel mold and moisture. Most importantly, I hoodwinked my wife into being part of the process by asking her to choose the paint color and advise me on the painting process.

Equipment on a budget
As I mentioned earlier, this was not a fully thought-out endeavor and so I am attempting to be fairly frugal in my equipment purchases. I was able to find a very gently used Reef Octopus Space Saver 110 and a brand new AquaMaxx Magnus VSB 12000 pump off of craigslist. I then blew all of these savings ordering fancy colored plumbing off at BRS and 60 lbs of additional sand.

I had originally picked up an Eheim 1262 pump, but the guy I bought it from dropped it and shattered the pump cover. I didn't think much of it at the time, but have since struggled to find a replacement pump cover online. I have an email into Eheim, but I am not too hopeful. Unfortunately the plumbing I purchased was sized to match the Eheim, and I believe the Magnus has a larger 1 1/4 output. Here's to hoping good thoughts for BRS's return policy and limited difficulty in shipping 58" pipes.

Next steps
I am continuing to cure the rocks and replace some of the hardware on the stand. I am debating dropping another couple hundred bucks on a chiller. The aquarium is going into a bonus room off the garage that is well-insulated and the temperatures here in Long Beach very moderate 350+ days a year. I don't have much of a frame of reference. My main display take is at my office which enjoys year round A/C and is on a trio of back up generators the size of a buick.

I also had a bit of an adventure in picking up a new sump, but that can wait for the next update ...

Thank you for following along on this little misadventure.

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Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

Tahoe61

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Great job on the stand.

With well placed fans, you might be able to get away with no chiller. I had a tank in New Port Beach for a numbers of years with no chiller.
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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Great job on the stand.

With well placed fans, you might be able to get away with no chiller. I had a tank in New Port Beach for a numbers of years with no chiller.
That makes me feel better. The cost of a chiller and the ongoing electrical costs were not going to make my better half happy. Any suggestions on fan setups?
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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Great job on the stand.

With well placed fans, you might be able to get away with no chiller. I had a tank in New Port Beach for a numbers of years with no chiller.
That makes me feel better. The cost of a chiller and the ongoing electrical costs were not going to make my better half happy. Any suggestions on fan setups?
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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So everything has its ups and downs. The past two weeks have been no different.

I was able to locate a really awesome sump for $100 up in Santa Barbara. After wedging it into the back of my car, I had a subtle sensation that it was not in fact the 48" length that was advertised on craigslist. After getting it unloaded and cleaned out, I confirmed that it was 60x18x20. This would be no problem, save for the fact that the interior dimensions of my newly rebuilt stand were 56x14x26.


---

I have spent the past two weeks designing and building a new larger stand. The new stand measures 72x24X39 and will hopefully be big enough to accommodate a new larger tank somewhere down the road. In the interim, I need any advice on how to make a smaller tank on an oversized stand not look quite so stupid.




The finished product needs one more coat of polyurethane, but should be ready for prime time shortly.

I do need some advice on the bulkheads. Plumbing and electrical are my greatest weak points. I know very little about the former and nothing on the latter. The sump I picked up was drilled for four intake pipes on the top of the "left" side and two larger outlet pipes on the bottom "right/back" side. I was planning to use a submersible pump and do not need the outlet pipes. On the intake, I only have two down pipes and I was planning to bring both of them over the top of the sump rather than in through the side. I think the space may be too tight to bring them in on the side.

I purchased a decent sized sheet of plexiglass and was planning to cut it and attach the pieces in a manner to cover the inlet/outlet holes. Any advice on how to go about this? Will they hold up over time or am I better off buying new bulk heads and add caps to them?



----

I also had a little too much fun on the BRS website and decided to order another 50 lbs of live rock. This is clearly going to be a LONG process. And I am starting to think that my neighbors may fear that I am building some kind of meth lab in the backyard. Anonymous Home Depot buckets and weird bubbling liquids tend to give people the wrong impression.

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cracker

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Great build so far. Full of the setbacks & changes needed ! Looking forward to watching this tank grow !
As for building the stand larger I'd think. You at least need upright supports at the 4 corners. I suppose a thick top ( on the stand ) would help. Maybe some temporary upright that could be removed when the inevitable bigger tank comes along? This 100 gl tank will weigh at least 1/2 ton. Along with the challenges of a new setup, the desire for a bigger tank is always lurking .
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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Well, this week turned out to be pretty productive. I assembled the new stand and got a start to to the plumbing. Unfortunately, I replicated the bad measurements for the pipe width from the previous tank owner. He had mounted the plumbing to the outside of the threaded ends of the bulkhead. As you might imagine this is not a particularly easy or reliable way to attach plumbing.

Now a very large box will be making its way back to Minnesota. and I will have to wait another week for the new pipe fittings and valves to make it this way.

I have another truly dumb question: I am trying to figure out how to finish the return. I have a series of elbows lined up on the return, but I don't know what to put on the end. I am considering a random flow generator like this one: https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/1-random-flow-generator-for-1-pvc-vivid-creative-aquatics.html

Or should I go with something more pedestrian like this: https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/return-jet.html?

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CORAL MANIA Live Event!
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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This was another productive week. I finished the plumbing and started to get the tank wet. I forgot how long it takes to make 200 gallons of water. The RODI is still at it as I write this update.

I was unable to get the sleek black return to bond to the PVC pipe, so option 1 looks to be in order.

I'm struggling with the aquascaping. I lack something in the creative intelligences. I'd like to build something similar to the BRS 160. I like the idea of a larger single formation on the left and a smaller formation on the right. I'm working with 50 lbs reef saver rock and have another 50 lbs of miscellaneous rock from other sources that I've been curing for a few weeks.

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Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Next week I plan to tackle the lighting and circulation challenges.
 
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LBReefer

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This weekend proved to be unusually productive. Clearly I am trying to avoid my day job.

I installed the rehomed light using a few shelving brackets from home depot. It was not as neat as a ceiling deployed option, but the 80+ year old ceiling tiles aren't particular conducive to such arrangements.
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I realized that I yet one more 90" elbow to keep the return from dumping the flow directly onto the sand bed. Unfortunately my local home depot does not carry schedule 80 fittings, so I am going to have to wait another week or two for BRS to ship me another elbow. Still, I am very happy with the flow on my return pump and feel that I have gotten a good start on my refugium. I am debating getting some of the refugium mud, but I am worried that the downward flow from the previous chamber will cause constant clouding. Thoughts? I am also struggling to get my mangroves to open up. Any suggestions?

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I decided to take a calculated risk and transfer the two fish in my quarantine tank and made an impulsive decision to pick up two snowflake clowns from my LFS.

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Unfortunately, I have now entered the hurry-up and wait period of the tank build. While I did spend a lot of time curing and cycling the rock, I don't want to push my luck. I am searching for my inner karma by redecorating the rest of my pseudo-fish room. My fish roommate seems to approve of the new tank addition as well:
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redfishbluefish

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You talked about curing the rock...but has it cycled. Did you test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Unless you dumped something like BioSpira or Dr. Tim's One and Only, you might have an ammonia problem with fish in that soon.
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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You talked about curing the rock...but has it cycled. Did you test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Unless you dumped something like BioSpira or Dr. Tim's One and Only, you might have an ammonia problem with fish in that soon.


Excellent points all around. I dosed the rocks with biospira after curing them and added a 4 oz bottle of Tim's. I'm hoping that plus the live sand and 200 gallon volume will work out ... but like I said patience is not my strength.
 
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Making slow and steady progress. I added a couple Lubbock’s Wrasse and was overly bold in adding a small BTA and a purple stylo.

I have a couple of orange back and fairy wrasses in QT that I picked up at LAX Aquarium. I really enjoy watching the wrasses and like the idea of fish that help out in the tank. I think two of the new wrasses will go into this tank and two will be added to my office tank.

I also decided to upgrade my lighting. Much thanks to VetteGuy for giving me a great price on his ATI 60”. That will hopefully arrive this Friday. I’m a little nervous that it’s only a 4 bulb light, but if I decide to upgrade the tank down the road, I may supplement it with some LEDs.

Parameters are all solid
NH3 0
NO2 0
NO3 .2

Salinity has been a challenge to keep stable, but I broke down and bought an ATO. The high flow running through the open sump and aquarium are leading to a lot of evaporation. My solution of dumping 5 gallons of RODI water at a time to replenish it probably does not meet anyone’s established best practices.

I’ve been very tempted to replace the tank itself already. Buying the used acrylic was penny wise and pound foolish. It has never had the clarity I enjoy in my glass tank and I already feel the urge to upgrade to something twice the size. Strangely the better half does not share in this urge.
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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Best Laid Plans
I gave into the urge and ordered the 180 gallon. I decided against the $1500 upgrade to go rimless. I hope that I don't regret that. I decided to tell the better half while we were in line at the Vancouver Aquarium - it seemed somehow fitting. It worked, she was effectively distracted and only asked once how much I had spent. I also returned to an all glass aquarium. The acrylic was

I decided to make a few other changes along with the increased volume.
  • I'm switching out the black sand for fiji pink. I got tired of the look of any spec of detritus on the black sand. Apparently the rule about black cars also applies to sand.
  • I took a downgrade to a HOB skimmer from my in tank skimmer. I broke down and bought a mandarin and was worried that placing the skimmer after the fuge would prevent any pods from making their way back into the display.
  • I added a lumi led to the T5's. After suffering from insurmountable GHA, I decided that I needed to cut down my photoperiod. Unfortunately this means that I have to choose between tank time before work or after. Hopefully this will allow me to eek out a little more tank time.
New Livestock
The wrasses I picked up from LAX Aquarium all perished 48 hours after entering QT. I am not sure if I had an ammonia spike that my ammonia badge failed to highlight or if there was a rapid outbreak that went unnoticed. I was pretty bummed. I couldn't get the victims back to LAX in time to make a claim, but they were kind enough to extend a 35% discount on my next purchase. Which I of course took advantage of. I picked up a Naso Tang, large green BTA, and a potters angel. The Naso is eating like a pig and quite active. The Potters is way more timid and has not picked at the nori or mysis. I have seen it picking at the rocks when the Naso is looking the other way. The 32 biocube I am using as a QT may be a bit too small for two grazers.

The mandarin I mentioned above seems to be doing well in QT, but I am struggling getting him to eat frozen. I think my decision to dose the QT with an entire bottle of tiger pods may be contributing to this problem. Any advice which would be greatly appreciated. I ordered 6000 acro pods, but they arrived DOA. I submitted a claim last night ...

Tank Demo
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I flooded the sump and moved most of the livestock down there for temporary holding. I put the blenny in with the mandarin because there was a 0% chance of me fishing him out of the sump. I probably should have done the same with Lubbocks wrasse. He seems very happy to explore all the nooks and crannies in the sump.
 
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LBReefer

LBReefer

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So close, yet so far.

The tank was delivered today, but it turns out that my stand is not perfectly level. And on top of that the aquarium dealer and I had a disconnect. The 72x24 tank turned out to be 72.5x24.5. On the plus side that means it is a true 180. On the downside, the tank overhangs the stand.



I'm currently at Cal Rubber waiting for them to cut a mat for me. I'm off to Home Depot next for the new aquarium top. Any tips on how to support the new lip around the aquarium?

I am very happy with the size of the tank and the return to all glass. Plumbing is going to provide some interesting challenges. I went with the Eclipse overflows to minimize the in-tank foot print. I originally went with one large overflow, but decided to supplement with another medium to give me more flexibility in the flow range. I had to run the pump on the second lowest setting on the list tank. But now I need to figure out how to plumb five down spouts and two returns. More adventures this weekend.


The anticipation is killing me ...
 
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I thought I had posted an update, but there is cleaely evidence go the contrary.

After five trips to home depot, including the recruitment of a few day laborers to help me get the tank back on the stand, we have progress.


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I did have a few losses along the way. My new men and the smaller of the clownfish did not make the transition. The men started to come apart while waiting in the sump and the little clown couldn't seem to power through. He has been eating inconsistently for the past few weeks. I pulled him into a hospital tank and dosed him with prazipro, because I feared a possible infection, but I think he was already too far gone. The Potters Angel didn't make it out of QT. I think I lack the skill for this kind of challenging fish. I tried several different food offerings and never got him to eat.

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On the plus side, I now have a PBT and a blue chromis in QT. I have never seen a blue chromis before, just their blue/green brethren.

One of my bulkhead has a slow leak. Unfortunately I can't get solid leverage on it without moving the return pipes. I see some frustration in my future.
 
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LBReefer

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I've tried everything in my power to tighten the leaking bulkhead, address any secondary issues, etc to no avail. I am going to try and remove the whole eclipse overflow and replace the bulkhead this evening. This is really making me rethink the wisdom in installing this type of overflow or in placing the tank this close to the wall. Any recommendations?

I already partially drained the tank once in the past 24 hours.

But on the plus side, the fish seem to be doing well.

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I fixed the leak, just in time to get an outbreak of velvet because I failed to QT a piece of coral I purchased from a LFS I had not previously visited.

I lost the PBT, Naso, Mandarin, a pair of clowns, and Dottyback.

I’m feeling very frustrated, but still determined to make this work. This one is entirely my fault and I’m feeling very guilty.
 
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