AstroReefer's 425XL build

CDavmd

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Current Status of the Build
July 2019
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GROWTH PHOTO TIME LINE

1. March 2019
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2. April 2019


3. May 2019

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4. June 2019

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5. July 2019



6. August 2019

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Background-
The time has finally come. I've been reefing for many years, relatively small systems which were pieced together with what was available at the time. For the past 11 years I've run a small 36 gallon corner bow tank in my home study and a small 14 gallon nano on my desk at work for about 4 years. I've had my share of ups and downs, a couple power failures in the dead of a New England winter almost destroyed my entire little reef....but yet it plugged on, recovering, growing, thriving until the next calamity.

The Corner Bow which is a mixed LPS/SPS system has done relatively well given its beginnings. It's a small AGA "el cheapo" aquarium on a flimsy particle board stand that has seen better days. It was started in 2006, when reefing was still a haphazard miss-mash of equipment. Originally started with a canister filter, way too much rock and sand, a hang-on back "freight-train" noisy skimmer and some T5's...it gradually evolved. Hang on back fuge, MH-T5 combo, deeper sand bed, no sand bed, less rock, vodka dosing, and LED's. Yes I was an early adopter of LED's with the original Solaris for those that remember that fixture before they went out of business. That fixture did remarkably well given the technical limitations of the day until one day more than 50% of my LED's were dead and I had to junk it. At that point I went with the AI Hydra, built a very narrow and tiny sump that would fit under the stand, and got rid of all the ugly hang on back stuff. The tank really started to thrive with the sump, improved Skimmer, and modern LED's. In any event this little tank has thrived and tried to keep pace with the truly marvelous advancements our hobby has sustained these past few years. I truly marvel at what is available today that we could not even imagine 10-15 years ago.

So this tank continues to plug away but it has reached the twilight of its life. The laminate is all peeling off, the stand has suffered so much water damage over the years that it's disintegrating. It wobbles unsteadily if moved and I worry its all going to come crashing down any day now.

Here's some pictures of its evolution....

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In any event.... "She who must be obeyed" noticed it was looking a bit ragged and asked if it might collapse. Could I be so lucky??? I pushed my luck and said " oh yes!" Any day...you know I've been thinking of maybe just tearing it down.....it worked....she responded "What??, but you love that tank!" That was all I needed...the go ahead was signed and sealed for a new system. :) !! It didn't hurt that she loves the two clowns we've had for close to 7 years!

So with permission in hand, I traveled to my local LFS and put in an order for a red sea reefer. I debated just getting the 250 but the wife said why don't you just get a big one so we can finally get a "Dory" LOL!! Sure Honey anything you say!

So I went with the 425XL...It basically covers a corner wall in my study leaves about 3 inches on each side. Perhaps it is a tad to big, but I think when its up and running that it will be a spectacular piece of the ocean in my home.

So without further ado here is the new reefer that was delivered this morning-

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I'm going to take it slow. It will be my autumn and winter project as the weather starts cooling off here in New England. I've gotten some great ideas from many of your build threads and I ask for forgiveness outright as I shamelessly copy many of your themes, manifolds, etc. ;)

I'll list my equipment at a different time given it is still evolving given what I currently own and what I want and need to get. I'm going to try and use all my previous experience and mistakes in order to build a system that will be stable and easier to maintain. First thing I looked into today was to have a plumber friend see if we can plumb a pipe from the basement directly beneath the tank ala "Broadfield's". It looks like it will be easy and near my RO/DI unit. I just need to get some tanks and setup a mixing station and retire all the home depot buckets. Best, I will be able to T-into my home water softeners brine waste line for the water change dump.

I'm looking forward to gradually bringing this baby online and eventually transfer over the bow tank's scape and livestock and finally retiring that system. I will post pictures as I progress but I warn that it will be a slow process given I only have a few hours each weekend to devote to it.

Thanks for tuning in all... and again thank you all for documenting your builds. They are truly a spectacular resource.

CD

UPDATE: The build took much longer than expected- from the time of this post until March of 2019 it was in the dry state. It was finally filled and began cycling on March 10, 2019. Below was the final equipment list as of the wet date.

Equipment List Addendum:


Red Sea Reefer 425XL
BroadField Custom made display panel
Giesemann Stellar T5/Custom LED Hybrid
Marco Premium Rock
KP aquatics Live rock (10 pounds to seed)
Mixture of Tropic Eden Reef Flakes and Meso Flakes
(2) Ecotech G4 Pro XR 30
Neptune Apex Controller
FMM Kit
1 inch Flowmeter
1/2 inch Flowmeter
Leak Detector
ATK Kit
COR-20
(2) Neptune Wav
Maxspect Gyre 230
DOS for Automatic Water Changes
DOS for Supplement Dosing
Reef Octopus Skimmer
Pax Bellum ARID N18 (Still not in use)

Plumbing Fixtures from BRS and https://www.pvcfittingsonline.com/accessories/pipe-support/straps.html

Custom Glass Aluminum Frame Doors from Cronos Design (Contact: [email protected])

In the basement I have a second EB832, FMM, 1 link for my water station and Fish QT tank. They all connect to the main apex brain in the DT via a conduit through the floor to the basement below.
 
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hybridazn

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Looking forward to the new build!
 
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CDavmd

CDavmd

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I finally had a few spare hours and got started.

I stole the @Broadfield false panel and cabinet ideas (Thank you for your awesome build!). I’ve got the rudimentary panels set up. On the back is a false panel Velcro’d in place for the power bricks and fusion energy bar.

I used eco tech’s power brick mounts which work quite nicely.

I put a top panel which is L bracketed to the top of the cabinet. I put the apex brain on it thus far. Will add other modules in the weeks to come. I added the hinged panel and put my old iPad on it to start sizing and spacing things up.

STRIKE OUT ABOVE: After much work on the panels they simply looked like garbage. I reached out to Broadfield and convinced him to make me a custom panel insert similar to his. Mine would have red LED's to follow my red/white plumbing scheme. This made my wife much happier as my attempt looked awful and there was no way I could reproduce the beauty of Broadfields work.

I had some electrical toggle switches made and a momentary button which I was going to install in my wood panels but Broadfield mounted them for me on the custom insert he built for me.

Here is the finished panel insert before he sent it to me and after install:

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I’ve put some vinyl glass wall paper in the sump. Sides are white and bottom red. I’m stealing @Reefer525XL color scheme and ideas for the sump and plumbing (Thanks Eric for your build and reply’s to my inquiries)

Waiting for my plumbing fixtures to arrive and second Radion Xr15 pro.

Anyway it’s a start...thanks for looking.

 
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CDavmd

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Started playing with the pvc. It quickly became apparent that the sump area for the 425xl is much tighter than @Broadfield ‘s 450 or @Eric525xl ‘s 525xl. It’s a little tougher to achieve practical workability and that nice open clean look.

I’ve been trying different schemes and dry fitting in place. Please ignore the boxes and tape propping and holding things up lol!

I’m trying to incorporate a flow meter and a main return shut off valve with a secondary valved line that recirculates the sump. Essentially I would close the main return and open the secondary while stirring things up thus cleaning the sump as everything goes through the socks.

I’m also trying to have three gated valves for reactors and such.

I think I’ve arrived at a reasonable scheme but will let it sit for a few days and reevaluate.


Addendum: That scheme sucks!! After many months away from the tank due to life- I look at that mess and thought what am I doing??? I rethought the entire thing and came up with a better plan. See new post below.
 
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CDavmd

CDavmd

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Well after many many months I’m back to my long postponed build.

Life gets in the way...the tank build had to go on pause. It’s still going to go slow but I’m trying to find some time to keep it moving. I'm on call this memorial day weekend and its rainy and cool outside. What better thing to do in between pages and calls to the hospital than work the plumbing lol!

I put more thought into my manifold all these months. The previous mock-up was too complicated and was not going to accommodate the reactors and such. Now that I finally have all the equipment I gave it a few more iterations. Really wish I had room for the 525 in my House, the 425’s sump space is just short of ideal.

In any event after many hours and iterations I think I have something that works. I put the flow meter in line after the pump. This really simplified the terminal return plumbing where I was trying to install it previously.

I'm also thinking I might feed the pax bellum off of the exit line from one of the reactors. I put a flow meter on this so I can dial in the appropriate flow for the chaeto. Doing it this way avoided the need for another gate valve which I am having a hard time fitting in while keeping things clean, workable and uncluttered. Still need to add unions here and there but I wanted to see how things were fitting.

I am including two ball valves as you can see- one will shut off flow to the tank and the other when open will divert the flow back to the sump. I'll use this to recirculate the sump flow through the socks while stirring things up and thus cleaning the sump. I'll probably put a union on that down spout which will allow attaching things like an emergency extra reactor, a barbed connector with vinyl tubing, etc...

It still needs a bit of tidying up and making sure everything lines up appropriately but here is the dry fit. Excuse the props keeping it all up.

 
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CDavmd

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Is that door handle going to swing open and slam right into your tank glass if someone opens it without looking?
Lol...nope. There’s a door stop that keeps it from reaching. I’m going to remove the doors to this study anyways. Wife hates them as they are out of place with the rest of the open floor plan in our home.
 
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CDavmd

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Quick update: I was playing with the Pax Bellum N18. It comes with right angle 1/2 inch barb connectors on the inflow (bottom) and outflow (top). I really did not want to have any vinyl tubing in this build and preferred to hard plumb the Pax Bellum to the manifold. The barbed connectors were simply siliconed and screwed in. I removed them and inserted 1/2 inch right angle threaded to slip fittings. This will let me add some PVC and a union so I will be able to have it as part of the manifold. I just need to make a little more room on the manifold for one more gate valve and this will work out.

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CDavmd

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...lots of measure twice cut once....throw away and start over. Then the PVC cement was "jelly like" so more delays. Anyways I was able to get most of the manifold glued together. I few more pieces to go and it will be ready for a leak test.
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CDavmd

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...so even though it seemed sturdy, I was worried. The cement was not very good-jelly mostly with a few areas of liquid. The more I thought about it the more concerned I became. Spoke to a plumber friend and he said don't take a chance. So...today using the old manifold I re-did the entire thing with new cement. Things went much quicker with much less "cut a billion times and start over" lol

The plumbing is essentially done. I am still waiting for a couple 45 degree 3/4 inch fixtures to make the emergency drain pipe. Everything else is done in terms of PVC and glue. I used Megaloc to seal the two flow meters and I scrapped the small 1-1/4 inch piece of pipe and instead used a reducer bushing and went with 1 inch for the entire run. On the canisters, I used a right angle threaded outflow fixture rather than straight as originally described by @pelphrey. I changed out the barbed connectors on the Pax Bellum for the same threaded right angle connectors in order to incorporate it into my manifold. There was no room for a third gate valve and still keep things clean so I took the outflow from one of the canisters and using unions- inserted a 1/2 inch flowmeter followed by hard plumbing to the Pax bellum intake on the bottom. The outflow is hidden behind it.

I changed the sump cycle plumbing. I went from 1 inch to 1/2 inch with a ball valve and put a union on it. I am going to get a slip barb fitting cemented to the union and connect some tubing when I want to clean the sump. I'll shut the main return to the DT, open the ball valve on this recycle line, use the tubing to blow and stir things up, then put it into a filter sock and let the sump run like this for a while. Should make sump cleaning and maintenance much easier.

Next up, I need to finish the electrical wiring and tidy things up. Then back to the other compartment and finish mounting the apex boxes, etc.

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CDavmd

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Leak test of the manifold today. I recirculated the flow back into the sump and ran the Cor-20 at full to look for leaks.

Thus far 1 hour and all good....

Only issues is my outflow from the canisters. The O-rings broke and it’s leaking there. I used right angle fixtures that do not overlap the o-rings like the straight ones do.

Need to come up with a fix. Maybe just silicon?

The Cor-20 is amazingly quiet. Only hear a minimal hum at full power.

Here’s a video:
 
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incloud design

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I have a couple questions based on your set up. I've been going by your sump plumbing and others on here to map out my design. The last of my parts thus far will arrive tomorrow so I'm just paying attention to details at this time. I notice in your build you have white pipe clamps securing the PVC to the stand. I've been looking for clamps and although there are many I have not found any that would provide a gap between the surface used for mounting. I'm wondering where you found your clamps and if they result in vibration of any sort being directly mounted to the stand. I understand the "U" after finding ways to configure my own and also you recently answered someone in question. I'm trying to have my UV Sterilizer laid out behind the manifold which in essence if the parts are available will make use of the "U" as part of the return. I don't expect you to understand that, lol by my explanation. Lastly, is the end export pipe that you have integrated (I presume by the photo is above the front sock) used for water changes or emergency? Or does it have a specific purpose? I'm going over these things to assure I am not missing a valuable asset to an overall efficient system. I appreciate any and all feedback regarding this matter and Thanks in advance! Beautiful setup...
 

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I’m liking this design, I’m getting my new tank (used tank) this week and I want to do a better job with the sump.

Any chance you can do a drawing of your plumbing? The pictures are mostly followable but there are a few lines that are hard to see.

Thank you and amazing job!
 
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CDavmd

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I have a couple questions based on your set up. I've been going by your sump plumbing and others on here to map out my design. The last of my parts thus far will arrive tomorrow so I'm just paying attention to details at this time. I notice in your build you have white pipe clamps securing the PVC to the stand. I've been looking for clamps and although there are many I have not found any that would provide a gap between the surface used for mounting. I'm wondering where you found your clamps and if they result in vibration of any sort being directly mounted to the stand. I understand the "U" after finding ways to configure my own and also you recently answered someone in question. I'm trying to have my UV Sterilizer laid out behind the manifold which in essence if the parts are available will make use of the "U" as part of the return. I don't expect you to understand that, lol by my explanation. Lastly, is the end export pipe that you have integrated (I presume by the photo is above the front sock) used for water changes or emergency? Or does it have a specific purpose? I'm going over these things to assure I am not missing a valuable asset to an overall efficient system. I appreciate any and all feedback regarding this matter and Thanks in advance! Beautiful setup...
I picked them up at: https://www.pvcfittingsonline.com/accessories/pipe-support/straps.html
No issues with noise or vibration. That will of course depend on you return pump. I am using a Cor-20 and it is extremely quiet. I do not have a UV sterilizer and frankly the ones that actually work or do anything would never fit under my stand. The export pipe has a couple purposes. Mainly it is a way to clean the sump. I have a barb connector with some vinyl hosing on it that i can connect up to it or alternatively I also have a piece of PVC that I can connect to it as well. When I close the return valve and open this export pipes valve the water recirculates into the sump. If you look at my video link above, this is how I tested my manifold for leaks. To clean the sump I just redirect the outflow to the first chamber or use the vinyl hose to stir things up. I let it run like this for an hour or so through a 100 micro sock which keeps the sump clean.

In an emergency I might be able to use it to feed another canister or possible a UV apparatus, but I am mainly using it as a mechanism to clean the sump.
 
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