Back to my square roots

texdoc77

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My first tank was a 55 gallon that was a repurposed freshwater tank. I had a HOB hydor protein skimmer, fluval cannister, a couple of rossmont powerheads and a current USA LED. It was a good tank and taught me quite a bit about the difference between fresh and salt water husbandry. Here are some pix of that first tank:
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If you look closely there are some good, and lots of bad. My choice of fish and the softies I think were wins. However, adding a clam and some of the hair algae were losses. I will say I really liked the canister filter and feel it can have a place in salt water tanks. But I wanted more...
 
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texdoc77

texdoc77

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My next tank was a proper reef tank built by SC Aquariums. Steve does a great job and I was really pleased with the service and price of the tank. It was a 150g and by this time I had learned quite a bit more. I opted for a sump under the stand and added a controller. I upgraded my lights to Kessil AP 700's, upgraded my powerheads to Neptune WAV's and used the SCA 302 skimmer. I also began to test more often and for Alk, Ca and Mg. Here are some pix of this set up:

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Again you can see some of my choices such as a little less rock than usual, the canopy over the stand and the hard plumbing to my sump. Many more wins this time with this tank. Here are a few:

1. Adding a controller to the tank was very helpful and I will be upgrading to the new WIFI Neptune Apex controller for my new build
2. The AP700's are really top of the line and I will use both on my new build as well
3. The WAV powerheads are great and will be part of the new build
4. Since I did limited aquascaping I also chose some marine blocks in the sump, I liked them and had no ill effects. I believe they helped with my bacteria and gave lots of surface area for them to grow
5. I hard plumbed a herbie because that was how my tank was drilled. I had no trouble but will go with a bean animal on my next build, but more on that later
6. My war on bryopsis. I had terrible bryopsis, but utilized the fluconazole treatment and completely won my tank back
7. By far my biggest win was deciding to go with automated water changes. I used the LiterMeter system and made a video on it. Feel free to take a look (I do not make ANY money off any of my youtube videos, they are purely to help others)




I also had some very big failures:

1. I did not quarantine enough. I brought lots of pests in because I was impatient and wanted to add to the DT too quickly. this includes the rock that frags were on, but also I added ich to the tank with the addition of fish without proper QT. I will detail my quarantine procedures in the future on my new build, but suffice it to say it will be very stringent.
2. Making my tank needlessly difficult. Many choices required lots of effort on my part and to be fair I run hot and cold on stuff. Knowing this I should have made sure that when my interest in the tank would wane from time to time that it would not affect it significantly. Because of this I will make sure there is as much automation as possible in the new tank.

Which brings us to my thought process and planning stages of my new build...
 
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SeaSickness

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Experience is the best teacher. Besides, we all learn the hard way. Good luck with your next build.
Looking forward to hearing more about it.
 
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texdoc77

texdoc77

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I think I would have kept the SC 150 as my "forever tank" and would have continued to plug away, but we moved. In doing so the glass tank was chipped and a crack appeared at the bottom. I gave it to my sister-in-law for her bearded Dragon and received a chicken coop in return. When our house was being renovated the plan was for the same tank to go in, but since it was broken I began to look at my space anew. I decided to go with a square tank since the wall it is on has quite a bit of area around it. It will not quite give 3-sided viewing, but it will give depth and some unique options for aquascaping.

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The old stand will go away once I build the new one, the doll house will be moved as well, but there WILL be negotiations with the 4yo.

I am currently bidding out the tank and have not finalized who will be building it, but I will keep you up to date on that over the next several weeks. One thing we did do was create a hole between the wall the tank will go on and the fish room. The hole is at the height of the old stand and the width of my previous plumbing.

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However, since I am making some changes on the tank I am planning on going with an external overflow. Because of this I am trying to get my wife to agree to a much bigger hole in the wall so the tank can sit flush to the wall. Currently it is not going well, but I am a patient man, and she is a wonderful woman. We will come to an appropriate compromise I am sure. One thought is to simply keep the aquarium off the wall the distance of the external overflow. This might be as much as 4-5 inches and in this case I would use some molding to hide that distance. The biggest issue would be plumbing behind the tank once it is in place, but that is an issue for another day.

In the mean time I have been organizing and setting up the fish room. One neat perk was that the door to the fishroom is metal and thus I can hang all my magnetic items on it to keep them organized for now.

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This is especially nice as I am tired of all those rare earth magnets snapping on my hands when rummaging through boxes!!

I had a utility sink installed in the fishroom for obvious reasons and mounted the RODI system above it.
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Our plumbers put the water line on the other side of the room which is no big deal and I ran my PE tubing from it to the RODI unit.
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This shelving unit can handle 650lbs per shelf, more than enough for the 10 gallon tanks I will use for quarantine procedures and observation, along with TTM to keep ich from the tank.
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If you'll notice on the third shelf from the top there is a 2x4. It is attached to wall studs and the shelf is attached to it so no chance of falling.

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This is my storage tank stand from a previous build, I have not fully decided if I will keep it or build a new one, some of that will be determined by how I ultimately set up my sump, and how much space it takes up.
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Notice the drain in the floor and the stainless steel flooring. If we do have a spill in the fishroom, it will be contained!
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If you watched my video on the AWC you will notice I have stuck with my previous spectrapure RODI system. If you have an exceptionally keen eye you will notice I added another RO membrane to get to 180 GPD. Unfortunately my water pressure at this house is not as good and I have been talking with spectrapure about a booster pump.
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Since I have nothing better to do with my time I am circulating my rock in some RODI at the moment. I do have some old rock, but as you remember I did very little scaping in the 150 tank and have not yet decided whether I want to cure that rock or simply buy all new dry rock. I am leaning towards all new dry rock currently.
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This is the wall with the hole to the living room and where the DT will ultimately be.
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This room is insulated and has its own temperature control system. It is a split system (any of you HVAC peeps out there know what I am talking about) that will heat and cool.
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Also I am cooking a brisket for a friends birthday tonight
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OK so that is the fish room. Obviously there are some decisions to make concerning the shared wall. I will also be deciding on what rock to go with for the tank. I have decided to use MacroRocks but whether to use my old rock or not as well. I am also going to go with a more traditional aquascape and will likely be buying some shelf rocks to make this look like I want.

Briefly concerning my tank, I have received a quote from AGE based out of Dallas. I understand they make great tanks and they are local which will save on shipping. The quote was for a 40x40x24 rimless, 3-sided starfire tank made with 3/4" glass and a PVC bottom. I wanted it to be 26" but they said they cannot do rimless above 24". Their lead time is 3-4 months. I also still have a quote to receive from Reef Savvy and am awaiting that quote to decide which direction to go. Their lead time is 7-8 months currently. I did talk with SC Aquariums, but they cannot do a rimless tank with the dimensions I want, which is too bad.

And of course I will update everyone with how the brisket turns out! IMG_3222.JPG
 
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texdoc77

texdoc77

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My Build Philosophy - This Time Around

For this tank build I have decided on some tenants to help guide what I do and how I do it. They are as follows:

1. Low Maintenance is key
2. Automation with redundancy
3. Keep it simple
4. Use good science


Low Maintenance is Key
One thing I know about myself is that the passion I begin a project with will wane with time. This does not mean I am no longer interested but that I will devote less time to it. If I take more time on the front end (when I am more passionate) I can be successful and maintain good tank husbandry later on with I have less interest. This really feeds my next tenant directly.

Automation with Redundancy
Setting up automated tasks will help ensure they get done. The biggest is setting up automatic water changes. I was initially going to go with the genesis reef renew system. However, I think I am going with the DOS water change system now and some of that has to do with the fact that I am not sure genesis reef is a good long play. Neptune systems is. Of course automating water to my RODI tank, water to my ATO tank, and getting a trident are all helpful in maintaining automation with redundancy. For example automating RODI water with float valve and back up solenoid shut off.

Keep it Simple
Because of some dependency on technology for automating some tasks, this may seem hypocritical. However, what I plan to keep simple is really what I put in the tank and how I filter. I plan on running a lifereef sump/skimmer and keeping an eye on alk/ca/mg. I don't plan to run skimmer socks or a filter roller. I will have a refugium for some macro algae and pod populations. I don't plan to test or dose for trace elements. My overall plan is to get it stable and let it take care of itself.

Use Good Science
There is a LOT of misinformation out there. This is propagated by companies wanting you to use their products and making false claims. It is propagated by newer reefers like myself who simply repeat what they have heard. Finally it is propagated by experienced reefers that rely on experiential and anecdotal evidence above actual research. This last one is common in many areas of life, not the least of which is in my field, medicine, where we do what we do because it is always the way we have done it and we feel like it is working. The fact of the matter is, a lifetime of anecdotal evidence pales in comparison to controlled studies. So when possible, I will defer to practices that have science behind them. This may not always be the case, but I do believe this information is out there for those that want to look. Of course application of said science is always up to interpretation so you know, there is that.


Now some of these tenants will be in opposition to each other and I will have to make a call in each situation which tenant I will go with. For example, automating a process may be complicated, but if it is good science I may lean that way. Conversely, if something has mild data that supports it but is time consuming and complicated, I may shy away from it. With all of that said I think it is important to mention that I plan on doing this slowly. Nothing good happens in a tank fast. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
 
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texdoc77

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In the last 11 days I have made quite a few decisions that I wanted to share on my build thread.

First on the decisions:

I have decided to go with a custom lifereef sump, refugium and protein skimmer. Jeff has been responsive and great to work with. Those that have worked with him know that he has been in the hobby for a long time and has some pretty strong opinions on new gadgets and what not. I agree with a lot of what he says though I am a bit of a gadget freak. Regardless he will be building a cool sump set up with some custom colors. He is currently working on it and I should have it "soon".

As far as my tank is concerned I got tired of waiting for reef savvy to get back with me. I had asked them two other quotes and I don't know if they were tired of quoting tanks for me, busy or a little bit of both. Regardless it has been about a month so I reached out to Miracles Aquariums in Ontario Canada, doncha know. They actually have a phone number on their website so I called and spoke with a really nice man who took my dimensions and gave me a quote on the spot. I realized after the fact I had spoken with Derek, the owner. After some back and forth about the overflow I gave him the go ahead and Miracles will be building my tank. It will be:

40x40x26” high rimless top custom aquarium
All edges machine polished
¾” glass all around
Starphire front and ends
Tempered black back with 2" bulkhead holes for overflow and 2 return holes
Custom internal weir
External overflow with 3 holes for 1.5” bulkheads
Armor vertical seams with internal bottom perimeter eurobrace

Miracles does a great little "notch" and glues the weir to this which basically eliminates any internal overflow. However, with my set up I plan on having an internal overflow box, running pipes out of the bulkheads from the tank, through my dividing wall and into my fishroom. Here is a thread on what I plan on doing:

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/extend-an-overflow-through-a-wall.698677/#post-7194634

And here is a mock up

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At any rate I now have what I want, put the money down and should have my new tank in about 10 weeks.
 

Auquanut

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Awesome thread! I like your build philosophy. I may just adopt 90% of it myself. Looking forward to future updates.
 
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texdoc77

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Since my tank is on the dividing wall between it and the fish room I was hoping to run the plumbing to the fishroom through the wall. Initially I had the builders put a small hole in the wall to pass the plumbing through. My old tank had an internal overflow and the plumbing would snake through at this spot.

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(you can see the opening framed in white just to the right of the doll house)

However, my tank cracked and I decided to go a different direction with the overflow. I figured with an external overflow I would be able to plumb it easier and have better access. This would mean cutting a much larger hole and my wife really didn't love this idea, I didn't either, but would have done it. I kept thinking about how best to do this and came up with running the plumbing through the wall to an overflow box on the inside of my fish room completely like this:

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This way I only needed to cut a small hole in between the studs and two small return holes. This is the picture I sent my wife to get her final approval.

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I discussed all this with my tank builder and approved the final plans. This pic pushes the drain pass through hole a little far to the edge, this is what it will look like as seen from the fish room.

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The overflow box will cover the hole and the plumbing should drain pretty straight down. My return pumps are also not too far from the return holes (or won't be when I end up putting them in place)
 
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texdoc77

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My weekend project will be building the sump stand. My sump will be 40X14X14 and placed under the pass through holes in the wall. I will also have a refugium on the left side of the fish room. It will be oriented like this:

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A little bit more of a zoom in with a little pic rotation looks like this:

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These are the mock ups I sent to Jeff over at Lifereef who may even be working on them right now. But I don't want to set it directly on the floor for a couple of reasons. First of all if it is higher it will be easier to work in. Secondly, it will allow for shorter plumbing runs to and from the DT and finally it will get it up out of the way of a couple of electric outlets. I have designed an 18" plumbing stand and here is the mock up.

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The blue outline is the sump and refugium, the red are the long 2X4's and guide posts, the purple are the support 2X4's. There are some scrawled dimensions in the corner so I can purchase the right amount of lumber. Hopefully it goes well. I will hopefully update once the project is finished.
 
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texdoc77

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I worked on my sump stand today. I'm not exactly a wood working master, but I can cut 2x4's and screw them together. Here is the location in my fish room where the sump/refugium will go.

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As you can see the sump will be directly under the pass through from the DT for the plumbing, which you know, makes sense.

Also note I moved my old wooden bench out and moved in the stand from my last tank. It just so happens to really fit well and looks good too. Here is a better pic.

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But enough of that. I was up pretty early and made it to Home Depot to get some wood and screws along with some 1/2" plywood for the sump stand. I have an old Delta Shopmaster Mitre Saw, but man it cuts straight. Here is a pic of the bones put together.

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Here is a pic of my "work area"

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And here is it with the weight bearing 2X4's in place and part of the top plywood.

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And finally with the first coat of paint. I plan on installing a drawer in the larger opening that will face me when I walk in.

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Unfortunately it looked like rain, so I had to put it in the garage and will see about getting it finished up tomorrow.
 
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texdoc77

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Thank you, I feel like the longer I have been doing saltwater, the more time I take. My dad came over today and helped. He said, "I'm note sure how much I helped, but at least we got to spend time together!" I have learned so much from that man.
 

spyder813

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Thank you, I feel like the longer I have been doing saltwater, the more time I take. My dad came over today and helped. He said, "I'm note sure how much I helped, but at least we got to spend time together!" I have learned so much from that man.

That’s awesome !!! Quality time with your dad...priceless. I hope my kids expend time with me working on the tank when I get older.
 
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texdoc77

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Finished up the sump stand this evening. Put a little more paint on it, moved it to the fish room and rewired the 2 gang outlet onto the stand, since where it is located it would have covered it up.

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The electrical work was not hard just had to run an extension cord with a light to the room since I shut off the power to the room. Went well.

After we streamed church this morning a buddy and I worked on the stand for the tank. Got the 2X4's cut and put together.

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My DT will weigh about 2200 pounds. 400 for the tank, 150 for rock and about 1600 for the water (180gallons X 8.6 pounds/gallon sea water). If I calculate each 2X4 giving a modest 440 pounds vertical support per board, then with 12 boards my stand should support 5280 pounds. I have erred on more weight for the DT and the least amount of weight the stand should support given the variables. I plan on sending this information to Derek at Miracles to let him look it over and let me know if he feels this is appropriate.

As far as the stand I still need to place 3/4" plywood on top and trim it out. The wife wants drawers on the front and shelves on the right side. This seems doable. We renovated our house recently (well had it done, I'm not a carpenter) and we have some trim left over that is dear to her. I plan on incorporating some of this to give it a little more life. Actually I did that with the sump stand, any trim you see is repurposed from the house.

I worked most of the weekend on the sump stand and tank stand and I am off a few days next week for spring break, so I'm a little burned out on wood working. I also need to give the trim a little more thought because the location of the tank runs it very close to the door swing for my daughters room. So close in fact that even 1/2" of trim might be too much. I may have a little wiggle room once I look at the schematics for the plumbing for the tank, but I don't want the tank to be off-center for the wall so, you know, fun little problem.
 
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texdoc77

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My DT will weigh about 2200 pounds. 400 for the tank, 150 for rock and about 1600 for the water (180gallons X 8.6 pounds/gallon sea water). If I calculate each 2X4 giving a modest 440 pounds vertical support per board, then with 12 boards my stand should support 5280 pounds. I have erred on more weight for the DT and the least amount of weight the stand should support given the variables. I plan on sending this information to Derek at Miracles to let him look it over and let me know if he feels this is appropriate.
OK my above calculations did not seem right and they were not. Two mistakes I made. One the wood I used was southern yellow pine and this gives 565 PSI perpendicular compression strength. Second, I used one 2X4 for the PSI when I should have multiplied that number by 5.25 which is the number of square inches per 2X4 (1.5" X 3.5"). So my new calculation is as follows:

12 (# of 2X4 support boards) X 565 (perpendicular compression strength of southern yellow pine in PSI) X 5.25 (square inches of a 2X4)

12X565X5.25 = 35,595 of evenly distributed weight. OK that sounds better.
 
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