Bean Build-a 142 gal 12 year Science Experiment Build

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BaghdadBean

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Hey guys, I’m Bean, a sarcastic, gimpy, old broad-combat veteran turned shepherdess with a whole lot of sass and not nearly enough spare time. I used to be deep into reefing, from the late eighties through the early 2000’s, but I had to break down my reef and give my corals to locals when I bought a ranch in a rural area with horrible water quality and quantity. Some of you might remember me from reef central days, but probably not, unless you were super into monti’s and ricordea florida or yumas. I’ve been raising four horned heritage sheep, goats, cattle and poultry for the last 11 years, and finally my husband and I have had the electrical upgraded to our ranch, and resurrected an old stock well to provide water for our livestock. This means I can at last start working on my 12 years in the making piecemeal science project reef build.

Because I started this build in 2009, most of the equipment I amassed for it is now super outdated. I can relate. I’m pretty okay with moving forward with old tech though, since I have a massive MH and VHO bulb stash, and I’m not super thrilled by the windex blue LED look. My aquarium and sump were both custom built for me by Envision Acrylics, because after scratching glass aquariums, I realized my main objection to acrylic was not really all that big of a deal after all.

The display tank (I promise it’s under there) is 72” long, 24” wide, and 19” deep, with an external adjustable weir fed dual overflow box. I’m short… almost too short to have got in the Army short, and I wanted a tank that had greater surface area than the tall ones provide. 19” is the max depth for me to be able to comfortably reach the bottom while standing on a chair, so that’s what I went with. This beast is designed for closed loops to provide in tank circulation, and while I know a lot of modern reefers will raise an eye at having bulkheads through the side of the aquarium, for me it has just the sort of steampunk vibe that I adore. I was a diesel mechanic in the Army, so I guess I got used to functional ugly. I have one big huge beast of a Super Aqua Sea Dolphin pump for the main closed loop, with a Oceans Motion 4 way powering the switching. Yes, I know about magnet failure, and consider switching the magnets out as part of my long term upkeep costs. A second Oceans Motion 4 way will be handling my upper level, adjustable for when corals grow in closed loop, running on a PCX-70 blah blah pump. Filtration will be powered mostly by removable socks and a beast of a homemade DIY downdraft skimmer, run on a PCX-55HP pump. I’ve got a Snapper floating around here somewhere for powering the return, and my return will be over the top into the tank. I plan on keeping tabling acros, plating monti’s, maybe a stag, maybe a really spectacular digita, and a few gorgonians for motion In the display. I strongly prefer plating and tabling to bushy type SPS, and I don’t plan on any LPS in this system, although I might keep a couple islands of ricordea florida for nostalgia.

The sump is where the cool experiment is taking place. When I was last in reefing, DSB’s were the rage, but they were already being called into question. In the past, I’d ran a 29 gal with UGF with horrible results, a 125 with a deep sand bed successfully, a 135 bare bottom with meh success, and a 58 SSB with raging problems. I really disliked the look of BB, and I love sand obligate residents, so I thought hey, let’s try SSB in the main tank, and a remote DSB that’s limited in size for power outages and cleaning, contained, and proof against disturbance. Then I learned about miracle mud, and I thought well… let’s try that too, but I want the option to be able to remove either or. My hope is to grow seagrasses in the deep bedded part of the sump, and macro algae for more active nutrient export in an undivided refugium compartment. The skimmer pulls from the tank return compartment, returns at end of sump, and the return to tank pump is plumbed into the larger, mid sump compartment so that I could pull both freshly skimmed water and copepod/plankton laden water from the refugium and seagrass compartments. I figured I could set my kalk reactor to drop into the skimmer return compartment, and my calcium reactor to drop into the seagrass compartment so that the seagrasses could utilize excess carbon dioxide. I was hoping that the remote DSB would negate needing my Korallin denitrator reactor, although with heavy feeding of frozen that was a continuing back up bandaid. Seagrasses are highly efficient once established, but their growth isn’t guaranteed and I figured that if I used nylon mesh sewn into pockets to match the segregated compartments, I could make it so that the DSB & mud compartments could have their substrate removed in one “easy“ swoosh.

So here it is, 12 years later, aquarium science has made all sorts of advances, but I’m going to play around with this because it’s here, and I still have the same passion for tinkering with seagrasses. If this system fails, I’ll redirect my seagrass passion into my 58 gallon tank, which is still in my garage. We have to do some structural things to the house, planned for spring of 2022, like pull the seventies rug, lay in tile, move the HVAC vent from behind the tank, add an extra beam and some foundational support beneath the tank, and add a couple floor drains that tie to the septic. Soon here, I‘ll start cycling my now long dead live rock from previous builds, most likely in the garage in a livestock tub. My thoughts of what I want in the tank, livestock wise, drove a lot of this build, with my favorite fish being mandarin dragonets, sand sifting gobies, Banggai cardinals, firefish, and flasher wrasses. I love bristletooth tangs as well, with maybe a Tomini or a Square Tail and a Scopas Tang for veg clean up. When I first got into reefing, there were no captive bred mandarins, so my heavy emphasis on living refugiums was strongly motivated by needing to keep up high pod production to feed a heavy load of obligate carnivores. Now, with all the different captive bred fish, my stocking might look a little different, but I still love shoaling fish and more peaceful, brilliant denizens.

I’ll be updating this thread slowly, since this build is currently constricted by the flooring & structural timeline. It‘s good to meet y’all!

CB76A2CA-77FC-4D0C-B17A-DF85D3B54C90.jpeg 3C3AEA0A-3B27-483A-B8D4-06EC18E99055.jpeg
 
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BaghdadBean

BaghdadBean

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So, it turns out leaving the paper covering on the acrylic for 12 years was a massive, brutal, finger shredding mistake. Trying to peel it off required painstaking hours of insomnia while listening to Reef Therapy podcasts and using some serious power words. I peeled off the sump paper in four giant piles of shredded covering, and then looked at the display tank and decided that the better part of valor might be discretion after all. In this case, the discretion to try other methods besides wearing off my finger prints while peeling off the coating. I had some success using steam to lift the adhesive, but my poor 17 year old sewing room companion, the steam iron, finally gave up the ghost. I brought the sump and the tank back to James of Envision Acrylics to get an upgrade to the bulkhead holes so that I could run Haywards, and he gave me a few tips to try and get the adhesive off. He looked at the tank and we shared a moment of silence for the tripled cost of acrylic since I had this baby built. He told me that he doesn’t do anything for hobbyists anymore, and showed off all the AMAZING jellyfish tank builds that are his current bread and butter. James has always been an amazing guy, so it was really nice to reconnect with him. I’ll probably be heading back over to see him soon here, since I need to trade some Haywards with him. When I had this tank built, I was reusing some of my old equipment, and my house was much smaller. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten him to build me a 72” x 36” x 19” tank, but that would have destroyed my dining room space at my old cottage house, and with acrylic prices so sharply risen, I’m going to be plenty happy with what I have. Given that our well only produces 2 GPM, and that an RO/DI will reduce that even further, it’s just as well that I’m only working with a 200 gallon system (between sump & display) instead of a near 300 gallon system.
 

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BaghdadBean

BaghdadBean

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Looking forward to watching this build grow, good luck and welcome back
Thanks! I appreciate the welcome. I’m looking forward to looking back over this thread in a couple years and having a better record of this tank than any previous.
 
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BaghdadBean

BaghdadBean

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Got injured yesterday while wrangling a bull, so I spent part of this morning messing about with rocks in a preliminary sort of aquascaping. Figured if I can’t walk and do normal work, I might as well do something productive besides organize the VHS’s, DVDs, & blu-rays by alphabetical order. I’ve sketched out about seven different versions of aquascape, but there’s nothing like actually playing with boulders to make a person appreciate how something will look.

Since this is a semi-walk around tank, I wanted something that I could see from all angles. Since my main tank flow is provided by a beast of a Dolphin Super Aqua Sea pump running a closed loop with an OM, there are some really well defined high flow areas, mainly along the outer sides of front and back of the tank. I realized this might be great for coral but less great for fish, especially if I stock with juveniles that are dainty sized, so I wanted to provide a tunnel rock work that could give them safety and lower flow zones for sleeping, chilling, and escaping aggression.

I didn’t originally intend to make the tunnel one long end to end throughfare, but when I made it with rocks blocking my view I felt like it flattened the perspective too much. I still might mess with the top line some on one side or the other, because although there is variance, it’s not a lot. I think this style of scape will really shine with tabling and plating corals coming off it in layers that are staggered both vertically and horizontally. That will provide more shelter for fish, too.

This is just a rough draft, so to speak. I won’t decide on the final form until I bring the rocks in the house and set them up on the aquarium stand to see how it’ll look in it’s final viewing position.

I have no idea how to load videos here, so here’s a youtube link.
 
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BaghdadBean

BaghdadBean

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Great post, in my head the narrator was Sue Aikens.
You just gave me a good chuckle. I can’t even say you’re wrong, although I had to go look up who that is (we don’t get tv reception out here).
 
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BaghdadBean

BaghdadBean

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So, I don’t know if any of y’all watch this channel, but I found a live feed of a Hawaiian reef that I’ve become really stuck on. Watching the fish interact with their natural environment, and with each other, has definitely made me revise my stocking plan some, as well as made me more happy with my aquascaping style choices.

In the meantime, been filling in the gaps on some of the stuff I needed to gather to complete the build. I picked up a bunch of plumbing parts, including a good bundle of Cepex true union ball valves. Noticed some really crappy finishing issues on every single 1” model, and I’m pretty sure not a one would hold water under any kind of pressure over time. I think it could be resolved with ultra fine grit sand paper, but not sure the sticker price is worth it If they all have to be hand smoothed. Does anybody have long term experience with Cepex ball valves? I might return them all and move to GF ball valves instead.

Here’s the reef feed:
 
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