Biff's 233g 'automate all the things' & poverty fish room build

Biff0rz

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Hi, my real name is Steve, but I've had the online name of Biff forever, so that's what I'm going with for now. Before this build, about 10 years ago I had a 40g LPS tank that had no automation. Auto top off was done by hand when I heard the pump blowing bubbles out, lol. I was barely out of college and couldn't afford much. The tank lived for 6 years before it met its 2nd demise where the sump shattered. I decided to sell everything and take a break. The first demise of that tank was 'fun'. One night while sleeping (always while sleeping) I heard a splash ... aka instant anxiety for any reefer. I come out to the living room and it's soaked (***) look over at the tank and I see sparks and smoke (*** x2), and then I see all the live rock, corals, and freshly electrocuted fish all in the stand spilling out onto the floor (*** x3). The bottom shattered out and I decided to rebuild it because I loved reefing. When the sump went after a move I decided to just take a break, that was a lot to deal with within 6 years. Now, when I left the hobby I told myself I'd come back and 'do it right'. So that's what I'm doing now. Those 6 years taught me a few things- I'm lazy and hate doing water changes. I'm lazy and hate testing params. I'm lazy and was very lax about maintaining the tank. So my goal with this tank is to not be lazy but also automate as much as possible so I have fun reefing and do less maintenance. I'm also at a different phase in my life to where I can afford nicer things, so I'm sort of going 'all out' with this one. Besides reefing I'm a serial hobbyist, my friends say I have issues haha. I'm also into race cars (building a custom one), weight lifting, poker, gaming, drone racing, home improvements, home theater, just to name a few. Well, when COVID hit I got bored and decided 'it was time'. I asked the boss if I could buy a fish tank, she had no idea what she gave me permission to do. Although I was smart about it, I involved her from the beginning. Mainly so she can't complain when I buy x, y, or z, but also so I have a backup in case I cant maintain the tank and I actually have someone around who knows more than me asking my mom or something.

Anyway, here are some specs before I move into the pics. The fish tank is located in the basement which is a walkout purchased it used on 7/12/20, been building ever since.

(tank, sump, skimmer, and some various equipment was purchased used)

233g GLA (Great Lakes Aquarium) starphire tank, 60"L x30"W x30"H
100g custom sump, only using 2/3 of it
2x MP60's + 2x QP-9's for flow + battery backups
AquaticLife 4x T5 HO 60" fixture
5x Kessil A360WE's
150lbs live rock was aquacultured/cooked from a mature tank
Alkatronic
Mastertronic (pre-ordered)
Apex ph, orp, ph2, sal, temp
2x DOS
WXM
PM1
EB832
EB8
AFS
3x PMUP's, 1 for ATO water, 1 for SWTO water, 1 for skimmate drain
Bubble Magus Curve 9 skimmer
Swabbie
Davey jones skimmate locker (5g)
Tunze ATO
GEO 818 CaRx
Carbondoser w/10lb c02 tank
FX-STP dosing pump for CaRx
BRS dual reactor w/carbon
Clarisea sk5000 roller filter
Roller motor
Custom screen top
Sicce SDC 7.0 wifi return pump
2x Finnex 800w heaters
Avast breakout box
DIY leak detectors
DIY float valves for RO & SW low alerts
5 stage RODI
2 stage TDS meter
cheap fuge light off amazon
hanna testers

Thing's automated-
DT water changes
Coral QT water changes
Roller filter (NO SOCKS)
Roller motor for light fixture (up/down)
ATO (RO)
Saltwater ATO (I skim wet so salt drops slowly, I switch between RO and SW to slowly bring it back up as water evaps)
Skimmer cleaning & empty - swabbie cleans the neck, wet skimming so nothing gunks up, a float in the avast Davey Jones locker, then a PMUP to send it to the drain

on to the pics!

p.s. I'd like to thank everyone here who's helped me thus far and who will help me in the future, you forget a lot after 10 years!



I had 3 friends help me get this into the house, it barely fit between the doorwall. 2 of my friends are weaklings so it was basically me and my buddy doing all the lifting.
IMG_20200713_213100.jpg

IMG_20200713_213109.jpg

IMG_20200713_213115.jpg


IMG_20200714_091356.jpg
IMG_20200714_091258.jpg
IMG_20200714_091227.jpg
IMG_20200715_230908.jpg



Gotta make sure she's level before I do much more..
IMG_20200714_091917.jpg

IMG_20200714_091932.jpg


Time to clean! Lots -o- vinegar, some bleach, some acid.
IMG_20200716_100622.jpg


IMG_20200717_011637.jpg


Urchin marks...
IMG_20200717_011657.jpg


IMG_20200718_173056.jpg


Found my OLD RODI! With water in it (ew). Cleaned and ordered new filters..
IMG_20200717_151458.jpg

IMG_20200717_151506.jpg


All cleaned up
IMG_20200718_232603.jpg
IMG_20200719_000020.jpg
IMG_20200719_000027.jpg


The sump was built into the stand, so I had to disassemble the stand and get it out. I then placed it behind the wall where my poverty fish room will exist. Oh, and the sump was WAY dirtier than the tank (no pics tho)
IMG_20200719_183508.jpg


Bought some live rock...RODI wasn't setup yet so I kept the water the guy gave me and threw some towels over it.
IMG_20200721_233508.jpg
IMG_20200721_233524.jpg


Also bought an apex
IMG_20200721_233810.jpg

IMG_20200721_233817.jpg


Needed to make some water, so hooked up the RODI
IMG_20200721_233857.jpg


Ordered some new ATI bulbs for the fixture....they don't ship well lol.
IMG_20200723_162737.jpg


The skimmer didn't come with a pump. Note, the DC pump for the bubble magus fit perfectly where an AC one would go..
IMG_20200724_203416.jpg


Started to plumb, old tank used tubes so this was all new territory for me
IMG_20200726_093230.jpg


Needed power in the fish room, so I added a circuit
IMG_20200726_155913.jpg


Needed a light too
IMG_20200726_155916.jpg


Time to make a hole so the tank could empty to the sump behind the wall
IMG_20200726_155920.jpg

IMG_20200726_155934.jpg

IMG_20200726_161036.jpg


Mocking up the plumbing
IMG_20200726_200606.jpg

IMG_20200726_200616.jpg


I needed to cut things, so I bought a cutty thing. Probably overkill, I should have just got one of those hand cutters, but I like power tools. Yes, I used it inside. Yes, my wife hates me. Yes, the roomba hated me more.
IMG_20200726_205745.jpg

IMG_20200726_205857.jpg


4'x2' panel for all the equipment (or most), laying it out
IMG_20200726_212820.jpg


mounted it - used some hinges so I could lift it up from the bottom and get access behind it
IMG_20200726_211300.jpg


Assembling the light fixture, I hate small screws
IMG_20200727_184703.jpg


more broken bulbs
IMG_20200728_214358.jpg


closer
IMG_20200729_232701.jpg


since this pic I changed pumps - the pump in this pic is now for the mixing room
IMG_20200729_232711.jpg


Finally, done
IMG_20200729_232717.jpg


Placing the CaRx in its spot, but I needed to build a shelf for it and just some workspace, so, off to home depot...again
IMG_20200729_232900.jpg


Decided to tap this for the AWC drain
IMG_20200731_234938.jpg
IMG_20200806_182456.jpg
IMG_20200806_183132.jpg


Mounting some of the electronics
IMG_20200802_222630.jpg


I decided I wanted easier access to the tank, so I decided to install a roller motor above it and mount the fixture to that. With a remote the lights go up and down.
IMG_20200807_171126.jpg


Had to make my own mount
IMG_20200807_212931.jpg


Nice and even
IMG_20200807_212950.jpg


Mounting this without help was 'fun'
IMG_20200807_213315.jpg
IMG_20200807_213327.jpg


Put it on a different circuit so I tapped into an existing one
IMG_20200807_225051.jpg
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Bam, done
IMG_20200808_173440.jpg
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test fitting the overflow pipes
IMG_20200812_203713.jpg


mounting and mocking more things
IMG_20200816_023400.jpg


to be continued... IMG_20200808_173447.jpg
 
Last edited:
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Biff0rz

Biff0rz

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Built a shelf for the CaRx
IMG_20200816_023407.jpg
IMG_20200816_023412.jpg


Decided to mock the aquascape...note, I didn't follow any of it and its totally different now, lol.
IMG_20200816_174217.jpg

IMG_20200816_174229.jpg
IMG_20200816_174255.jpg


Added sand
IMG_20200817_235342.jpg

IMG_20200817_235357.jpg
IMG_20200817_235400.jpg

IMG_20200817_235845.jpg


Fill 'er up!
IMG_20200818_203614.jpg
IMG_20200818_203627.jpg


Ah crud, I need a QT...
IMG_20200819_090319.jpg


Dealt with some bulkhead leaks. T+2 works great
IMG_20200820_000953.jpg


Added some clowns to the QT. My kids decided to name them Rufus and Ariana
IMG_20200820_182335.jpg
IMG_20200820_182550.jpg

MVIMG_20200820_204308.jpg


Filled
IMG_20200820_185620.jpg


Rocks
IMG_20200824_200215.jpg


Mounting more stuff
IMG_20200824_201554.jpg

IMG_20200824_201607.jpg
IMG_20200824_201557.jpg


Getting there...
IMG_20200825_221353.jpg


Time to build the mixing room. 2x 65g norwesco tanks - all scuffed up but 'new'.
IMG_20200902_211310.jpg
IMG_20200902_211325~2.jpg


mocking
IMG_20200903_224906.jpg


Water!
IMG_20200905_010143.jpg


How I mounted the pipe to the SW container
IMG_20200905_010200.jpg


inside the sw mixing container
IMG_20200905_010212.jpg


More t+2...leaks
IMG_20200906_012330.jpg


Now I needed power in the mixing room, run a circuit...
IMG_20200908_171941.jpg


couldn't get access behind the wall....so hole I cut...went a little overboard haha. I was 'frustrated' by the time I had to cut the holes lol.
IMG_20200908_221310.jpg


junction box
IMG_20200908_221852.jpg



ah, POWA!
IMG_20200908_221247.jpg


installed some float switches to let me know when RO or SW are low
IMG_20200913_120939.jpg


Had some leaks hooking up some of the pumps going back to the fish room / sump. Also found out the Tunze ATO was WAY too underpowered for 8' head so I upgraded to a PMUP that's controlled remotely via the Tunze ATO and an IoT switch off amazon, works great!
IMG_20200913_184449.jpg


Checking out the Kessil's with the T5's under full white and blue's
MVIMG_20200826_221324.jpg
MVIMG_20200826_221350.jpg


Setting up the coral QT
PXL_20201004_175713721.jpg


Hooked up more things
PXL_20201004_175736373.jpg


Got the CaRx all hooked up but it was making too many bubble swishing sounds. Sooooo I bought a 3d printer and made a silencer
PXL_20201004_175742201.jpg


3d printer to make 'things'
PXL_20201014_010247844.jpg


Made a CaRx silencer - first print didn't come out too nice, finally got it done though
PXL_20201017_132946468.jpg


All 5 Kessil's mounted
PXL_20201004_180721912.jpg



From here on out I've gotten SUPER busy with work, so fewer pics have been taken...
Mostly everything hooked up, not in this pic is the Alkatronic
PXL_20201031_183315304.jpg

PXL_20201031_183323363.jpg
PXL_20201103_210558079.jpg



Got the swabbie back and installed
PXL_20201031_183257554.jpg


Skimmate locker & drain pump
PXL_20201031_183302615.jpg


Got some corals in the Coral QT. Note, added SPS WAY too soon. Feeling that pain now...
PXL_20201005_000043329.jpg
PXL_20201005_000249218.jpg
PXL_20201005_002841634.jpg
PXL_20201024_175654620.jpg
PXL_20201024_175051040.jpg


Added my first fish, did I mention I like pain? The kids named him Jonathan
PXL_20201018_200630385.jpg
PXL_20201018_204403406~2.jpg
PXL_20201018_204403406.jpg


...FFWD to today...
Rufus, Ariana, and Jonathan are doing great! All eating like pigs. Rufus and Ariana did 76 days in QT, finally joining Jonathan in the DT. I decided not to QT the butterfly because the LFS had QT'd him for a month, he was eating frozen mysis, and looked pretty darn healthy. All good!

Diatoms are blooming
PXL_20201111_183603337.jpg



Some random videos

Kessil's, love the shimmer!

Roller motor testing:

I made a 3d printed butterfly feeder so the clowns and other aggressive eaters don't take all of Jonathan's food:
 
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Biff0rz

Biff0rz

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Ah nvm there they are!

What did the home depot workers say when you asked where the cutty things are?

LOL. I got some odd looks when I told them the brute trash cans I had from the start were for my fish tank. The lady was like ... what?

I think the best reaction was when I bought Bayer for dipping corals not too long ago and it was cold out. The guy in checkout said it's a little late to be using it. I said it was for my fish tank and corals. He looked at me funny then was like 'oooooooook' and checked me out, haha.
 
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Biff0rz

Biff0rz

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Got some tangs this week (yellow, purple, gem). I added mirrors after the first squabble. Of course, the Gem took a little beating first. He's fine now and all are behaving like model citizens.
PXL_20201114_013725017.jpg
Screenshot_20201114-181612.jpg


Another pic of 'the mess'. Added the alkatronic and pm1 to track the results in apex.
PXL_20201115_183930242.jpg
 

xxkenny90xx

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Nice, I like the gem tang. I'd love to swap out my yellow for a gem but changing anything with tangs is scary, who knows how my powder blue would react (ok actually I know exactly how it would react..)
 
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Biff0rz

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Nice, I like the gem tang. I'd love to swap out my yellow for a gem but changing anything with tangs is scary, who knows how my powder blue would react (ok actually I know exactly how it would react..)
hahah right! I have a purple on the other side of the egg crate, getting them all used to each other. I'm considering selling him and getting two small purples. Why don't you like the yellow?
 

xxkenny90xx

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Ya good call, purples can be mean. I once saw one rip apart a cleaner shrimp while my kids stared in horror :eek:.

I love my yellow tang, it's always been a model citizen but I've had a yellow tang for close to 10 years now, I suppose I'm just a bit bored with it
 
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Biff0rz

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So, I have 4 fish in qt doing ttm. First I paired a blue throat trigger with a purple tang. On the other side of the tank (split by egg crate) I have a gem and yellow tang. Other than the occasional tail flick, no major fights. Today I swapped the gem to be with the trigger and the purple and yellow together. Same result. The purple and yellow are flicking a little just to let each other know what's up but nothing bad. Next I'll be pairing the purple with the Gem and yellow w the trigger. I'm a little worried as the purple can be aggressive and the gem has been too but is 1/2 the size of the purple. Both are very good eaters so I plan to keep the nori plentiful. If this pans out I'll remove the egg crate and see what happens when all 4 can interact. Also, I've added a mirror to each side which has helped a lot.
 

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nagreen8

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LOL "Got the CaRx all hooked up but it was making too many bubble swishing sounds. Sooooo I bought a 3d printer and made a silencer"
 

ShepherdReefer

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Built a shelf for the CaRx
IMG_20200816_023407.jpg
IMG_20200816_023412.jpg


Decided to mock the aquascape...note, I didn't follow any of it and its totally different now, lol.
IMG_20200816_174217.jpg

IMG_20200816_174229.jpg
IMG_20200816_174255.jpg


Added sand
IMG_20200817_235342.jpg

IMG_20200817_235357.jpg
IMG_20200817_235400.jpg

IMG_20200817_235845.jpg


Fill 'er up!
IMG_20200818_203614.jpg
IMG_20200818_203627.jpg


Ah crud, I need a QT...
IMG_20200819_090319.jpg


Dealt with some bulkhead leaks. T+2 works great
IMG_20200820_000953.jpg


Added some clowns to the QT. My kids decided to name them Rufus and Ariana
IMG_20200820_182335.jpg
IMG_20200820_182550.jpg

MVIMG_20200820_204308.jpg


Filled
IMG_20200820_185620.jpg


Rocks
IMG_20200824_200215.jpg


Mounting more stuff
IMG_20200824_201554.jpg

IMG_20200824_201607.jpg
IMG_20200824_201557.jpg


Getting there...
IMG_20200825_221353.jpg


Time to build the mixing room. 2x 65g norwesco tanks - all scuffed up but 'new'.
IMG_20200902_211310.jpg
IMG_20200902_211325~2.jpg


mocking
IMG_20200903_224906.jpg


Water!
IMG_20200905_010143.jpg


How I mounted the pipe to the SW container
IMG_20200905_010200.jpg


inside the sw mixing container
IMG_20200905_010212.jpg


More t+2...leaks
IMG_20200906_012330.jpg


Now I needed power in the mixing room, run a circuit...
IMG_20200908_171941.jpg


couldn't get access behind the wall....so hole I cut...went a little overboard haha. I was 'frustrated' by the time I had to cut the holes lol.
IMG_20200908_221310.jpg


junction box
IMG_20200908_221852.jpg



ah, POWA!
IMG_20200908_221247.jpg


installed some float switches to let me know when RO or SW are low
IMG_20200913_120939.jpg


Had some leaks hooking up some of the pumps going back to the fish room / sump. Also found out the Tunze ATO was WAY too underpowered for 8' head so I upgraded to a PMUP that's controlled remotely via the Tunze ATO and an IoT switch off amazon, works great!
IMG_20200913_184449.jpg


Checking out the Kessil's with the T5's under full white and blue's
MVIMG_20200826_221324.jpg
MVIMG_20200826_221350.jpg


Setting up the coral QT
PXL_20201004_175713721.jpg


Hooked up more things
PXL_20201004_175736373.jpg


Got the CaRx all hooked up but it was making too many bubble swishing sounds. Sooooo I bought a 3d printer and made a silencer
PXL_20201004_175742201.jpg


3d printer to make 'things'
PXL_20201014_010247844.jpg


Made a CaRx silencer - first print didn't come out too nice, finally got it done though
PXL_20201017_132946468.jpg


All 5 Kessil's mounted
PXL_20201004_180721912.jpg



From here on out I've gotten SUPER busy with work, so fewer pics have been taken...
Mostly everything hooked up, not in this pic is the Alkatronic
PXL_20201031_183315304.jpg

PXL_20201031_183323363.jpg
PXL_20201103_210558079.jpg



Got the swabbie back and installed
PXL_20201031_183257554.jpg


Skimmate locker & drain pump
PXL_20201031_183302615.jpg


Got some corals in the Coral QT. Note, added SPS WAY too soon. Feeling that pain now...
PXL_20201005_000043329.jpg
PXL_20201005_000249218.jpg
PXL_20201005_002841634.jpg
PXL_20201024_175654620.jpg
PXL_20201024_175051040.jpg


Added my first fish, did I mention I like pain? The kids named him Jonathan
PXL_20201018_200630385.jpg
PXL_20201018_204403406~2.jpg
PXL_20201018_204403406.jpg


...FFWD to today...
Rufus, Ariana, and Jonathan are doing great! All eating like pigs. Rufus and Ariana did 76 days in QT, finally joining Jonathan in the DT. I decided not to QT the butterfly because the LFS had QT'd him for a month, he was eating frozen mysis, and looked pretty darn healthy. All good!

Diatoms are blooming
PXL_20201111_183603337.jpg



Some random videos

Kessil's, love the shimmer!

Roller motor testing:

I made a 3d printed butterfly feeder so the clowns and other aggressive eaters don't take all of Jonathan's food:

Like it. thanks for sharing
 
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Biff0rz

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Gem tang took a little damage today, haven't noticed much fighting since. Ugh
 

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Biff0rz

Biff0rz

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All 3 tangs done with QT, ready to be added to the display. Pondering when to do that, I want to see how aggressive they get in QT for a few more days or if it dies off completely.
PXL_20201206_200700714.jpg


I also added a tuxedo urchin (my first urchin) today to help eat some uglies
PXL_20201206_200330548.jpg
 

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