Build thread - converting 75 gallons fresh to salty

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That’s it, I’m hooked ! I set up my Fluval Evo 13.5 last February and it’s going well so I want bigger.

I’ve looked at many possible options but I’ve decided to convert my 75 gallons African cichlids tank to a reef tank. This tank was bought less than a year ago and it would have felt like throwing money out the window to get rid of it. It’s only con, no possibility of having a sump because there is no room in the cabinet.

After doing much research, I found a trio made by Tunze that is perfect for sumpless reef water tanks. It’s very popular in Europe, where they don’t use sumps as much. This pack, called Reefpack 500, is impossible to buy in Canada, so I’m buying all components separately.

What I have and will reuse :
- 75 gallons tank
- cabinet
- 2 x 200 watts Eheim heaters
- Inkbird temp controller
- 75 lbs of Florida rocks (I will clean it outside and dry it in the sun)
- 80 lbs of aragonite sand (I will do a very thorough cleaning and drying in the sun for many days as well)
- AI Nero 3
- AI Prime 16 HD
- About 15 lbs of rocks that are starting to grow coralline algae in my EVO
- Ground probe
- GFCI outlet
- Koralia 3rd gen 2450 gph powerhead (I might not use it)

For testing, I have so far :
- API master test kit (just for ball park)
- Salifert Phosphate test
- Hanna High range nitrate checker
- Hydrometer

What I need to buy :
- Another AI Prime 16 HD and support
- AI Nero 5
- The Tunze trio, consisting of :

Comline multifilter 3168 (ordered from Ebay, there are none in Canada)
Comline skimmer 9012 with controller
Osmolator 3155
And I also need a reservoir with a volume of 27 liters (7.1 USgal.) to hold the refill water.

All of this will cost me just a little under 2 000$ CAD. It seems like a lot for a conversion but I’m hard set on getting AI and Tunze products, which cost more but seem of greater quality and offer total control via user friendly apps (for AI).

My next steps :
- Rehoming the fish
- Emptying and cleaning the tank
- Refilling the tank with RO/Di and salt mix and keeping it moving
- Cleaning and drying the rocks and sand (will take at least a week)
- Building the aquascape
- Cycling with temporary filter until I get Comline 3168
- Installing equipment

Meanwhile, I’m also going to do research on what fish and cuc I want.

I can’t wait to start ! The rehoming should take place next week, so it will all start right after.
 
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Idech

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@lapin « Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on, le malheur est qu'il tue ses élèves. ». Love it ! I’d never heard it before.

I’m looking at buying E-Marco 400 Aquascaping kit. I just hope I have enough strenght to break the rocks. I might have to enroll a friend to help in that department, lol !

I almost bought a second AI Prime 16 HD with the rigid mount. But I did my WC on my Mbuna tank today and I feel bad for having to rehome them…

I can’t back down now, I’ve got the filter coming from Germany. I’m just waiting until it passes…
 
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Hmm, that’s weird, I thought I updated this thread…

Pretty much everything has been ordered from a few different places :

The « detached » Reef pack 500 :
  • Tunze Comline 9012 w controller
  • Tunze 3155 osmolator
  • Tunze multifilter 3168

  • Nero 5 wavemaker
  • Rigid mounting arm forPrime
  • Ai Prime 16 HD
  • E-Marco 400 Aquascaping kit (mortar)
I still have to buy sand as I’ve tested mine and after rinsing thoroughly, it has 0.5 ppm nitrates.

I’ve decided to buy Special grade aragonite again as it looks like the best for what I need.

I am also testing the rocks to see if they will leach phosphates. If they do, I’ll need rocks as well. I have a separate thread about that.
 

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Congrats on the new tank!
 
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I bought the sand online and will go pick it up in a few days. I originally wanted Caribsea special grade Aragonite reef sand but there was only 1 x 40 lbs bag and I needed 2.

The owner of the store told me about Caribsea Arag alive special grade reef sand, which is the same grain size and even better, because it doesn’t need to be rinsed. It supposedly has bacteria in it but I’m a little sceptical about how efficient this is. We’ll see.

So I ordered 4 x 20 lbs. I’m pretty happy about not having to spend a whole hour rinsing sand ! :)
 
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I’ve picked up the sand and received the E-Marco 400. Funny how small the container is in real life. If I had known, I wouldn’t have paid 90$ for that…

My rocks have been bleached. They came out beautiful and white, just as they were when I bought them. All the diatoms and green algae disappeared, without having to scrub them. I’ve rinsed them, let them air dry half a day and put them in a big bin with freshwater and prime. I’ve tested for chlorine and there is none. I’ve changed the water just in case, and will be doing it a second time in a few weeks.

The FX4 has been removed from the tank, as well as the Fluval freshwater light and other pieces of equipment, to make rock scaping easier.

I still have to remove the old sand and clean the tank (it’s not dirty but still), then I’ll refill with tap water until my rock scape is done and ready to go in. I think I’ll use my egg crate again, but I’m not sure yet.

BUT…. the whole project is on hold for now. My parents are both ill and having a hard time so I have to go to their place to help until things get better.

I have no idea when I will be able to go back to it.

To be followed.
 
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I’m back to doing my project. I was away for almost 6 weeks to help with family matters.

I’ve done a lot of research on the rockscape I want and I have a friend coming tomorrow to help.

After the scape is done, it will cure for 24 hours and then I will put it in the tank, add the sand that I pre-washed (it took me 2 hours for 4 bags because it was live sand. I couldn’t find dry sand).

And then I will add salt, fill with RO/Di water and let the power heads to their job. Adding water will take me many days, as I have physical limitations and water is terribly heavy for me.

To prepare for tomorrow, I have broken the rocks in pieces and put the bigger ones in a rubbermaid type container and the smaller ones in a bucket.

592D16AA-1C6D-4276-B553-37C11ACB823E.jpeg


53BCE8D5-9BEB-4C7B-96A1-411CBA7BD73B.jpeg


I’ve also prepared a cardboard replica of the tank, so the rockscape fits perfectly. The hatched part is 3 inches; that’s the room needed to be able to do maintenance on the glass and leave room for coral to grow.

27713963-12BE-4D39-80F9-5640BDDCB1EE.jpeg


I’ve decided to do a modular build, to make it easy to remove any part of it is necessary, but also to allow for changes. It will also be lighter so it’s easier for me to get it out of the water. I’m hoping that each piece is 10 lbs or less.

More to come when the scape is done !
 
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I’m back to doing my project. I was away for almost 6 weeks to help with family matters.

I’ve done a lot of research on the rockscape I want and I have a friend coming tomorrow to help.

After the scape is done, it will cure for 24 hours and then I will put it in the tank, add the sand that I pre-washed (it took me 2 hours for 4 bags because it was live sand. I couldn’t find dry sand).

And then I will add salt, fill with RO/Di water and let the power heads to their job. Adding water will take me many days, as I have physical limitations and water is terribly heavy for me.

To prepare for tomorrow, I have broken the rocks in pieces and put the bigger ones in a rubbermaid type container and the smaller ones in a bucket.

592D16AA-1C6D-4276-B553-37C11ACB823E.jpeg


53BCE8D5-9BEB-4C7B-96A1-411CBA7BD73B.jpeg


I’ve also prepared a cardboard replica of the tank, so the rockscape fits perfectly. The hatched part is 3 inches; that’s the room needed to be able to do maintenance on the glass and leave room for coral to grow.

27713963-12BE-4D39-80F9-5640BDDCB1EE.jpeg


I’ve decided to do a modular build, to make it easy to remove any part of it is necessary, but also to allow for changes. It will also be lighter so it’s easier for me to get it out of the water. I’m hoping that each piece is 10 lbs or less.

More to come when the scape is done !
Can’t wait to see your scape!
 
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It was a hard days work ! 2 hours to make the scape and glue the rocks, 2 1/2 hours to apply the mortar and 1 hour for clean up.

I’m very, very disappointed with the E-Marco reef mortar. ETA : No I’m not - I just did the stupidest mistake. See below. E-Marco is a fine product !

I watched BRS video many times, read the instructions and we did exactly what we were supposed to. I mean it’s not complicated; you just have two ingredients to mix and it has to stick on the rock. We sprayed water on the rocks also, as suggested by BRS.

So it turns out I barely had enough to do 3 medium size structures. There is more than 50% of the powder left, but none of the liquid. I wanted to add more to my first structure, as I wasn’t used to working with it and it felt it needed more of it.

How is it that something that cost 90$ CAD doesn’t even come with enough ingredients ? It’s not like I bought some cheap stuff from the dollar store…. This is totally unacceptable. I’ll never buy this stuff again !

Here what I managed to do. I wanted the tallest structure to be 12 inches but it’s about 10 inches. So not totally happy with it. There will be a « condo » consisting of 2 big rocks sitting on top of each other added, and another rock that has a nice tunnel in it.

I’ll start with that and see how it goes. For now I’m so fed up with rockscaping I don’t even want to see pictures of it…

Here it is while the mortar is curing. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t hold because there just wasn’t enough of this stuff to work with.

This is not how it will be placed in the tank but it shows what was done. The structure on the left is modular and it comes in 3 pieces. The brown rocks is the condo and the piece on the right is supposed to be an arch, but it is what it is, lol !

I made sure there would be lots of caves, hiding places and swimming tunnels for the fish.

Here it is before the mortar.
B552A21D-8E99-4A65-856A-188C8DB8E9FF.jpeg


After :

D5089B3C-B793-4B21-BE1E-29C8E3469D10.jpeg


Bottom pieces of the modular structure
330A03FC-4536-4576-80FC-E9DE80ABA998.jpeg


The arch
1DEDAE4A-A14B-4156-BD9B-DD169DFF082A.jpeg


Top piece of the modular structure
EACD5939-C08A-4575-9156-4AADB5B672A2.jpeg
 
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Oh my god, I can’t believe I was such an idiot ! I watched so many videos with E-Marco but I forgot you have to add water to the liquid.….

That’s why there was so little of it. I retract what I said, it’s a good product ! I wrote to E Marco, to ask if it will hold. And to know if it’s possible to buy the liquid only.

That’s not my proudest moment…
 
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I am not satisfied with the scape but this tank has to get going if I ever want to add fish and corals to it.

So I half heartedly decided to stop working on the scape for now. I have lots of rocks left, lots of glue and accelerator and I will be getting more liquid so plenty of Marco E-reef left. I’ll add more rocks later.

I decided not to use the egg crate. I used it in my ciclids tank and there was always an ammonia smell to it, no matter what I did. I could never find the cause but it could have been the egg crate making residue traps and causing ammonia.

So here it is with sand.

CB3799C5-6BA8-48FC-B0A4-728E6CA0A356.jpeg
471E74B8-D8C1-481D-814F-CE49F77F7B1D.jpeg
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I’ve managed to make about 35 gallons of RO/DI in my big tub, made salt water and let it mix over night.

I’ve another 35 gallons in the make and will add it to the tank tomorrow.

Today I’ll look at the Tunze Comfilter so I can set it up tomorrow when there’s enough water.
 
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Phew ! I’ve filled the tank over the last two days, the old fashion way. That wasn’t fun…

I’ve set up the Tunze Comline filter and the Tunze Osmolator 3155. I’m not so good at setting up equipment so I have to watch videos and read the manuals. It took a long time but I’’m so happy and proud I did it. I never had an ATO before and it was a bit intimidating. I converted the Comline filter to a multifilter, so I could use whatever media I wanted, instead of only a sponge. Pretty glad I did it.

The filter completely disappears in the background, it’s amazing.

I tested the Tunze 9012 DC skimmer to make sure it worked. Everything was fine, so I put it back in its box and I will take it out in a few months, when the tank is starting to get dirty.

I still have to do something about the rocks. I need more but I’m a little lost at what to do. Hopefully I have ideas soon.
 
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I’ve had to rescape to take the equipment into account. I like it a lot better (pictures to come when it’s done).

Today I bought a 2 x 4 egg crate tile, to make a lid with. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a black one. But I hope it won’t show very much. I bought a reinforced round piece for my dremel and cut it to size. I still have to sand all the edges tomorrow. With the dremel as well. Also left side has to be cut to accommodate the filter and skimmer. I’m not sure if I’ll do it now or wait until the skimmer is in use in a few months.

I’ve measured many times so I’m hopeful it will fit.
 
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Today I finished working on the egg crate lid and it fits perfectly. There is just one problem…. I hate it !

It blocks too much light, probably around 25%-30% and it has a « grid shadow effect » on the water line. You can fully see the crate reflecting on it, on top of the shadows on the substrate. I find it very displeasing to the eye and annoying.

So I’ve ordered some 5/16 mesh from an online LFS near by. I plan to remove the inside of the egg crate lid and use the contour as the edge for the new mesh lid, since it’s already cut to size. I’ll use either glue or tie wraps to hold it in place, whatever is best.

I am a little disappointed with the Comlind filter, as there are tons of miniature particles floating around. I’m going to try to use better filter floss and see how it goes.

Here are pictures of what it looks like so far. I am more pleased with the overall look.

0DA9E954-4160-4BA6-A30A-1D696190BC72.jpeg


CCE75866-1EDC-4087-A24C-D8A7D9B6B9AA.jpeg
 
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I added a few small rocks to the scape.

But most of all I worked on the lid. I bought some 5/16 mesh netting from an online fish store. Then I tried to make it fit on the egg crate with tie wraps, after removing the inside and keeping just the sides. That sort of worked but it didn’t fit very well, too light, and it was leaving gaps.

So I bought a mesh screen kit with spline and the necessary tool to assemble it. I’ve watched a video where the guy said it took him an hour. Well, it took me the whole day. Between the dremel needing to recharge, and me taking my time so I didn’t mess it up, it took a lot of time.

I decided to leave a bit of egg crate on the back side, where the equipment go. Because egg crate is a lot easier to cut and deal with, so if I add more equipment, it won’t be too hard to make it fit.

And also because the lid wouldn’t have been as sturdy with all those corners added to accommodate the extra holes.

I will buy those little handles made for aquarium glass lids, so it’s easier to open.

So here it is. It’s been cycling for 11 days. I was hoping for an instant cycle but it’s not happening, so I’ll be patient.

8F932878-2D5E-42C8-8EAF-DDF29767A7A8.jpeg
L
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C4EE0FBA-ECF8-4054-AD27-05F7619604C0.jpeg
 

taulgrl

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I added a few small rocks to the scape.

But most of all I worked on the lid. I bought some 5/16 mesh netting from an online fish store. Then I tried to make it fit on the egg crate with tie wraps, after removing the inside and keeping just the sides. That sort of worked but it didn’t fit very well, too light, and it was leaving gaps.

So I bought a mesh screen kit with spline and the necessary tool to assemble it. I’ve watched a video where the guy said it took him an hour. Well, it took me the whole day. Between the dremel needing to recharge, and me taking my time so I didn’t mess it up, it took a lot of time.

I decided to leave a bit of egg crate on the back side, where the equipment go. Because egg crate is a lot easier to cut and deal with, so if I add more equipment, it won’t be too hard to make it fit.

And also because the lid wouldn’t have been as sturdy with all those corners added to accommodate the extra holes.

I will buy those little handles made for aquarium glass lids, so it’s easier to open.

So here it is. It’s been cycling for 11 days. I was hoping for an instant cycle but it’s not happening, so I’ll be patient.

8F932878-2D5E-42C8-8EAF-DDF29767A7A8.jpeg
L
511B3460-DAA5-4990-92B0-ADFB8A01329B.jpeg
C4EE0FBA-ECF8-4054-AD27-05F7619604C0.jpeg
Looks great, I like how you used egg crate in the back for more flexibility. I have a gap in back of my glass lid and may do the same
 
Reef Chasers Aquaculture
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