Custom Fluval Evo V

cwbman

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So I started this whole build as a result of a Tideline 11.3G AIO cube having a massive die off after a heater went haywire. I learned my lesson, it was my first tank, and I didn't invest in an Inkbird. I'll never do that again, and I have built in redundancies as a result of the sadness from the loss of a tank that was doing so well! (photo for reference the week before it got boiled :crying-face:) Everything died except for my zoanthids, the single clownfish (Phil), and a rock with some firework polyps. I guess I've been one of those that has had nothing but success with zoanthids and I learned that they can be some really hardy buggers after experiencing 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

The tank looked empty, and going through some heartbreak I did what one does, and I went out to buy something new to heal the pain. I actually went smaller so my remaining coral looked abundant, and I had a good regimen for water changes and testing, ~5 gallons would be even easier. I also wanted a zoa only tank to finally get that garden look!

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Anyways, a freshwater fluval evo V was on sale at my LFS and I picked it up liking the nano/pico peninsula look. I brought it back and got to work transferring things over from the 11 gallon to the 5 gallon. Some buckets held the water and live rock, frags, clown, some hermits and snails. I got to work stirring up the sand bed and siphoning out as much as the gunk as I could to help with the new setup. I had never done anything like this before, but my thought was if it's cycled media, why would it make any difference if I use the same stuff in a smaller capacity. Kind of like a big storm rolled through and stirred up the ocean!

I started scooping out the sand, placed it in the new tank, filled it up, and ran the same bio/chemical/and mechanical filtration in the new tank plopped in the main area while the sand and fine particulates settled and accumulated in the filter media. I had a heater and wavemaker running in the bucket to keep things happy for the first day, then made the transfer over to the new tank. I scaped as well as I could with the existing rock and zoanthids that had grown out over the last year, and added in some other cured rock I had to get the scape finished.

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After a couple of days in the new setup things were starting to open up a bit more and not look so ticked off after having been nearly boiled. Polyp extension and colors were coming back!

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Now Phil was definitely showing signs of being unhappy after living for nearly a year in a really healthy green BTA and I had plans to start another tank, so I went out to get a new small BTA for him to host while I got the new tank setup.

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cwbman

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Sorry about your loss, but Phil looks happy in his new BTA
He was very happy! He now has a mate and is in a 40 gallon breeder hosting a LTA. That tank is a whole other story for a build. I picked it up from someone who had it running for 7 years and was moving. I was looking for cycled media and it was the perfect combination!
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A bit of bad luck but you have come through the other side. Good Luck going forward
 
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cwbman

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Now, let's get to the custom part. It's a peninsula style tank with the AIO in the back, but it wasn't being displayed as a peninsula sitting under a cabinet on the kitchen counter. I had some scrap plywood laying around from a couple of cabinet tops I built for the house, and decided I wanted to make a tall cabinet. With this, I knew I'd have space for the ATO reservoir and all electronics, but 5 gallons isn't a ton of capacity, so what if I built a custom acrylic sump to hide in the cabinet as well, doubling the capacity to still nano sizes at ~10 gallons, but still doubling stability?

I didn't take a ton of photos of building the cabinet at the time because I was in the process of also photographing a 78 El Camino I was selling, and I was pretty wrapped up in that.

20240224_093711_2.jpg


I ended up using some 3/4 maple, and 3/4 pine plywood, painted the sides, and put some black vinyl on the top to keep things from swelling.

20240224_100716_2.jpg



The front was sanded and stained for a bit of a look that matches the house and I think it turned out pretty sleek.

20240224_124047.jpg


The inside was built for electronics on top, and water components below with a light to keep an eye on things. For those of you who have one of these tanks you know how narrow it is. I put some screw in leveling feet and inserts on the bottom so it would sit level and not scratch the floors, but it definitely makes the thing a bit wobble when doing things like cleaning the glass. Not ideal, but it works and looks like a standing piece of water in the entryway.

20240224_124815_2.jpg
 
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cwbman

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Then it was time to get the tank on top and make sure everything held! It looked great, and the zoanthids were out for everyone to see.
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Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of my frustrating process of building the acrylic sump. I used one 1/4" 2'x4' sheet from Home Depot. I don't have any issues with it bowing due to the baffles and chambers inside the sump. Using a tank volume calculator, I got about 6.4 gallons out of the sump section, and 1.2 gallons out of the ATO section. The 5 gallon display area now has more than double the volume, and more filtration that I think it knows what to do with! The first section of the sump holds filter floss, second holds bio rings, third is heater and return pump.

20240303_160229.jpg


Now, how to get that water transferring from the top to bottom in a Fluval tank that was designed as an AIO. I didn't want to drill it, nor did I know if the glass could be drilled, and I didn't want to risk it. So I went to Youtube and learned about Siphon overflows that you can make out of some vinyl tubing and pvc pipe.

I learned about the risks here too, so I also built a float switch to plug the return pump into if the water level ever gets too high. The light, heater, and pump/float switch are all plugged into a battery backup as well, so even with a power blip or outage I really shouldn't have to worry about the siphon stopping. I tested everything in a bathtub with two five gallon buckets for about a week trying to simulate every type of issue to make sure I wouldn't be dumping 6.4 gallons of saltwater onto my floors.

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Pardon the cable management at that stage, things were not done, but more in a state of anxiety as I wasn't sure if I was going to be spilling saltwater everywhere. I didn't get any sleep that first night!
 
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cwbman

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Now for some glamour shots of how the tank is doing. It has been setup for 42 days and 2 days ago I noticed the first purple coralline algae forming on the glass. I purchased quite a few more zoanthid frags and moved the firework polyps out to a 40 gallon breeder. I still need to move the BTA at some point, but I might just be moving the rock it's attached to. I have had to feed the tank Reef Roids pretty heavily to keep nitrates up, and I dose Red Sea AB+ everyday. Most frags have grown about 5+ polyps since being added, and I feel really happy with how all of this has turned out.

Only negative I have had is the beforementioned wobbly nature to the size of the tank/stand. I have an 80 lb. dog and he bumped into it playing one day and the whole thing about came crashing down! That was enough for me to reimagine where these creatures live and how I don't ruin my floors. I've had so much success with a 40 gallon breeder with a hob filter that I was imagining a nano lagoon tank with a hob back on a countertop. I've really liked the top down look to zoas the most, and the fluval works for it, but it has double the height of any lagoon tank in the nano sizes and is meant to look throught he sides. If i can spread out the rock and each frag they'll have a lot more room to grow out, and I can get something that is right around the 10 gallon mark, exactly what this custom setup is, but without the overflow and risk of flooding my floors.

If anyone has a nano lagoon with some zoas I'd love to see it! I've been looking around for a while and I have seen the reef casas, but I can also go with a UNS tank for cheap and throw on a hob filter. May not look as clean, but it's a bargain setup and should work well.

20240404_104259.jpg

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20240404_104347.jpg
 

justdeb1107

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Now, let's get to the custom part. It's a peninsula style tank with the AIO in the back, but it wasn't being displayed as a peninsula sitting under a cabinet on the kitchen counter. I had some scrap plywood laying around from a couple of cabinet tops I built for the house, and decided I wanted to make a tall cabinet. With this, I knew I'd have space for the ATO reservoir and all electronics, but 5 gallons isn't a ton of capacity, so what if I built a custom acrylic sump to hide in the cabinet as well, doubling the capacity to still nano sizes at ~10 gallons, but still doubling stability?

I didn't take a ton of photos of building the cabinet at the time because I was in the process of also photographing a 78 El Camino I was selling, and I was pretty wrapped up in that.

20240224_093711_2.jpg


I ended up using some 3/4 maple, and 3/4 pine plywood, painted the sides, and put some black vinyl on the top to keep things from swelling.

20240224_100716_2.jpg



The front was sanded and stained for a bit of a look that matches the house and I think it turned out pretty sleek.

20240224_124047.jpg


The inside was built for electronics on top, and water components below with a light to keep an eye on things. For those of you who have one of these tanks you know how narrow it is. I put some screw in leveling feet and inserts on the bottom so it would sit level and not scratch the floors, but it definitely makes the thing a bit wobble when doing things like cleaning the glass. Not ideal, but it works and looks like a standing piece of water in the entryway.

20240224_124815_2.jpg
Wow, I love that you made it a custom cabinet. Great job!
 

justdeb1107

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Now for some glamour shots of how the tank is doing. It has been setup for 42 days and 2 days ago I noticed the first purple coralline algae forming on the glass. I purchased quite a few more zoanthid frags and moved the firework polyps out to a 40 gallon breeder. I still need to move the BTA at some point, but I might just be moving the rock it's attached to. I have had to feed the tank Reef Roids pretty heavily to keep nitrates up, and I dose Red Sea AB+ everyday. Most frags have grown about 5+ polyps since being added, and I feel really happy with how all of this has turned out.

Only negative I have had is the beforementioned wobbly nature to the size of the tank/stand. I have an 80 lb. dog and he bumped into it playing one day and the whole thing about came crashing down! That was enough for me to reimagine where these creatures live and how I don't ruin my floors. I've had so much success with a 40 gallon breeder with a hob filter that I was imagining a nano lagoon tank with a hob back on a countertop. I've really liked the top down look to zoas the most, and the fluval works for it, but it has double the height of any lagoon tank in the nano sizes and is meant to look throught he sides. If i can spread out the rock and each frag they'll have a lot more room to grow out, and I can get something that is right around the 10 gallon mark, exactly what this custom setup is, but without the overflow and risk of flooding my floors.

If anyone has a nano lagoon with some zoas I'd love to see it! I've been looking around for a while and I have seen the reef casas, but I can also go with a UNS tank for cheap and throw on a hob filter. May not look as clean, but it's a bargain setup and should work well.

20240404_104259.jpg

20240404_104312.jpg


20240404_104333.jpg

20240404_104347.jpg
This is gorgeous! Since Phil moved to larger digs, maybe a small clown for the nem in this tank?
 

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