Custom In-Wall 450G deep dimension tank build. 72x48x30

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Been a member of R2R for a while now and finally decided to document a tank build. I decided to work and complete the project before the thread so I will be posting all the pictures I took along the way. This build started last year, I had difficulties finding contractors and the ones I did look into would constantly question anything I tried to do that wasn't standard drywall and flooring. I decided to self educate using youtube videos, books and a good friend that is an experienced builder. I did have an electrician help me with some code related stuff and hired a structure engineer to verify my design since I was taking out two load bearing walls in a non traditional basement with joists going both directions (yikes).

The house has some challenges, it's a extremely unique build that was built back in 1981 and has had many modifications over time. While I love it to death it's also challenging at times because it was designed for a prominent business owner here in town by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright and there are many instances of "form over function". I want my neighbors to be racoons and birds, not people. :)

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When I moved in, the basement was very dated (this house has two separate basements, both walkouts on each end of the house) it took some convincing to the wife that I could update it and to just trust me! Here is what it started as:

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This is the old tank 96x30x20

Before my career IT I wanted to be an interior designer but life took me down a different path but I still love transforming my house...it's the best part of ownership. When I moved in back in 2015 this is the remodel end result I immediately started the day I moved in. The original tank was a 300G. The biggest issue I had was that the tank was hard to photo as the wall with the computer design was in the middle of the tank so I could only see 70% of the tank while sitting at my desk. I was never happy with this design and I also didn't like how difficult it was to clean the tank without having access from the front (AC vents in the way). Either way, i'd say is was a vast improvement over the old setup!

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This is the tank right before tear down. I am confident in my ability to grow corals so I knew I could re-create this, this tank has everything from beginner SPS to more difficult rare ones. All of them have grown into large colonies. The new build would start completely fresh with only 1 inch frags and very few transfers as I want to be very choosy in what gets my rock real estate in the future. I also am not a fan of the line row of rocks I had, I want a more tiered "stadium seating" type look that requires deep front to back dimensions.

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Now on to the build:

The new tank is a 72x48x30


This is less length than my previous tank but deeper and wider. It's an advanced acrylics custom tank that took a heck of a long time to finish (the wait killed me!). I like acrylic, I have never had an issue with scratches that I couldn't repair. Mighty magnets makes a great sanding kit and amazing magnets with a mesh bag that drastically reduce potential for scratches. I also have a ton of odd angles to navigate when installing the tank and concerns over leaks that make the weight and durability of acrylic a favorable option for me.

The design of the room will be to remove the entire wall where the computer desk resides and remove the old tank and fish room behind it to completely open up the basement. The problem is joists run two different directions so knocking out the load bearing posts was a challenge. This will be a corner in-wall tank so I want the corner to be completely exposed.

The start of the tear down, already worried that I'm in over my head.

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To be continued...
 
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Dr. Reefs Quarantined Fish
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Lots of cutting to figure out where the heck my joists lined up, pulled up some old records from the late 70s and early 80s...

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The other side of the computer wall that will be where the new tank goes, first issue is that I want to remove the carpet but that tile is discontinued...will need to be creative with the flooring.

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This was sad to me, really loved this desk setup and want to recreate it along the other wall but much longer. Covid supply chain has made it difficult to get the extra cabinets to extend *fingers crossed*.

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Burned up Ryobi tool #4593993293...these things are the bane of me. Time to replace them all.

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Now for some difficult tasks...the new load bearing posts and extending the beams so I can rip out the old ones. A structural engineer verified my work to ensure I didn't bring the entire house down.

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Time to rip out that other wall and cut out that ugly textured ceiling

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To be continued...
 
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This is where the new fish room will be, I had to remove an old patio window and frame in the wall (and of course make it look pretty from the outside).

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Here are some of the odd/difficult angles the house has that make for challenges...

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This is where I found the other side of the room has joists going in the opposite direction, another beam and post will eventually be required once I rip out the old tank/room.

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This mess is killing me! Also stopped cleaning my glass, not used to this look...

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To be continued...
 
www.dinkinsaquaticgardens.com
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Almost ready to rip out the wall....

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And the fun part.... RIP crappy Ryobi sawzall....had to borrow a buddies tools to finish the job.

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Now I was able to start building the tank frame, spent days researching the best way to go about this. Happy with the result, I made sure over and over again I remained 100% perfectly level and focused on over-building.

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My new temporary setup in my other basement...A far cry from what I had lol.

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Starting to frame out the new fish room...I never thought to think how much I would enjoy framing!

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First mistake, thought I had these wires dead but the wrong breaker was off. Zapped my temple walking through the frame work by touching a live wire. That is NO JOKE, almost bit my tongue off from the clench...lesson learned.

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Starting to look like a room!

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This is where my salt mixing tanks will go, in this odd corner, I found access to plumbing on the other side of that wall in the crawlspace.

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To be continued...
 
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Tank goes here! :)

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After watching hours of videos from the Vancouver Carpenter on drywall I was ready to start working with it for the first time... not my most favorite thing to do!

I love this guy, his videos are amazing. Here is his channel:


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This is where things get interesting, I wanted all the walls surrounding the tank to be glossy acrylic to match the cabinets of my desk. I love that glossy white/grey modern look so I spent weeks finding the right company that sells this type of thing. Found a company in Florida that could make these for me, unfortunately I under-estimated the costs...by about $5k (yikes). These things are HEAVY! I spent good money a nice fine tooth cutting blade to cut these to size, don't want to mess these up.

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The is the ceiling above the tank, since I am hanging lights I decided to make this wood.

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Finishing ceiling work, happy with how its turning out.

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Another acrylic wall panel added, wife said it "looks like a refrigerator"... thanks babe! :(

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More gloss panels...

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Platform for my sump, more burned up Ryobi tools

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The garage was taken over by my mess.

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To be continued...
 
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The budget killer: I discovered the joy of Milwaukee tools. Bought my first drill set and the start of many packout boxes.

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Building out under the sump...I LOVE these drills.

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New stuff from BRS started to arrive, I love these days!

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Top down view of when I will eventually be looking into the tank to take observe my reef. Can't wait for this day!

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Starting to build the frame for the top of the tank, this go-round I am adding panels that open up to give me access from the front. I'm excited about this!

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over-built = A ok

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My new Bashea Signature SS-48 sump arrived from Premium Aquatics...shipped to my house in one day with standard free shipping. Love it!

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Just got word my tank shipped!! YAY! Working quickly to make room; eager to get this installed as I framed for a very tight fit and have some anxiety about it.

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Want to get painting done and out of the way before the tank is in...

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Curing some rock in the event I need to emergency transfer any fish. As I tear down the old reef I need to remove lots of corals and rock to get those fish out. Not sure how badly my params are going to explode when I start lifting stuff out. Want to be ready just in case.

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Extended my plumbing into the mixing area, not as difficult as I thought. Took less than 30 minutes.

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That's enough work for one day...

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To be continued...
 
Tidal Gardens
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Back to work!

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using PVC sheets for the above the tank for moisture control...

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Painting almost done:

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Flooring and paint for fish room getting closer...

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Almost ready to slide that tank in...worried about the weight. Shipping document says 780lbs, 4 of us lifting it in and one of them is my 5ft 0 wife that weights 110lbs; I get to hear about how strong she is with her crossfit stuff all the time. Let's see how it goes :)

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To be continued...
 
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My wife starting to suspect this stuff wasn't part of the upgrade budget as the stack grows... :)

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Tanks is now in place...what a monster! I was not prepared for that weight and getting it down my patio steps was a nightmare. Glad it's over, took us hours to move it from the front of the house to the floor of the basement. Another few to decide how we were going to lift it. Proud of my wife, she held her side up perfectly; my two other friends are body builder meatheads so it worked out. That thing was CRAZY heavy and it had to slide in perfectly on top of that.

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This was a beautiful site!

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Proud of my measurements, it fits PERFECTLY!

To be continued...
 
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I hate this part...rinsing sand sucks and seems to take forever *queue overly used starwars quote*

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Starting to fit the plumbing for the tank...

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Shooting for a nice quiet overflow...

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Ugh....I hate this.

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Ok, sand is in the tank and I am starting to fill it up. Good times! (managed to sneak in more packout boxes to the collection, she didn't notice)

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Rinsing the sand paid off:

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To be continued...
 
World Wide Corals
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Mixing station complete

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Booster pump a much needed piece:

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Fitting my 180 degree hinges for the front acrylic panels

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Money saved on labor = investment in proper tools for future projects!

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Can't hide it from the wife anymore, she said our garage looks like the Milwaukee isle at Home Depot. :)

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Back to the tank.... fitting spacers to help align the future shiplap for under the tank (it will be a gloss to matte transition)

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More cutting

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Using gloss vinyl automotive wrap to cover some trim pieces...wanting to match a modern style cabinet on the opposite wall of the tank.

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Here is what I want to match:

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To be continued...
 
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Getting the panels in place... #redshorts

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"ok babe, last one I promise but I really wanted the radio"

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Getting everything aligned before I polish the finger prints. Also testing the lights...

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To be continued...
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
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Tearing down the old...

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Hooking up the new/existing gear

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Ripping out the old room frame...

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Old room gone, new beams/posts up!

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More framing, now it's time to turn that back room into my new desk wall, the tank will sit behind me.

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Starting to get tired of this :)

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I'll spare you pictures of the drywall process, love how it turned out. Now, that floor was a challenge due to the fact that the old tile was discontinued. I am using hex tiles to create and artistic transition to wood style tiles while keeping to the grey/white/black color scheme.

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Can't find glossy acrylic doors so I am again using vinyl wrap to wrap the door in white gloss to match the acrylic walls, this is the door to the fish room behind the tank. Using a primer to ensure the wrap stays flat and clean.

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Time to put the cabinets back up and extend them to the length of the new space (20 feet)

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To be continued...
 
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So close to victory!

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She cleans up nice! :)

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Moved my rock over from the old tank...

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I picked up a new helper along the way :)

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Picked up some sky lights, my favorite lights yet!

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To be continued...
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
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I'm happy with the current PAR readings of the new setup...going for max spread throwing tons of light over the area. Only 6-12 inches between each light. No shadowing for me!

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Here is my control panel completed (fish room), there is a drain port on the wall that dumps tank water into a filtered bucket where the water drains off into the yard. I have a septic system here so I prefer to keep the salt water out of it when I do my 3 month water changes.

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Installed a small ERV unit for the fish room, the company was in Ukraine so it was a fairly long wait to get one in for obvious reasons. This made a HUGE difference in pH (I went from 7.8 to 8.2)...

The hole saw I used took me by surprise when those teeth caught, almost ripped my arms off lol.

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To be continued...
 
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Here is the finished product! I never thought I would finish this thing, was 98% solo work and really my first time doing any type of construction. I am amazed at how beneficial YouTube was when learning how to do all this work myself; the takeaway from all this is that it gave me confidence to work on all my future projects myself. I also learned you absolutely get what you paid for when it comes to tools.

Biggest negative: My Melanurus wrasse dove too aggressively into the sand bed and it ended up killing him. :( Poor guy, still upset over that one...I had him for over 13 years and it just took the wind out of me when it happened.

Positive: All my other fish survived and all the corals I intended to move over survived the transition. I had 3 yellow tangs that I did NOT want to spend money on replacing! :)

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Coming soon: coral growth pics, I have about 30 choice SPS frags in the tank now and all seems well!
 
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Tidal Gardens
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