CuzzA's 40 Breeder Display & 40 Breeder Sump | True All In One | Mixed Reef Tank Build | Heavy Automation

CuzzA

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Yes, I'm back in the hobby... From a successful 90 gallon mixed reef to a 330 gallon build that I completed, but decided not to fill and sell it all because I'd rather dive and travel than be married to a large tank with a huge investment in livestock that could come crashing down, I am now setting up a double 40 Breeder (Petco Sale) Reef as the title states.

I am still diving and spearfishing regularly, in fact heading out tomorrow morning, but my kids have been nagging me for pets and I don't do pet hair everywhere, so water and fish it is. However, I'm building off my previous experiences to set up a very low maintenance, heavily automated tank with the goal of growing out just several large colonies of corals rather than the fruit stand look, crowded with too many species that never grow to any resemblance of their natural structure.

This system will have a frosted back lit background and no visible hardware in the tank in order to make it look as natural as possible. Aquascaping will be thought out to give plenty of hiding spots for fish, yet it will be very shallow to allow room for coral growth.

In the title I mentioned a "true all in one", and that is exactly what this will be. Everything will be confined to the tanks and stand. The 40 breeder sump is being partitioned with a daily automatic water changer reservoir, freshwater ATO reservoir and of course a combination of mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. I built the stand with an internal electronics cabinet to house an Apex, PM2, Auto Aqua AWC, 2x Avast Breakout Boxes, Cor 15 Driver and 7 outlet power strip with individual switches. I am still undecided on powerheads. The Wav pumps have their appeal due to the simplicity of a 1Link connection, however, they take up more real estate than some other options as I will be mounting two PH's hidden in the back corner behind the aquascape and under the Herbie overflow box.

The automation is extremely important to me and the goal is to be able to have a maintenance schedule of cleaning glass and turning the skimmer drain valve once per week, everything else will be once per month. These monthly tasks should consist of adding salt to the AWC reservoir, replacing chemical filtration media, thoroughly cleaning skimmer cup (cup will have an auto wiper), and replacing filter roller paper. Yeah, I ain't doing filter socks anymore. Fortunately I still have a lot of various aquarium related electronics and plumbing from my last two builds so this has saved me time and money.

Part of the goal of this project was to teach my 6 year old son some building skills and so I took the week off before he went back to school and in four days we built the stand. I have attached pictures of those four days. I've made a lot more progress since then but haven't taken any more pictures... Yet. ;) So stay tuned.

I built the stand to be cost effective and maximize space for the mirrored sized sump. Therefore it was built from premium pine 1x4's and a sheet of 3/4" plywood. Pine is a beautiful wood, but is a terrible choice when it comes to staining so I will be painting it and then adding a glaze to reproduce the wood grain and finally top coating it to protect the finish. The interior is also painted high gloss white and everything is caulked and sealed. The back stand structure can be removed by unscrewing the stainless steel fasteners to allow for removal of the sump. Protective floor sliding pads will be on the bottom of the stand and since this is only a 40 breeder, if I had to, I could slide the setup out after draining the water and remove the sump. The hood has an internal flip up access door. You can tell in the picture by looking at the wood grain. This will become more discrete with the paint job.

Anyway, that's about all I can think of to add at the moment. I'm gonna get some rest and go dive some natural reefs tomorrow, maybe eyeball a couple things I could add to this system. I should have a good update in the coming week as the system is just about to be able to be moved inside.

I hope you'll enjoy this build. I've got some cool ideas and tricks up my sleeve.

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CuzzA

CuzzA

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Wow that looks amazing so far! I just picked up a 40B myself and need to build a stand. Would you mind sharing the dimensions and cut lengths? I look forward to seeing this come to life!
Yes, I can post an illustration with some dimensions of the cuts.. Of course measuring twice is the key to success. With wood, everything on paper doesn't necessarily fit perfect as it comes together. So you really have to work off the plan, but measure everything and deviate to make it come together right.
 

btmedic04

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Yes, I can post an illustration with some dimensions of the cuts.. Of course measuring twice is the key to success. With wood, everything on paper doesn't necessarily fit perfect as it comes together. So you really have to work off the plan, but measure everything and deviate to make it come together right.
Awesome! Thank you so very much for sharing and for the advice! I'll be sure to put it to good use!
 
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Small update to show how the stand is progressing. I already filled holes, sanded and primed everything, but today I got it painted. Tomorrow I'll add the decorative glaze and then top coat everything. Then I'll move on to the doors and canopy. My glass should be ready Monday for the sump reservoir dividers and single return baffle. I expect by the end of next week to have just about all of the build put together and then it will be a matter of installing equipment.

As you can kind of see, I have wire runs installed in the stand and I'm pre planning the equipment layout, but I already have a pretty good idea how everything will be laid out.

Also I already drilled the tank last week.

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CuzzA

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Pretty simple effect. Can you tell it's just paint? Looks like stained wood to me. :cool: Top coat should make the grain look even more natural. This was done with just a chip brush, but you could buy different pattern rolling brushes if you wanted to get more creative.

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CuzzA

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So I moved the stand into the house a couple days ago. It looks good and fits the location perfectly. I don't know what I was thinking when I was going to put an 8 ft. tank there. :rolleyes:

I did have to do some electrical work. The previous 90 gallon was on a standard 15 amp circuit shared with the rest of the room, with a GFCI outlet. When I was doing the 330 gallon build I installed two separate 20 amp circuits with more robust GFCI breakers. Well, this tank obviously isn't 8 ft. and so I needed to move the twin 20 amps over to keep my wires behind the stand, which required drilling through two studs inside the wall. Easier said than done, but nevertheless I got it done and now my aquarium's life support will be separated over two circuits. Two 20 amp circuits are overkill for this size tank, but if it's worth doing, it's worth over doing.

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I finished painting the canopy. That should come in the house tomorrow and I'll be able to provide better pictures for the final look of the furniture for the build.

I got the 16 gallon water change reservoir divider in a couple days ago and leak tested today. It's holding just fine. 3/16" glass and 100% silicone. I also installed the 3.5 gallon ATO divider this evening and tomorrow I'll put in the single return baffle setting the filtration section at 10 inches high. I've found through experience that with some forethought on a build and good equipment selection, bubble traps aren't necessary and usually just waste space, especially if they are so narrow making the flow so fast no bubble could escape anyway.

You will note I filled the reservoir a gallon at a time and labelled each volume; thus making salt mixing calculations much easier. I am also labeling just about everything in order to more easily explain the system to a tank sitter should something happen while I am away. These reservoirs will have lids, float valves on the RODI feed, solenoids controlled by the Apex and dual float switches to facilitate in automatic reservoir refilling.

I will set the Auto Aqua water changer to replace half a gallon per day giving me a 30 day supply of fresh saltwater. This equals 10% per week. It should significantly help maintain stability while replacing elements. I like the fact the AutoAqua also handles the ATO duties as well. I could have utilized the Apex for all of this, but that would have increased the investment compared to using the AutoAqua stand alone unit. I will have float switches in the filtration section to shut down the AutoAqua should it add or remove too much water. I had a MaxiJet 1200 laying around and since it has an air feed and hanging bracket, that seemed like the most logical mixing pump to use. I also had an Eheim Jager 50 watt heater in the aquarium bin that will serve to heat the water in the winter should I have to do a larger water change. I won't be concerned about the half gallon per day.

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Finally, wrapping up the sump build will allow me to really get rolling on the equipment setup so I should have some quality updates here in the near future. I am thankful that I have not completed this build yet considering we have Hurricane Dorian on our doorstep this weekend. My last tank had a DIY battery backup system which was far more robust than these little back ups the aquarium manufactures make for their powerheads or a UPS. For posterity here's a diagram of that and a link to the thread on the setup. Stay tuned for more updates. I will likely do a video walk though of the entire build when I am done.


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CuzzA

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Sump dividers and the sole baffle is done. I had the glass guy put a smooth rolled edge on the top of the return baffle and angled it slightly back when I installed it. This provides for a nice smooth sheet of water flowing into the return section eliminating any bubbles.

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I'll go ahead and give a sneak peek at the electronics cabinet. It's not done yet as I still have to add a cooling fan and the Cor driver. I will also be mounting an old iPad that's been sitting in the electronics bin for a few years on to the removable acrylic cabinet door. Yes, I used slide off hinges so I can remove the door if need be. This will serves as the Apex's control panel.

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Here's a shot of the UV Sterilizer. I have always been a fan of UV to keep bacterial and free floating algae blooms at bay. This will be fed off a manifold from the return pump. I installed it using wing nuts and mounted angled wedges to the stand. This way I can easily service the unit by simply unscrewing the bulb from the housing and slide it right out the front door. I also ran an extension wire to the corner where the UV is located and fabricated an aluminum mount for the large ballast plug. I used one of those two over one extension cords so I have a couple easy to access grounded outlets for doing annual sump clean outs using utility pumps.

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Here's a shot of the stand light. An inexpensive integrated 22" LED shop light. I like these lights because if they fail you can just unplug it right at the light and swap it out. I also installed dual cabinet door light switches. It's dirt simple to do and only costs a few dollars for the magnet switches. So when I open either door the light comes on automatically. And yes I know, the back of the doors don't have a beautiful finish, I don't think the sump will care.

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Since I am trying to over think this build and cover all my bases, I also installed two cabinet door storage compartments. This will give me a place to store test kits, fragging tools, fish food and other various reefing supplies. Again, another super cheap addition which will help to keep the setup organized. You will also note the magnetic door locks to keep the little ones from taking a bath in the sump, which of course this stand has a lot of intrigue right now for my youngest two year old.

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Finally, I never did, and still don't like Neptune's leak detectors. Especially for how much they charge for them. I had a DIY leak detector hooked up to my Apex on the last tank, but the way I made it was tedious, although it did work and saved my floors on a couple occasions. The last time I basically striped sections of two stranded wire and used the Breakout Box. This time I wised up and bought a lifetime supply of copper foil tape for less than $10 on Amazon. I will solder two stranded wire directly to the tape and splice it with Molex connectors and again hook it up to the Breakout Box. This is a great way to cover a lot of ground.

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The tank will be coming inside tomorrow and I'll install the frosted background and begin dry fitting the plumbing. Stay tuned. Oh, and it looks like Hurricane Dorian is getting pushed away from Tampa Bay and that gives me a lot of relief. After Irma I was dreading another clean up from my four oak trees.
 
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CuzzA

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More progress today... I put the frosted transparent background on the tank. As you may recall the tank will have a programmable RGB LED strip light back light. I will set this to coordinate with the main tank light and run a sunrise, daylight, sunset simulation. I am also putting foam cut outs painted black and grey to look like reef structure behind the tank. This will act like a shadow box and add depth to the background. It will look similar to the picture below. You can also see I have the overflow box installed. This is a full siphon Herbie drain with one emergency drain. While a Bean Animal drain is nice, it takes up too much real estate with the third drain and besides I'll have a float switch in the tank to shut down the return pump and text me if it were to be activated from high water by an occlusion in both drains.

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Here's a look inside the canopy. I have two case fans installed to cool the tank and help blow off co2. One blows in and the other blows out. My old outside skimmer air intake was still in place from the last tank so I will utilize that again to help lower the co2 in the water and keep the pH up. In case you're thinking it, I will be putting those clothes dryer air vents that angle down over the exterior side of the fans to prevent light spill from the tank light.

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You might be wondering what that round contraption is on the bottom right, well, I don't want to have to open the canopy every time I feed the fish frozen foods, so there will be an Innovative Marine clear defroster/feeder pipe just below it. The contraption is a 316 stainless steel spring hinge I had laying around and a simple plastic wall plate used to protect walls from door knobs. This way I can easily just drop in food and the trap door will stay shut. I will also have a Neptune Auto Feeder above it to feed dry foods on schedule and of course coordinate with the rest of the system by shutting down the skimmer and return pump during feed cycles.

I should also point out, unlike previous builds, I cut an angle on the bottom canopy supports to slope toward the tank. This should help minimize salt creep from building up in the canopy.

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Finally, here's the finished wiring for the leak detector. I soldered some two strand wire to each flat copper wire and hooked up the Molex connectors. It worked like a charm. A drop of water bridged the connection, closing the switch and the Apex sent me a text message and alert notification in the app. I may add an audible alarm speaker in case something happens while I'm sleeping. Apparently Neptune nixed audible alarms on the new units as they did away with the display module and that is where the alarm speaker was installed.

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I also did a little plumbing work today. I ran new RODI feeds from the existing unit I had under a sink from a bathroom on the other side of the wall. I will have three supply feeds on solenoids for the water changing reservoir and automatic top off. The third will be just RO water for cleaning the skimmer cup. I also ran a new drain line straight to the exterior of my house. The skimmer cup drain will be plumbed to this as well as the AutoAqua water changer. Last time I plumbed the drain to the bathroom sink house drain and while it worked, despite being on the raw side of the P trap, algae had a tendency to grow and at times you could smell the ocean in the bathroom which required a dose of bleach down the drain every couple months. This time I have the drain going to a palm tree, which I'm sure it will enjoy the seawater.

With the long weekend and presumably ominous weather, I expect to get a lot of the mundane things done. No picture of the full setup yet as it got dark and the lighting and reflection made a good picture impossible.
 
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CuzzA

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Wow that looks amazing so far! I just picked up a 40B myself and need to build a stand. Would you mind sharing the dimensions and cut lengths? I look forward to seeing this come to life!
btmedic04, do you still want the cut list? I haven't forgot about you. I just haven't had the time, but should be able to get it for you tomorrow.
 
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CuzzA

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dang, this build is great. I also have a 40 breeder with 40 sump.
Thanks. Today I've been working on the wire management on the back of the stand. I installed the electronics cabinet exhaust fan and also mounted the RODI solenoids and working on plumbing. I think it's about time to pull the trigger on my equipment shopping cart.

I fabricated a DIY 3 stage reactor. You can see it in earlier pictures, but I still have some tweaks to work out before I share the specs. Nevertheless, it will serve as a separate carbon, gfo and bio pellet reactor. The carbon will run continuously, but the others will only be used as needed. The reason for the DIY is I wanted it all to run off the return manifold and I wanted the reactor chambers to easily pop out for swapping media. I never liked the screw on reactors like BRS and SpectraPure sell. They are great for house utility pressures, but total overkill for the amount of flow we put through filtration reactors. They should work great, at least they work great on paper right now.

The shopping list includes the following.

ClariSea Sk-3000 Filter Roller
Bubble Magus Curve 5 Elite with the Sicce Sk-200 pump.
Bubble Magus Skimmer Cup Wiper
Neptune Cor15 Return Pump
Neptune Auto Feeder
Zetlight QMaven II LED Light

I am still unsure of what direction I want to go with the powerheads. I need something that is low profile and controllable. I see Coral Box has a new PH that might check the boxes, but I've always been concerned about their quality. I think ReefBreefers sells a re-branded version called the RP-M. I'd be curious to hear any feedback from anyone using that PH.
 
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CuzzA

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I'm making progress. I have all the plumbing dry fitted, sump equipment is in place. I still need to wire up float switches and the skimmer drain. For the skimmer drain I'm adding a food grade diaphragm pump for sump and tank cleaning. It will be set up with quick disconnects so I can switch from draining water to recirculating water through a strainer.

My skimmer neck wiper came in DOA yesterday. Unfortunately I also need to raise the height of the filter roller and skimmer. This was my first error in this setup, but will actually work better. The return section is set at 10". A good starting point for the skimmer as the instructions state 9-11" (though I am suspicious about that claim). However, the skimmer cup drain would be below the rim of the sump so gravity can't send the waste down the line. My solution was to buy 6mm corrugated plastic sheets and stack them as a stand for the skimmer and filter sock. A guy on eBay sells 10x 12"x12" sets for $22. So all I have to do is halve them and I'll have my two stands which will serve as pod hotels.

I also started thinking about safety, specifically fire safety. So I bought a smoke detector off Bezos for $4.44 just before logging in here. As I've been wiring up this aquarium I sat there looking at the cluster F of wires and plumbing and thought to myself, "This would be an excellent place for a fire to start." Sure it looks clean from the inside, but when you have a look at the back side you start to get that "getting old" nervous feeling.

My plan is to take the alarm apart and run wires from the speaker to my controller to act as a switch. If smoke is detected it will automatically kill power to the system and send me a text message.

Wire management on a modern reef tank is not without a challenge, especially on a smaller tank. I had to figure out a way to organize the wires, yet make it easily possible to remove a component for service or replacement. I put each long wire in a small Cable Cuff and labelled it. I also decided I will keep the tank about six inches off the wall for easier access.

So, I still need to buy my light and the powerheads. After doing some research, I'm leaning hard to a pair of Octo Pulse 2 powerheads. I mentioned the RPM pumps, but learned they can not be hooked up to an Apex so that was a deal breaker.

I also have 300 lbs. of Pukani on the side of my house that I need to start shaping for the aquascape. Then of course it will get a bleach and acid bath. Stay tuned.... More to come.

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CuzzA

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Today after work I played around picking through the 300 lbs of Pukani I have sitting on the side of the house and this is what I came up with. It probably looks a little off right now, but one of the mistakes many reef builders make with their aquascape is they envision their rock as the final product. Sure it looks good when you first put it in the tank, but then as the corals grow there's not enough room and the tank looks a mess.

So as I mentioned before, the purpose of the tall rock is to hide the overflow box and powerheads. There's a number of hiding spots around the rock and I carved out caves in all the others. I'm on the fence about the little pinnacle in the foreground to the left. And the other small rock to the right will probably get replaced with a rock designed to be more likely to keep a bubble tip anemone from wandering by carving out a hole for its foot and I'll probably add a little PAR light to come on before the main lights. Hopefully this will help to keep it in place. The rocks look off right now because they're different colors from algae and dirt, but tomorrow I'll give them a muratic acid bath and then soak them in bleach. Once they dry I plan to make them more stable by placing them in a cement mix to act as a foot/pedestal. Then they'll be ready to go in the display tank.

I added my original illustration for comparison.

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CuzzA

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Alright, I got my rocks cooked in muriatic acid, bleached, dried and welded together over the weekend, wrapped up the shadow box and it's all in the tank. Looks good.

I'm putting sand in now. My light should be here tomorrow and I'll fill 'er up with water.

I have just a few other things to do. I need to install the light, the auto feeder, the nem light and fabricate a hinged acrylic lid for the ATO and water changer reservoir. Then it'll be time to wait. I'll be running heavy carbon and GFO for a couple weeks to yank out any contaminates and phosphate. Then we'll see if it can support life.

Here's a video of the aquascape. Check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more to come and cool diving videos.


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