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dave's first system

dbowman5

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When I first got the itch I was thinking DIY so i looked at ideas online. I decided that I wanted a display tank with an over the top overflow. I would have a sump with a skimmer, refugium and return section. I read that a 75 gal. tank was a popular beginner size. At the time I had a 55 gal freshwater aquarium.
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A Marineland 75 combo with stand was the tank I was considering. In May I found one on sale and bought it. Patiently planning to set it up when I was ready, I put it in my dining room. I reconsidered and decided that saltwater was too expensive and too much work so i set it up as a freshwater.
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By July I had reconsidered
The problem that I saw was that I did not know what DIY ideas would work. Rather than setting it up, I thought it made sense to create a pilot system to test out my plans. I measured for height and cabinet room. I checked out craigslist for used equipment
In August I found a 32 gal bowfront and went to get it. The guy had more stuff and for a little more, I bought a 26 gal rectangular that had been used as a sump. No baffles but i could see traces of silicone where they had been. I had no stand but found plans online for a stand. I was going to put the sump under the 75 so I built the stand to put the top of the bowfront at the height of the 75 on its stand. (1.)
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I bought a Sicce Silent 2.0 for a return pump. i bought a Bubble magus Curve 5 skimmer. The skimmer would sit with about an inch above the top of the sump giving me plenty of room inside the stand to service the cup. This skimmer was supposed to need 11.5 inches of liquid for optimal operation, so I used that for the height of the first baffle. the Sicce pump needed about 6 inches to stay submerged so decided 8 inches would be the last baffle. the refugium could surge up to 11" without disturbing the skimmer. I bought a couple of heaters and a couple of power heads. I bought Current USA Orbit Marine loop lighting. I had baffles made and got concerned about being able to seal the baffles into the used tank when for $1/gal I could have a new tank. I bought one. When the baffles came they did not fit the new tank. My measurements were wrong. I could turn them sideways and trim one of them to fit. But the bubble traps i had wanted got lost. Also 1/4 glass is hard to cut by hand.
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in this picture the skimmer would be on the right, the return section is on the left beyond the eggcrate sandwiched around the baffle. plastic cross stitch fabric slips between the eggcrates to block macroalgae and large organisms from the return pump.
The Sicce pump had plenty of flow for 4 feet vertical head.
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While waiting on the baffles i tap water tested the plumbing to make sure the tank would not overflow or lose siphon in the overflow. I bought a pump control kit to shut off the return pump before it overflows the display. the float with snail guard is in the center of the tank, this is Sept. 19
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The overflow sticks into the pvc on the left. the drilled holes were my first try to provide enough flow with out draining too much if the return pump stops.
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the pvc here was supposed to have circular saw cut slits in the top. The fingers broke so that fish could slip through. I wrapped the top in cross stitch fabric that could be removed as needed. that worked. By this time I stopped painting pvc because i realized that i would not use it in the eventual aquarium.
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here is the sump after being in use. The skimmer is now at the manufacturer's recommended depth. when i first put it in, before it had broken in, i had to put plastic squares under it raising it 5 inches. this concerned me enough that I started to think of abandoning the 75 plan. The issues of humidity inside the stand, the cramped conditions, the height of the skimmer, carrying water upstairs, started me thinking of just having this system as my saltwater option. I found it pleasant to be able to focus on the saltwater in the basement with no other distractions like in the dining room.

At this time i was topping off by hand. Several times the pump blew micro-bubbles before I was aware that it needed water. The overflow worked ok and the overflow protection kept the floor dry. Over all the plans were working, But...
I have a friend with an AIO. That tank kept drawing me back to... So I told him of my reservations and that i wish i could deliver water to and from the basement. Over time I thought about it and wished I could put a sump in the basement but the sump would have problems with the amount of water in the plumbing and the pumps that I could find were not sufficient to lift the return water upstairs.,
One idea would be to increase the sump size so it wouldn't overflow. As it happened i had a 55 and a 75 freshwater tank. The 55 was heavily populated but the 75 was lightly loaded. Below where the 75 was was my furnace and hot water heater. Where the 55 sat there was a shelf unit below it. Long story shorter:
I determined to empty the livestock from the 55 into the 75.
Leave the 75 as freshwater and convert the 55 into a sump.
Buy a new 75 and put it in place of the 55. I was thinking of the 75, by Christmas the price was dropping. Merry Christmas to me.
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Find a pump that would lift 10 vertical feet. Originally I counted 9 vertical feet plus 3 90's to get over the top for 12 feet of head; by drilling the return I saved 2 feet.
originally i wanted a DC variable pump but i was advised that they did not perform well with a large head. i found a Hydor Seltz AC vario 2400 that looked like it would perform well and give me 6 settings for adjusting the flow without putting back pressure on the pump with a partially closed throttle valve. It recommended 1 1/4" plumbing so the return bulkhead I selected was threaded for that size.
Find an overflow. I picked the Eshopps Eclipse large with 3 one inch drains to accommodate a full Bean Animal.
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Drill the 75 for overflow and return.
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Drill through the hardwood.
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Add two GFCI circuits to my Power panel.
Install a Back plate to attach equipment.
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Plumb the system, you see the 'fuge on the left with the partial siphon and the emergency drain feeding into it. the return plumbing is teed to add future equipment
the skimmer section on the right has the full siphon drain, throttled with a gate valve
Test the system.
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the egg crate fabric barrier also blocks light. Here the LED in the cover that came with the 55 is being used for lighting
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Because the fresh white paint reflects light into the pump and skimmer sections, I repurposed the plastic backing as a shield for the back, side, and front of the skimmer section and the back of the pump section to reduce algae,
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here you see my sump as it looks tonight.
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my ATO a kit that has a float in the bucket to keep the pump from running dry and the float in the return section that keeps additions to about a quart in this 100 gal system for good stability
i have heaters in the display, the 'fuge, and the skimmer section.
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this is my display. i have a current USA Orbit Marine IC bluetooth loop system capable of running three wave pumps two dc flow pumps and two LED lights with a temperature probe.
currently i have 2 power heads and one 48 inch LED attached. it has sound effects but i haven't hooked up the speakers yet.
the Hydor Seltz has six settings. With no splitting of the flow i have it set on 2. the first setting holds the plumbing full and the second setting is enough to lift the 9 feet and the 3 90's that feed the DIY spray bar. I haven't decided whether to paint it black or leave it white. It is visible but high enough to not be distracting. Because of the size of the bulkheads, the distance from the top that I had to be to avoid cracking at the top of the hole means that the water level is above the return. This makes anti siphon problematic. i solved this by elbowing up so that the spray bar holes are above the water level. the rim on the top of the tank caused the Eshopps Eclipse to be lower than if it was rimless. That leaves the waterline visible. I'm waiting to see if that is a problem for me to the point that i would run electrician's tape along the base of the top rim.
the 24th of January i started the cycle with live rock and live sand from the bowfront (center) and dry rock (sides) added pink and purple Coralline from BRS and Fritzyme from the LFS
the cycle had the ammonia to 0 by Feb. 1 so i moved the mollies and the Springeri damsel from the bowfront to the main tank.
1 Feb i moved some emerald crabs from the bowfront
10 February I added Nerite snails and Hermit crabs
8 March I brought home a zoa frag from the meeting of the Ohio Reef Club
28 March that friend of mine gave me two Colt corals
1 April I noticed some damage to one of the zoa polyps and proximity of an emerald
also one of the Colts became dislodged and was being caressed by that same emerald. Two of the three emeralds are now out of there.
This morning that same wayward Colt was in the bottom of the tank. i pulled it out and tied it to a rock with fishing line. it seems happier than when it was wedged into a hole.
My latest project is a QT. i was planning to use the bowfront but if i need to medicate the Rock and Sand in addition to being hard to see and catch the arrivals would require extensive work. since i still have that first sump that i didn't use viola:
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HOB filter, heater, top section from the 55 for cover and light, pvc section, all sitting on a stand that was in my garage. not wide enough but DIY extensions and I'm good.
well I am up to date. thank you R2R for a place to document, hopefully in the future i will be able to make it all tidy and get better pictures.
 
Corals.com
Top Shelf Aquatics

Victor_C3

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If you’re looking for DIY ideas, look into building a tank out plywood.

I build a 6’ x 21” wide x 26” tall tank that works out to 175 gallons. I jammed it into a closet in my apartment to use as a sump. Since it was a sump, I didn’t put any glass in it. Altogether, I dumped about $300 into building it.

I didn’t detail the process, but I mentioned it a little in my build thread.
 
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dbowman5

dbowman5

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I did a water change yesterday. the return pump section and skimmer section are bare bottom and dark. I vacuumed the water from them removing most of the detritus accumulation. last night i saw lines of detritus in the pump section. magnified and flash lighted I saw that those lines were actually numerous spaghetti worms going to town on what was left on the bottom. I wonder now how many i sucked up and threw away.
 
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dbowman5

dbowman5

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Awesome. Love all the DIY in this build.

Following along!
thank you. if the only way to be in this hobby was to buy professional grade prefab systems would this hobby be anywhere near as enjoyable as it is? I think not. scratching the DIY itch is way too satisfying.
 

RichtheReefer21

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thank you. if the only way to be in this hobby was to buy professional grade prefab systems would this hobby be anywhere near as enjoyable as it is? I think not. scratching the DIY itch is way too satisfying.
U must be enjoying my build then. Together we can rule the world! Ha!
 
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dbowman5

dbowman5

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since last
i found out that my QT should be at least 10 ft from my display system so the QT will have to be empties and moved.
i added a power head and 24" Current IC light to my fuge.
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got some more livestock


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got calibration fluid and found my refract was reading higher than actual and raised the salinity. thank you all who helped me. Started dosing with ESV two part and Mg concentrate.
now i am current
 
https://www.omegasea.net/
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dbowman5

dbowman5

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in the last month i have gotten red Cyano, diatoms, dinos, and hair algae. My zoas became covered in green and stopped opening. i have gotten Salifert test kits for NO3 and PO4, I treated the zoa frag with H2O2 which reversed the issue and they are now opening. my nitrates and phosphates are under 2. I am cycling the skimmer to allow the bacteria to flourish.
I am increasing the feeding levels. One of my colt corals is thriving one is limping along. I lowered the blue level on my main LED. oh yeah, i have a 48" Current IC and have added the Marineland 36" LED that came with the 75 kit. i manually turn it on and off with the Current.11 hours on, 1 hour ramp, 12 hours off

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RichtheReefer21

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Congrats on getting the nutrients under control. Hopefully they stay they for ya. Finding the balance in the biochemistry of the water column is different in every system, the challenge of finding the sweet spot is a challenge, but once ur there, sweet serenade!

Stay salty bud!
 
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dbowman5

dbowman5

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Congrats on getting the nutrients under control. Hopefully they stay they for ya. Finding the balance in the biochemistry of the water column is different in every system, the challenge of finding the sweet spot is a challenge, but once ur there, sweet serenade!

Stay salty bud!
thank you sir
 

RichtheReefer21

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have the skimmer off because of low nutrients and cyano is in full retreat. this poor rock was half covered and now just a little is left. watching...
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Is that a medusa worm i see climbing out across the rock from the left side? Such cool creatures!
 

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