DIY 20l AIO for my classroom

CanadianSpaghetti

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Howdy friends!

I'm setting up my first reef tank. I've kept freshwater for years, and I think it's time to give a reef a go. I'm going to be setting it up in my grade 7 classroom. Some of the kids will help with some of the stuff (obviously with supervision). I don't want to drop a ton of money into this (as it's my first, and all that) so I am going to be reusing bits of gear, buying used, and all that.

So I have a 20 long with 17lbs of rock, and I want to set up an AIO on the one side. I also bought a used AI prime 16reef light
tank picture.jpg




I have a Sicce silent 1.0

glass wall.jpg


I have a bunch of spare glass lying around, and I'm going to glue in the walls. I don't have a glass drill bit, and I don't want to spend money on one. I do have a nozzle from an old fluval cannister that can go over the wall. This will work right?

pump nozzle.jpg


Now that particular nozzle has a plastic top that can come off (look at the bend). Obviously I dont want that failing and water spraying everywhere. Any old superglue is reef safe right? Is there a particular plastic epoxy I should be using to stick that on there and not leach chemicals into the water?


Now as far as the design of the filter section: I want three sections - the overflow will go through a filter pad and some biomedia (I have a bunch of seachem matrix kicking around). Then into a middle section that I want big enough to put some chaeto, or perhaps a skimmer down the line. Is there a particular size for this middle section that is best? Ie, is like a 5x5 footprint a common size to fit a skimmer for this size tank? I have no idea. I'd just hate to make this too small when next school year we want to put a skimmer in it and add more fish.

This is what the back section looks like in my head right now The red is the first wall, the yellow is the second glued in to be lower so that the water will overflow. The green walls are the baffles seperating the sections, and the blue voxels are the pump and return hose.

Finally, I have a bag of aragonite like this that I had in a cichlid tank for about a year. It was mixed with play sand, but I put it through a sieve to filter out the sand. It's been cleaned and dried for a while now. Can I use this? it seems unlikely that being in freshwater will have poisoned it... Also, I know that some fish need fine sand. For this year I'm mostly interested in inverts, coral and maybe 2 or three little fish. They'd be fine with the chunky texture, right?

aragonite.jpg


Thats all I got for now! Thanks so much for any thoughts
 
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Tuffyyyyy

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Looks like you're well on your way to setting up a great tank! After reading through your plans, I think you have everything laid out well and it's going to work. One thing I didn't see mentioned though is an automatic top off. It's a necessity for a tank that sized, especially if you're going to leave the tank unsupervised for the weekend & breaks.
 
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CanadianSpaghetti

CanadianSpaghetti

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Looks like you're well on your way to setting up a great tank! After reading through your plans, I think you have everything laid out well and it's going to work. One thing I didn't see mentioned though is an automatic top off. It's a necessity for a tank that sized, especially if you're going to leave the tank unsupervised for the weekend & breaks.

I haven't picked one up yet, and I'm thinking about it.

The other idea I'm considering is putting a tank of RO water above the reef and just set-up like a drip line (like for acclimatizing fish) and let the thing drip run non-stop.

I have a rack like this that I've used in the past when breeding cichlids. I plan on putting the reef on the middle rack. Stick a 5.5g on the top shelf, and run a siphon down that goes nonstop (through a valve so it's not too fast).

Seems like it would work, and I have all the bits....

I'm planning on picking up an jebao slw-10 and an inkbird thermostat too this week.

After that, I think I just need my refractometer, a bucket of salt, and some patience while it cycles
 

Tuffyyyyy

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I haven't picked one up yet, and I'm thinking about it.

The other idea I'm considering is putting a tank of RO water above the reef and just set-up like a drip line (like for acclimatizing fish) and let the thing drip run non-stop.

I have a rack like this that I've used in the past when breeding cichlids. I plan on putting the reef on the middle rack. Stick a 5.5g on the top shelf, and run a siphon down that goes nonstop (through a valve so it's not too fast).

Seems like it would work, and I have all the bits....

I'm planning on picking up an jebao slw-10 and an inkbird thermostat too this week.

After that, I think I just need my refractometer, a bucket of salt, and some patience while it cycles
Yep that would work no problem. I used to use a gravity top off in an old 10 gallon aquarium I had. And you're going to be super happy with that Jebao! It moves way more water than I thought it would.

One thing I would definitely recommend you splurge for is one of the Hanna digital refractometers. Those guys are such gamechangers.
 
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CanadianSpaghetti

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Well, I'm still trucking along. I gotta say, this stuff takes longer when you actually have to do it yourself, vs just reading a build thread someone posted 5 years ago...

Well I cut a bunch of glass, and siliconed it into my tank. I had the glass lying around, so it worked out nice and free. The downside was that it had been a while since I cut any glass and some of my edges are pretty manky. Also, perhaps I should use more tape and silicone slower in the future...

20220813_113520.jpg
20220812_101007.jpg


The best part is that it works! Check it out!


I need to work on my egg crate filter media holder thingy. It's hard to build it to fit under the lip of the black rim on the tank. Pain in my butt.

Next step is to glue all my rock into pleasing shapes with some aquastik I picked up.

After that, I need to get the stand anchored to the wall in my class room next week, then probably fill the tank with salt water and start cycling.
 

Rtaylor

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Nice! I made an AIO with some acrylic pieces myself (easier to cut and drill than glass). Just wanted to make sure you realize a gravity ATO is different than a drip line for acclimation. I use gravity ATO’s on all my tanks except my 150 (uses a sensor… fancy lol). For my basement “just in case” tank, I literally use an empty fruit punch gallon bottle with 2 airline tubes drilled into the lid balanced on the AIO divider and the back of the tank, hey it works and was free :)
Heck, you could even make building a gravity ATO a class competition for the best design.

Unless you want the filtration area visible for instructional purposes, I’d suggest painting the glass black. It will hide the ugly that inevitably develops in the filter area.

Find some local reefing groups on FB, I’ll bet you would get people willing to donate equipment and livestock for a classroom tank.
 

Rtaylor

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A gravity ATO just needs two 1/4” hoses. One at the height you want it to start filling and one a little longer. Once the shorter piece is no longer under water, water from the reservoir will go through the tube until it’s submerged again. Then it automatically stops. Just like when you cover the top of a straw with your finger and it holds the water from falling out. You don’t want a continuous drip line. This method is super simple and extremely reliable.
 
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CanadianSpaghetti

CanadianSpaghetti

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A month later...

I got the tank filled with water and set up in my class. I have everything gtg, only thing left is to figure out the ATO situation. While I do that the tank can cycle. Pictures below. Also, I did the math and this is the money invested (I buy stuff on both sides of the border as I spend time on both sides pretty frequently)


Refractometer, jebao slw10, inkbird thermostat, filter pad, silicone off amazon - $157 USD

reef putty - $16 usd

AI prime and sicce silent 1.0 pump $230 CAD (bought used off kijiji.ca)

20long and 17lbs of rock - $152 CAD

Red reef reef salt $97 CAD (the big bucket)

Total so far - $479 CAD, 173 USD

CAD - $703.90
or
USD - $521

I already had the stand, the heater, and some other incidental stuff
 

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How have you used eggcrate in or around your aquarium?

  • Aquarium lid

    Votes: 31 37.3%
  • Frag rack

    Votes: 42 50.6%
  • Skimmer stand

    Votes: 25 30.1%
  • Sump Divider

    Votes: 19 22.9%
  • Other (please describe in the discussion)

    Votes: 12 14.5%
  • I have not used eggcrate in or around my aquarium

    Votes: 19 22.9%
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