DIYreefer's DIY 100g AIO frag tank

DIYreefer

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Hello everyone,

The time has come to start a thread for my most recent frag tank build. This one is a bit different than most, being that it's made out of plywood and epoxy and is essentially a rather large AIO (no sump). I built this tank with the intent of growing out corals to sell/trade in order to support my addiction... I mean, hobby. However, my main objective was to keep it VERY simple and make it as ergonomic as possible, while still being functional Hence the AOI aspect... no bending over under a stand to work on anything in a sump :). The tank has been set up for approximately 2 months and has been holding a few corals for about a week now. So far, so good.

The specs are as follows:

Dimensions - 7'x30"x1' w/ the display area being 5'10"
Lighting - 10 x 50w Nicrew Hyperreef LEDs daisy chained together and controlled via a nicrew controller (kessil knock off), and 4 x 54w T5s (1 coral plus, 3 blue plus)
Flow - Jeboa PP20 does the brunt of the work while a pair of Jeboa DCP-5000s (one is the return pump, one feeds my UV sterilizer) that provide a small amount of supplemental flow
Filtration - Aquamaxx DFC-120 skimmer, 4l of Seachem biomatrix (seeded from my display tank), a little bit of activated carbon, and a 36w Jeboa UV sterilizer
Temperature control - 300w heater, and a desk fan that turns on in conjunction with the T5s (although I may soon be ditching the heater, I think the added heat from the UV sterilizer may be adequate in keeping the temp stable around 79*).

Inhabitants will be ever evolving based upon whatever I'm into at the moment. It's been a few years since I have taken coral photos so I'm a bit rusty with the camera, but here are a few pictures of the set up and a couple of the corals that I have moved over from my display tank. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask!
Jack o lantern lepto
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Nightmare plays
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Bowsers.. These guys weren't getting enough light in my display tank. Should color up fine in the frag system.
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Awesome Blossoms. As you can see, I've got some work ahead of me, trimming all of this stuff that has grown onto the rack.
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Wee little WD nublet. I'm almost embarrassed that I actually glued this thing to a frag plug, but it made for a good candidate to test out the SPS viability in the new tank.
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Little baby JB, about the size of a dime.
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WWC Tazers. Excellent growers for me, and absolutely bulletproof. You could grow these guys pretty much anywhere, IME. Should color up better now that they're in more adequate lighting.
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Rastas
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Grafted purple/red plating monti
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Pink Kraks
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And finally, the tank...
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I'll post more pictures as I move things over from my display.
 
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DIYreefer

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I personally would love to see and hear about your process for sealing the plywood...

I used pond armor.... 1.5g of it! I realistically only needed probably half of what I used but I sleep better at night knowing that this thing is sealed SOLID! In addition to going overboard with the epoxy, I also laid 2 layers of 8 ounce fiberglass cloth on the bottom and on all seams. Built to last, lol.
 
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DIYreefer

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Did you seal all sides of the wood?

Definitely looking forward to the process pics.

Are you referring to inside the seams of the individual panels? If so, no. I've used pond armor in a similar fashion (although not quite as over built) with no problems in the past. Pond armor is well worth the expense as it makes for a very solid, and reef safe seal. Honestly, I trust it more than I do traditional glass or acrylic tanks. I probably could have built a similar tank in either glass or acrylic for around the same cost but this thing is bullet proof. I don't have any concern what so ever about a seam ever bursting or glass/acrylic breaking. My only concern would have been something cutting through the epoxy but with it being probably 10x's the necessary safe thickness, that isn't much of a concern.

So I thought that I had more pictures than I do, but I tend to get so I to my projects that I forget to document them most of the time. Anyway, here's a few...

The tank is constructed out of 3/4" cabinet grade plywood. Except for one panel that is plain 3/4" sanded pine plywood (I'm too cheap to buy another $100 sheet of plywood for 1 small panel lol)
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I cut the overflow slits with a 1/4" dado blade in my table saw. Due to the curve of the blade there is a natural slant that allows the water to flow smoothly down into the skimmer chamber. Purely coincidence, but definitely an added bonus as this makes the overflow much quieter.
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Mistakes were made :(. Given that I was using 3/4" material, I knew that I would have a hard time using anything (pumps, food clips, etc.) that required a magnet to hold it in place. My solution... use 1/2" material that had an additional layer around the edges to allow for better magnetic grip. This would have worked perfectly fine, had I not installed the 1/2" panel on the wrong end of the tank... oops! 20220323_153141.jpg

My solution to this was to throw a little tantrum, regroup, and figure out a new plan. The end result was to use a router to remove 1/4" of material out of the panel that needed to be 1/2". It's not my finest woodworking or tank building moment, but it ended up working. Granted, I had to stand the 7' long tank up on it's end and stand in the bed of my truck to do the job, but who doesn't like a little challenge every now and then?

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And after a little spackle and some sanding to remove the residual small gouges left by the router, problem solved! But yeah, I'm still not proud...
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Just a couple more random pictures of the build process. I forgot to mention, the entire top of the tank is braced with 3/4"×1 1/2" poplar hardwood. This wasn't really necessary, structurally, but I didn't want to have the brittle edges of the plywood taking the abuse of the inevitable dropped objects, people leaning on it, etc... even with it being coated in epoxy. Although unnecessary, this step simply gives me peace of mind as well.

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I wish I had more pictures of the epoxy process but the workable time (in my climate) is only about 20 minutes... maybe 30 TOPS before it starts setting up. And at roughly $300 per gallon, pictures were definitely not my priority at the time, lol. 20220327_202545.jpg
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Unfortunately these are the only 2 pictures I took but there is a great tutorial on YouTube that shows how to use pond armor for this application. I believe the guy goes by "king of DIY", or something similar to that. I know his videos are quite popular so I'd imagine that anyone that stumbles upon this thread likely already knows who talking about.

One thing I would add that I haven't seen previously, is how I measured out and mixed the 2 individual parts. After my first coat I quickly realized that there were going to be parts of the epoxying process that would be more intricate (between the overflow slits, up underneath the edges of the top trim pieces, etc.), and in turn would require much smaller amounts of epoxy. As previously mentioned, pond armor is not cheap, so I wanted to cut my waste to a minimum. I did this by using a pair of 1,000ml syringes (found them on amazon). This allowed me to mix up much smaller batches, accurately. I used one syringe for part A, and the other for part B, never mixing them up allowed me to use them over and over. I don't recall this being mentioned in the YouTube videos but it proved to be invaluable for me.

So besides not mentioning that I used 3" deck screws placed 3" apart around the entire perimeter of the tank, false wall, and overflow baffle and using wood glue on all joints, that pretty much sums up the build. If I missed something and anyone has any questions, I'll happily answer. I'll be posting more pictures as I move over more growout frags/colonies from my display tank in the coming days/weeks. Thanks!
 
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DIYreefer

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Here are a few pictures of when I first got the tank on the stand (stand is also 3/4" plywood), and a couple from when I was adding the finishing touches to the epoxy. 20220420_095729.jpg 20220420_111214.jpg 20220420_122448.jpg 20220420_122502.jpg 20220420_122508.jpg 20220420_122546.jpg

As you can see in the last picture, the tank doesn't sit flush with the edges of the stand. That would be because I'm an idiot, and somehow built the stand 1" longer than it should have been. This is the result of a "measure once, cut once" woodworking philosophy, lol. This enrages my OCD, but structurally it still works and holds the weight of the tank perfectly fine.
 
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DIYreefer

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I plan to continue moving corals over to this tank on. a daily basis so long as everything continues to do well. Here are the two that I moved over last night.

Tropic Thunder monti
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Pink Kraks
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I forgot to mention, I do have a couple of fish in the tank, a tiny little 2.5" Naso tang and a 1.5" six-line wrasse. Once they get used to me and aren't so skittish I'll try to get a couple pictures of them as well.
 
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Added a few more last night.

WWC AOI
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Awesome Blossoms
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SBB Hephaseu...whatevers
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Mind Tricks
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Exospheres
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HR Death Stars
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Another WD nub
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TGC Cherry Blossom This one is a stunner under all blue lighting, kinda meh under full spectrum.
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WWC Grafted Cap
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I got my Jawbreaker garden moved over. I started with 15 or 16 polyps back about 8 or 9 months ago and now have precisely 145! As I moved them over I counted all of them. Most of which are still underneath the larger ones, but I expect they will move around and drop babies as well. I'll probably start trading/selling some of these soon.

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A couple already have green coming in :)
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Nice red coverage on this little guy. There's another one that similar buried in there somewhere as well.

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I also took some "blue light special" photos. Definitely still need to get the hang of that.

TGC Cherry Bomb under all blue LED
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WD nub under all blue LED
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SBB Hephasnuffulfuagouses under all Blue LED
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HR Death Stars.. all blue LED
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Awesome Blossoms, all blue LED
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Reef Chasers Aquaculture

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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