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Dream Tank DIY Pre-Build - Mixing Station - Outside Air - Waste Water Drain - And More

SkiCatTX

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I am in the very early planning stages for a new high-end 180-225 build for my home office later this year. Two major goals for this new build will be reliability and ease of maintenance. Thus, long before I order the tank, build the stand, and plan all the equipment, I want to make a number of improvements to the location where the tank will go. I figure I will document these improvements, solicit feedback, and let everyone know how it works out. I guess that makes this kind of the "Pre" Build Thread, though I will likely create a true build thread for that tank shortly as well.

Some of the improvements that I plan to make are:
  • Install an outside air line to attach to skimmers or air pumps
IMG_6666.jpeg

  • Add two separate 20-amp GFCI circuits just for the tank equipment
IMG_6407.jpeg

  • Build an automated mixing station in the attic space above the room where the tank will be with fresh and saltwater lines to the wall behind the tank.
IMG_7834.jpeg

  • Add an exhaust pipe to vent hot/humid air from the stand/chiller to the attic space or outside
  • Install a waste water drain line from the tank location to the guest room toilet drain
All these things need to be done in a way that will be completely hidden behind the tank or stand, so no visible pipes, tubing, or buckets allowed!
 
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cracker

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Are all these rooms close to each other? I lucked out as my fish room is just on the other wall to kitchen sink. Everything is plumed into this sink , hot/cold water& drain.
 

crusso1993

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I am in the very early planning stages for a new high-end 180 build for my home office later this year. Two major goals for this new build will be reliability and ease of maintenance. Thus, long before I order the tank, build the stand, and plan all the equipment, I want to make a number of improvements to the location where the tank will go. I figure I will document these improvements, solicit feedback, and let everyone know how it works out. I guess that makes this kind of the "Pre" 180 Build Thread, though I will likely create a true build thread for that tank shortly as well.

Some of the improvements that I plan to make are:
  • Install an outside air line to attach to skimmers or air pumps
  • Add two separate 20-amp GFCI circuits just for the tank equipment
  • Build a mixing station in the attic space above the room where the tank will be with fresh and saltwater lines to the wall behind the tank
  • Add an exhaust pipe to vent hot/humid air from the stand/chiller to the attic space or outside
  • Install a waste water drain line from the tank location to the guest room toilet drain
All these things need to be done in a way that will be completely hidden behind the tank or stand, so no visible pipes, tubing, or buckets allowed!
Exciting things happening in a Houston house! Looking forward to following along.

I'm just going to pose some questions next to your items above. Perhaps you have already thought of these, perhaps not. My only aim is to be helpful. :)

  • Install an outside air line to attach to skimmers or air pumps - Good move! Do you plan on having any inline air filtering device?
  • Add two separate 20-amp GFCI circuits just for the tank equipment Good move! If you will be running a chiller, as indicated in bullet point 4, have you given consideration to running a 220 line? 220v chillers save quite a bit on energy consumption.
  • Build a mixing station in the attic space above the room where the tank will be with fresh and saltwater lines to the wall behind the tank Have you considered the amount of work that will be involved hauling and pouring buckets of salt in, what I am guessing will be, an 130+ degree attic? Also, have you researched possible affect extreme heat can have on salt water?
  • Add an exhaust pipe to vent hot/humid air from the stand/chiller to the attic space or outside Good move!
  • Install a waste water drain line from the tank location to the guest room toilet drain Good move! Have you considered the fact that, unless you have an unfinished/open/crawl/drop ceiling basement with access to plumbing, you'll have to cut through your floor? Also, if you do have a basement, are the floor joists running the correct way in order to tie into the toilet plumbing? Kind of a lot of questions but, without knowing your present house layout, it's tough to know how feasible the plumbing will be.
 

KrisReef

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Yup, the drain might be easier to install if you have a sink basin to tap into?

Sounds like a fun project!
 
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SkiCatTX

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Yup, the drain might be easier to install if you have a sink basin to tap into?

Sounds like a fun project!
Yes. I will have a pump in the sump which will move the water and dump into the back of a toilet in an ajoining room. Or possibly something like a Neptune DOS, same deal.
 
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SkiCatTX

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Exciting things happening in a Houston house! Looking forward to following along.

I'm just going to pose some questions next to your items above. Perhaps you have already thought of these, perhaps not. My only aim is to be helpful. :)

  • Install an outside air line to attach to skimmers or air pumps - Good move! Do you plan on having any inline air filtering device?
  • Add two separate 20-amp GFCI circuits just for the tank equipment Good move! If you will be running a chiller, as indicated in bullet point 4, have you given consideration to running a 220 line? 220v chillers save quite a bit on energy consumption.
  • Build a mixing station in the attic space above the room where the tank will be with fresh and saltwater lines to the wall behind the tank Have you considered the amount of work that will be involved hauling and pouring buckets of salt in, what I am guessing will be, an 130+ degree attic? Also, have you researched possible affect extreme heat can have on salt water?
  • Add an exhaust pipe to vent hot/humid air from the stand/chiller to the attic space or outside Good move!
  • Install a waste water drain line from the tank location to the guest room toilet drain Good move! Have you considered the fact that, unless you have an unfinished/open/crawl/drop ceiling basement with access to plumbing, you'll have to cut through your floor? Also, if you do have a basement, are the floor joists running the correct way in order to tie into the toilet plumbing? Kind of a lot of questions but, without knowing your present house layout, it's tough to know how feasible the plumbing will be.
Hi Crusso1993, lots of questions!

Should have numbered these... :)

1. Air - Yes, I am using currently filter sponge/floss from a power head/pump intake. Pics to come as I am just finishing this one up.
2. 20-AMP - Actually I had not, good to know, though I will probably just stick with the 20-amp as I have already purchased the wire and outlets, etc. for this one.
3. Attic - No buckets, that's the point, the water will run down through the wall directly to the tank...or at least to reservoirs in the stand, still haven't decided if the system will be reliable enough to directly plumb it, we'll see. It will be ATO and AWC. As for temp, that is a concern, especially for the few months in the summer. However, I have been doing this in the garage, and carrying buckets for 20 years already, which is nearly as hot as the attic. My main concern is for the circulation pump and any other equipment. Drip pan arrives today, so will work just like the water heater which will be right next to the two 55 gallon mixing barrels and will drain any leaking water outside. I also have access to source water for the RO/DI. All of this is right on top of a 2x6+3/4" plywood supporting wall so should be fine. We're on a concrete slab, so only option is attic or garage...and I'm currently using a decent amount of our garage for mixing and storage shelves, so looking forward to getting this space back...
4. Exhaust - Yes, just my current 28g and 10g tanks add humidity and heat to my office with a host of computers. We had additional intake and exhaust run to the AC, but even that has trouble in the summer, so I figure the chiller and other equipment in the stand would be better sent outside then just a fan into the room...
5. Waste Water - As I mention, the waste water will go through the wall directly into a drain, so no worries there, and no more buckets of nasty detritus water across the wood floors...
 
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SkiCatTX

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Fresh Air Intake

When we moved from our old house to this newly built house 4 years ago, the pH in my tank went from a fairly constant 8.2-8.3 to about 7.8-8.0 on a good day. Then I discovered that when I opened the window in my office, the pH went right up to the 8.2 range again. Turns out this is caused by the new house being extremely airtight, which increases CO2 when people and pets breath indoors (In fact, our central air system has an outside air intake as well that keeps everyone from suffocating inside due to the tight seals).

I realize that fewer people these days even worry too much about their pH. Heck, I haven't even tested my WB10 nano for pH once since I set it up two months ago! I test Alk, Phosphate, Nitrate, Iodine, etc. regularly, but not pH. I assume it is good when the Alk is steady and everything looks happy. However, I have an Apex on my JBJ tank and it annoys me to no end to see the pH at 7.78 or something horrible like that in the morning…even when the Alk is 8.5, all the other numbers are good, and even my few SPS are encrusting like crazy…

Anyway, short of keeping the window open at all times, I have read that many people have luck raising pH at least a bit by running a tube outside and connecting it to their skimmer. Generally not enough to completely eliminate the problem, but why not, it surely can't hurt.

I decided to run a 1/2" PVC pipe horizontally through the back wall, which is perpendicular to the outside wall of my office, where the tank will go. I was able to drill straight through the 2x6 studs about 9' from outside using two 4.5 foot drill bit extensions connected together.

IMG_6669.jpeg


Luckily, when we built this house I took many pictures of all the walls, wiring, piping, etc. before the sheetrock went it. This has been invaluable for multiple DIY projects since we moved in.

IMG_7522.jpeg

Reinforced Interior Wall View, Tank will go on the other side of the plywood (I drilled just below the horizontal stabilizers, above the wiring)
With the hole drilled, I fed a 1/2" PVC pipe through the wall to a 2-gang in-wall box typically used for AC outlets, then used a blank faceplate I drilled for the pipe to go through.

IMG_6404.jpeg

2-gang box with pipe installed (the slight up angle is due to a couple 90' angle fittings just before the box to align the pipe with [almost] the center of the box).
To prevent dirt and insects from coming in and getting stuck or making a home in the pipe, I turned the pipe down 90' on the outside end, sealed it with polyurethane foam and silicone caulk, then put a large filter sponge and strainer meant for a water pump intake on the end. I'll probably paint this pipe black to match some nearby electrical boxes for lighting and pond equipment. There will also be a trellis in front of it as well, so it won't be as visible.

IMG_6666.jpeg

Outside Air Filter
Inside, I added two 1/2" pipe threaded to 1/4 barbs and ran silicone tubing two the two nano tanks I currently have set up. The fittings are not glued at this end, so I can remove and change as needed.

IMG_6484.jpeg


I haven't painted around the face place as I plan to paint the entire office a lighter color after I'm done with all the work, so no point in trying to match the color with a tiny bit of paint...

IMG_6486.jpeg
 
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SkiCatTX

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One other note. I could have run just tubing, but that would have been a pain to thread horizontally, and I figure I want to reduce the friction as much as possible on the skimmers. Especially if I have more than one pulling, I don't want them competing and just drawing air from inside or each other instead of outside.
 
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SkiCatTX

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Made a bit more progress:

Wire run through wall, attic, to the garage panel.
IMG_6364.jpeg

Pipes through wall to attic space (2x 1/2" PVC for fresh and salt water + 2" PVC for waste air)

IMG_6402.jpeg

Used a washer/dryer water/drain box mounted upside down for the cover.

IMG_6412.jpeg

Attic view

IMG_6731.jpeg

This is where the mixing containers will go (the wires are still loose in this image, they are properly stapled and hung now)

IMG_6727.jpeg

The platform is highly reinforced, especially around the supporting wall that runs left to right in this image.
 
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SkiCatTX

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I got two 55 gallon NSF Ace Rotomold containers from a local supplier. I highly recommend you find someone local if possible, even if you have to drive a couple hours away. Containers like these can be had for $100 to $200 each depending on the size, however, you will likely pay upwards of $200 EACH to ship these freight...just insane...

IMG_6730.jpeg
 

ccombs

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Exciting things happening in a Houston house! Looking forward to following along.

I'm just going to pose some questions next to your items above. Perhaps you have already thought of these, perhaps not. My only aim is to be helpful. :)

  • Install an outside air line to attach to skimmers or air pumps - Good move! Do you plan on having any inline air filtering device?

I am curious, is it standard to install some inline filtering device? I had imagined it would be a good idea, but haven't seen any examples.
 
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SkiCatTX

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I am curious, is it standard to install some inline filtering device? I had imagined it would be a good idea, but haven't seen any examples.
I assume you mean filter the air from outside? Sure, I would recommend it, at least to keep the bugs and dust out of the house and the skimmer. I'm just using a dense prefilter floss inside a plastic cage that was meant for a pump prefilter intake.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 8.32.12 PM.png

The cage opens so you can replace the filter material as needed.
 
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ccombs

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I assume you mean filter the air from outside? Sure, I would recommend it, at least to keep the bugs and dust out of the house and the skimmer. I'm just using a dense prefilter floss inside a plastic cage that was meant for a pump prefilter intake.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 8.32.12 PM.png

The cage opens so you can replace the filter material as needed.
Yeah, that is what I am referring to. I wonder what I could do here since I literally just have my 3/8" airline going through the wall to the outside.
 
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SkiCatTX

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Yeah, that is what I am referring to. I wonder what I could do here since I literally just have my 3/8" airline going through the wall to the outside.
Maybe a giant air stone? Main thing is to just not create too much resistance, so it doesn’t affect skimmer operation.
 
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SkiCatTX

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I haven’t decided yet. Technically it needs to be vented outside, but right now the pipe is just capped just above the wall. I needed the wall pipe installed at the same time as the others, but don’t need the vent until much later when I’m actually setting up the tank. I’ll figure it out then.
 

Do you have a iPad or similar type screen mounted somewhere near your tank for control or display?

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