Fade's back with a custom acrylic 12.5G nano tank build

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Hi everyone. Been lurking around here again for the past week or so since I got the itch to start another reef tank. Long story short, like several of you I have been in and out of the reef hobby. Started when I got out of the military back in '99, setup my first tank late that year (15 High with compact florescent... yuck), progressed through many tanks (20L, 40B, DIY 80G cube tank, last was a rimless 18G cube tank). It's been about 3 years since that last tank which ran well for about 2 1/2 years and then had an unfortunate accident with a snail and an ATO that crashed the tank. Lesson learned, but packed it all up and took a break. Fast forward to today and a random Instagram post click has caused my YouTube recommendations to start showing reef tanks. dangit, 3 am find myself watching reef build videos. You know.... we've all been there. That has caused the itch to come back and sent me here to read up on what has changed over the past few years.

My goal with this new tank is simplicity and use equipment that I already have if it makes sense. Started looking at AIO tanks since I don't want to deal with an external sump and plumbing and I want to keep this small anyway. Lifegard, RedSea, Waterbox, IM - I like the peninsula design, but I just couldn't find anything that I really fell in love with. But the biggest thing was that as I was looking at these tanks, I kept thinking to myself "I could build my own tank that is exactly what I want and it would essentially be free". Back in the day I did a lot of acrylic fabrication. Some in the aquarium industry, but a lot more in the vivarium industry. So I have a little tank building experience and I have a lot of acrylic sheet still left in my garage. So why not just design and build the tank that I want? OK, let's do that. Where's my notebook? So it begins...

Basic idea:
  • Peninsula design
  • Roughly 10G in size total
  • Equipment area needs to be large enough to get my hand into
  • No skimmer, no media reactors, no dosing, none of that. Water changes will be my thing because I know how I am and it worked for me in the past.
  • Reuse my Radion XR30 G1, so I can probably keep anything in the tank. I could also cook everything in the tank, so be careful
  • Have about 40lbs of dry rock, but probably skip that and go to the LFS and get a couple pieces of live rock. You know, support the local guy.
  • Use the MP10? Might blow water out of the tank causing another ATO issue. Can I slow it down enough to be useful, or sell it and get something more appropriate? I should probably find it first...
    • I really like the look of those Nero 3 powerheads, but are they any good?

So far this is my idea

IMG_1448.jpg


20x12x10 tank - think standard 10g tank on it's side for size
internal sump area will be 4" deep leaving the main tank area to be 16x12x10 or about 8.3 gallons
Chambers will be
4x4 overflow/media tower​
3x4 heater​
5x4 return pump​

Looking at my drawing again, those divider heights need to change. 1" into the return chamber isn't enough and makes me nervous.


What am I missing?
Anything I should change or think about more before I start building?
Return pump - thinking of going with a DC pump like the Jebao DCS-1200, but what do I know? Better ideas for that? I like that they are adjustable, but is that really necessary?
 
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lapin

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Looks good and a true tank build with you making the tank
 

lapin

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Oh and howdy, welcome....
 
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Kind of entertaining the idea of the 24x12x8 tanks, but that is really shallow. With a 1" sandbed that leaves less than 7" to the water surface. Hmmm...

Definitely adding an ATO to this. Seems like they have come a long way since the float switches. Any difference between the AutoAqua and the XP Aqua I should be aware of? Seems they are very comparable, like the same thing just different labels. =)
XP-Aqua-Duetto-ATO-Auto-Top-Off-System-99.jpg 91yruI5vXtL._AC_SL1500_.jpg
 
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So a lot of things need to come together before this tank sees water. I am in the middle of remodeling a bedroom into my office and that is where this tank will go. Being an empty nester now, I have a few spare bedrooms. lol Anyway, the walls and ceiling have been repainted. New vinyl laminate flooring has been ordered and is being delivered today. This weekends job is to install flooring. Then install trim, replace doors, and install ceiling fan. Then off to Ikea to pick up the furniture that will go in here. We (and by "we" I mean my wife) decided on this type for the office and the tank will be going on top of this.
Ikea shelves.jpg
It's just under 16" deep so the tank should fit perfectly on here sideways with the internal sump area on the left side which will be close to the wall since this will be in the corner of the room. Power is available behind this so I have that going for me. Once I get this I will have a better idea of the support it has and if it will need to be improved upon. I'm thinking of building a nice looking ATO reservoir I can put on the shelf below the tank.

Yay progress!
 
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Not a lot of actual tank building yet. Got almost the entire office remodeled over the weekend, just some trim left and that's done. Check! Make the wife happy first. Going to Ikea this weekend to get the furniture shown above and hopefully get that assembled and in place by the end of the weekend. Once that is done the real fun begins!

Ordered an XP Aqua ATO today as well as the return plumbing parts, Locline, etc. Yesterday I ordered the Kessil gooseneck I will use to hold the Radion light. Also had my son 3D print the mounting bracket I will use to attach the Radion to the gooseneck.

Stopped at a LFS today to chat with them and check out their live rock. They have some of the best I have seen at a LFS. Almost every piece is completely covered in coralline. Grabbed an inline TDS meter for my RO/DI unit while I was there. Always a good thing to have an now I don't have to manually test it. Just look at it while I'm filtering water.

Hopefully by this time next week I am building the tank. Might try to start cutting parts this week if I can squeeze it in.
 
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Slight change in plans for the tank. I found enough 3/8" acrylic to modify the dimensions and make it a little larger.

Now I am planning the tank to be 21.5 x 15 x 11 or about 15 gallons. Sump area will be 3.5" wide so that will give the main tank a volume of just a hair under 13 gallons (18x15x11).

If I don't hurry up and start cutting parts this is just going to keep growing in size.

IMG_1481.jpg
 
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Busy weekend finishing up the office remodel (again). Got everything done except the custom window ledges that are currently stained and on their third coat of poly. Should have those sanded and ready to install tomorrow night. I know this is like the fourth time I said I "only have this left to do and it's done", but isn't that how remodels go? Just one more thing...

Also, I finally got around to cutting acrylic tonight too! Rough cut all of the pieces tonight for the tank and edge finished the glue joints on the router. Brought everything inside to warm it up prior to assembly. Should get the sides glued up tomorrow and the bottom on Friday. Then build out the inside walls and chambers for the sump area this weekend. That's the plan anyway. Got a part from InTank coming tomorrow so I need that to ensure I build the chambers to the correct size. Got the Sicce return pump this week too so I can size the return chamber properly as well. All in all, it's slowly coming together.

IMG_1510.jpg

IMG_1511.jpg

IMG_1512.jpg

IMG_1513.jpg
 
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Assembled the sides tonight so they can dry overnight and will put the bottom on tomorrow.

Had to do this in the office because it's about 10F outside so the garage is freezing. Don't feel like turning on the heater and waiting for it to warm up.

Some assembly pics.

IMG_1520.jpg

IMG_1521.jpg

Like my makeshift weight? It's 2 bricks wrapped in 100mph tape. works like a champ.
IMG_1525.jpg

Crystal clear seams. =)
IMG_1528.jpg

Little weight on all the joints to dry overnight.
IMG_1529.jpg
 
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Moving along this morning.

Assembling the internal overflow and sump area and keeping it simple. Routed out an open weir this time. Teeth make too much noise and since this is going to be in my office it needs to be as quiet as possible. Will be fabricating a top to cover this area once it is done. This will house an InTank filter floss holder, the heater, the return pump, and last the top off sensor. For now, that's all that will reside here.

IMG_1540.jpg

While that is drying I am easing all of the edges of the tank after trim routing the entire thing. Didn't get pictures of that because it is messy, even with a dust collector and an upcut spiral bit. Sometimes I use a card scraper to even out these corners so they are perfectly flush as shown here. They take off extremely thin layers of acrylic. Think hand planer for acrylic.

IMG_1541.jpg
 
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Finally mixing saltwater to fill this baby up! A lot has happened in the past week. Decided the xr30 was way overkill and found a killer deal on a xr15 G5 on here so jumped on that and sold my G1. Got another killer deal on a Nero 3 on here. That is also here. Cleaned up the tank and I am mixing saltwater now to get this filled up and circulating today.

The RMS bracket for the xr15 is a little large. Want to find a better way to mount this to the tank so it doesn't almost completely cover the center chamber.

The rocket is for scale. :cool:

IMG_1571.jpg IMG_1578.jpg IMG_1579.jpg IMG_1580.jpg
 
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And we have water! I am very happy with how silent this tank is. You can barely hear the return pump running and the nero is basically silent. Now that could be from my terrible hearing from years of helicopters, and explosions, and machine guns, but I'll take it. On to the pics.

Full tank under the moonlight.
IMG_1581.jpg

Sump area
IMG_1582.jpg

Open weir into an InTank filter floss holder. The heater is under this.
IMG_1583.jpg
 
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Got the sand in this morning in between Teams calls. Just a thin layer about 1" deep..less in some spots. Going to get the live rock from the LFS after work so that's going in tonight.

Any suggestions on cable management for the Nero? I like the location, just don't know a clean way to route the cable for it so it doesn't visually get in the way.

IMG_1584-2.jpg
 

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