First Saltwater Tank Build

JosephM

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So after keeping freshwater forever I’m finally ready to experience the joy and colors of saltwater. I’m still in school only working part time so it’ll be a slow build but I just wanna do this for fun and to show progress and welcome any criticism from seasoned reefers. It is a 29 gal DT with a 20 gal sump below. I’m building my own stand as well that is oversized so I can accommodate that sump and storage and have desk space to do hw and such.
12/7/20 -
Started putting plywood on the frame today. I’m pretty crappy with a circular saw but I made it work and shaved it down where it wasn’t as straight as I’d like it. Cut one piece 1/2” too short (shown in second picture) and just used some finishing nails to put a small piece in and wood putty to make it less noticeable. It will be in a place where it isn’t super visible and using a router to make rounded edges and using semi-solid stain so it shouldn’t be too noticeable on the end. Didn’t want to re cut a whole new piece because I’m on a tight budget only working part time and bought just enough wood for what I need. Build the frame out of 2x4s and wood screws with some extra brackets for support. I know I could have built the frame a little different for more strength but this is what I wanted to achieve the room for my sump and storage.

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JosephM

JosephM

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Following!

A 20 gallon sump for just 29 gallons seems very overkill, but more filtration can’t hurt I guess!
Yeahhhh, I just didn’t feel like I could have this pretty refuge I’m planning in a 10 gal. Plus with 20 there’s always room for upgrading DT!
 
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JosephM

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With a refuge in mind 20 gallons does seem like the way to go, and smart thinking on the larger DT!
I would start with larger DT but as stated before I don’t make lots of money and I had this sitting around from a freshwater tank I took down and initial investments of smaller equipment and rock and such will be lower.
 
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I would start with larger DT but as stated before I don’t make lots of money and I had this sitting around from a freshwater tank I took down and initial investments of smaller equipment and rock and such will be lower.
Same reason for my current “tank” and I don’t even know if it deserves the name of a fish tank.

Except compared to me you starting out quite well! I have an in tank filter rated for 10 gallons in my 20 gallon tank, I doubt it is really doing anything.....
 
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JosephM

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Same reason for my current “tank” and I don’t even know if it deserves the name of a fish tank.

Except compared to me you starting out quite well! I have an in tank filter rated for 10 gallons in my 20 gallon tank, I doubt it is really doing anything.....
Hopefully I’m starting out well, lol. Only time will tell. Just getting everything planned, bought stuff that was on sale on Black Friday, asking for some stuff for Christmas :), and working on stand. Kind of at a halt right now with finals coming up. All the homework, plus studying, plus finals, plus work, it’s hard to find any free time in there but today was a day off of work so I took the whole day to myself and put some work into the stand and planning.
 
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JosephM

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12/9/20 -
Found an hour in my day today to work on the stand. I got the other side and the floor in. The side was almost a perfect cut but for some reason the second floor piece did not cut to what it needed. In the first picture I show how you can easily guide a circular saw for an easier cut. And the next couple pictures are just showing my work. There is a decent size crack in the floor of the stand. That is because of my terrible cutting but there will be a divider there, I don’t even know why I put wood filler in it. I’m not too worried about the small gaps around the sides because it will all be caulked and painted white. I will also be using semi solid stain so most imperfections should be covered up.
 

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12/10/20 -
Not much progress again today but I got the top put in and a divider to the side. I think I’m going to end up moving the divider to put a little more room so I can fit a 5 gallon bucket for auto top offs. But that’ll be easy. I did leave some overhang on top so I can go over it with a router to create some rounded edges
 

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10/12/20 -
I made a lot of progress today. I have some extended family that works in a glass factory so I had him cut me glass for my sump build. I’m missing one piece because they don’t have a 4in drill bit so I had to order one to cut it myself but basically my sump for now will be a filter sock that goes into a small area with bags filled with matrix and then a large fudge leading to the bubble trap and return. My first picture shows how I taped it off to get somewhat smoother silicone lines but I still got messy. I wasn’t too worried about looks as long as it functions down there. Second picture shows what it will basically be minus the piece for the filter sock. I then worked on my stand. I moved over the divider to easily fit a 5 gallon bucket and finished the outside and got it ready for some doors. I used wood filler to fill in gaps from my bad cuts to make it look less bad and fill in screw holes. Third picture shows what I completed and forth one shows with all the woodfiller.
 

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JosephM

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12/14/20 -
Today I finished putting wood filler where needed, did some sanding, and somewhat rounded out the edges. I didn’t want to use the router because I didn’t want to risk me messing anything up because I’ve never used one before. I also caulked the inside of the stand and put down a primer on the inside and on the doors that I cut today before the final coat. I decided to go with a white interior because I’ll have the sump in there so I thought it would brighten it up with the grow light and everything. Everything is going to plan so far and I’m getting closer and closer to finishing :)

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12/15/20 -
Today I got the inside painted with some outdoor paint and the outside sanded a little and stained. It’s definitely not the best out there but it’s my first real build alone and it’ll mean more since it was built by me. I also got the doors stained and painted. The paint side needs a little touch up before they go on because I was a little messy with the stain and some got on the paint.
 

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12/17/20 -
The first layer of stain faded a little bit as it got soaked into the wood so I applied a second coat of stain. I also did some touch up work because I was impatient and stained before the paint dried so I couldn’t put tape down so some stain got onto the paint. I’m going to need to do one more round of touch up on the doors before they’re ready to go on.
 

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JosephM

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12/20/20 -
Not much progress again but I got the doors put on (took forever because instead of measuring I just went for it), installed the tee nuts at the bottom where elevator bolts will go for my little DIY adjustable feet, and cut a piece of glass for my filter sock in my sump. The doors do look pretty bad right now because there’s a lot of paint on the edges but that will get fixed soon with some denatured alcohol and some touch up stain.
 

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12/21/20 -
Took the doors off the stand again. I filled in some of the holes that were there from messed up attempts of putting the doors on. Sanded all the edges of the doors because they were coated in paint and re-stained those and where I used wood filler. And put the adjustable feet on (elevator bolts). I took the doors off because I will be applying polyurethane to give it some shine and extra protection and water resistance.
 

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12/23/20 -
Over the last 2 days I’ve put 3 coats of polyurethane with a light sanding between each coat. Basically spent half my day re arranging my whole room so everything doesn’t look out of place. Got the stand level as the floors aren’t too level themselves. Gonna let the stand dry a day or two before the doors go on and hopefully I’ll get around to drilling the tank for overflow and return so I can purchase my pvc and such.
 

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12/29/20 -
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this. I hope you guys all had a great Christmas! Since i last updated I have installed the handles, cleaned my tank and drilled it (it wasn’t the greatest drilling I’ve done but it should work) drilled a hole in the stand for my surge protector and went ahead and placed the grow light, reactor, skimmer, and heater controller. I know it’s a mess right now but I’m just waiting to get some Velcro cable ties in the mail and I’ll tidy it all up.
 

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JosephM

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Today I put the background on and installed the overflow box and the return assembly. Right now I just have a full spectrum led until I get my actual reef light. I have all my pvc, fittings, and return pump ordered so it’s just a matter of time before I get some water running through here.
 

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