Help with Ideas for Lagoon - Waterbox Terra 4820

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XLReefer525

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I need some design help. I have been thinking of a new build for a shallow mangrove / lagoon / tide pool / touch tank type design. First I purchased a Low Boy 50 and was going to work with that, but then I came across this terrarium by Waterbox. I don't think many of these were made before they discontinued it. It's high quality and I got this thing brand new. The design is not well suited for what I intend to do, but I want to figure it out. I'm going to include a picture here of what I have and also a link to a smaller version I found on YouTube. I'll then post again with my thoughts.

Here is a link to a smaller version, which is same design but mine is larger with 2 of the black "towers". You only need to watch the first minute or so to see the design:
Here is a picture of mine, and the black you see on the bottom is just egg crate:

Tank.jpg
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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The tank has holes in the rear glass within the towers. The towers have slots like overflow teeth on all 3 sides at the bottom, and two holes on each side up top. The "towers" are acrylic and not glass. I'm trying to figure out a way to modify the inside to have an all in one sump along the back, incorporating the towers. Or remove them and build something within. Or, I would rather best to have a sump in the stand, but I don't want to drill the tank. At this point I don't have any great ideas. If anyone is super bored and creative, I'm all ears. I know with some creativity in design, I could make this a really cool and unique tank.
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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now I'm doing a full 180 and thinking maybe I should remove the towers and drill the tank for an overflow box. I've never drilled a tank though and this thing has some seriously think glass.
 

minorhero

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Thicker glass is easier to drill then thinner so long as its not tempered its pretty straight forward and once you do 1 hole you will never feel intimidated again, because it really is pretty easy. Only complication is you will want the surface you are drilling horizontal for the water you will be using to cool the bit, so you will need to lay the tank down on its front side and support the taller back, or lay it down on the back.

What was the original purpose of these towers, were they for waterfalls?
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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What was the original purpose of these towers, were they for waterfalls?

Exactly - they pull water from teeth at the bottom with a pump in each one, then water would come out a hose at the top that you could place wherever. It was intended to be built up in the back with water trickling down to the front, for freshwater terrarium. Like this:

me7tezkecfy71.jpeg
 
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tautog83

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I wouldnt drill it it's a unique tank work with what ya got . Follow serpadesign on YouTube he literally does hundreds of unique things like this. Granted he usually only does plants and not anything marine but for inspirational purposes...
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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I wouldnt drill it it's a unique tank work with what ya got . Follow serpadesign on YouTube he literally does hundreds of unique things like this. Granted he usually only does plants and not anything marine but for inspirational purposes...
This is my original thought as well. It's unique and rare, so I hate to mess with the tank and would love to make it work. All I can think of is adding some acrylic between the towers to build an all in one sump inside. I just lose some real estate and still struggle with design.
 

minorhero

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I would also leave it and use it. A waterfall in a saltwater tank would be pretty cool. You could grow other marginal saltwater plants (like grasses) rather then just mangroves. I've never tried to source them but they must be available if you look hard enough since people are always restoring beach dunes etc.

You could still drill the tank inside those acrylic pieces and take the result down to a sump, make the return come back through there for in part the waterfall.
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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You could still drill the tank inside those acrylic pieces and take the result down to a sump, make the return come back through there for in part the waterfall.

There are big holes in the back within the towers. They are about 3" in diameter. The bottom of the hole looks to be right at the same level where it would start to overflow in the front. I have holes there but I don't know how to use them to get to a sump and back. Here is a pic of the back:

9FC2220F-9D1F-4E98-8DF2-B7C83106917B.jpeg
 

minorhero

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This looks like a very specific filtration solution. I would contact waterbox and ask them for advice on how to filter it. Chances are they had something specific in mind. Worst case scenario you can go diy on it and make your own holes in that acrylic or remove the acrylic cover on the hole in the glass, but hopefully you won't need to do that.
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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This looks like a very specific filtration solution. I would contact waterbox and ask them for advice on how to filter it. Chances are they had something specific in mind. Worst case scenario you can go diy on it and make your own holes in that acrylic or remove the acrylic cover on the hole in the glass, but hopefully you won't need to do that.

First thing I did was call Waterbox looking for their input to convert to saltwater. They had no advice, other than to remove the towers, drill it, and add an overflow for sump down below. I can do that, but again was hoping to work with what I have.

My gut tells me there is a way to do this without drilling the tank and that I'm just not smart enough to figure it out...
 

minorhero

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First thing I did was call Waterbox looking for their input to convert to saltwater. They had no advice, other than to remove the towers, drill it, and add an overflow for sump down below. I can do that, but again was hoping to work with what I have.

My gut tells me there is a way to do this without drilling the tank and that I'm just not smart enough to figure it out...

It's definitely possible to do without further drilling the tank so long as that giant hole in the back is lower then the edge of the tank. If its not lower then things are a bit harder.

Anyway I'd be interested in what waterbox says is the way to filter this tank 'as is' and less interested in what they say regarding 'converting' to saltwater, which means something else to a large company like waterbox then it would to any relatively handy reefer.

Anyway assuming the bottom hole in the acrylic is actually lower then the edge of the tank you could install a bulkhead there and use one side as a herbie and the other one as an emergency drain. This is the most minimal impact option for getting a sump involved.

Other options include tearing out the acrylic cover for the 3 inch hole in the back and installing a properly sized bulkhead in it's place. Then either installing a diy overflow box outside the tank for whatever plumbing style you want, or again, simply using the 2 giant holes as a herbie and emergency.

Secret third option, don't use a sump at all and instead fill the tank with macro algae (or possibly seagrass) and use that as your means of nutrient export. Then you only need to keep some pumps and filter pads in the black towers for some minimal mechanical filtration and water movement either back into the tank or up into the waterfall (or probably both).
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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Thanks for the input everyone!

@minorhero, the black towers have teeth at the very bottom on all 3 sides. The big holes in the glass are simply to access those towers and insert pumps with tubing / returns that would go out holes at the top sides of the towers. The big holes in the glass are not below the top of the front tank edge. The very bottom edge of the large holes, with a rough measurement, look to be exactly the same as the very top edge of the front of the tank. I can't figure any way to use those large holes with any type of overflow since they are above the waterline. I may not understand what you were asking so let me know??

Also, Waterbox had no filtration in mind. It was designed to have freshwater rocks and plants for the water to trickle over and through. That was biological filtration in mind but no mechanical of any kind was involved. Some folks here have responded that it would be cool to have a waterfall or trickling water over rocks and I definitely agree, but I assume with saltwater involved the salt creep would impossible to control?

I'm definitely planning to have macro algae in addition to mangroves for nutrient export. I will not have a skimmer. For the sump, I primarily want that to keep the water level always consistent within the display, and secondary, to have cords and auto-top only in the sump. The display, before it would spill over the front, is only about 7" so my real water level within the display will only be about 6", so I don't want any evaporation showing in there.

Again, everyone, I really appreciate your input. I so want to figure this out!
 

minorhero

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Ah, I thought you had mentioned the holes in the back were below the waterline. Yeah, forget about those holes then, they will not be useful for filtration unless you want to run a canister filter. When I did a search I found almost no references to this tank at all but there was a short video on youtube of someone who knocked out the acrylic and use the holes as a means of running the intake and return for a canister filter. Not helpful for a sump. Your only option for a sump would be to drill new holes, still very doable but definitely a permanent modification to the tank.
 

SweetSaltyTank_J.G.

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Hey. Sick terrarium!
Could you cut slits in the towers at the right height so the water overflows into the chamber(silicone the slits on the bottom)
Then use a external overflow upside down U and a overflow box mounted on the back?
 

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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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Hey. Sick terrarium!
Could you cut slits in the towers at the right height so the water overflows into the chamber(silicone the slits on the bottom)
Then use a external overflow upside down U and a overflow box mounted on the back?

Thanks for this. I considered this but there is no way to mount the overflow with the towers in place. The towers are only about 4" x 4" maybe in size. I appreciate the thought!

I was just looking at it last night. This tank is just so cool, but I may wind up selling it to someone who could use it the right way. It's just too nice to destroy. I haven't given up yet but I'm getting close...
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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I put some water in the other night just to see how it looked, and here are a few pics. This took just over 25 gallons which is a great manageable size. I put a small Sicce in the left tower with a tube out the top and it has some decent flow.

Right now I am leaning towards not drilling and changing the tank, but maybe DYI some sort of small filter box hidden behind rock that I could at least run a little carbon and filter floss and direct the water through it, then maybe sheet flow / trickle back down into water. Then a few powerheads and that would be it. Or I may just list this thing for sale and let someone make an awesome terrarium out of it, like it was designed. But I'm still brainstorming. It's such a cool tank and with some build-up in the back with rocks and mangroves, I know it could be special.

CE41DB85-D734-4159-87F0-9857B886373C.jpeg


A3A28343-C98B-4542-B455-B2C021D08C6D.jpeg
 

welsher7

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That is a very unique tank, with a lot of cool options.

If you are planning on using rock and macro algaes why do you need a sump/filter space? The rock and algae will do the filtering. If you wanted to run some type of chemical/mechanical filtration you could place media bags across the openings on the bottom of the towers. The incoming water would be forced through the media. You could even drill a hole for the return through the towers, so each tower would function as its filter chamber. Kind of how all in one tank functions.
 
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XLReefer525

XLReefer525

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If you are planning on using rock and macro algaes why do you need a sump/filter space?
My main thought here was to simply keep the water level always the same in the main display. There is a lot of surface area (almost 48" long by 20" wide) and it's so shallow, I don't know how I will be able to rig up an ATO that will be sensitive enough to keep the water level from dropping. Even an inch will be a lot and also quite noticeable. Also, simply to hide heater, carbon, maybe some Cheato if needed to help the macro in the display, etc.

Another thought I had was to put a black acrylic wall up affixed to the front of the towers, and box off an all- in- one sump between them. That would then become my small sump and return area where the water evap would show up. But I lose valuable real estate in the tank if I do this. Not ideal, but doable.

I've also been thinking about those towers and how to run media in them. It would be in reverse from normal, with water coming from the bottom, then media, and then the return pump on top of it, so I would just need to be able to remove the pumps every time to replace or clean the media. The tower tops do not come off. I can see the acrylic seam for the top piece, but it's glued / cemented. I would have to cut them off to have easy access to those towers and make new lids. There are holes in the back of them which are great fur running cords out the back of the tank, but sticking your arm back in there behind the tank while it is close to the wall isn't a viable option for regular access and maintenance. I like your idea though. In those towers I could put a small piece of eggcrate at the very bottom, then a sponge or floss, then carbon, and then the pump on top, sucking the water up through it all. I just need to be able to easily lift the pump out for maintenance. I don't know how well this would work, but I don't see why not??

Thank you for your input!
 
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