Idaho Reef build - Break is over - Reefer 900

ID-Reefer

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I have been out of the hobby for 8 years and its finally time to get back on the horse! Ive had salt water tanks off and on for 25 years and up till 8 years ago when I sold off everything I think Ive always kept a tank. My last tank was a custom built 100 gal. acrylic with a 30 gal. sump I built myself. It was a great system and it performed well. I always wanted to go bigger if/when I ever started reefing again...

Our hopes were that some day we would build a home where I could do a built-in 500 gal. +/- tank but we didn't plan for it when I designed my current home and don't want to wait any longer. So the Red Sea 3XL 900 build begins. Thought about going with a custom tank but in the end decided on a more ready made system. I also Liked Water Box and a couple others but after seeing this system we were sold. Really looking forward to having a 192 gal. display 240 gal. system.

I love build threads of all kinds. I have learned a lot from others with build threads - from a Jeep build to tank builds its a great way to document progress and hear thoughts (and encouragement) from others in the hobby. I have forgotten a lot in my hiatus but its starting to come back. Ive been planning for a couple months and started placing orders a week ago. As with many things, doing it right costs twice as much and takes twice as long and I have no doubt this will be no different. A lot has changed in the past 10 years - automation has really advanced. I had no automation with my last system and I have a lot to learn for this set up.

Tank is supposed to arrive next week along with most of everything else. Hope to be ready for water in 2-3 weeks.

Tank:
Red Sea 3XL 900. 25.6" W x 25.6" H x 79" L

Filtration & flow:
Return pump - Two Neptune COR 20 2000 GPH
Skimmer - Eshopps S-300
Heaters - 600 Watt Titanium
Flow - (5) Ecotech MP40

Lighting:
Display - (3) Ecotech Radion Gen 5 Blue
Refugium - AI Prime fuge light
Frag tank - AI Reef light (for split sump 16 gal. tank)

Control:
Neptune Apex system
Neptune DOS system for dosing and automatic water change.
Neptune Trident system

Purple reef rock - 120 lbs. base, 20 lbs. arch, 80 lbs. shelf. 220 total lbs.
160 lbs. sand
Red Sea - DIY lid system. Probably will end up getting a Clear View Lid.

I have some things left to figure out for the set up - once I get everything here I hope to design/build a decent way to organize the electronics.

EDIT UPDATE: Most current photo of reef - 10/17/21

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Obviously a major part of keeping a successful reef is the water. In the past I used a single large tote and would make about 20 gallons of RODI water and then mix salt for the occasional water change. Because it was a pain I didn't do changes as regularly as I should have. I would then keep RODI water on hand for top off which I did manually every other day or so. This time around I want to improve on my reef keeping habits/techniques so a mixing station is needed. This will make things so much easier! And make my wife happy as in the past I flooded our home a couple times overnight making RODI water. Fortunately I came across this thread which had a lot of great info:


I am using the basic design of the mixing stations in that thread. I will then keep a separate 25 gal. ATO tank in a cabinet in a room that backs up to my sump which I will top off my sump with. My RODI system and mixing station will be in my mechanical room off my garage which has a water supply, drain and just enough room to add my tanks. Its a little tight but it will work.

I purchased two 65 gal. poly tanks. These things are not cheap nor easy to find but buying local is the way to go as shipping is more than the cost of the tank. Originally my plan was to build a platform and install shelves above but I found a Husky shelf that supports 5000 lbs. (1000 lb. per shelf) and went that route.


Tight fit but Ill make it work. Have to move my central vac up and out of the way. (back to the store - I never knew vacuum pipe was a different size than standard pvc).

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So this is the shelf - each shelf is supposed to support 1000 lbs. I will probably only fill to 50 gallons but still that's a lot of weight. To add some redundancy doubled up the shelves and then cut a 6x6 down to fit between so that the weight would be shared by two shelves. Salt will be stored on the bottom shelf.

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3/4" plywood which I will paint or cover with flex seal on top. Going to be tight to get the pump in-between the tanks but hopefully it will fit. Should have it next week along with all the plumbing fittings/valves. So thats it for now... IMG_3313.jpeg
 
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nice another ID reefer. I got my RD650P from Josh over at corals for cheap.
there is a lot more reefers on that side of the sate.

I hope you have lots of friends that like you, once they help get the tank in the house and on the stand they may not...lol

fallowing this one.

if you dont have the skimmer yet look into life reef skimmers I hear good things about them.
 
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nice another ID reefer. I got my RD650P from Josh over at corals for cheap.
there is a lot more reefers on that side of the sate.

I hope you have lots of friends that like you, once they help get the tank in the house and on the stand they may not...lol

if you dont have the skimmer yet look into life reef skimmers I hear good things about them.

I was just talking to the roto mold peeps over on that side. for a cpl 65 or 110 water storage tanks for my mixing station. IDK its a 5.5 hrs drive each way.
i like the husky shelf let us know how it does.

Yep, I went through Josh as well. I called him up a couple weeks ago and he remembered me from 8 years ago somehow. You mean my wife and I can't get the tank into our house on our own? Hmmm. ;). Josh recommended the skimmer I went with so I followed his advice but thanks for the recommend.

Thats a long way to go for tanks but it probably beats paying $250ish each for shipping. These tanks came from rotoscoped mold - fortunately only about a 15 minute drive for me. Heres an idea, come get your storage tanks and help me move my tank on your way through. ;)

Tagging along just to hear the cash register ring lol. Live not of Boise by about 5 hours on the Idaho border.

Exactly. Its a little astonishing what Ive spent so far. The scary part is that my wife is also into reef tanks and she was the one nudging me to get back into the hobby so I have a blank check as far as she is concerned. She wanted a tank big enough to get inside of. I am a little nervous what it will cost to properly stock this tank with fish & coral once ready.
 

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Yep, I went through Josh as well. I called him up a couple weeks ago and he remembered me from 8 years ago somehow. You mean my wife and I can't get the tank into our house on our own? Hmmm. ;). Josh recommended the skimmer I went with so I followed his advice but thanks for the recommend.

Thats a long way to go for tanks but it probably beats paying $250ish each for shipping. These tanks came from rotoscoped mold - fortunately only about a 15 minute drive for me. Heres an idea, come get your storage tanks and help me move my tank on your way through. ;)

haha that is not a bad idea. maybe i'll do that, if the timing works out. be nice to see his store.
of course I would want to bring back a box of corals but it's way to early for that....

its great the wife into reefs too! makes reefing easy but I bet it can get you in trouble with the pocket book tho
 
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Received several parts this week. Was like Christmas. Still need a few plumbing parts to get started on the mixing station.

Still waiting on return pump & MP40s. Tank is supposed to be here tomorrow!

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Also received my 20 gal. ATO tank which will go in a cabinet in the room behind my tank. My RODI will run to this tank with a float valve. slightly above that connection I put in a little bulkhead which will have an overflow line - just in case... Ive flooded things in the past making RODI water so hopefully those days are over. In the top I have a hole with a grommet where I will run my Neptune ATK pump and water line to my sump.

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220 lbs Life rock and 160 lbs of sand.

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Look what came today! Nice to finally have the tank - is a lot more real now. The guy didn't want to put it in my garage as I guess there is some liability or something for doing that but fortunately he did... probably because my wife smiled at him.

This thing is HEAVY.

Red Sea does a great job preparing for shipping. It was packaged very well and fortunately no damage found anywhere. It is impressive and so well built - really love the look of this tank and it will be my first big glass tank as Ive always had acrylic in the past. Even the sump is all glass and so nicely made. I haven't fully unpacked the two sumps yet - just did a quick inspection to make sure nothing broken. It comes with the sumps, plumbing and parts of the stand inside. Some stand parts come on top and then there are other parts under the tank. It was not easy just getting the tank slid over to access the stand parts under the tank and makes me realize that its going to take more than 2-3 guys to move this. Im actually starting to wonder if me and 3 other guys can do it...

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The tank is beautiful and did I mention heavy? Looking forward to getting water in it!
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So besides receiving the tank today I found some time to install my RODI filter. I tied into my water line in my crawl space and also ran a line to where I plan to put my ATO tank. I still need a couple valves and need to finish my Mixing station...

The other thing I did was spend several hours in my crawl space putting up a 4x6 beam below the joists where my tank is going. I also put in blocking between the joists directly over the beam. My tank will sit adjacent to a bearing wall which has a footing and pony wall under it. It also sits perpendicular to my floor joists and that span wasn't long to begin with - all good things. This floor is obviously not designed for this amount of load (estimating around 2,500 lbs.) however so adding a beam on jacks will support the added weight based on some calculations I did. However to sleep better once this thing is full of water Im going to go back under tomorrow and add a couple more supports.

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So yesterday and today I spent putting the stand all together. No problems, was fairly easy and straight forward. I did use small amounts of gorilla glue on all screws and where panels attach. I just think it will keep things more solid and since I never plan to take it apart... Got it all leveled and put into place. Doors adjusted etc.. Now just need to get some friends to come over to help move the tank.

Sumps are in. Im going to use the second sump tank as a frag tank - still trying to figure out how the flow will work with just two openings between the main sump and the second sump. Thinking a small pump to push water between the two. Thoughts?

Also, Im planning to build a control panel or drawer system. Wondering if I need to do that before installing the tank or if it can wait. Want to get water in and the cycle started as soon as I can.
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Today I also installed my ATO tank. 20 gallon poly tank in the cabinet behind the wall from my tank. I drilled a hole through the back of the cabinet, through the wall and into the stand. I ran a water line from my RODI filter in my mixing station room through the crawl space and up through the bottom of this cabinet and into this tank with a float valve. To be safe I also installed an overflow just above the float valve inlet which goes down into my crawlspace and connects to a drain pipe. As a third safeguard Im installing a Neptune water sensor at the floor of the cabinet.

I plan to also use this cabinet to hold the Trident system. Supply line goes through same hole in the wall/stand to my sump. The Trident is approximately at the same level as my sump so hopefully Im safe from the siphon issue. The waste line goes down through the floor to a 5 gallon bucket. Because the Trident lines are small rubber lines I wasn't sure how to tie into my drain. My thinking is that the Trident doesn't produce much waste water from each test so as it goes into this bucket it will hopefully just evaporate before it would ever fill the bucket. Thoughts? I guess I can check on it from time to time. If it fills the bucket I could just add a jug in the cabinet for the waste water.

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So today was the big move. Fortunately I had 4 guys helping. This 900 is HEAVY. Used suction cups, dollies, and an air sled to get it all back into place. Went smoothly with no problems. Thankfully. As payment I made some delicious ribs that were on the treager for 8hrs.
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Busy weekend working on the build. Almost done with the mixing station. Need one more valve but Im starting to make RODI water so I can fill this thing.

The rest of the weekend was spent working on aquascape. I had 220 lbs. of life rock to work with and used nearly all of it. This is the purple colored rock that is supposed to be covered in water activated bacteria which they say will reduce cycle time. Ive looked at many photos of Aquascapes and had many ideas. Ive seen many that I like (especially some of the very simple scapes with just two independent forms and a lot of negative space). But I decided to go with something a little different. As a scuba diver, I love all the unique forms on a real reef and wanted to incorporate that feel. I also used Arches Natl. Park in Moab Ut. as inspiration - I love those landscapes - lastly I wanted to try to create depth to the scape and this was my biggest challenge. Making a 25" deep (front to back) tank have depth. Im guilty in the past of just building a wall along the back - not this time. I wanted depth! I wanted to see structure behind structure with areas that fish and coral could be behind foreground rock creating that depth I was chasing.

As with most Aquascapes its really difficult to see in a photo or even a video. This seems especially true with the purple color of the rock.

I started by just unpacking all the rock and laying it out on a table. I tried to dry stack the rock as much as possible then as I found forms I liked Id go back in and super glue and eventually use the E-Marco mortar to reinforce. For some of the larger cantilevers I drilled holes and used 1/2" acrylic rod for support. This rock drills fairly easy but smaller pieces will break when drilled.
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I know walls to the back are frowned upon as they can collect detritus behind but again wanting to create that depth I needed that two layers of rock. I ended up using some of the shelf rock (one side is flat) to crate a very flat/vertical wall which was only a couple inches thick and I anchored to the overflow area with silicon. This should limit the amount of detritus that can collect behind it as there simply isn't any space.

In the end Im really happy with how things turned out. I debated going with a bare bottom but decided on a sand bottom in large part because we love sand sifters like Gobies. Once the Auquascape was finished we installed the lights. These Radions are AMAZING. Cant wait to add water!


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Finally finished my mixing station. Working wonderfully so far. The quick connect hose is great for filling the tank which is half full at this point. I have a valve and short piece of straight pipe on the end of it. Shelf works great I’ve had both 65 gal tanks completely full and is solid. Also holds my extra salt, sand, dosing mixtures etc.

I went with clear PVC pipe which is really nice so can see the water moving. I have valves on both sides so I can access RODI water or salt water without running the pump.

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Time for an update...
A couple weeks ago I found a really nice Reefer 170 for sale. It had some clowns, a couple softies, cleaner shrimp, Anthias, gold headed goby and this very healthy Powder Blue. They will all eat out of my hand. So far everything made it through the move healthy. This will be my quarantine tank and good practice while I get back into the swing of things. The previous owner had kind a given up because of algae and Ive managed to eradicate nearly all of that in two weeks. The dKH was a little low when I got it so ive brought that up slowly and the leathers are appreciating that. Only issue lately have been nitrates so been doing some water changes and brining down the feeding - just wanted everyone (especially that tang) to be fat and happy. Once the big tank is ready Ill slowly start to introduce them. Only concern I have now is if I should put other tangs into the big tank before the Powder Blue. But then I can't quarantine them first... hmmm.
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So here is the current state. Have had water in the tank for a week. Cycle going well. Have been using a product called Aquavitro Seed which was recommended to me. Says it cycles in 7 days... will see. Have kept lights off.

Ive also set up my Apex system. Still trying to learn that - its all new to me. Im calibrating Trident as I type this. I know I have my work cut out for me with the cord management/control board. What a mess. Ill start working on that soon. The separate sump that I want to use as a frag tank is kind of a poor design in my opinion. There is next to no flow so I bought a Tunze pump and installed so that it pushes water back into what Ill use as the Refugium. Then water from my skimmer chamber will be forced back into that sump - create some flow and also provide the frag tank with better quality water. Ill add the lights when ready. Ive added some sand and a couple rocks to my refugium - eventually ill have Chaeto in there and a population of pods.

The skimmer is still going crazy and creating mass amounts of foam/bubbles. Hopefully it will be broken in soon. Tired of it filling the tank up with bubbles.

I have motion sensor LED lights under the tank which are great to be able to see things. At this point it shows off my mess of cables... Work in progress.

Fortunately the floor held. lol. No bounce at all. Its solid so all the extra support I put in is doing its job. Can't wait till I can turn the lights on and start adding living creatures. Still need to work on my flow some more. The MP40s are blowing my sand around a bit.

Im running two COR-20 return pumps. I can only get them up to about 60% each before it overwhelms the overflow. Good thing to have so much water circulation but I probably would have been ok with two COR-15s.

The ATO with the ATK is working perfectly. Still have to finish my Auto water change set up. Have the DOS pump ready but haven't programmed it yet.

F
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