IDOC's First Reef Tank Build - 75g

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
I've always wanted to have a saltwater aquarium. But, as an active duty military member, I would move every few years and didn't want to attempt to move something this fragile as a reef system. So, I would setup smaller 20g freshwater aquariums...and typically give them away to people whenever I would move. A little over a year ago, I finally retired from the military and settled down in Clarksville, TN. Well, now is finally my time to set up a reef aquarium!

This past year, I began looking into all the aspects of having a healthy reef system. I ended up purchasing a used complete 75g tank system and sump that was left in a basement half full of water! It was in rough shape, but I could see the potential...
20161107_115935.jpg


It took quite a bit of elbow grease, but now this baby shines! Gotta love the miracles of vinegar and water. I resealed the front corner seams (previous guy got a little crazy with the scraper in the corners)...leak tested for a week, good as new!

I started looking over tons of R2R articles, forum posts, etc... Learned from many people's errors in what not to do... Basically, take it slow and steady! I am in no hurry...I prefer to take my time, do it correctly, and reap the benefits in the future! 9 months of research, gathering equipment, and more research...and I think I'm finally ready to get this show on the road!

The system came with live rock that was heavily encrusted with dense, green algae (or something)... I performed 2 muriatic acid washes on the rock before it finally looked clean and white again! The fear of introducing something bad into the system resulted in me purchasing 50lb Pukani dry rock from BRS. In order to clear out some of the organics in the Pukani rock, I soaked it in freshwater in a rubbermaid tub with a heater (80-82 degrees) and a couple of powerbeads for 6 weeks! I used freshwater since I wanted to cure the rock rather than actually cycle the rock...I knew I was going to remove the rock to dry again in order to work on different aquascape ideas. The phosphate levels rose drastically so I used a bag of Phosguard in the tub during the cure. This worked very well...after 6 weeks, I removed the rocks to dry.

20161219_225419.jpg


Initial Aquascape Idea:

20170213_153323.jpg


20170213_153417.jpg


Still working on this...it's a work in progress!!! More later on this...
 
Best reef aquarium LED lighting
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
DIY STAND PROJECT

The stand that came with my 75g tank was functional, but I really wanted to make it more into a piece of furniture. Initially I was going to place the tank in a room with hardwood floors. The original stand was wide open in the back...didn't think that would be a good idea! Well, after completing the stand, I actually decided to place the aquarium in the finished basement on a tile floor...no worries about accidental leaks, easier water changes, no worries about floor supports, cooler temperatures (easier to heat the water than cool it)...

Items I wanted to incorporate into the cabinet design:
1. Solid construction to support the tank
2. Extra depth to the cabinet to give extra room under the cabinet for the 40g breeder DIY sump
3. Extra cabinet off to the side to allow for controller and electrical components.
4. Hide the black bottom rim of the tank
5. Height to be viewed from a standing position....decided on 40" height, which is perfect for me to look into the stand and not have to bend down to see around the upper rim! It will possibly require a step to do some maintenance, but no problems there!

20170227_152603.jpg

Basic support frame for tank

20170227_152609.jpg

Basic frame support, 2x4 construction.

20170304_155428.jpg

Additional space in the back of the stand was desired in order to allow a little more depth inside the cabinet since I was using a 40g breeder DIY sump. This allows a little movement around the sump for cords, etc... This portion of the stand won't need to support any heavy weight, so I could have used smaller lumber...used 2x4s due to the fact I had them in the garage! I used a 2x6 to create the depth space. I cut out the notch in the 2x6 to allow cords to go through to additional cabinet added to one side of the stand. I cut out the notch on both sides...just in case I decide later to add another cabinet on the other side of the stand later!

20170304_155434.jpg

This is how I added about 5" extra depth on the back of the stand without sacrificing the ability to fully support the 75g DT on the front section.

20170304_165359.jpg

Additional side cabinet added on to the stand. I initially miscalculated the height by forgetting to take into account the plywood top of the stand, trim elevations, etc... Oh well, easily fixed with additional pieces that will be covered up later! The stand was made to a similar height of the tank since I knew I wanted to use this space for the ATO Reservoir, but wasn't sure what container I would be using at the time of design! Also, wanted a shelf to house my aquarium controller, etc...

20170403_173509.jpg

Doors completed...I was lacking tools to join the doors properly, so had to improvise. Created my own wood jig in order to ensure the doors were squared properly...used pipe clamps during the glue-drying phase. I basically used a double width of a saw blade for space where the biscuits would be used to join the sides together (as well as create the space for the 1/4" oak ply center to slide into). Well, standard Home Depot joining biscuits are actually 1/4"...so they didn't work! So, I cut my own biscuits...sanded them down to size and they worked great. Perfectly square doors and no warpage...yet!

20170417_150808.jpg

Skinned the frame with 1/2" Oak Plywood...I was initially going to stain the stand, hence the reason for the oak plywood. But, it was almost impossible to find solid oak trim pieces without special ordering and paying a fortune! So, improvised...decided to paint the stand instead. Here you can see the handy work where I had to add additional height to the side cabinet...ripped a 2x4 to the height I needed and tacked it onto the original frame. Looks shoddy here, but can't see it later!

20170421_174056.jpg

Sealed every inside seam with caulking to help "waterproof" the stand in case of a leak...again, was initially thinking this was going on my hardwood floors.

20170501_153512.jpg

Primer used on inside and outside of stand. Used a "thicker" primer and used a couple of coats on the outside to fill the "grain" lines of the oak plywood.

20170501_163940.jpg

This primer worked great...and I think I even got a little buzz from it, lol. Definitely needed more than one quart...would just get a full gallon the next time!

20170507_193425.jpg

Layed out my trim pieces...each piece also was primed prior to cutting. I like this technique...I think it looks nicer after being installed that way!

20170514_182107.jpg

The back piece was initially made with cutouts to exactly match the location of the wall outlet in the original room with hardwood floors...that changed, though. The top holes were cut out to allow ventilation. I may cover these with small grates later...or install small fans in them if the temperature inside the stand gets too hot or humid.

20170522_160031.jpg

Attaching the top rail of the trim. I used only glue for this process in order that I would have no nail holes in the top the trim. Before final coats of paint, I used latex caulking (expandable) to fill all my joints where trim touched each other, etc... to fill any gaps. This is a little trick which will make your work look very professionally done when finished.

20170602_163214.jpg

Here is what I used to prime and paint the stand. I prefer Farrell Calhoun paints...but they are sometimes difficult to find. Painting trim can be very difficult...the best option is to use oil-based paints for all trim work since it spreads more easily without leaving brush marks. But, I didn't want to use oil-based paint...messy cleanup and I already had several good buzzes going from the primer! So, I chose to use latex based paint...But, it is almost impossible to spread evenly on trim...dries quickly and really looks terrible!!! So, add a little Floetrol to the paint and it makes Latex paints work like oil-based paints...wonderful stuff. I believe I ended up putting about 4 coats of paint on the main body and 2 on the trim.

20170605_191058.jpg

Well, my cabinet was a bit out of spec (square), so it took quite a bit of geometry for me to make the final cuts of the top piece...but she fits in perfectly! This can be removed as well if I need down into the cabinet from above. The depth (thickness) of this piece was interesting...ended up gluing together a 5/8" and 1/4" piece of plywood together to get the right depth!

20170611_142641.jpg

I wanted the "rustic" wood look for the top piece of the cabinet. Cheated and found an easy way to do this! Used vinyl flooring "planks" which are about 1/8" thick...they stick directly on the surface of the top wood piece...stuck them really close together to give the impression of individual boards...and trimmed the edges to match the wood piece underneath. These will be able to handle any "water" that might splash onto them without causing damage to real wood.

20170611_143129.jpg

These are the vinyl planks I used to make the cabinet top. These can be found at Lowe's in the flooring section. So easy to use/install...just pull off the backing paper and they stick to anything!

20170717_134358.jpg

This is the "almost" final stand project. I still need to attach the doors...but will wait until I am done with all the "under stand" stuff first. I was only off by a small fraction when checking whether the stand was level...had to raise the right side about an 1/8"-1/4" to make it perfectly level.

Next post...how I did my sump!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
I am building a 75g reef build as well ! Following !

Look it up if you can:

Embarking the Journey Reef Build , by Clayton
Awesome! I'll definitely look it up!!! Good luck!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
Great start good luck on your journey!
Thanks! It has been a lot of fun so far! I think actually putting fish in it will be a bit anti-climatic since I'm having more fun building and researching! lol
 

Humblefish

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 9, 2014
Messages
22,050
Reaction score
31,061
Sweet! Following! :)
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
DIY Sump

I used the 40b sump that I purchased used...it only had one single plexiglass baffle at the end near the return pump. So, I removed that plexiglass baffle (it was bowing terribly). I ended up having some 1/4" glass baffles cut by a local glass shop...cost around $34 for 3 baffles.

20170605_160917.jpg

This is the final design for the sump. It gives me approx 4.8g space for a refugium (if I decide to go that route). I've calculated that I have an extra 13.4 gallons of space above the baffles to accommodate a back-siphon into the sump from the DT. If I only have my loc-line 1/2" below the DT surface, only about 1.9g should return to the sump until the siphon is broken...3.7g if loc-line is 1" below DT surface. Plus the remaining water in the overflow and minimal within my 1" PVC piping should put me safely within my extra space! I originally designed a DIY sump similar to a Trigger system with many chambers, filter sock holders, etc.... My glass cutting place put the nix on that...it was going to cost around $250 for all those special cuts and they still couldn't cut a glass holes big enough to hold a 4" diameter filter sock. So...simplicity won the design contest!

20170610_151442.jpg


20170610_151455.jpg

I had the baffles cut to allow around 1/8" space on each side to allow silicone to fully fill the space to give a strong bond. I cut 2x4 pieces the height I needed in order to create the height the baffle is suspended above the bottom of the tank. It also helps to draw vertical lines on the outside of the sump in order to ensure your baffles are in the correct location and exactly vertical in orientation. I used a lot of tape to attempt to hold it secure while I applied the silicone beads.

20170611_164027.jpg

Turning the sump on end allows for exact spacing of the next baffle when doing those close-together bubble traps. Again, cut 2x4s to the height that I wanted the baffles to be apart. My drawing shows 1.5", but I ended up doing 2" between baffles and elevating the last baffle 2" off the bottom of the sump. This space allows for me to make a small egg-crate shelf if I need to use that between the baffles for any reason in the future. The green "frog tape" is used to ensure I have clean silicone edges...It's not shown here, but I put this around every baffle wherever I was going to silicone.

20170616_165424.jpg

Here is a closeup of how I created "space" with the baffles that rested on the bottom of the sump. I ran a bead of silicone along where the glass baffle would rest on the bottom to ensure full coverage of silicone between the baffle and the sump bottom. Plus, I cut a really tiny piece of plastic that was 1/8" thickness and put it in the line of silicone to give the glass baffle something to sit directly on to hold the 1/8" space under the baffle. I had a very large, black zip tie that I used for this purpose. The green tape will limit the size of the silicone bead...I guess you don't have to do this, but I like a very clean look.

20170616_165924.jpg

Another image of supporting the glass baffle before silicone...used clamps and small pieces of wood to hold the sides steady while I put all the tap on...removed the wood/clamps when applying the silicone. The tape pulling in opposite directions was strong enough to hold the baffles in place while applying the silicone bead.

asiaq.jpg

This is the sealant I used...10 0z tube from Bulk Reef Supply. It worked great...1 tube was enough for the job.

dapsealant.jpg

I also purchased this sealant from BRS in the hopes that I could use it between the bubble trap baffles (since that space was too small for a caulk gun to fit). This was absolutely USELESS!!! I don't recommend using this product. The product works great, but the dispensing is almost impossible! It is so hard to continue to squeeze this tube (by hand) uniformly to create a long bead of silicone. Since I like a clean look, this stuff was terrible. I ended up just going without silicone on the inside of the one baffle...but did apply down as far as my fingers would manually allow application. The baffle is plenty strong!

20170618_201456.jpg

Pic of sump finally complete. Skimmer >> Refugium >> small bubble trap big enough for egg-crate stand >> Return
The refugium looks "skinny" but it will actually hold around 3.6g of water...40 breeders have a lot of depth to them!

20170622_185737.jpg

Final leak testing was successful. I let the silicone cure for a week before testing with water. The sump is elevated on the 2x4 blocks only to allow me to see under the sump to ensure no water leak occurring. All baffles that were touching the bottom of the sump had the corners "rounded" by the glass-cutter so that the sharp edges wouldn't cut into the aquarium's bottom corner silicone bead seal.

Next Up -- Plumbing!!!!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
Plumbing!

So many decisions!!! The tank came with 2 pre-drilled holes in the overflow...both using 1" bulkheads. The previous tank owner used one for return and one for a Durso-type drain. I researched tons on the subject...so many people happy with Durso standpipes and no problems ever occurring. But, I really wanted another level of security in case of a blocked line. So, I decided to convert to a Herbie-style drain system...one full siphon, one emergency line...while using an over the rim return.

20170726_215148.jpg

I installed a 1" Spears Gate Valve from BRS in order to give more precise flow adjustments. I really didn't want to use any threaded pipe connections to minimize chances for leaks, but decided that gate valve is too expensive to not be able to re-use if I change this system...or upgrade tanks...at a later time! So, I used a threaded gate valve and installed a threaded connector (male threads/slip female). I also used a threaded Cepex ball valve on my return line for the same reasons!

20170626_162949.jpg

Used this on the threads...it came highly recommended from other experienced aquarists. So many people said to go ahead and use teflon tape, but research constantly showed not to use teflon tape on PVC threads and to only use thread sealants.

20170727_153748.jpg

Return line...extending up through the "extra" space in the back of my stand. These are pics of the pieces "dry fit" before cementing the PVC. I didn't end up extending my return line so low into the DT. One MAJOR SCREWUP was done here after the final cementing the PVC together!!!! Below the Cepex valve (inside the stand) is a union...well, the hole I cut for the pipe is EXACTLY for a 1" PVC pipe...If I need to take this piece out, I can't pull the union attached piece up through that small hole...and the Cepex valve can't fit down through the hole!!! So, if there are any problems in this area, the pipe will need to be cut anyhow...oh well, didn't see that one on my paper sketches!!!

20170812_102555.jpg

Used Kylon Fusion for Plastic paint to paint the over-the-rim piece so that I didn't have an easily seen huge, white PVC pipe going over my back tank rim. The black blends in nicely.

20170812_102622.jpg

Before painting....made sure to tape over the opening to keep pain off the threads and not also keep paint off my union piece!

20170812_103550.jpg

After painting...let it cure about 2 days before putting back on! It was dry to touch in an hour, though.

20170814_105325.jpg

Inside the stand, return line plumbing. The Varios pumps are supposed to be extremely quiet, so I hard-plumbed directly to the pump. If there is any noise from this "tight" connection, I will re-do this portion and add a piece of vinyl or silicone tubing!

20170814_105342.jpg

I can't wait to get this thing running to see how it performs! I really believe the Varios-6 pump is excessive for my 75g system with only about 5 feet of head pressure, but when purchasing, everywhere was sold out of the Varios-4 pumps! Oh well, this will be good for any future expansions...and the DC function will allow my to turn it down quite a bit. Hopefully the GHL Profilux 4 controller will work well controlling this pump!

Next Up -- Aquascaping, Sand, and finally get some water in this thing!!!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
These are the plumbing parts lists that I used when purchasing parts for my plumbing. I know it took me a ton of time making sure I had all the correct parts and ensuring they fit together correctly...maybe this will help someone else! Or, maybe I will need it again some day if an upgrade is in my future!

Most of this can be purchased at BRS or another online marine store. But, most of it was purchased at Lowe's or Home Depot....I found Lowe's to be more user friendly with the most "different" parts (and better prices)! BRS purchases: strainer, bulkheads, Sch80 thread/slip bushings that go into the ends of the Spears gate and Cepex ball valve, and loc-line pieces.

Siphon Line.jpg

Emergency Line.jpg

Return Line Top.jpg

Return Line Bottom.jpg
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

pelphrey

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 22, 2015
Messages
3,493
Reaction score
4,783
Location
Kentucky
I love that ASI silicone! I'm running the VarioS-6 on my system and love the pump, you've done an excellent job on this build! Following along! And thank you for your service!!!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
I am building a 40G and 75G that stand looks awesome!
Thanks! Send me a link of your new builds...i always like to pick up new build ideas!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
I love that ASI silicone! I'm running the VarioS-6 on my system and love the pump, you've done an excellent job on this build! Following along! And thank you for your service!!!
Thanks for the support! I may be asking some questions after I get this pump running! Lol
 

pelphrey

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 22, 2015
Messages
3,493
Reaction score
4,783
Location
Kentucky
Thanks for the support! I may be asking some questions after I get this pump running! Lol
Mine is hard plumbing as well, and it makes zero noise! I don't actually use the float that came with the pump. I am using the Apex and breakout box to perform the same job. My VarioS-6 is running my tank (Red Sea Reefer 250 - 65 Gallons Total) my algae turf scrubber and a single reactor I have Pond Matrix in. Pump has been running since October with zero issues and no noise.

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/reef-octopus-varios-6-controllable-dc-pump-1720-gph.270543/
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
Mine is hard plumbing as well, and it makes zero noise! I don't actually use the float that came with the pump. I am using the Apex and breakout box to perform the same job. My VarioS-6 is running my tank (Red Sea Reefer 250 - 65 Gallons Total) my algae turf scrubber and a single reactor I have Pond Matrix in. Pump has been running since October with zero issues and no noise.

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/reef-octopus-varios-6-controllable-dc-pump-1720-gph.270543/
Thanks! It's always good to get good success info from another with a similar setup!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
@pelphrey LOL...love the link! In fact, that was one of the links I read quite a while ago that helped me to decide to pick the Varios-6 pump over the Vectra!
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
AQUASCAPE

Well, did the whole "draw out the tank and aquascape on cardboard" thing. Had several "awesome" aquascapes...but kept changing it. The settled on one...attempted to transfer to the tank...just didn't look right once the tank walls were coming into play! So, rearranged on the fly and decided with the following aquascape:
20170812_122204.jpg


20170812_122230.jpg

Tried to incorporate some places to put different light level corals...some overhangs...a couple of cave type swim throughs for the fish.

The big piece of Pukani on the right was a big, solid ball when it arrived. It was awesome...until I started thinking, what a waste of good space. So I did some chiseling, some cementing, some sawing...I think the fish will appreciate the work invested on their behalf!

Here's how it started out:
20161125_115253.jpg

I used a hacksaw to make the bottom a little "flat" to allow it to stand on its own. The chiseled a tunnel through the rock giving an overhang as well. I then cemented a small piece on the front to give it a little more stability with the overhang and actually created another little cave to swim through in the process. Added another "shelf" piece on top and on the right side to break up the "ball" look and ended up with:
20170812_104953.jpg


20170818_204454.jpg


I used a little Hydraulic cement from Lowe's in order to hold a couple of the rocks together, but mostly letting gravity hold the rocks on the left side. "Spot welded" a little cement to hold the cross piece in place so it wouldn't eventually get knocked off. Here's what I used:
20170812_192916.jpg

Many people use the Marco e400 hydraulic cement and really like it, but kind of hard to pay $40 for a little pail of it when this can be purchased for under $10 at Lowe's. Several others are quoted in the forum as using this without any problems...so, I gave it a try. The only thing I didn't like about it...this stuff set's SOOOO fast!!! I would only make a small cup at a time (golf ball size)...by the time I would walk from the garage to the tank (25 feet), the stuff was already turning to hardened paste that wouldn't spread well. So, just spit in the cup and start mixing again, lol...get it smoother and then quickly apply to the joint I wanted to secure. They sell an agent that can be added to slow the cure time...might consider that the next time!

20170724_145242.jpg

I don't know why this picture is in here, lol. Maybe to show the big ball of Pukani in the right before reshaping it? Anyhow, this was an aquascape mockup that I didn't end up using.
 
Last edited:
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
SAND and SETUP:

Why do there need to be so many choices for sand? When there are so many choices, I can't help but start researching, researching, and more researching! So eventually, the reviews were so awesome for the Tropic Eden sand, that I chose to go with it. I ended up getting the Mesoflakes and Miniflakes and mixing them together to give a mixed sand presentation. This stuff is really hard to find...only a couple of retailers carry this brand and it is usually out of stock. I wanted to get the live sand, but it was on back order from both vendors for approximately 6 months! So, I was able to get the dry sand...purchased 60lb, and that gave me about 1.5-2" depth around my rock aquascape with a little left over!

20170814_163459.jpg


Rinsed the sand...so glad I did. This tub of un-rinsed sand and water would have made a cloudy mess in the DT. Rinsed until it was almost clear water...took about 10-15 minutes. After putting in the tank and filling with water...crystal clear water!!
20170814_163616.jpg
 
OP
Idoc

Idoc

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
2,589
Reaction score
6,288
Location
Clarksville, TN
My skimmer, Tunze DOC Skimmer 9410, is rated for 364g. My total system is around 100g...this should work just fine. Spoke with many people who owned this skimmer and they loved it for all different size tanks. It has some really amazing features...definitely worth looking into. I don't have it running yet...hopefully I will be able to give some good info on it later. The company guarantees the patented design will never overflow and rarely requires any sort of fiddling to get it to work properly. It works best in 5.5"-9.4" of water...leave it to the Germans to be so darn precise in their directions, lol...gotta love their engineering! Special thanks to @mcarroll for some awesome advice several months ago concerning this skimmer and sump designs! Since my skimmer section is 10" depth, I created a 3.5" stand out of egg-crate for the skimmer...I'll be able to lower it easily if needed.
20170814_202522.jpg


20170815_214331.jpg
 
World Wide Corals - Quality Aqua-cultured Coral

How important are having the right snails in your reef?

  • VERY Important

    Votes: 225 43.2%
  • Important

    Votes: 212 40.7%
  • Not So Important

    Votes: 51 9.8%
  • I don't have snails

    Votes: 28 5.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 5 1.0%

Online statistics

Members online
2,158
Guests online
4,616
Total visitors
6,774
Zoanthids.com
Aquaticlife
Top