IM Lagoon 50 EXT build thread: why arent there more of these edition?

kyleinpdx

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Hello R2R,

I've been putting off creating a build thread, mainly since I'm not much of blogger (best analog I can think of) and I'm social media averse, but I haven't seen many build threads/heard of people running this tank and I just don't understand why, they're awesome! So I'm hoping to change that, and perhaps help people along the way so here we go.

Equipment list:
  • Innovative Marine Lagoon 50 EXT (external overflow box)
  • IM APS stand (aluminum extrusion, similar to an "80/20" stand)
  • Trigger systems Sapphire 26 sump
  • Bubble Magus Curve 5 skimmer
  • Current Eflux return pump the 1050gph version
  • Reef breeders RP-M wavemaker
  • 2 Kessil A80's + their controller
  • Aquaticlife T5 hybrid 24" (4x blue+)
  • Reefkeeper lite w/ a PB4, PC4, SLX (ph and orp) and the moon light controller
  • Autoaqua ATO and a 5gallon bucket I still need to hide
  • Jebao 4 channel doser
  • BRS 300w titanium heater
  • A ground probe - I mention it because if you dont have one, you should get one.

Livestock list:
  • A pair of Ocellaris
  • Yellow clown goby
  • Bubble tip anemone
  • Various snails, mainly dwarf ceriths, florida ceriths, nassarius, nerites
  • Softies: zoa/palys, kenya tree, xenia, some discoma mushrooms
  • LPS: goniopora, duncan, leptos
  • SPS: some abused acros, stylos, birdsnest

This system is an upgrade from my IM lagoon 25 AIO (can you tell I like shallow tanks?) that I was running for a few years. In the beginning I really loved that AIO, but in time came to be more of a limitation than an advantage, but I knew we'd be buying a new house soon and didn't want the hassle of dismantling and moving a larger tank so I worked with what I had. Fast forward to us moving and here is the last top down I have of that tank, the day before:

photo (3) - Copy.jpg

(all that was grown under just 2 kessil A80's)



And as these things often do, this upgrade was steeped in a bit of tragedy and disappointment. I had meticulously planned the tank move, thought I had accounted for everything, it was the last thing we took out of the old house and the last thing in the new house, I had all the time needed and we were only going a few miles away. D-day arrives, and early in the AM I get all the temporary storage setup, all the equipment I'd need, I head to our old place, get everything in buckets, broken down, moved and all is going well. I get everything situated in a few brute type bins where they'll stay overnight so I can reaquascape and take care of all the bits and pieces. By this time its the end of the day and I wrap and chalk it up to a success...

Well the next morning I come downstairs, look into the bin containing my SPS and other more important pieces and its cloudy/murky but there are obvious pops of bright white. Well we all know what that means. Everything RTN'ed overnight, everything was dead, well everything except the anemone, but he was obviously pretty ****** off. Instant heartbreak.

Turns out, while I had accounted for redundancy with my heaters in case one failed off, I hadnt thought to account for one failing on. An eheim jager with a thermostat that apparently did nothing, water temp was 86 degrees when I got around to checking. While I was sleeping, that POS was down here making stew of my prized pieces. It all could have been avoided had I hooked the reefkeeper up to the holding tank rather than the DT while I was getting it prepared.

The fish survived, most of my zoas/palys, kenya tree and thankfully my duncan and green goni as they just happened to be in the other bin. I was really dejected so I got everything into the DT, made sure all was working and let it go into maintenance mode for a good 9 months while I worked on house projects and went on with life. To add insult to injury, this neglect spurred a red planaria outbreak (I'd always seen a few but they were kept under control with good husbandry) and some GHA. I really hated looking at the tank and almost broke it down a few times but decided against it because I didnt want the fish going back to the LFS and ending up who knows where.

Its now about thanksgiving time and I learn that bonuses are generous this year so I start thinking about what black friday might be had and decided I needed to crap or get off the pot in terms of my tank so I started looking for something a bit bigger that had a sump and where I could have a bit more freedom with my fish selection. I had generally liked the build quality of the Lagoon 25, wanted an aluminum stand (that I didnt need to piece together myself from 3 different vendors), that was shallow but didnt have a huge footprint since I didnt have a great place for anything over about 36". In comes the IM black friday sale and the Lagoon 50 EXT...

We're going to be jumping around a little bit but here is my favorite view of the 50 at the moment, this is the view from the kitchen sink:

photo (4) - Copy.jpg

(I've got a plan for a light shroud, but pandemic and all that...)


More to come!
 
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kyleinpdx

kyleinpdx

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Alright, so where did I leave off? I ordered the tank and stand from IM on black friday, around the same time I picked up the sump, return pump, aquaticlife fixture, skimmer, and all the plumbing bits. I ended up saving about $500 off the "retail" of everything I bought during BF/CM. I was reusing the Reefkeeper and A80's from my previous setup.

I cant remember exactly but I believe the tank shipped a week or two later. Arrived via LTL to my driveway, the kid who was making the delivery wasn't fond I wouldn't sign his BOL before I unboxed and inspected every corner, but it came well shipped from IM and there wasn't any damage to report. And there it sat... on its pallet for weeks. Mid-January I decided I should probably do something with it, so I got the stand assembled and started mocking up the plumbing.

This was my second go-round assembling one of these IM APS stands so I knew what to expect, but man, its still a PITA to get assembled. Its not difficult or technical, it just requires a lot of tweaking to get everything level/square. Got that situated and began the first leak test! ;Nailbiting

IMG_7243 - Copy.jpg

This is actually a very telling picture, it includes at least 4 other of my... ahem... hobbies.

IMG_7246 - Copy.jpg


As I was filling it, I noticed a weird pattern emerging on the leveling mat underneath, after some messing with it I realized it was where the adhesive holding it to the bottom of the tank wasn't sticky/tacky. I could press it up and it wouldn't stick. Oh well, it'll be covered with sand and no one will ever see it, it didn't impact the leveling mats effectiveness so I left it as is.

IMG_7244 - Copy.jpg


Here you can see what I did with the gate valve. I notched out the shelf kit and covered the cut edge in epoxy (hopefully it doesn't swell, time will tell). I did this for two reasons:

  • I always see these located in hard to reach places under the overflow, make it easily accessible. You'll want ready access to it.

  • The longer the run from the overflow bow to the first "obstruction" (in this case the gate of the gate valve) will help getting the siphon started during maintenance or after a power outage. The siphon will still start if the valve is directly below the overflow, this helps with velocity of water through the pipe.
I planned on three sections of the stand: the bottom half being devoted to the sump and "wet" (meaning no electronics should be down there), the upper half I've split in two, the right hand side will house all of my power strips, bricks and wiring, it will be hidden behind a controller board, the left hand side will be my dry goods storage such as test kits and tools.

What you cant see from this angle is how I plumbed the manifold. I knew I would want some expandability so I built a 2, 1/2" ball valve manifold off of the return pump. At the time, I wasn't sure how much of the return pumps power I would need to devote to in tank flow (spoiler alert, its about 55%) so I wanted to minimize inefficiencies in the return pluming.

2020-05-25 16_19_13-Window.png

(please excuse the wiring, haven't finished the controller board)

Its easier to see in the image above, I used a "T" to feed the manifold, but made sure the "path of least resistance" was upward to the tank. I added a union, then stepped down to 1/2" since the valves were easier to source. You cant really see from the photo but the left most ball valve is way in the back behind my fuge light, where as the right hand side valve is much closer to the front of the sump. I figure I'll run either a reactor or UV at some point and I'll want them positioned over the sump (far back valve) BUT I also want to make sure I can keep the sump, sand, rocks clean so the 2nd valve is for running some 1/2" clear plastic tubing and using that as a "hose" to stir up anything that I wan to clean.

Instead of having to do a water change, if I want to blast some detritus off the rocks or sand I just pop in a filter sock, hook up the hose, turn the return pump up nice and high and open the valve. Everything gets suspended in the water column and pulled out by the sock and skimmer. A clean sand bed is a productive sand bed.

I also called out in that above image the PVC hanger, the manifold was heavy, and I didn't want the stress of my turning the valves on and off all hanging on my return bulkhead, so once everything was in place I used a plastic PVC hanger and screwed it into the bottom of the shelf, now when I turn the valve handles or knock things around when cleaning (with the hose mentioned earlier) everything is held nice and tight against the shelf.

That's cool and all but the tank was far from finished, it wasn't even in the house yet! Since it was going to be a replacement for a currently running tank that would be going in the exact. same. spot. I had some juggling to do. I was really dreading moving the running tank so I found every excuse for the 50 gallon to stay in the garage for another 2 months.

And then?!

A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

Thankfully my wife and I are able to work fully remote so outside of not having childcare (our 2.5yr old is home with us) life went on, but I found myself with a lot more spare time and less and less excuses to not getting the new tank setup. So one afternoon I decided to bite the bullet and move the tank, we were only going across the room so it wasn't the end of the world, but I was not looking forward to it.

I picked up some additional 5 gallon buckets and siphoned 90% of the water out of the tank and into the buckets. With my wife's help I used some "furniture movers" (little plastic pads) under each corner and slid the tank across the floor. I know from brandon429 and personal experience that most corals can live exposed to air for longer than we give them credit for as long as they dont dry out, so I wasn't too concerned about that. The move went so much easier and quicker than I had imagined. I was thrilled. Got the old tank in its temp home and started thinking I was getting close to swapping everything over.

Ah ha, if only.

In my next post I'll go into detail about the actual crappy bit, a wrench that got thrown into the gears that I was not expecting. I'll give you a hint, it involves about 600lbs and my floor.

Until next time.
 
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kyleinpdx

kyleinpdx

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So one of these days I'll write installment #3 but until then, wanted to show off a new friend that was added earlier in the week.

photo (5) - Copy.jpg


Arrived from TSM a few days ago, after being released spent about 10mins getting his bearings, did the sand dive and I didnt see him for 2 or 3 days, then this morning I saw him "land sharking" the sand bed (he was buried except for some of his dorsal fin) and then after a few more hours he came out and is happily cruising the tank picking off my microfauna. Very excited, seems like a very healthy specimen. I'm sold on TSM's process.
 
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kyleinpdx

kyleinpdx

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Alright, I suppose one of these days I should try to at least get enough pots up to finish the "build" portion of my tanks journey.

IMG_7805 - Copy.jpg


So here was the tank after its leak test. It was in its final position and everything was going well. I had gotten the tank shimmed and plumbing reattached. I thought it would be relatively smooth sailing from here. I started to fill the tank with RODI and got about an inch or two full and noticed something. When my toddler ran to the back sliding glass door (directly to the left if facing the tank) you could visibly see the vibrations in the water a la "the T-rex is coming..."

5570a8d171ca1b050c8b479e.gif



I wasnt afraid of the tank falling through the floor, I knew the floor itself would hold, I was more worried about:

  • pressure on the seams, its a rimless so I'm depending on just the silicone, I didnt want years of vibrations weakening any of the seals.
  • deflection in the floor itself, its up against an exterior wall that rests on concrete so I knew the back side wasnt going anywhere, but I wasnt confident that when full after some months it wouldnt begin to sag in the front...

So I suited up and went down into the crawlspace to see what I was working with. Unfortunately for me, the crawlspace entrance and the location of the tank were pretty much opposite sides of the house. We dont have a basement and there is a lot of plumbing and hvac between the two locations. I'm a decently slim guy so I could shimmy my way around but at the max I had 21" of clearance, at the minimum it was closer to 12". Fuuuuuu.... We live in an interesting setup, our house isnt a free standing single family, its a row house, not exactly a townhouse, we have a front and back yard, side gate access and all that, but we share a wall with another unit (who has a home on either side of them, etc) on the opposite side of the house as the tank. I had expected to get under there, see some 2x12 engineered trusses, but what I found was new to me.

The flooring support structure was a lattice of 4"x 8" beams running in 48" spans to create a grid of squares, with concrete piers and a 4x4 uprights every 8ft. On top of the 4x8 grid there is 2x6 tongue and groove subfloor, with 1" OSB on top of that, then our LVP flooring. The front of the tank was square in the middle of one of these grid sections and thats what was causing the bounce. Awesome...

So I devised a plan on adding some additional rigidity to that portion of the floor. I purchased two precast concrete piers with metal brackets that are used as deck footings, a jackpost and some 2x4's to make a beam. I cut the 2x4's down to 50someodd inches so they should reach across the entirety of the 48" sq grid and glued and screwed three of them into a beam. I drug those two precast footings through the crawlspace, positioned them roughly in the correct spots and began hand digging a few inches of rock out so I could get them deep enough for the beam to pass between them and the floor supports. Oh. my. god. this was awful, each of those footings weighed somewhere around 40lbs and given the clearance I was working with I could only ever be lying on my stomach or back. It took a few hours just to get the footings from the crawl space opening, past the plumbing stacks, past the hvac and into place. Once I dug the footings deep enough, I placed the beam on top of them, used the jack post in the middle to get the beam snugged up against the bottom of the flooring and pounded two glued and screwed 4x4's into place as the uprights (they were 2x4's doubled up). I made sure the beam was positioned so the 4" side was parallel with the ground to ensure there wouldnt be any sagging. Everything was nice and tight. I left the jackpost down under there as I figure with the heating/cooling of the seasons I'll need to get back under there at some point and snug it up a bit more.

All in all took 3 days or really crappy work under the house to get everything squared away. I've done some garbage home improvement before but this was one of the worst. Since I could only lay on my stomach or back, I developed visible bruising anywhere my bones stuck out (rib cage, hips, vertebrae on my back, etc). It was hot and very dirty, and I was wearing an n99 multicartridge organics mask, goggles, gloves, etc. Made for a very sweaty, dirty, uncomfortable experience.

After all was said and done that section of the floor had ZERO bounce, give, deflection. I'm sure I could easily support 4x the weight of the current tank. So it all worked out in the end, but it was an issue I didnt expect to come up given the placement on the exterior wall and the relatively small amount of water compared to "big tanks" but it is what it is. I'm just waiting for the questions from the buyers of our house when we go to sell "So.. the home inspection showed this weird support thing the far corner, what the heck?"

Now I could finally put water in the tank, a week after I have moved it to its final position. More to come!
 

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