Jason’s 185g Reef Savvy with Basement Fish Room

inetjnky

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Its been two years since I ordered my tank which was supposed to be ready and delivered by April last year, was unfortunately delayed by COVID, however it’s been a blessing in disguise. As you’ll see everything that I’m about to share, you’ll understand why.
Main Display:

- Reef Savvy
- 60x30x24”
- 3/4” thick glass
- Low Iron on 3 sides
- Black back glass
- Ghost Overflow with
- Double phantom bottom
- Eurobraced
- Armored seams
- 1” dual returns

Stand:

- Knotty cherry base and canopy made by Chris Benner at Benner’s Woodworking. Canopy will also be made out of 80/20 Aluminum to allow future upgrades in lighting and placement.

Lighting:

- 6 Ecotech radion XR15 G5 Pro
- 3 Actinic ReefBrites custom made to length to fit the canopy size.

Flow
- 4 Ecotech Vortech mp60wqd

Frag Tank:

- Advanced Acrylic
- 48x24x12”
- 3/4” thick acrylic
- Black background and black base.
- External bean animal overflow with 1” drains.

Flow:

- 1 Ecotech Vortech mp60wqd

Lighting:

- 2 Ecotech Radion XR30 G5 Pro

Basement Sump with Refugium made by Advanced Acrylics. Sump is 60x24x20” and refugium is 40g

I’ve been running a Biocube 29 for the past 5 years and after a scare with getting throat cancer and beating it, I’ve decided to do what makes me happy and not only remodel my entire house (total gut job) but build my dream tank that will sit in my living room. As a Navy Veteran who served in Pearl Harbor, HI, I was scuba diving several times a week while I was out there and it’s there where I fell in love with the ocean and everything it holds. I love this hobby and always find something new and fascinating about it and what my tank holds everyday.

This build started with gutting my living room of the remodel. I’ll spare all those details but here is the finished product.

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the tank will sit directly to the left of the love seat in this space here against the wall where the air vent is. Plumbing will run into that wall and down

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Once the living room was done it was time to start building the fish room in the basement which also doubles as my laundry room.

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Added electrical (dual 20a dedicated circuits) and Roxul Safe and Sound insulation in the walls. Ran Cat6 in several places for internet access to run a RaspberryPi hooked to a monitor for Apex visibility within the fish room as well as for power to a humidity and motion sensor. Added a solid core pocket door with soft open and close to the fish / laundry room for sound proofing once everything is up and running.
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After Drywall and Paint I tiled the floor and used an epoxy grout for additional waterproofing.

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installed a blackout drop ceiling with puck LED lighting and an exhaust fan to vent humidity to the outside to round off the ceiling. Installed a new slop sink to the right of the dryer tucked away in a corner but very usable and accessible. Next up it was time to figure out where to place everything from the sump, refugium, and frag tank along with the water barrels for fresh water top off and mixing salt for auto water changes.

More to come...
 
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inetjnky

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Up next... I cut and painted a board for hanging my RO/DI. Added a flush kit and a pressure reducing valve to reduce the incoming pressure down to 70psi. It was well over 100psi coming out of the valve at the washer where I added a Y and tapped into the cold water line.

image.jpg

image.jpg


I didn’t have room for my mixing barrels and the fresh water top off barrel in the fish room like I would have liked so I had to get a little creative and decided to house them in the closet under my main staircase. The 55g drum for fresh water top off is just low enough to fit directly under my front door landing area so it was a good use of the space. It’s also the only area of the house that is completely pitch black 24/7 unless I’m in the closet so there won’t be any room for algae to grow and the water won’t be heated. Because it’s partially below grade it stays around a constant 60 to 65 degrees all year long (and I’m in Pennsylvania where it gets hot and cold). The RO/DI lines run up and over behind the refugium where they go through into the area under the stairs and split off at a Y and one line runs to a solenoid that then goes to the fresh water top off 55g barrel, and the other line goes to a second solenoid and then two 55g Ace Roto Mold water containers that I purchased brand new for this application due to their space saving design. I am using both 55g ace roto mold container to allow me to make 100g of saltwater at once as I plan on setting up Auto Water Changes. Saltwater Water is mixed with a Panworld 50px-x external pump. This is also the time when I hooked up my 2016 Apex head unit I originally purchased when the sold just the head unit standalone for $300. More to come on that...

Building the base and plumbing in the mixing tanks

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fresh water barrel under the landing tucked away.

F9411D89-237C-48E0-ADCA-879A62AED7FF.jpeg

I had to get creative with the fresh water barrel since obviously I wasn’t very accessible and I needed to hook it up to both high and low sensors to a break out box connected to the apex... with the opening to the holes only a few inches, I modified the two bungs. One was modified to hold the high and low sensors as well allow a space for 1/4” OD tubing to be placed at the bottom of the barrel. The other bung was modified to fit a 1/4” bulkhead for incoming water for filling up the barrel when it got low. Both sensors are Tunze sensors from an Osmolator

here’s how I accomplished it.

water in:
544E7DDA-54F0-4B5B-868C-7FCB292B0018.jpeg

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Low sensor. The 1/4” OD tubing also connects to the T at the bottom to prevent the tubing from coming up and out of the barrel and ensures it’s drawing water from the bottom of the tank. I have two of these lines. One for ATO and another to feed an Ecotech Versa (hopefully when I can buy another one new when they start making them) that will feed a Kalk stirrer.

The high sensor and you can see how all the wiring runs inside the main tube and up and out to a break out boxThe tube also is the only opening to allow air flow to and from the barrel during filling and pulling water out. The barrel is almost dust proof in that design for clean water.

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with everything in place, I ran 1/4” OD tube from the Freshwater ATO barrel to an Ecotech Versa pump that then ran back under the landing and into the fish room to a 3 way valve. One way goes to my sump and if turned the other way, will go to my slop sink. Only downside here is I can’t get RO/DI water out of this barrel in a hurry but I really didn’t see the need to be honest so I was ok with that. In the future a second 1/4” OD tube I added to the fresh water barrel will run to another EcoTech Versa pump and to an Avast Marine Kalk stirrer to dose Kalk at a yet undetermined amount.

I ran 1/4” OD tubing from the RO/DI unit into one of the 55g saltwater barrels as filling into one will fill both at the same time. I have a high and low optical sensor in the barrel closest to the door for easy cleaning and routine maintenance. I ran 1/4” OD tube out one of the 55g saltwater barrels to a Ecotech Versa pump that also runs under the stairs and into the fish room and goes directly to my sump.

Water level Sensors are connected to a break out box that connects to a PM1 and an FMM module was added to provide leak detection under the landing and at the saltwater mixing barrels. I added an EB8 that is connected to a UPS battery backup to power the saltwater mixing pump and both Versa pumps and the two solenoids.

D8476A07-A560-44C1-9FFF-77505D692342.jpeg

I purchased a single button from Harry at Harry’s aquatics to also mount on the wall

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How does it all work? With everything hooked up to the Apex, if the low water sensors are triggered then the solenoid(s) will open and my RO/DI will automatically start running to fill whichever barrel is low until the high sensor is detected and will automatically shut off and stop the water flow. It is designed so the ATO barrel will fill first if both are empty at the same time. If the saltwater barrels are empty it will automatically turn off the auto water change routine. Once the saltwater barrel fills up with fresh water, I get a Push notification on my phone telling me the barrels are full and to add salt. At this point I’ll open the barrel, dump in two bags of IO reef crystals, put the cover on the barrel and press the button. This button turns on the mixing pump for 16 hours to mix up both barrels. At the end of the mix cycle, the auto water change routine is started again. My mixing pump also runs for 5 minutes twice a day to stir up the water. 6am and 6pm. I get notifications when that occurs as well.

A6CD19E9-71A9-434D-A185-C8B2D635A63D.jpeg


with the mixing station and RO/DI setup and functional... time to build out the fish room where the sump, refugium, and frag tank will be housed...
 
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Your auto water maker is great- but I hope you added a bypass for the first 5 minutes, and your not putting that into your barrel. The filters need to be ‘cleaned’ as they build up with salt and end up producing high tds for the first few minutes after you turn them the rodi on. I have to put the first few minutes of production down my drain as it goes from 50 tds to 0. Incoming tds is typically 25.

I planned to do what you did but couldn’t engineer a way to do this so abandoned my attempt. Had a new kid and didn’t have time to mess with it.
 
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inetjnky

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Your auto water maker is great- but I hope you added a bypass for the first 5 minutes, and your not putting that into your barrel. The filters need to be ‘cleaned’ as they build up with salt and end up producing high tds for the first few minutes after you turn them the rodi on. I have to put the first few minutes of production down my drain as it goes from 50 tds to 0. Incoming tds is typically 25.

I planned to do what you did but couldn’t engineer a way to do this so abandoned my attempt. Had a new kid and didn’t have time to mess with it.

thank you for the reply, however perhaps I’m not following your response properly. What specifically will need cleaned that will build up with salt? The RODI unit is all fresh water. The only thing salt wise will be water going through a Ecotech Versa pump but if it’s constantly moving or has a pin hole leak in the tubing I can’t imagine any salt build up there.

As for TDS creep, I have an auto flush kit that was purchased from Bulk Reef Supply added to my RO/DI unit for this very scenario. Shouldn’t be a problem unless that should stop working for some reason.


Checking my TDS coming out of my DI canister is reading zero. I can run 6 months on a single DI canister. I only produce RODI in large quantities at once and TDS going into my DI canister bottoms out at 1 after the first two minutes but the majority of it gets flushed out with the flush kit at startup.
 

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thank you for the reply, however perhaps I’m not following your response properly. What specifically will need cleaned that will build up with salt? The RODI unit is all fresh water. The only thing salt wise will be water going through a Ecotech Versa pump but if it’s constantly moving or has a pin hole leak in the tubing I can’t imagine any salt build up there.

As for TDS creep, I have an auto flush kit that was purchased from Bulk Reef Supply added to my RO/DI unit for this very scenario. Shouldn’t be a problem unless that should stop working for some reason.


Checking my TDS coming out of my DI canister is reading zero. I can run 6 months on a single DI canister. I only produce RODI in large quantities at once and TDS going into my DI canister bottoms out at 1 after the first two minutes but the majority of it gets flushed out with the flush kit at startup.
The tds creep is the issue I was talking about. You’ve got it covered.
 
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inetjnky

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Update on the fish room build... I went back and forth on this quite a bit and it took me awhile to get started because I just wasn’t sure how I wanted it setup. I initially wanted to setup the frag tank under the double window in this room but the more I thought about it the more I thought it was a bad idea due to salt creep getting all over everything, including the $400 dual Bali blackout blinds I ordered to keep daylight out of this room. I needed everything to be compact, yet easy to service for maintenance and room to move around. With the floor done, ceiling and overhead lighting in, electrical in, and all the trim done... it was time to start building the stand to hold the sump, refugium, and frag tank.

a few years ago I had originally purchased a 120g acrylic tank that was used that had a coast to coast overflow. My son being in his senior year of highschool at that time, built a stand for it for me to sit the tank on. However that tank never got wet and got sold off, but I held onto the stand and wanted to incorporate this into the build. However the dimensions of the top were actually too small for the new frag tank I ordered with Advanced Acrylics. So I made the decision to dismantle the stand and incorporate what I could from it. More on that later... let the pictures begin.

503A1AB5-581A-48D9-8F39-7A1FD454DD2F.jpeg

AE3D842A-509A-480D-A9B0-3CBE80198547.jpeg

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These are the doors from the stand my son built. I managed to salvage these and a few pieces of 3/4” skinning material on this section of the stand. I was happy with how it turned out.

467473D7-C152-4D8E-8C01-8889E8CE7FEE.jpeg

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With all the skin cut and fit together, it was time to paint it all up. I first sealed everything with two coats of oil based killz primer. Then did two coats of Valspar Door and Trim Oil Enriched Enamel paint. I also used this same paint on the wood trim in this room in the event there would be any humidity issues it would offer better protection. It’s expensive but it’s worth it in my opinion.

I also added PVC trim around the back and side walls coupled with a bead of silicone caulk between the PVC and wood stand in the event there would ever be a leak to help keep the water off the drywall.

C5694339-214B-4C64-8F57-BBD81BD2EF6C.jpeg


With the frag tank so close to the wall, I hung a sheet of 1/8” thick polycarb on the wall with stainless screws into drywall anchors to make wiping down any salt creep easy as well as protect the drywall from any damage. My son works at Lowe’s so he and I worked together to cut these pieces to length to wrap around the contour of the wall.

59A9881F-E198-4304-8EC6-25F1D59A9433.jpeg


As you can see in this photo below I have a 27” computer monitor hooked up to a Raspberry Pi that is connected to a Cat5e network cable going back to a switch on my network. This provides web access so I can have my Alex Fusion dashboard up for viewing as soon as I walk into the room. The monitor is plugged into a zWave smart switch that’s plugged into the outlet behind the monitor that is controlled by my Hubitat Elevation smarthome hub. In the picture, to the left of the one outlet high up on the wall, you’ll see a round disc. That is a zWave MultiSensor by Aeotec that detects motion, temperature, humidity, lux, and vibration. I’m using it to monitor the temp and humidity in the room as well as motion. When motion is detected it sends a signal to the switch to turn the monitor on and when no motion is detected it turns the monitor off after 10 minutes. The humidity in the room is controlled by this sensor and will activate my Lutron Caseta wall switch tied to my exhaust fan in the room to vent the room until the humidity level comes down to a preset level of my choice.

And the stand for the frag tank is done... or so I thought... more on that later...

711DEDBB-A460-4E0F-B628-F67422028111.jpeg


I also trimmed out the bottom of the stand on the outside with white PVC as a kick plate of sorts and to finish it off with a nicer look at the floor.

B9829E8A-9CB1-4621-8C16-3C2245D20DDF.jpeg

A27607D4-A7AF-48CF-AD29-DB4D19ED1E58.jpeg


Up next... time to plumb it all together!
 
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inetjnky

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Plumbing was a pain in the butt and took me several months and many trips to Lowe’s working weekends here and there to get this done. I loath the plumbing aspect of this hobby. I had initially wanted to plumb it all up and make it look pretty with blue PCs and grey sch 80 fittings but holy cow is the blue pipe expensive. And after I realized how much I’d need, I headed to Lowe’s to get the white stuff. I do have a few pieces of blue for behind the main display that will be in my living room but for the fish room, the white will do.

Frag tank bean animal overflow was pretty easy to plumb in, only thing I might have done different here was attach pvc deck boards to the wall and the screw the pipe brackets to that instead of drywall anchors. It’s pretty solid though and I tried to catch studs when I could.

one thing I quickly realized though was I didn’t have enough clearance for the pipes at different levels coming out of the overflow on the frag tank, so I needed to raise the tank up by about 5 inches. A quick and easy solution was buying seven 2 foot by 4 foot 3/4” plywood and screwed it down to the top of the frag tank stand. Primed and painted the sides white to match the rest of the stand.

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Here we see where I am working on plumbing in dual returns. From the sump it’s 1.5” pipe narrowing to 1” at the pump. From the pump going back upstairs the run is 1” and will narrow to 3/4” right at the display before going into the tank. Same with the frag tank. The main pump is an Iwaki MD-100RLT. The second and backup pump is an Iwaki MD-70RLT. I’ll test flow with both but if I have any issues with the 70, I’ll swap it out with another 100. Can’t do any water tests until the tank is here.

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From upstairs I drilled through the floor inside the wall behind where the tank will sit. This from underneath looking up. I marked the pipes so I wouldn’t screw up the plumbing when the tank gets here in a few months. I’ve also moved the electrical outlet to the other side of the stud to make room for the return pipe coming up through.

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Refugium had a single 1” drain so I drilled a second 1” drain and used a modified 90 elbow to set the water level slightly higher than the main drain as a backup to prevent a flood but during normal operation this second drain will have zero flow through it. The main drain bypasses the sock filter and skimmer and empties in the middle of the sump and the out to the display and/or frag tank / refugium / manifold return. The main drain also has a gate valve to tune it for noise and to prevent flow from going into the secondary drain.

image.jpg

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In the last chamber of the sump the pump that will feed the manifold, frag tank, UV, and Refugium will be run by a Reef Octopus Varios 8. I’ve chosen a Lifegard Pro-Max 90 watt UV sterilizer that will run slow to manage disease in the fish. I had left over PVC deck boards from my recent deck remodel so I put them to good use to mount the UV around the frag tank drain piping. Here we also see the 2nd iwaki is finished and plumbed in as well. I had a buddy of mine who’s also in the reef hobby lend me his electrical skills and wired up both my pumps for me which involved some soldering and shrink wrapping. He did a fantastic job. Thanks Mike!

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Manifold is complete. There are 2 1” gate valves and one 1” ball valve that I will utilize for anything I need to run off it. I’ll be modifying a few unions to be able to run different size tubing coming off each run to be able to make it more versatile for my future needs. My calcium reactor will be fed through an Ecotech Versa pump. As you can see in the photo below all the plumbing is complete along with a bypass of the UV so I can take it offline to service it once a year. Flow after the UV will be monitored by a 1” flow sensor connected to Apex.

67E2606D-C7D0-4BC0-94AF-F03CA07AC37F.jpeg

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I also managed to put together my 30” Lifereef Skimmer coupled with a Fluval SP4 pump.

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up next... she needs more power!! Electrical and automation...
 
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Update on the fish room build... I went back and forth on this quite a bit and it took me awhile to get started because I just wasn’t sure how I wanted it setup. I initially wanted to setup the frag tank under the double window in this room but the more I thought about it the more I thought it was a bad idea due to salt creep getting all over everything, including the $400 dual Bali blackout blinds I ordered to keep daylight out of this room. I needed everything to be compact, yet easy to service for maintenance and room to move around. With the floor done, ceiling and overhead lighting in, electrical in, and all the trim done... it was time to start building the stand to hold the sump, refugium, and frag tank.

a few years ago I had originally purchased a 120g acrylic tank that was used that had a coast to coast overflow. My son being in his senior year of highschool at that time, built a stand for it for me to sit the tank on. However that tank never got wet and got sold off, but I held onto the stand and wanted to incorporate this into the build. However the dimensions of the top were actually too small for the new frag tank I ordered with Advanced Acrylics. So I made the decision to dismantle the stand and incorporate what I could from it. More on that later... let the pictures begin.

503A1AB5-581A-48D9-8F39-7A1FD454DD2F.jpeg

AE3D842A-509A-480D-A9B0-3CBE80198547.jpeg

EA1E8520-0693-4D31-B47D-C70738A581A0.jpeg

2A0AEFE7-2F83-41A2-B8AD-548AC1FC8145.jpeg


These are the doors from the stand my son built. I managed to salvage these and a few pieces of 3/4” skinning material on this section of the stand. I was happy with how it turned out.

467473D7-C152-4D8E-8C01-8889E8CE7FEE.jpeg

34C894D2-8E6E-402A-9B35-E61A74D2CE0F.jpeg
4D225FD0-8C15-44A1-8AEE-0F140CD51533.jpeg


With all the skin cut and fit together, it was time to paint it all up. I first sealed everything with two coats of oil based killz primer. Then did two coats of Valspar Door and Trim Oil Enriched Enamel paint. I also used this same paint on the wood trim in this room in the event there would be any humidity issues it would offer better protection. It’s expensive but it’s worth it in my opinion.

I also added PVC trim around the back and side walls coupled with a bead of silicone caulk between the PVC and wood stand in the event there would ever be a leak to help keep the water off the drywall.

C5694339-214B-4C64-8F57-BBD81BD2EF6C.jpeg


With the frag tank so close to the wall, I hung a sheet of 1/8” thick polycarb on the wall with stainless screws into drywall anchors to make wiping down any salt creep easy as well as protect the drywall from any damage. My son works at Lowe’s so he and I worked together to cut these pieces to length to wrap around the contour of the wall.

59A9881F-E198-4304-8EC6-25F1D59A9433.jpeg


As you can see in this photo below I have a 27” computer monitor hooked up to a Raspberry Pi that is connected to a Cat5e network cable going back to a switch on my network. This provides web access so I can have my Alex Fusion dashboard up for viewing as soon as I walk into the room. The monitor is plugged into a zWave smart switch that’s plugged into the outlet behind the monitor that is controlled by my Hubitat Elevation smarthome hub. In the picture, to the left of the one outlet high up on the wall, you’ll see a round disc. That is a zWave MultiSensor by Aeotec that detects motion, temperature, humidity, lux, and vibration. I’m using it to monitor the temp and humidity in the room as well as motion. When motion is detected it sends a signal to the switch to turn the monitor on and when no motion is detected it turns the monitor off after 10 minutes. The humidity in the room is controlled by this sensor and will activate my Lutron Caseta wall switch tied to my exhaust fan in the room to vent the room until the humidity level comes down to a preset level of my choice.

And the stand for the frag tank is done... or so I thought... more on that later...

711DEDBB-A460-4E0F-B628-F67422028111.jpeg


I also trimmed out the bottom of the stand on the outside with white PVC as a kick plate of sorts and to finish it off with a nicer look at the floor.

B9829E8A-9CB1-4621-8C16-3C2245D20DDF.jpeg

A27607D4-A7AF-48CF-AD29-DB4D19ED1E58.jpeg


Up next... time to plumb it all together!
Really some fine looking work, thanks for the pictures and the details. Following.
 
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Nice build! Following along
Haha. We have almost identical builds, going at the same time, in parallel. I too am waiting for my Reef Savvy, in an almost identical size.
Did I miss the part where you explained why this prolonged wait for the tank is a blessing? :)
 

Do you think there is more to 3D printing in the Reef Aquarium Hobby that is yet to be realized?

  • YES much more

    Votes: 167 85.6%
  • YES a little more

    Votes: 21 10.8%
  • NO

    Votes: 6 3.1%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 1 0.5%
AVAST
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