Jason's Reefer 250: Fish added! Sump Mod, Clarisea, custom plumbing, aquascape w/E-Marco, IKEA cabinet mod. (Pic heavy!)

Eight

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Shortcuts to helpful posts in my build thread:

1. Mod the Reefer 250 v3 sump for a Clarisea (Post 6)
2. Cleaning off old live rock with vinegar and citric acid (Post 12)
3. Photos of Kessil A360s LED lights (Post 13)
4. How to adjust the Reefer 250 door hinges and door catch (Post 21)
5. Photos of the room/house (Post 27)
6. Lining the bottom of the tank with eggcrate (Changing mind on this) (Post 37)
7. Photos and details of my AV system Non-Reef Related (Post 42)
8. Detailed Plumbing Walk-through (Post 88)
9. Aquascaping with E-Marco 400 cement (Post 101)
10. Dry side stand build using an IKEA cabinet (Post 125)
11. Nitrate cycle complete and the first fish is in! (Post 148)
12. Tunze Eco Chic 8831 Refugium Light and Algagen Pods (Post 152)
13. First tank/reactor maintenance and first FTS (Post 171)

Featured Photos 3/15/2020

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--- Intro and welcome to my build thread! ---

As a serial hobbyist, I'm someone who is constantly jumping from interest to interest. Typically, I'll get super deep into something, lose interest after a few years and occasionally dive back in at a later time. Reefing is an exception to this rule. I've had a reef tank continuously for the past 20 years. I remember my first tank was an 18 gallon tall in my graduate school dorm room with a metal halide bolted to an upside down baking pan. (Talk about a fire hazard!) From there I graduated to countless other tanks... 20 gallon reef, 50 gallon reef, seahorse nano, 72 gallon bowfront, 180 custom Lee Mar set into my house, an Elos 120 and up until last year an Innovative Marine SR80.

Over a year ago a new job took me to Los Angeles and my wife and I purchased our forever home in Pacific Palisades. Originally I was going to move my Innovative Marine SR80 along with all of my coral down from San Jose, but while it was temporarily housed at my mother in law's house, a perfect storm of a network outage and an exploded heater resulted in a complete loss of everything except for two lucky clownfish. Discouraged, I set up a 10 gallon tank just for the clowns and have been keeping them in a fairly sad state while we settled into LA. It's now been six months and the house and I are both ready for some saltwater. :)

I've been in this hobby for a long time, so this time around, I really want to focus on a few core concepts:

1) The tank should be in a central place where everyone can easily enjoy it.
2) The tank should integrate with the space and feel like a part of the home... not the other way around.
3) Manageable. I have a really busy job so this needs to be easy to maintain.
4) Invest in quality equipment for the long haul, but don't chase every new trend or gadget.
5) Go slow. My goal is a beautiful mature reef, not a continuous frag tank.
6) Mixed reef with RBTA in a light, airy and interesting reef structure.

Before I start I should note that this build is heavily inspired by the prior work of @Broadfield, @pelphrey and @Butuz. In fact, much of the aesthetics of this build will hopefully emulate the beautiful hard plumbing work that @Butuz did in his amazing Reefer 250 build.

Originally, I really wanted to do another Innovative Marine tank because I had a good experience with the SR80. Going sump-less with the SR80 was actually really refreshing. The simplicity of an "all in one" tank with simple components freed me up to worry less about things like flooding and overflow noise and more on the inhabitants themselves. When looking for a successor to the SR80, however, Innovative Marine changed their stand design to an aesthetic I really don't care for. It's a shame, because had they stuck with a simple, white, clean, minimalist cabinet, I would have just gone with them. Fortunately, I saw that Redsea was stepping up with their Reefer tanks.

What I like about the Reefer are the aesthetics and the quality of the build. As I mentioned, I've had a custom LeeMar with starfire glass, an Elos and an IM and the Redsea is every bit as nice as the other tanks. I'm really impressed with the value that Redsea is bringing at this price point. I don't regret at all not going with a more 'expensive' brand.

I ordered my tank from BRS. Shipping was done by XPO Logistics and about 2.5 weeks after I ordered it, the tank arrived. The delivery instructions stated they would only do curbside delivery, but the delivery guy was extra nice and helped me get the pallet up the driveway past the car gate.

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The whole package is pretty heavy. However, it's easy to open up the tank, start from the top and take it in piece by piece. I just used a box cutter to open up the package on the driveway and then used the cardboard as an assembly station to build the stand. All told, it probably only took a couple hours to get everything together. With a bit of help from a friend, I hoisted the tank up into its final place.

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I love that the white gloss stand fits in perfectly with our mid century modern aesthetic!

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One thing I was fretting about was whether I should be doing anything to protect my hardwood floors. From past experience, I know that you shouldn't be putting a mat or anything that can trap moisture between the floor and the stand. The most important thing to protect the floors is to ensure that any water that hits the floor dries up quickly. I was really relieved to find that the Reefer comes with plastic feet all around the stand that props everything up about 1/4 inch. In addition, because they're smooth plastic, you can carefully slide the tank around without damaging the floor.

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The first mod to the tank is the easiest. I've used stick up motion lights in the past. If you don't have one of these in your sump area, you really owe it to yourself to get one. They are battery operated, so you don't need to wire anything and turn on when you open the cabinet door, making it really easy to work on your sump. This particular one from Amazon was roughly $30 and allows you to control the brightness. I also like that it can be configured to be light+motion sensitive, just motion or simple on/off.

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I stuck the light right behind the door stoppers on the top of the sump area. I should call out that I have had one small problem with the tank stand. The left stopper doesn't extend far enough to engage the 'click'. I've tried taking it apart and modifying it to no avail. I will give Redsea a quick email later today to see if I can get a replacement.

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One of the key pieces of equipment that I knew I wanted to install was a filter roller. The Clarisea SK-3000 gets rave reviews, with the caveat that you need to modify the Reefer 250 v3 sump. I'll be cutting out the filter socks soon and installing the Clarisea in the expanded drain area.

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For the return pump, I decided on the Reef Octopus Vario S-4. Although I'll be using a Neptune Apex from my old tank to control it, I've always found a simple DJ power strip to be really useful for when you need to cut power on something immediately or when you want a convenient switch for a power head.

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Today I'll be planning out the manifold. On order from BRS I have a Nyos 120 skimmer, 5 feet of 3/4" PVC and five feet of 1/2" PVC. I still need to order reactors and I'm trying to decide between the Aquamaxx XS or the Biotek Media reactors. Also on the shopping list are red PVC plumbing elbows and tees, Spears gate valves, etc.

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I'm probably a couple weeks away still from getting the system wet, but looking forward to this period of planning and building!
 
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Phil D.

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What about sunlight from the window?? Possible algae generator!! I have the Red Sea E-260 with the sump upgrade and love it! For the latch to click, have you tried to adjust the screw in/out part?
 
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Was the tank the 250 max e all in one then your just upgrading the internals now? I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing myself.
The tank is just the standard Reefer 250. I'm not sure if the sumps are different or not. I actually just finished modding the sump and am posting a detailed step by step guide for those who are interested.

What about sunlight from the window?? Possible algae generator!! I have the Red Sea E-260 with the sump upgrade and love it! For the latch to click, have you tried to adjust the screw in/out part?
I've had tanks near windows before and as long as I've stayed up on my water parameters it's been fine. That window is a north facing window and shaded by an awning (and the tank is slightly recessed in the corner), so I think it'll be fine. I did mess with the hinge screw in/out part on the door, but no matter how I adjust it, the latch won't catch.
 
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Eight

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I just finished modding the Reefer 250 v3 sump by removing the filter sock holder and baffles. This was one of the steps I was most apprehensive of because I didn't like the idea of messing with the stock sump. I debated keeping the filter sock area and just tee-ing a separate drain line to the Clarisea, but in the end, I think it'll be better if I just open up that whole area. Although lots of people have done this mod, I haven't found clear step by step instructions... at least not ones that made me feel confident about what I was doing. Here's my write up for others who may want to do this to their own sumps.

The whole process took me about 90 minutes. My goals were to remove the sock holder and glass baffle without breaking anything just in case I ever wanted to replace them. (I highly doubt I will ever replace them though.) I also wanted to make sure I didn't damage any of the other silicone areas. To start, I put down the sump on some cardboard to make sure I had a nice surface to work on.

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Although this isn't rocket science, it's not the easiest mod. It takes a good deal of patience, time and strength to cut through all of the black silicone. That said, it's definitely something I would do again.

I heard many people suggest various techniques to cutting out the silicone: fishing line, razor blades, box cutter, guitar string, etc. I tried various fishing leaders, but they kept breaking and were very rough on my hands. In the end, the easiest way for me to cut everything was with a simple flat razor and the flat end of a box cutter to use as a tool to push the razor into the silicone.

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There's basically two steps to this mod. The first step is to remove the plastic sock holder as one piece. To do this, you just need to cut between the plastic and glass. I found it best to start by cutting as much 'surface silicone' out from the sump as possible by making straight 90 degree cuts to the glass. The silicone will come off in a big strip. This will allow you more space/visibility to get in between the pieces you are trying to separate.

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Next you want to work the flat razor right in between the plastic and the glass. It take a good deal of force to do this.

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While you can try pulling the razor along the silicone, the technique that worked best for me was to lay the razor flush to where I wanted to cut and then use the end of the box cutter to force it into the gap.

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By repeatedly pushing the razor into the gap with the tool, removing it, shifting it over and then repeating, you can cut the silicone in 'razor length segments'. Eventually, you will get enough silicone removed that you can gently begin pulling up on the filter sock holder. The plastic is somewhat brittle, so don't force it if you want to keep the piece whole.

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Here is the filter sock holder completely free.

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After you remove the plastic filter sock holder, the next step is to remove the baffle that divides the drain area and the filter sock area. Use the same techniques as before... remove as much surface silicone as you can and then use the flat razor and a tool to force it in between the panels. Be patient.

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After you get both sides loose, you'll need to finish by cutting out the bottom.

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I only removed two pieces, the plastic filter sock holder and the single panel. I know some other people cut out the little glass bridge piece at the bottom or the rail with the dots, but I chose to remove as little as possible.

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This is what the sump looks like with both pieces out.

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Those little silicone black bits are a real PITA. They are tiny and stick to everything, but you can remove them by carefully scraping them out with the razor blade and using a wet paper towel to get the stragglers. This is what the fully modified sump looks like when it's done.

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Hope this helps!
 
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Eight

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Great thread, always wondered about this, How will you modify the plumbing?
My plan is to convert all of the piping below the tank from Redsea's stock metric pipes to 3/4" PVC. I'll hard plumb the Vario S4 to a manifold with three gate valves and then to the return of the tank. I'll install two reactors and reserve one in case I want to convert the ATO to a refugium. I'll convert the main drain to PVC and run it into the Clarisea and hard plumb the emergency drain as well just to make it all nice and uniform.

I'd like to contain everything including the ATO within the footprint of the stand itself so that there's nothing distracting from the silhouette of the tank... at least... this is the plan. :)
 
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pelphrey

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Following along!!! You’re going to love the tank, I don’t think I’m an inspiration: just sharing my mistakes! Hahaha
 
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Following along!!! You’re going to love the tank, I don’t think I’m an inspiration: just sharing my mistakes! Hahaha
Thanks Pelphrey! I have really enjoyed watching your reef come together, both on the forums here and in video. As a new Reefer 250 owner, you've helped me with a great head start!
 
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When you've had tanks for so long, you tend to accumulate old live rock. I have some really cool pieces of porous Fiji and an amazing Tonga branch which I have literally dragged with me each time I've moved. It's been sitting outside in the sun and rain for the last couple years, so today I gave it a citric acid and vinegar bath to clean it off. I'm going to be starting this tank off as clean as possible. I also bought some Marcorocks just in case I need more. (After surveying all my rock, however, I've concluded that I have way too much.)

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The Tonga branch is almost two feet long!

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Sorta cool, sorta sad, but you can see my old colonies before my tank wiped...

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I used the black tub on the left for the acid bath and the tub on the right with just hose water to soak it. I ended up leaving most of the rock in acid overnight.

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In the morning my rocks were covered in white fuzz where the calcium structure had been eaten away.

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Here you can see the old purple coralline algae coming off.

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After the acid bath, I rinsed the rocks repeatedly to get all the acid out. Finally I let the rocks dry in the sun. I'll be rough assembling my aquascape outside my tank with Marco 400 cement and rods and zip ties as needed before putting it inside.
 
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For lighting I will be re-using two of my old Kessil 360s. I had 3 Kessils on the 4 foot Innovative Marine SR80, so I will keep one light as a spare for the Reefer 250. I really like the Kessil mounting brackets because they hide the wires inside them. Over the years, I have run pretty much every type of aquarium lighting... flourescent, CFL, T5HO, Metal Halide and LED. LEDs have been a godsend in terms of cost, efficiency, heat and controllability. Gone are the days of baking your tank and your house under german metal halide 20k bulbs, only to throw them away after 6 months due to color shift!

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Noobreef

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Awesome! Loving the whole minimalist design of the house overall!

am still hesitating to replace the socks with a SK 3000/5000. I believe rubbing Acetone will remove any remaining silicone stains.

This is my build thread for my 425xl!

Reef Noob
 

reefer_nyc

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clean build! following along with my 250 =)

Also, hows that sump light holding? I have something similar but it doesn't seem to want to stay attached to the ceiling of the sump. scared it might fall into the sump!
 
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clean build! following along with my 250 =)

Also, hows that sump light holding? I have something similar but it doesn't seem to want to stay attached to the ceiling of the sump. scared it might fall into the sump!
Thanks! Right now I am just using some strong velcro to stick the motion sensor light above the sump. Before I fill the tank I will revisit the light to make sure it doesn't fall down.

I bought two Aquamaxx XS reactors from Marine Depot for filtration. I was really tempted to go with the Biotek ones but these Aquamaxx XS are 1.5" shorter and I think I am going to want to keep as much clearance in the manifold area as possible.

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I've also been staring at gate valves, pvc fittings, unions and bushings for far too long; I'm getting a headache! It's hard to plan everything out before you have key items in hand (like the reactors) to better visualize how it all fits together. I think I might need to put off the next plumbing order until tomorrow when I can revisit the plan.
 
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Any plans to replace the stock plumbing?
Yes, absolutely! I mentioned this briefly before, but my current plans are as follows:

1) Convert all stock metric plumbing below the tank to 1" red standard PVC.
2) Install a 1" spears gate valve on the main drain.
3) Plumb the drain to the Clarisea SK-3000
4) Connect the Vario S4 return pump to a custom manifold with three 1/2" gate valves.
5) Plumb two Aquamaxx XS reactors off two of the gates and reserve the last gate for either a refugium or an algae reactor.
6) Convert the emergency drain to 1" red PVC to match the rest of the plumbing

Valves and piping has been ordered, so hopefully I'll get this built out in two weeks or so.
 
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