JawaReef's First Tank: The Life Story of My 135gal

JawaReef

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Hey All!

I have been researching for about a half year now, reading books, and asking questions. I am finally starting to put my first ever reef tank together! I am pretty stoked! The plan is to take it slow and do it right. R2R has been a hug help, along with BRS and my local shop, Seven Seas Aquarium. I want to help give back somehow to the community, so I hope this journal will share the same inspiration that I received from reading all of yours! I'm going all in! Lets get started!

So far, I have my tank, a couple components, and about a hundred pounds of rock. I am planning on building my own stand and hard plumbing my sump. Here is a couple rough drawings of what I've got going.
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TheEngineer

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Looks like a nice plan! Welcome to the addiction hobby!
 
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JawaReef

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The stand is coming together very nicely! We picked up wood from a local lumber yard and have been working on it for the last week. I decided to go with Noddy Alder for the main structure. We have 1x4" for the skeleton of the stand, 1/4" backing, and 3/4" for the sides and cap. We are playing around with redwood strips for some aesthetic appeal.
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TheEngineer

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Nice!
 
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JawaReef

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So we have a change in the plan. Because I might want to mount things to the back wall, we upgraded it from a 1/4" to 3/4". This should make it easier down the road.
 
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JawaReef

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Doing some practice drilling before I take on the task of punching holes into the main display tank. I think I still need a little practice...
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JawaReef

JawaReef

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I finally got around to drilling my tank... But it came out beautiful!!! Just trying out my Exotic Marine Overflow box. Still waiting on my stand. Hopefully it wont be to much longer! In the meantime, I am researching how and where to put an RODI unit and storage containers.


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427HISS

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Coming together nice. Are you using one 32" Exotic Marine Overflow box ?
 
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JawaReef

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Coming together nice. Are you using one 32" Exotic Marine Overflow box ?
That's right! Almost went with an "Eshopps Eclipse L", but after coming across the Exotic Marine box, I liked what I saw. Hope it was a good choice in the long run! Haha
 

427HISS

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From what I've heard, they are ranked #1 and the Synergy Reef Overflow is # 2.
I have the latter, but yet I don't have it hooked up yet. Bought at a great price.

I thought,...they discontinued their 20" so I have the 16", but I see it's still listed for sale ? Hum...must call them.
I'm setting up a 125g.
 
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JawaReef

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From what I've heard, they are ranked #1 and the Synergy Reef Overflow is # 2.
I have the latter, but yet I don't have it hooked up yet. Bought at a great price.

I thought,...they discontinued their 20" so I have the 16", but I see it's still listed for sale ? Hum...must call them.
I'm setting up a 125g.
I'm not sure on that, I still see it up there too. If anything, just email him and ask, he's pretty good answering quickly.
Awesome on the new tank though! Have any pic's yet?
 

427HISS

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Not really, just before pics of the fish room and a cardboard cut out of the tank taped on the wall showing placement. It's a in-wall below the flat screen tv in the living room. We had a 75g in the same wall back in the 90's. It's great to watch both the tv and the tank, no noisy equipment and restraints of all that equipment in a stand. I have a long sturdy desk that two 29g Biocubes (nice to be self contained, not on separate sumps) will be on and my desktop computer. The cubes are for QT, one for corals the other small fish, and a 55g for large fish and a bunch of live rock, along a wall.

A second 55g will be a refugium on it's own pump from the sump, so I can lower the return gph back into the sump.
I have some real bad health issues, so progress is very slow. I'm stoked,...to get going on it again.

I learned a lesson the hard way back in the 90's,.....this time I removed the CARPET, and laid down seamless vinyl flooring !
Back then, I built my own air driven skimmer, 5' tall x 6" driven by a piston pump in the basement, up to the fish room. I did not anchor it down, and one night it fell over, drowning the room then drained downstairs ! Eeek, what a frickin mess !!!

This time I even sealed all the walls with silicone so the only opened area is the doorway, but a rolled up large towel can be placed there.
I have a T5 lighting system that I will build a hoist into the ceiling to raise and lower the system, as I did back years ago. Makes it great to raise it up to work in the aquarium without loosing any light. In the fish room's closet house my two Brute cans, one for RO/DI and fresh saltwater batch. The RO unit is above them and shelves for the salt box's, additives, cleaning equipment etc....
It also has my waterline from the basement with a valve to feed it all and a drain pipe for the RO/DI waste which goes to a large 250g ag tank that I can pump out when full to flowers outside. I use the drain as well for water changes,...no carrying buckets !
 
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JawaReef

JawaReef

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Nice! Sounds like a good set up going there! After I get this tank going, I want to get a 60 gal cube going in my office. I've got MTS syndrome bad!
I'm looking into getting a RODI unit set up as well with my system. Just having some location issues, but I'm sure it will get sorted out quickly. I'm not interested in hauling buckets around!
I know its good practice to take it slow and doing everything right, but I'm stocked to get it up and running as well!
 

427HISS

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Gotta tell ya bud, the plumbing looks awesome !

On drilling the display, did you just start the bit by tilting it, I assume ?
I've thought about buying a drill press like from BRS or others. My tank was drilled by a LFS which the owner has an old school, heavy duty drill press, as he drills a crap load of tanks & dumps. But,...the drain that he uses looks like the iron drain cover that's in a lot of house's, including. So by looking at it, it's a very small surface area about 4" diameter. It has two, but I don't see with a 72" long tank, how that could bring in enough, so that's why I bought the ghost overflow. But, I don't see that it being only 16" long will be enough ? I plan on calling them again asking about my concern.
 
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JawaReef

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Gotta tell ya bud, the plumbing looks awesome !

On drilling the display, did you just start the bit by tilting it, I assume ?
I've thought about buying a drill press like from BRS or others. My tank was drilled by a LFS which the owner has an old school, heavy duty drill press, as he drills a crap load of tanks & dumps. But,...the drain that he uses looks like the iron drain cover that's in a lot of house's, including. So by looking at it, it's a very small surface area about 4" diameter. It has two, but I don't see with a 72" long tank, how that could bring in enough, so that's why I bought the ghost overflow. But, I don't see that it being only 16" long will be enough ? I plan on calling them again asking about my concern.
Thanks! Took me a while to come up with that plumbing set up. I'm just hoping my pumps are up for the task of handling all that piping. (Two Sicce 3.0 pumps)
First off, Horrifying when I started to drill the first hole on my display! But, its not that bad at all, just takes a loooong time, and I wouldn't rush it. So here's what my game plan was when cutting my glass. (This was of course after watching loads of video's)

Drilling Glass
  1. I bought the Diamond Drill bits and Glass Drill Bit Guide TKH from BRS. 60 mm=1" for bulkhead (Recommended by Exotic Marine) 35 mm=3/4" for bulkhead
  2. I actually went out and got bought a piece of glass the same thickness as my display (12"-24"-3/8") to practice on, which really built up the confidence. I looked at it as a cheap insurance investment.
  3. Before drilling, I clamped a piece of wood to the glass under the planned drill site. Also, I clamped a hose to just barely run right on the spot I was drilling.
  4. Using the Glass Drill Bit Guide, It suctions to the glass and holds the drill well enough that it doesn't bounce around. So I was able to drill straight down and not worry about the drill running away. I tried tilting the bit, but again, using the guide felt good enough.
  5. The first holes on the practice glass went relatively quickly, about 5 minutes'ish to get through. Don't use any pressure on the drill, let it do its thing, just keep it straight.
  6. When your almost through, go slower, NO PRESSURE on the drill, let the drill do the work. When it gets close to the end is where this comes most critical.
  7. Having the wood on the backside helps catch the glass and helps with chipping. And your done!
When drilling my main display, it took a while longer for each hole. Most likely because the drill bit was a little dull from the practice holes. It took like 10, 20 mins to go through the glass, but the holes came out perfect! (Or at least to me they were). Exotic marine has a template to use for cutting their holes, that came in handy. I also used that template when drilling my return lines as well.
Can't stress enough, GO SLOW, stop once in a while to look how everything is going while letting the drill cool, and keep the drill straight. This might be where the drill press would come in handy, but honestly, if you have a pretty steady hand, I don't think its absolutely necessary. You got this!
 

427HISS

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JawaReef

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Great going buddy.

Synergy Reef has a nice thick cardboard template for drilling, and looks like it has a type of white plastic covering so it does not soak up and destroy it. Their video's are awesome, including drilling.

BRS has two drill guides. Which model did you get ?

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/drill-press-attachment-for-hand-drills.html

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/glass-drill-bit-guide-thk.html

I went with the second one. I think it worked pretty well over all.
The Exotic Marine box actually came with a acrylic cutout with sketched markings for measurements, which was pretty helpful.

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/glass-drill-bit-guide-thk.html
 

427HISS

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If I decide to drill more tanks other than my latest build, I'll be better off with a drill guide, but their not expensive, so I might talk my self into one anyway. lol...

You working on it today ? What's your next plan ?
 
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JawaReef

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Go for it! haha

I'm going to try to. I'm working on a brace for my roller mat, since I can't place it in the tank how it is designed, I'm having to come up with some literal out of the box thinking.
Now that I have my plumbing mostly figured out, while waiting for my colored pipe to come in, I am also starting to work on my electrical panels/wiring. Then yesterday I picked up some LED strips for lighting the sump area that I can start installing as well.
So much to do!
 
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