Jedi1199 55Gallon conversion

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
Greetings everyone!!

Here is my build thread as I convert my 55G tank from fresh to salt/reef.

First, let me show you my existing freshwater tank. The tank is made by Aquarium Design, purchased used wayyyy back in 1990. The stand is custom built by me (I was a custom cabinetmaker in my late teens thru mid 30s and ALL of the woodwork is my own hand).

IMG_0296.JPG IMG_0297.JPG
IMG_0298.JPG

Now, the hardware...

55G glass tank with custom stand
Rena filstar canister filter
2 Aquaclear 20 powerheads for current
I don't recall the size of the heater but it is a Marineland submersible heater, rated for tanks up to 100g
Nicrew 48" LED light

This setup has served me well for many MANY years in my FW tank. That said, if I have learned nothing else in my research, this is absolutely archaic when it comes to a reef system.. (I might as well have a door in the side where I shovel coal into it to keep the power on)

SO... I have a bunch of new goodies on the way...

First off, 5 stage RO/DI water system
2x Flexzion Aquarium Circulation Pump Wave Maker 1300 GPH
JBJ Automatic Top Off Water Level Controller for Aquarium
Instant Ocean SeaClone 100 Protein Skimmer (I may or may not keep this. If I decide to install a sump, I will probably exchange this for a different model.)
50 Lb dry rock (I watched an awesome video from BRS on a DIY NSA aquascape project that I think I am going to go with)

One piece of tech I decided to splurge on is the SENEYE Reef Aquarium Monitor and Par Meter Yes, it is pricy, but I like the idea of real time, full spectrum water parameter monitoring.

Those of you paying attention will undoubtedly have noticed a couple glaring omissions in that list... Substrate and lights!! I simply have not decided yet what I am going to go with in those areas. Since I have some time before I am ready to actually launch the actual build, I am not too concerned about this yet.

I will be updating this thread as I move forward with this project.

Until next time..
Happy reefing,
Steve
 
Last edited:
AS

CrimsonTide

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
691
Reaction score
650
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Birmingham
You can go bare bottom if you want with just the rocks over time the bottom might encrust or you can keep it clean. I like sand. You can go live sand like caribsea. It has live bacteria in it which is helpful for your tank or you can do regular sand. Depth will depend on what kind of fish you want. Anything that burrows go a little deeper. Always scape your rocks first and put substrate around them thats a lesson learned hard but since you have freshwater tanks you probably know that. In the way of lights I dont know what your budget is but someone is always selling some on marketplace for cheap and that nicrew will get you going till you are cycled and ready to actually add corals so you have plenty of time to find a deal! Good luck and happy reefing!
 
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
You can go bare bottom if you want with just the rocks over time the bottom might encrust or you can keep it clean. I like sand. You can go live sand like caribsea. It has live bacteria in it which is helpful for your tank or you can do regular sand. Depth will depend on what kind of fish you want. Anything that burrows go a little deeper. Always scape your rocks first and put substrate around them thats a lesson learned hard but since you have freshwater tanks you probably know that. In the way of lights I dont know what your budget is but someone is always selling some on marketplace for cheap and that nicrew will get you going till you are cycled and ready to actually add corals so you have plenty of time to find a deal! Good luck and happy reefing!


Thank you CrimsonTide,

I intend to go with a custom NSA aquascape as I mentioned before. This will likely be a few weeks long project as my time is limited due to work. I plan to go with sand as a substrate. I would like to use dry sand over live as I do not like the idea of adding any unwanted beasties into such a delicate ecosystem. My plan is to go with a sand in the 1mm grain range (as recommended by Michael Aaron of Aaron's Aquariums in his Youtube vids). I like the idea of a grain large enough to not be blown all over the tank by the circulators, yet small enough to support sand sifters like Gobi's (I absolutely love the Mandarin Gobi)

For lights, this is a subject you can absolutely turn your brain into mush researching. Nobody agrees on anything, and the options are almost as endless as the ocean itself.

That said, lighting requirements, as per my research, depend a lot on what you intend to keep in the tank. I actually really like soft corals, and I think I want to go with a soft coral/ fish setup. therefore, I think I am leaning towards a T5/LED hybrid system.

I am already a few pretty pennies ( and more than a few Ben Franklins) into this project. I think I will go fish only for a while as I pay off my poor battered and tattered credit cards. My current LED light will be sufficient for fish only. In the meantime I can continue to research the overwhelming array of lighting options until I decide what is going to be best for my own needs.

Cheers,
Steve
 
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
So my new RO/DI filter arrived this afternoon. I have the rough in done. Need a couple parts to finish the plumbing. But here it is where it will be housed (the closet of my art studio)

This is the unit and 20g mixing can. On the left, you can just see the collection can. I intend to add an evaporative cooler float valve to stop the flow when the collection can gets full.
IMG_0331.JPG


Fits nicely inside the closet.
IMG_0332.JPG

Cheers,
Steve
 
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
Good progress so far! I'm in San Jose and the water here is pretty hard. An RO/DI is a must!

I grew up in San Jose. The tap water (aka chemical soup) is questionable for human consumption. I killed many fish in my early years not knowing that the tap water was the main culprit... Sad :-(
 
Last edited:
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
Just the other day I poured myself a glass of tap water just for the heck of and seen a bunch of floaties.

I'll snap a photo later lol


I believe it. It smells bad and tastes worse. Where I lived (off Senter and Lewis) the water quality was abominable at best. That said, I should clarify that I was actually fairly successful with fish only salt water tank. I grew a beautiful Humu humu trigger along with a spotted grouper. When they outgrew the tank, I made my first attempt at inverts which was a horrible disaster. I spent tons of money trying to mechanically clean up my water quality without ever knowing that an RO/DI filter was what I actually needed. Heck, even the RO water from the grocery store vending machines would have been cheaper and better than the stuff I tried.
 
Lazy's Coral House
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
Got the new RO/DI system up and running tonight. I teed off the washing machine cold water supply and used the drain for the waste water. I couldn't find a grommet to hide the hole in the wall, but I can do that anytime.

IMG_0344.JPG


IMG_0345.JPG
IMG_0346.JPG
IMG_0347.JPG

Those push together couplers are fantastic!!

Pro tip: Make sure that ALL of the filter canisters are screwed in tight BEFORE you turn the water on!! (Oops haha)

Cheers,
Steve
 
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
I am super excited!!! All of my equipment is here. I decided on 3 of these for lighting...
Wills LED Aquarium Light Full Spectrum 165W Dimmable Blue and White Coral Reef Fish Tank Lights Applicable for Freshwater & Saltwater

The old FW tank is broken down already. Today I will work on cleaning all of the hard water crust off of it and get it ready to move to its new location. Also plan to begin some preliminary work on the aquascape. I have some more pieces of rock on the way (flatter shelving stuff) so I won't be able to complete it yet, but I can get the huge chunks broken up into a usable size and work on how to fit it all together.
 
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
The 55 is WET!!

So, I have had a couple of about faces in this project. Not the least of which is, I found a great deal on a 175G tank.. Consequently the 55 has gone in a different direction. This will now be a fish only setup.

I will be using most of the equipment I had on the FW tank with the addition of a HOB skimmer. I have a seaclone 100 HOB skimmer now that I am going to replace ASAP. This thing is LOUD!!!!

The seller I got the 175 from included all of the sand from the tank so I used some of that (and a couple pieces of his rock) in the 55 to jumpstart the cycle. The sand appears to be oolite type sand.. very fine and easily displaced under even a gentle current. Should be ok for a fish only tank, but I doubt I will use the rest in the 175 build.

Not exactly sure what direction I am going to go as far as livestock. I am thinking possibly seahorses. For now, I will add in a couple damsels to help establish the tank and then a CUC in a couple weeks (already have a few snails that survived in the sand)

Not much to take photos of unless you want to see a tank full of water, sand and a couple chunks of rock with no lights on... lol so I will spare you that experience.. hahaha
 
Lazy's Coral House
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
There is life in the 55G!!!

Yesterday I took a drive down to Fresno to check out a LFS that turned out to be a shop that is specifically geared towards corals. What a fantastic discovery!!! I can see myself doing a LOT of business there over the course of my 175 build.

Did pick up 4 beautiful blue chromis while I was there. Today I took a drive up north to Modesto where I picked up a peppermint shrimp and a skunk cleaner shrimp.

Probably going to leave the stock as is for a while as I work on getting the 175 up and running. Not in any hurry really. I'm just glad to finally have a running aquarium again :)

I do have a short video of the tank I took today with my phone, but not sure how to UL it to the forum.. anyone have a suggestion?
 
OP
Jedi1199

Jedi1199

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jan 16, 2021
Messages
1,040
Reaction score
2,449
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Mecred, CA.
So I am very long overdue for an update on this thread!!

First, I decided to go ahead and turn this tank into a mixed reef after all. Even though the 180 is probably better designed for a reef tank, I went FOWLR for that one as I want predators that need the extra space.

So, Here is a FTS of the 55 that I took on July 25, 2021.

20210725_135656.jpg


As you can see this tank is full of life and movement. I will post a stock list at the end of this post. There have actually been several additions to the stock in the last couple days.

So here is where I am today..
55g glass tank 48x14x22 (approx) with custom stand
Rena Filstar XP3 canister filter (350gph)
Fluval FX6 canister filter (400gph)
Seaclone 110 HOB skimmer
Marineland submersible heater
1 5g bucket of used sand from seller of the 180 (unrinsed)
Small fortune worth of dry rock and dry shelf rock (maybe 70 Lbs?)
2x Wills 165 full spec reef lights


And now for the stock list:
2x "Wyoming White" clownfish
1 Yellow Tang (captive bred from Biota)
1 Blue Chromis
1 Magenta Dottyback
2x Pajama Cardinal
2x Firefish goby
2x Talbot's Damsel (juvenile)
2x Bicolor Damsel (juvenile)

1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1 Peppermint Shrimp
40-50 misc snails
1 Pink Nem
1 Long Tentacle Nem (unknown species)
1 Yellow tipped BTA
Pulsing Xenia
GSP
About 15 or so other various corals.. See link below for photos of most of them.

 
Zoanthids.com
Top