Journey to SPS: My Custom 213g Build

.Chris.

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Hi, Reef2Reef. I'm Chris. It's nice to meet you all.

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Disclaimer: There's a fair bit of history leading up to the current build--some personal, and some tank related--so if you want to skip that part, scroll down until you start to see more pictures. Or to the second post, which will be the beginning of the build. But I want to do this thread right, and part of that for me is explaining where I came from in relation to the hobby.

I'll probably also recap for those not interested in reading a novel, so please feel free to skip to the end.

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As I sit here on my couch with my laptop, I've rewritten this post a number of times already. I struggle to find the precise words with which I wish to express myself. For me, this hobby is--in general (and this tank in particular)--intensely personal at times, and occasionally all-consuming. In a lot of ways, I was personally saved by aquariums, and I owe a lot of what I have now to them and the hobby. I want to do it the justice I feel it deserves.

I am going be long-winded at times so I hope at least some of you are into reading. This is intended to be a journal for me, and so I'm going to use this space to not only share my build with you all, but also my history with the aquarium hobby and a bit about my life prior to and during that time, my thoughts on the industry as a whole, and really whatever comes to mind.

And lots of pictures, I promise.

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September 2012

I guess the beginning is a good place to start. Back in 2012, my then-23-year-old self was struggling in a lot of ways. I had recently left my university studies in physics because I was on the brink of being kicked out for academic failure. With that, my student loans and bursaries were cut off, and I was jobless, so I had no income. There were some deeper personal struggles as well.

Despite probably a hundred applications I sent out, I never got any bites--probably because to that point I had little to no job experience and my French (the primary language here in Québec) was very weak at the time. All of this was of my own making, and I blame nothing and no one except myself for getting to this point.

I'll take a moment to say that my situation wasn't entirely desperate. I had lived on my own since I was 17, but was at the time in a house owned by my uncle and wasn't in danger of being homeless or hungry so I was a heck of a lot better off than a lot of people out there. But I still really needed a job. My credit cards had all been frozen for non-payment, and I was out of options.

Fortunately, a friend of a friend was managing a retail store and really needed a new full-time hire. I didn't know what the job was, except that it didn't pay well, required very flexible hours and a willingness to learn. I took the interview and was hired on, despite having absolutely no experience or knowledge in the industry. Probably because I was the only one who turned up for an interview.

Of course, given my luck at the time, after leaving the building from that interview, I stepped off the sidewalk into a pothole and rolled my ankle, resulting in a severe sprain. There are pictures, but I won't embed them, in case there are some people who don't want to see my messed up ankle. But for those who do: PICTURES HERE

I didn't have the luxury of delaying my start to the job so I powered through it. Ace wrap and lots of Advil!

The store was named Aquatica, and it was the largest LFS this side of Toronto. For those of you in the Ontario region, it was formerly a Big Al's franchise in Montreal, until they split circa 2009, to give you an idea of scale.

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I'm not sure how many of you have ever worked for an LFS, or how they did their business, but for me it was a turbocharged introduction to aquaria. There's no way I could ever have learned as much as I did on my own as I did from people who had dozens of years of combined experience in the field. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by educated, compassionate individuals who not only had the knowledge to work at the store in a way I so rarely see at LFSs these days, but also the passion to inspire those around them. They was a deep, genuine caring among my coworkers of the time--and I remain good friends with many of them.

My manager--the livestock manager--was highly ethical with what he'd choose to bring in. He refused, point blank, to order any fish that was not reasonably keepable over its entire lifespan in an aquarium. Freshwater fish such as iridescent sharks and redtail catfish never touched our waters. The way feeder goldfish are bred is abhorrent, and we never ordered them. And for saltwater, we refused to bring in mandarins, moorish idols, and a whole host of other popular marine organisms that rarely if ever survive for more than a few months in captivity.

We never made a sale at the expense of the animal. We educated each and every client to the best of our ability on the full life requirements for everything alive we sold in the store.

We were also unique in our area for being large enough to support doing our own shipments from overseas, never relying on wholesalers. I didn't realise until much later how rare that was and how lucky I am to have been put in that situation to learn that side of the industry. In retrospect it was amazing to not have to rely on wholesalers to get our orders.

And on a personal and financial level, the store did wonders for me. I met some great people my own age in my coworkers, and as I said, made some good friends out of them. It gave me the personal confidence to go back out into the world in a social way that I hadn't done in a long time, and even more so than I ever had before. I was also beginning my slow climb out of the debt hole I had created for myself, and while it would be years before I hit the black again, I could safely breathe again.

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April 2013

With that newly gained confidence, I began dating. In that time, I met the most amazing, wonderful, kind, loving and generous person in the world. Six years after we first met, Samantha and I are still together, and she is the greatest thing to have ever happened to me. I will forever be grateful to Aquatica, and this hobby, for giving me the drive to go out and meet people in general, and her specifically.

Obviously it didn't take very long for the hobby bug to bite. I had never thought about owning an aquarium, but when surrounded by them all day, and seeing the enthusiasm with which so many of my clients approached the hobby, as well as my coworkers' dedication to it, I was smitten. I couldn't resist.

Around a year after starting at the store, I ended up making the decision to buy a setup with the intention of eventually making it saltwater. Corals had caught my eye, and I needed them in my life, but it was around then that I learned my uncle would be selling the house I lived in, and I would need to find a new place to live, so I didn't want to begin a marine tank, knowing I'd have to displace it in six or eight months.

December 2013

The first tank was a disaster.

Well, not a disaster. But let's just say, working for an LFS gave me a bit of overconfidence. Apparently, nothing actually replaces the experience of owning your own tank at home. I had no practical experience. It was not well executed.

The basic premise was a dirt bottom planted blackwater tank.

Equipment:

75g rimless Deep Blue tank
10k Razor
Jebao DC9000
Cobalt Neotherm heaters

It came out like this, and in the end, I'm proud of what I did. I've never seen anyone else do something quite like it, even if it was far, far from perfect.



But there were so many problems.



The holes I drilled were barely bigger than the bulkhead rings, and I compromise the structural integrity by notching the centre brace.



The bulkheads I used were the ones that came with the tank, and they're those terrible pre-barbed ones.



I originally used an Eheim 2217 as a return pump. Every time it turned off, it would un-prime, and I had to use a MaxiJet to start it up again because the sump level was barely higher than the filter.

That plumbing job is super sketchy as well, and my present day self is embarrassed by it.



My first light was a Marineland LED. Maybe the worst brand name LED ever made?



I got in on the ground floor with Cobalt Neotherm heaters. I later had one of these bad boys explode inside a mixing bin of NSW, which resulted in me immediately taking them all out of my tanks and throwing them in the garbage.

I think the tank had a lot potential, but I didn't know what I was doing. I also ended up ripping the dirt out of the tank, and going regular sand. I failed to cap the dirt with enough sand, and the tank was constantly silt-y.

After running it for around six months, I took it down and cleaned it all up, preparing for my move to my new apartment, and to begin my saltwater journey.

August 2014

Part of the process of putting up the saltwater setup was reinforcing the stand. I fixed my earlier mistake of drilling through the centre brace by adding cross bracing and whole new sheet of ply for the tank to sit on, properly jigged out to accommodate the bulkheads this time.

I changed the 30L tank to a Gen-1 Eshopps sump, which I now regret and hate, but at the time it wasn't bad. I picked the Eshopps skimmer because it was what my store had on the shelf that wasn't brought in from China, and it was a very reasonable price, with a good reputation, being built in Germany with an Italian pump.



Here I am filling it for the first time, and testing my max level. In the early days, I had all the controllers under the stand. The choices I made at the time of setting up this tank would later inform the decisions I would make about my current build.



One of those choices was filter socks. I now firmly believe that they're the devil. I'm glad if they work for you, but I can't stand the maintenance and the way they mess up your water level, which changes the efficiency of your skimmer.




I chose to go with a Herbie style siphon overflow, which necessitated adding a third hole, which I drilled in the back of the tank in the overflow, on the floor of my apartment with a friend pouring water slowly onto it as I used a (very) old diamond drill bit.

Fortunately, because of where I worked, I had first dibs on Vanuatu live rock when it came into the store. This is especially notable where I live, because the only supplier in Vanuatu was owned by a very close friend of my boss, and wouldn't ship to anyone else in the area. I love this rock, and I wish I could get more of it now, but I don't think it's ever going to happen at this point.



Overall, I'm pretty proud of what I accomplished with this tank as my first go with saltwater. In my very small apartment (about 300sqft), I carved out a nice little "fish room" corner, where I kept quarantines, water change bins, all my electronics for my main tank. I even plumbed my RODI line into the main sprinkler line for the building. Don't tell anyone.

December 2015

I ended up adding six T5s to my Razor light in a canopy, which really gave my tank the boost it needed. The dosing I then added really kicked me into high gear. I was starting to see some amazing growth and colour.




At its height it was an SPS and chalice dominant reef, with some acans, and a few other brains. I never really had much success with the acans and brains, so I ended up removing them. I feel that if I had kept on top of things, I would have had something to be truly admired right now, but as with most of us, neglect gets in the way sometimes.

Life gets busy, we skip some waterchanges, we don't test our parameters as much or at all and suddenly the problem is way worse than we thought and it's all gone. We've all been there, I think. Or most of us, anyway.

It was pretty quick. From the second FTS above in December-ish, to January, I lost virtually every piece of coral I had. And in the intervening time, total neglect of keeping the reef has meant that the only thing left alive are fish. Of course, over almost five years of running this tank, not everything has survived. A couple passed from age or natural causes, one jumped, and another couple got nabbed by a nasty crab.

I skipped over it in the timeline, but I did put up another tank in my apartment. It was a pure soft coral tank, meant to be totally maintenance free as an experiment, with a crazy deep sandbed (six to eight inches). I really love this tank. Here's a quick shot of that one from April 2016:



I have a lot more to say about these two reef tanks, and what I learned about the hobby from them, but I think I'll touch on it in later posts for the sake of brevity (ha! as if!) now. As of February 2019, both of these tanks are running still in my apartment, with minimal effort or intervention except to feed the fish, pending my new system going up to transfer the remaining livestock into it.

January 31, 2016

On this day, Aquatica closed. I'll go more into detail on why in a later post, because I think it's very germane to the hobby as a whole, but for now I'll keep it simple. Financially the store wasn't doing well, and my boss after having run it for close to 15 years was tired of being at work 7 days a week, with three young children at home. Add in that his wife also wanted to move back to Toronto where she's from, and that he's a chemical engineer by education and former employment and had no need to try to right a sinking ship anymore except personal pride, he finally called it quits.

As much as I loved that store, when it closed it was almost like a relief for me. It had stopped being fun for a variety of reasons a little while before and I think we all saw the writing on the wall, so there was a cloud over everything we did.

By the time the store closed, I had gone from knowing absolutely nothing about the hobby, to the livestock manager of what I believe at the time was one of the largest aquatics-only stores in Canada. When my previous manager left, I was the logical choice to take his position, but I feel like even if I hadn't been the default option, I had gained enough knowledge and expertise in the field to handle the responsibilities. Maybe that's just my ego talking, though.

We knew about the closure for a few weeks before it officially took place, and I had already arranged to start at a new job for one of Aquatica's local wholesalers with whom I had a good working relationship.

The closure process was heartbreaking, though. A little after I started working for the store, we moved locations and I was heavily involved in the construction and plumbing of the new store, and seeing something I helped build with my own hands was very sad for me.

My job at the wholesaler went well, and continues to do so as I'm still in that position. It's a completely different ball game, there's a lot about it that I love, and a lot about it that I hate. My one major regret is that I no longer have the chance to interact with so many passionate hobbyists on a daily basis.

There's a lot I have to say about this side of the business, but I'll save it for now. The only notable thing in these three intervening years that pertains to this thread is that I put up another small reef tank in my already too cramped apartment. I did it for noble causes, though.

We had received an order of saltwater at the shop, and one of the boxes was for a customer that we had to hold in our tanks for the better part of a week. The problem was that part of that order was ten wild caught A. ocellaris, which some of you may know are terrible carriers for Brooklynella. The risk of contaminating one of our systems was too great to risk, so my manager and boss decided to euthanise them.

There was no way I could possibly accept that, though. I took them home, quarantined and medicated them, with the intention of giving them away when they made it through. Sadly, only one of the ten made it through quarantine, and I decided to keep her.


She eventually made it into this tank:



It's a 20L on my desk with a 30L sump underneath the desk.

My apartment looked like this after putting up the tank:



Current status of the small tank is that I moved the fish to another tank in order to shut it down, as preparation for moving and beginning the new build.

January-October 2018

At this point, my wonderful girlfriend Samantha and I decided that we wanted to take the next step and buy a house, and we looked for about seven months before finally finding one for us. We closed in July and took possession in October (due to some work the owners needed to complete before we were willing to move in). It was at this time when the planning process for my new build began. I knew that with a house to hold it, I could do something really special with the right amount of money, patience and time.

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So to recap for those of you who are not interested in reading a novel:

I've been in the hobby and the aquarium industry for coming up on seven years. I knew literally nothing about aquariums before I started working for an LFS seven years ago. The job I got back then saved me from the personal hell I was in at the time, and taught me a lot about people, myself, and I made a lot of good friends.

I put up a few tanks, some better than others, and learned even more from them than I did working for an LFS.

I met a girl in that time, and we bought a house recently, and I got her permission to do something crazy and beautiful and awesome. This is that thread.
 
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NY_Caveman

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That was awesome! Thanks for sharing and welcome to R2R!

I worked at an LFS for a short time in college and I agree, it taught me tons. That was in the 90s when there was no internet, so the experience was invaluable.

 
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.Chris.

.Chris.

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When I set out to design and build this tank, I had a few main concerns and priorties.
  1. The tank must be in an area of maximum visibility, ideally on the main floor, in the main living area. This is to have the most enjoyment out of it, as it'll be near me where I spend most of my time.
  2. I refuse to have a sump on equipment under my stand ever again. The joylessness of going under a stand to work on a sump, or lifting a skimmer full of water and turning it sideways to get it out of there cannot be overstated. I would honestly prefer not to have a tank than to have an under-stand sump again. The ideal situation here is to drop the pipes from the main floor into the basement to a sump, and hope the stars align and that space is near a water source and drain.
  3. It had to be easy to maintain, because I've learned I'm a lazy aquarist, and I don't want that neglect to override my ability to keep a pretty tank. The secondary concern here is that Samantha (or someone else) needed to be able to take care of it in minor ways when I wasn't around for whatever reason.
When Samantha and I started looking at houses last year, I made a deal with her that the house would always come first, even at the inconvenience of my aquarium. I told myself from the outset, if it didn't make sense for whatever house we fell in love with, I could go without having a tank. I had to prepare myself mentally for this.

In the end, the house we bought meant that I would have to semi-violate #1. The tank had to go in the basement. There were three reasons for this.

First, the main living space upstairs is fairly open concept, which limits the wall space. On top of that, the two long walls of the main room we have are unusable for a tank--one is completely windows, and the other is pretty much entirely brick with a fireplace in it.

I don't have pictures of both sides, but here's one:



The third and fourth walls are out as well, as one of them is on the other side of our dining room table, and the other is the only place we can put a TV. I could probably have won the argument for no TV upstairs, but the location of it also meant that the area directly beneath it would not be suitable for a fish room. I could run the pipes a distance, but I was not given permission to tear down the finished ceiling in the basement.

And of course, as you can see from above, an absolutely crazy amount of natural light. I don't want to content with that in my reef.

In the basement, we do have a prime location, though. It's in my game/TV room/den, which means I'll be able to comfortably play PS4 while watching my tank.

Fortunately, we're golden for #s 2 and 3. Behind the wall we're putting the tank on is the laundry room, and I have just enough space in a corner to comfortably fit my sump and equipment, while having very easy and convenience access to the drain and water supply. Not as much space as I'd like, but we'll make do.

So what's the plan?

Well, initially and for a long time, I wanted a standard 180g tank (72x24x24). I just love the symmetry of the height and depth, and that the length was 3x the other two dimensions. When I used to sell Perfecto Marineland 180g at my store, they were in the $1000 range. Perfect. When I started looking at buying one again, even through my current job at the wholesaler, they were pushing $1600 Canadian. Absolutely nuts.

I'd been out of the retail game long enough that I didn't know that there had been some sort of shakeup with Marineland's parent company, coinciding with the rising glass costs, which meant that now they were insanely expensive and practically unavailable in Canada, since no one would carry them. The only other option was Seapora, and the idea of those glass centre braces made me want to throw up. Even those were like $1200-1300.

There's a custom tank manufacturer up here in Canada based in the Toronto area called Miracles. I think they're fairly well known in the US as well, but definitely they're the top guys here in Canada. I had a history with them through my old store, but my current manager at the wholesaler goes back 25 years with the owner of Miracles. I got in touch with them via my manager and they said they'd give me a wicked price on a tank.

If I was going custom, I was going all out. Starphire, eurobace, the perfect overflow for my design, etc. I got them to quote me out the 180g dimensions with my other specs, and...$2500. Woof.

Did you know that most tanks are underspec'ed for their size in terms of glass thickness, if used in a dynamic flow environment like a reef with a whack of MP40s or Gyres? I sure as heck did not. Turns out, the reason why there's often been failures in the larger Marineland tanks is that. 5/8" minimum for a 24" tall tank.

Miracles gets back to me and says, well if you want we can go up to 19" tall on 1/2" glass and you'll be fine. Price? $1500. Suddenly we're talking business again. I'm willing to shell out more for the custom tank than for a standard.

My friend at work recommended to me me to get them to quote out a wider tank, if I couldn't go higher up, why not go out?

So the final quoted dimensions of the tank are 72x36x19. Three panel Starphire, frosted black glass overflow in one corner containing three 1" bulkhead holes, eurobraced top and bottom. $1945. SOLD!

Now the tank has been ordered, there's a two month lede time, plus a bit, given that we're around the holidays at this point. It gives me some time to plan everything else.

So my idea here is to go pretty high tech. I am eventually going to go fully automated with a Neptune, but that's not in my budget right now. I am planning everything in consequence to that, however. My budget is high, but not unlimited. I work a warehouse job that pays me well, but not really well enough to access the heights of the hobby I'm planning on. My specific job does provide me with the benefit of paying cost for everything, however.

Equipment
  • Sump: Custom built 48x24x18. It's a simple design. Four glass baffles, two for the return pump, and two for the water draining from the tank. In the drain area of the tank, I will be putting Seachem Matrix, around 2-3 gallons worth of it. I have had amazing success with it in the past, and want to start off on the right foot. The main section of the sump will be drilled to accommodate a drain for easy water changes, as well as an emergency overflow.
  • Lighting: ATI Sunpower 8x80w. Given the dimensions of the tank, I am almost forced to go this route, given budget constraints. I will be adding two ReefBrite Actinic Strips to the fixture, and I think I will end up putting a Kessil at each corner of the ATI at some point. A friend of mine sold me his ATI for a song when he upgraded lighting.
  • Return pump: Sicce ADV 7.0 (x2). I debated this for ages. DC or not. I've run many DC pumps in the last five years, all of the Jebao brand. I had good success for the price I paid for a long time, and can't really complain. I knew I wasn't going to go Jebao owing to reliability issues, but in the end, the cost of other DC pumps drove me away from them. It also occurred to me that a DC return pump is an entirely pointless endeavour, especially with a Herbie or Bean Animal overflow setup. You're never going to adjust the flow in order to maintain the perfect siphon balance so what's the point in having one? I settled on the Sicce. I have read rave reviews on them, and they come with a built in 5-year warranty. I'll be buying two, one for the return, and one for reactors, which will serve as my main pump backup in case of failure.
  • Skimmer: Deltec 1500ix. It's probably slightly undersized for what I'm going to do to the tank, but Deltec has a reputation for underrating their skimmers. It's a sleek design, with a wiper built into the cap of the collection cup for the neck, and an overflow prevention system. The maintenance on Deltec skimmers is a breeze as well, given that it's one screw to remove the entire body from the base plate.
  • Filtration: Clarisea Gen 2. I've read nothing but positive things about this unit. I absolutely hate filter socks, so they were out of the question from the get-go, and this came to one of our local suppliers just in time for me to snap one up. I will also be running an algae scrubber at some point, but haven't decided on which one. As mentioned previously, I will be running Seachem Matrix passively in the sump as well. I know it's not as effective as running it through a cannister reactor, but with the amount I'll be using, it won't matter.
  • Heaters: Eheim. Classics can't be beat. I'll be using them in conjunction with a external digital thermometer and eventually will be on a Neptune. I once had Cobalt Neotherms, and they exploded on me. I've learned my lesson on heaters.
  • Powerheads: 2x MP40QD, 2x MP40. I bought two new ones, and I scored two older models in a deal a few months back. I will look to upgrade the older ones at some point, but they're perfectly functional for now. The Gyre is always tempting, especially with the new models, and I may end up going down that route for additional flow at some point. I've had extremely negative experience with MaxSpect products as a whole, though, so I'm fearful of them still.
  • Substrate: 120lbs of Fiji Pink Carribsea. I'm not sure if I'll use all of it, but I got extra in case I needed. I've used this in all of my tanks and love it. I find it's the most beautiful colour and size of sand out there.
  • Rock: Initially, I will be starting my tank with 100lbs of Marco semi-flat rock. I wanted this to create a solid flat base on the bottom of my tank for my future rockwork, as well as to have shelves for my Acropora down the line. Once I take down my other tanks and move the live stock, I will re-cure the rock for 10-12 weeks in order to ensure I have no leftover fish diseases stuck on them, and incorporate them into the scape. This will include 50lbs of Haiti rock, and 60lbs of Vanuatu rock.
  • Salt: I am starting with Fritz RPM. I'm doing it for cost and availability reasons. I have 200 boxes at work I use for our systems and it's dirt cheap, compared to the other stuff. Also, I've run through about 200 boxes of it myself at work already and it mixes amazingly clear and fast, and our reef at the shop has had amazing parameters with it. For a long time I won't have coral in my tank, so if I don't like it, I'll swap before I introduce coral.
  • Plumbing: I'm going all out here. Unions and true union ball valves everywhere, and I'm spending what I need to do make this perfectly clean and usable.
  • Stand: A friend of mind and fellow aquarist is a cabinet maker, so he's built me a stand frame for now, and when everything is set up, we're going to face it with maple-veneered plywood and maple hardwood accents. The basic design is heavily inspired by d2mini's Rimless Cube.
  • RODI: I think it's a Vertex unit, that I got practically brand new from the same guy as the MP40s. All of the filters have been replaced.
  • Quarantine: I'm pretty militant about QTing my fish. I'm putting up a rack with a 30L and 2x 15g, with AquaClear filters, Eheim heaters, drilled in the bottom for quick draining, and with a return line from the main mixing bin for filling them back up. The QT will be located in a storage room away from the display and sump to avoid cross contamination. I was a bit sloppy with my current tanks in the end when I wanted to add stuff, so I will be re-QTing all my current fish, then letting my rock cure as I stated above.
I think that about covers it for now in terms of main equipment and related materials. If I've forgotten anything, I'll add it in next time.

So until now, the story goes that I've ordered my tank. But that happened in October.

A few weeks ago, I got an amazing crate delivered to my work.



I opened it up to find this beauty in there.



It weighs an absolutely craptonne. It took me and three friends to carry it, and we had to turn it on its side because of the width, which made things fun. Not to mention that we're in the deep of winter in Quebec, which means lots of snow and ice everywhere. But the three guys who helped me are all old LFS friends, so they know how to handle a big tank. And we had suction cups.

I wish I had taken a picture of the four of us together after bringing it in, but I forgot to snap one.

This is what I do have though. The guy next to it is 6'2" and 230, so imagine the size of that tank.





After that, my buddy and I built up the stand for the tank, as well as for the sump and the quarantine tanks. The stand could probably withstand a bomb going off. He really crazy overbuilt it, which I'm happy about. It sits at 39" tall, with an overall height of 58" for the tank+stand.

Here it is up on the stand, and then with me for scale. I'm 6'3". Also, before anyone asks about the "Who's your daddy?" Hippo Tang shirt, it's an LRS branded shirt. I have no idea, guys. I just wear it at work.




This past weekend, I took a bit of a break to play Kingdom Hearts III on my TV next to my tank, which I've been waiting for for the last almost 15 years. The tank could wait a day for that.



After that, I had to jig out the corner for the bulkheads, and notch out one of the posts so they could pass. Thank god for oscillating saws.




I guess you could say that's the first official plumbing I did on the tank.

I spent a few hours giving all three stands their first coat of paint after having siliconed all the gaps and screws.



Here's the QT stand.



Sump stand.



So I think we're all caught up for what's been worked on until this past weekend. There's still miles ahead of us, though.

In my next post I'll detail what's left, in what priority, and what the game plan is moving forward. I haven't even really written this down yet, so it'll be a good mental exercise for me.

And here's a bonus shot of my storage room right now:



To Recap: The equipment is mostly bought, for now, and I know what's going into the project. I received my tank in a crate, moved it into the basement, built a stand, started painting the stand.

Next time: The full game plan going forward, and list of priorities in order, and how we're going to tackle them.
 
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.Chris.

.Chris.

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That was awesome! Thanks for sharing and welcome to R2R!

I worked at an LFS for a short time in college and I agree, it taught me tons. That was in the 90s when there was no internet, so the experience was invaluable.
Hey, thanks! I really appreciate it.

Welcome to my journey. It's no fun if no one else is along for the ride with me.
 
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.Chris.

.Chris.

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nice writeup! i will be following as well
Thanks! This project means a lot to me and I want everyone to join me on the ride there. Glad to have you here!

That's an awesome tank! I just joined R2R as well
Welcome! And thanks a lot. The dimensions are killer.

I didn't talk much about it, but in the end the 19" high turned out to be a blessing. 24" is too tall to work in, especially at that depth, even for someone as tall as myself. I think the fish will profit a lot from having a shallower tank, or at least I will, because they'll stay in the field of view more.

The stand height was chosen for two reasons:

  1. For practical reasons it had to be that high in order for the plumbing to pass under the main 2x6 supports while still clearing the top of the sump on the other side of the wall. This is because the sump has to be at minimum 13" from the floor so it can properly drain the main area into the only drain pipe to which I have access.
  2. When I sit on my couch in a relaxed position, or leaning forward, the centre of my tank is exactly at my eye level. It's a bit tall for most people because I'm 6'3", but in the end the tank is designed for my enjoyment.
 
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Hey Chris! Glad to see you’re going all out on this build thread!
Following.
You know where to come when you’re ready for frags. ;)
Don't worry! After this build, I'll be coming to you hat in hand, because that's there sure as heck isn't much spare change for anything else.

Nice build!

Looking forward to seeing it all come together.
Thanks! So am I. It's a big point of stress right now. I'll explain next update post why!
 
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Awesome story, and good luck with the new build!! How can I not follow this amazing success story!
 
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Looking forward to seeing it in person!
Oh don't worry. There will be a grand opening of it for all my fish geek buddies.

Awesome story, and good luck with the new build!! How can I not follow this amazing success story!
Thanks so much! I don't know how much success there will be yet, so maybe we'll call it a story in progress? :p
 
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I'll start this update off by explaining what I meant in a reply to Foothill Corals about my current levels of stress.

Basically, I'm on a timeline and it's medium-tight. In brief, I do not currently have a drivers licence, I will only be getting it in Mid-April. This causes an issue because the new house is outside of the city I live in, where there's no public transit that operates at the hours I would need for it to for work (I begin at 5am). So I still rent my apartment in the city until then, so I can sleep there and get to work at 5am during the week.

I want to have the new tank up and running, with all fish moved into QT before the end of March. This sounds like a lot of time, but I only have weekends to work on this project at the moment, because of my living situation. This will then give me the month of April to clear our my apartment and get it ready to sublet to someone else.

But enough of that!

-----

All right, gang. Where do we stand?

We have most of the equipment needed to start the project in the house already. The only primary things missing are the sump, the plumbing and the pumps. The main pumps will be delivered early next week, the plumbing on Friday and the sump, if all goes according to plan, by the end of next week.

Before anything else, I have to finish with the stands. They require some touch up on the silicone in some of the joints, and a second coat of paint.

Once that is done, but before starting the project in earnest (i.e. the plumbing) we have some prep work on the area surrounding the tank and sump, as well as in my storage room which will contain the quarantine stand. The basic premise is that we will run the three main pipes (two drains, one return line) through the wall behind the tank to the sump on the other side, in the laundry room to the ~designated sump area~, per the girlfriend, as seen below. The taped off area is roughly the footprint of the sump. The wall with the short side of the sump is the shared wall between it and the display. We'll come through there with our pipes.



You may notice in the above photo that there's a central vacuum cleaner unit in the way. This will be moved to the storage unit behind the door in the corner, as seen below, where there is conveniently another outlet with a readily accessible line to which we can tee off of to put in the unit.



I'm also lucky in that I can just use a marrette to connect the wires at the current connection point on the unit so I don't even have to run any new wires to keep the system going, I only have to splice the wire at the other end where we will be installing it, which will be a very easy fix.

The racking will be coming down, of course. We will use the sheet of OSB there to fix the QT stand in place, in order to firm it up a bit and prevent racking.

This coming Saturday I have an electrician friend coming by to run a few new breakers in order to make sure I am never interfering with, or being interfered with, anything else in the house. I haven't decided on how many yet, but I'm thinking at least three. One for the display side, one for the sump side, and one for the QT. All will be 15A with GFI outlets and waterproof boxes.

Another thing we need to take care of is accessing the water line to plumb in our RO unit. This is easily done with a 3/4" to 1/2" reducing tee Sharkbite off the cold water line going to the hot water tank. I also have a 1/2" pex to 3/4" MPT fitting and a 3/4" FPT to 1/4" OD push fit connector to complete the ensemble.

If I have time, I will also mount the RO unit. I have some spare acrylic as well, which I may use to cover that metal panel visible below, which is the electrical for my thermopump.



To the keen eye observers out there, you may notice there is a cinder block wall behind the hot water tank, which is sharing a wall with where the sump goes. We're going to have to pierce the cinder blocks in the exact spot needed to pass the drain and return lines, which is made slightly more difficult by not currently having the sump.

I will measure to accommodate it and hope everything lines up, but there's not much margin for error. I'm really hoping that where the pipes need to pass are not on a block joint, as that would cause some serious issues in my plan. There's a backup plan of course, but it's less than ideal.

In theory, I should have the time to do all of this this weekend. With that all completed, I will be ready for the receipt of my pumps and sump next week, and should theoretically be able to begin to plumb the tank next weekend.

RECAP

This weekend, the game plan is as follows:
  1. Finish painting stands
  2. Move central vacuum to storage room.
  3. Cut into the water line for the RO unit, and mount RO unit (if time permits on the second).
  4. Electrician comes to install new circuits for the tank and QT.
  5. Pierce the cinder block wall for the pipes to pass.
This is the basic prep work we need to get done in order to plumb the tank.

NEXT TIME

I'm going to begin detailing the plans for my quarantine system, as well as go into my history with quarantining and why I'm going down this road.

I will also explain the plumbing a bit more, and go into detail about the RODI and ATO, and how we're going to incorporate a Neptune Apex system in the future into what I'm building now, when money permits me to go there.

Once we're all caught up on the planning to my satisfaction, I'm going to begin scheduling posts in a bit more of a structured way. I'm thinking that Sunday night or Monday I will give weekend recaps on my progress on the project, and once or twice during the week I will probably write up a nice post about a certain aspect of this industry and hobby, and my experiences with it.

I have a lot to say, and I think I'm pretty good at expressing myself in an intelligent manner. Hopefully someone is willing to read it. My aim for this thread is of course to keep everyone up to date on the tank and its progress, but I'd really like to start a regular discourse on the hobby as a whole. Hopefully we'll get some killer discussions out of this.
 
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What's up, reefers?

WEEKEND RECAP

So this past weekend, my plans were as follows:
  1. Finish painting stands
  2. Move central vacuum to storage room.
  3. Cut into the water line for the RO unit, and mount RO unit (if time permits on the second).
  4. Electrician comes to install new circuits for the tank and QT.
  5. Pierce the cinder block wall for the pipes to pass.

We had some setbacks on a couple of fronts, so we didn't get as much done as would have been ideal, but we traded what we couldn't get done with some other stuff to occupy the time.

I got the painting for the stands done, which went smoothly. I didn't have any issues with this, and it's finalised. I went back and added some paintable acrylic/silicone into some gaps and cracks I missed on the first pass prior to when I began painting.

I moved the central vacuum unit into the storage unit successfully, and had all the materials to cut into the existing line there to make it functional again. I was also planning to cap the old outlet as the sump stand will be blocking it, and adding a new one in another part of the laundry room so that the vacuum continues to reach into every part of the basement.

So, it turns out that central vacuum PVC is not the same as the PVC we all know and love. I definitely should have Googled this beforehand, but I thought for sure that I was correct. Apparently I don't know everything about PVC? So, that part of the project is on hold, pending a trip to the hardware store next weekend.

I postponed the cutting into the water line for the RO unit, because I couldn't find my deburring tool. I didn't feel comfortable cutting copper and using a Sharkbite fitting without deburring the copper line. I ordered one off Amazon along with some other tank stuff, so that will get done next weekend.

My electrician friend came Saturday morning and ran me two new circuits for the tank, one on the display side and one on the sump side. Both are GFCI and will be covered with waterproof boxes, when the tank and sump are in their final positions.





The second one will of course be protected and covered.

He also ran me a box on an existing circuit for the QT system, which will also have a GFCI and waterproof box, but he didn't have enough, so I'll get them at the hardware store and finish that up. Another circuit was run for the new location of the central vacuum.





On the last point, I did not pierce the wall for the pipes. I did the cut hole and was going to mark where to go through.



But I realised the location of where I was going to go through was very much dependent on how I was going to plumb the tank, specifically the bulkheads. There's a complication in this because of how close the bulkheads are to the supports for the stand, and I have to go around them, and I can't do the math on them--I have to just dry fit some stuff and see what happens. I'm trying to avoid using FlexPVC if possible, but it may come to that.

On that note, I did put the bulkheads in place on the tank, but I idiotically forgot to take a picture of this. So we have achieved out first plumbing on this build! Milestone!

Also, it proved to be a benefit, because the original plan was to use my hammer drill and a masonry bit to make several holes in a drawn out circle, then lightly hammer out the piece. However, my electrician buddy just ordered a 1.5" coring bit, which will be a much cleaner and easier job than what I had in mind.

I got a few other things done. My buddy came over and put the vinyl on the back of the tank, and it turned out really nice.





We ran out of time to do the other side of the overflow though, but I'm still not sold on doing it. Does anyone have any thoughts?

I also built the shelf that will support the RO reservoir tank, as well as a couple of other goodies I have planned in the future. I won't say what for now, since it's not a firm plan.



I also took the 30L tank that was last serving as my sump from my 20L display--which housed my rescue clownfish that I mentioned in a previous post--and I cleaned it up to get it ready for use as a quarantine tank. Prior to it serving as a sump, it was a QT tank, so I guess what's old is new again?

Here it is in its prior incarnations:



Those are the first fish I QTed. I brought home four clownfish in order to ensure I'd get a pair. I ended up forming two pairs, one of which I have to this day (Deedee and Frankie), the other (Frankie and Smalls) went to a nice home with a friend of mine.



Here it was as a sump.

It was badly in need of cleaning after its sump usage, as that tank was severely neglected toward the end.

Here's the end result:



That's the completed stand and the tanks that will serve as QT. The reason the top ones are sticking out is because the shelf above needs to be removed.

-----

NEXT WEEKEND
  1. Complete the vacuum move after purchasing the needed parts. I cut some wood in the storage room in the basement, and tracked saw dust everywhere. This is the first priority.
  2. Plumb and mount the RO unit. We have a final location now for the RO unit as we now have the shelving unit in place above the sump.
  3. Drill the tanks. I should be receiving the sump by then (I'll have news on this by Tuesday), so I can drill the drain line and emergency overflow on this. I can also drill the RO reservoir tank for the RO bulkhead, and the emergency overflow bulkhead. The QT tanks will each get a drain line in the bottom of the tank. I will put the bulkheads in as I do this.
  4. Determine final location for tank on the wall, and cut the baseboard moulding with the oscillating saw so I can push it nearly flush with the wall. I'm leaving just enough room to pass the wires for the ATI Sunpower behind it.
  5. Dry fit the plumbing coming off the bulkheads in order to assess where exactly the holes need to be drilled through the cinder blocks, so my electrician friend can come by to make them.
I'd like to get more done, but given V-Day coming up, I plan to take the lady out Friday night and sleep in Saturday, and make her breakfast in the morning, so I'm not going to have as much time to work on the build.

If time permits, I'll try to squeeze in some time to work on the QT plumbing, as that's the most critical thing to have running in order to move the fish. Speaking of which...

-----

QUARANTINE

The basic QT plan is that I will run two 15g and one 30L tanks. Each will be independent of each other, with their own Aquaclear filters and heaters and powerheads. I'm not yet set on my future approach to QT for new fish, as I'm not entirely happy with my old process.

My old process consisted of a two month QT period.

Week 1: Clean water, for observation and to get them eating healthily before treating them, as this usually diminishes the appetite of the animal.

Week 2: Gentle ramp up of a dose of copper (in the form of Cupramine) until it reaches a therapeutic level of 0.50 mg/L. I usually kept it slightly higher, 0.55, to absorb any miscalculations, as below 0.50 is known to not be as effective.

Weeks 3-5: Therapeutic level of copper during this time.

Week 6: Gentle ramp down of copper. Quick changes up or down is very stressful on the fish, so I always took a full week, rather than the 48 hours recommended by Seachem for Cupramine.

Week 7: I would treat with praziquantel during this week, both in the water and the food. Usually this resulted in a loss of appetite for the fish, as they hate the taste of it, and do not generally do well with praziquantel in my experience.

Week 8: Clean water, observation, salinity adjustments to the same as display, and then a transfer to the display at end of week.

I think we can cut this down to six weeks total, or less, depending on how we go, and we can make a few tweeks.

I think I'm going to up the total length of time in copper to four weeks, but I'm going to remove the last week of observation. At this point we've been observing the fish daily for weeks, so it seems unnecessary.

I will also employ two doses of anti-parasites during the copper phase, to remove that Week 7. They usually interact well enough so I'm not concerned about the copper mixing with Praziquantel. I think I might also dose with Metronidazole during this phase, as the two can be used in conjunction, but I may instead feed them the combination to treat internally as it is more effective, and use the Prazi for external.

This would give us a total treatment time of six weeks.

My other option is to employ tank transfer instead of copper, which speeds up the process by about two weeks. I think I will use this for more sensitive fish in order to reduce the stress of being in copper, and to get them into the display as quickly as possible.

All other diseases I can observe for during this process, and medicate as necessary.

-----

PLUMBING

I like to keep things as simple as possible for plumbing. There's no need to do more than what is strictly necessary, and I will never use two pieces where one will do. Fortunately, through my job, I have access to a plumbing wholesaler and I've gotten an amazing price on things, so I can afford to use unions and true union ball valves everywhere.

The basic outline is that I will run a Herbie-style siphon overflow. One will be a siphon, the other the wet emergency drain.

The third of my three 1" bulkheads will be for the return. The return will go through the teeth of the short side of the overflow via a 1/2" bulkhead, and will split off into two LocLines of 1/2".



I'm going to use a Dremel to make the hole, as I'm concerned using a hole saw might break the teeth.

After the three main pipes go through our cinder block wall, the two drains will immediately drop into the first section of the sump. That section will contain about 4 gallons of Seachem Matrix.

The centre section of the sump will have the skimmer and ClariSea filter roller. Also in that centre section, we'll have the main drain for water changes, and the emergency overflow above the standard water level. The overflow will go to a drain manifold. Also on the drain manifold will be the emergency overflow for the RO reservoir, the RODI waste line and the quarantine drain line. All of this leads directly to the main drain for the house, via the cleanout for that particular drain stack.

The third section of the sump has the main and manifold pumps. Both of them are Sicce Syncra ADV 5.5s, so that the manifold pump can serve as the backup for the main. The main pump will only serve the return line on the tank, and never anything else. The manifold will currently only serve the ClariSea, but eventually will maintain an algea scrubber and may in the future serve another little project I have.

The final placement of my 90g waterchange bin will be on the other side of the laundry room, necessitating running some piping through our suspended ceiling.



There will be two exits from this bin. One will go all the way to the other side of the house for the QT tanks, all of which will be individually fed by the pump in the bin, for which I'll use a thermoplastic sump pump. The other exit will be into the sump.

The QT will have simple bottom drains and refill lines. The drains will go into a holding bin beneath, which will then be pumped up through the ceiling to the drain manifold, as there's no drain in the storage room.

So that's it for this week's update and planning. I'll probably make some posts later this week about stuff unrelated to the build. I also still want to talk about my plans for Neptune.
 
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Short update this week, as I had some more setbacks and we have a new resident at the house.

Firstly, I had some V-Day plans last weekend, but before I could announce them to the lady of the house, we made a final decision on adopting a new cat, which we'd been considering last weekend. The short version of the story is that his previous owners abandoned him at the vet's office because they "couldn't afford" $126 per year for allergy injections, and special allergen food that costs on average $20 more per bag of 12lbs. If you know anything about cat food, 12lbs goes a long way, so it's not a crazy increase. Basically it comes out to about maybe $30/month for his special needs. He was going to be euthanised, and we couldn't allow that to happen. So, we have a Mango.



He's severely overweight, and declawed on all four paws. The ******** overfed him and mutilated his poor paws. But he's in a good forever home now and will get the love and attention he needs. He's sweet and charming and playful and we're in love.

Back to fish stuff!

Let's review what we wanted to get done this weekend:
  1. Complete the vacuum move after purchasing the needed parts. I cut some wood in the storage room in the basement, and tracked saw dust everywhere. This is the first priority.
  2. Plumb and mount the RO unit. We have a final location now for the RO unit as we now have the shelving unit in place above the sump.
  3. Drill the tanks. I should be receiving the sump by then (I'll have news on this by Tuesday), so I can drill the drain line and emergency overflow on this. I can also drill the RO reservoir tank for the RO bulkhead, and the emergency overflow bulkhead. The QT tanks will each get a drain line in the bottom of the tank. I will put the bulkheads in as I do this.
  4. Determine final location for tank on the wall, and cut the baseboard moulding with the oscillating saw so I can push it nearly flush with the wall. I'm leaving just enough room to pass the wires for the ATI Sunpower behind it.
  5. Dry fit the plumbing coming off the bulkheads in order to assess where exactly the holes need to be drilled through the cinder blocks, so my electrician friend can come by to make them.

The vacuum got finished. As it turns out, the previous owners of the house had left a box full of crap in the storage room, and while tidying up in there, I discovered the box was full of vacuum parts, so I didn't even need to go to the hardware store for this. The only thing I was missing was a cap to close where I had cut a line out, so instead it currently has a vacuum outlet blocking it. Once I get the cap, I'll install the new vacuum outlet as well. Won't take more than 30min.

I also displaced some existing shelving that was left behind to clear space for my QT rack, and installed it on other walls. I took advantage of this to put all my tools away properly in the new tool boxes I got for Christmas, and generally take stuff off the floor. This let me clean up my sawdust mess.

The RODI unit is mounted and I tee'd off the inlet for the hot water tank to get my running water for the unit.



I would have run more plumbing on this, but I discovered a fitting was broken on my Puratek Vertex, which has very annoying sized threaded bits that go into the canisters. I'll see if we have something bumming around at work that I can scavenge.

The tanks were not drilled. The diamond drill bit set I have does not include one appropriately sized for 1" bulkheads, and given that that is the most important size, I'm a bit ****** with myself for not checking when I ordered the set. Luckily a friend of mine has one, so I'll grab it from him on my way home Friday night.

I did get the sump, it's currently at my work, and I'll be bringing it home next Friday as well.



I'm pretty happy. It's a far sight better than what I could have done, and while it's not perfect, I wasn't expecting perfection for $350.

The final location has been set, and the holes got drilled through the wall. Once the sump is in place, I'll put the tank back against the wall for the final time. I didn't remove the moulding, because I'm not sure it's necessary. Given the gap that I need to leave for the wires to pass behind the tank, I may as well leave it there.



I did the prelim bulkhead plumbing and I have to say, I'm very pleased with the look of it. Obviously straight down is the ideal, but since I don't have the choice to do that in this case, it came out pretty.



I ended up using another 45 degree elbow to lengthen the pipe on the right (return line) to pass through the proper hole.

I also couldn't resist plumbing the overflow. It's not permanent since I'm missing the 1/2" bulkhead I need to go through the overflow teeth, but it looks very nice. It's the only grey plumbing I'm using for obvious reasons.



And because I'm ridiculous, before getting glued or set in their final positions, every piece of plumbing will be meticulously washed so they is no dirt on anything. I will also carefully position all the PVC piping so the writing is not visible.

Last small thing I did was install waterproof boxes on the QT and sump outlets. I still need to do this on the outlet that will be inside the stand, as well as the outlet behind the waterchange barrel. I was going to do the water change barrel, but ran into a hiccup there. The existing outlet box is so old and shallow and badly installed, it won't fit my GFCI outlet. I need to get a new box and reset it into the wall.

NEXT WEEKEND

  1. Bring the sump home, and drill the holes in it, and the QT tanks, and install the bulkheads. I should also be able to drill the RODI holding tank above the sump and put it in its final location as well. This is the number one priority for next weekend.
  2. Finish my central vacuum project. Cap the open pipe, and install a new outlet so I can actually vacuum the other half of the basement.
  3. Finish changing the waterchange outlet for a GFCI and install the waterproof box. I may also do the final waterproof box on the outlet inside the stand, but this depends on me doing the final plumbing fit through the wall. That's something that can wait.
  4. Clean out my W/C bin, set it in its final location, drill the hole for the overflow and run the drain to the sink next to it, install the RODI float valve, run a RODI line to my unit through the suspended ceiling.
  5. Fix the RODI unit, change the filters, and run the line to the float valve on the RODI holding tank above the sump.
  6. Assess what plumbing we'll need to adapt the thermoplastic sump pumps I ordered for the mixing bin and QT drain basin to PVC standard.
  7. Plumb the drains for the QT tanks.
I'm not sure I'll get all of this done next weekend, but we'll try. If there's more time for anything else, I'm going to try to run the plumbing from the W/C bin to the QT tanks.

See you folks next week. Might pop in during the week to post something of a different nature, though.
 
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Sorry for the late update this week; I was debating even putting one up since I got so little done.

To sump up, I got nothing done on the list for this past weekend, and it's all being shunted forward to this coming weekend, which I will fully dedicate to the project.

The only things I really got done were bringing my sump home, and getting some hardware store shopping done. I waited all evening Friday for my friend to help me with the sump, as he got stuck at work, so Friday ended up being a wash. We were also going to stop at the hardware store, but it was after 9pm when we ended up going to the house, so everything was closed.

Saturday I woke up late, and after making breakfast for the lady and I, we went and did some errands, before going to dinner with her family, after which she dropped me off for a late night Tonga coral shipment, which I finished unpacking at 6am. I got back home and slept until 1pm Sunday afternoon, at which point I had no drive or energy to do anything.

Which brings us to now.

The only other thing to update is that I decided to repurpose my smallest reef aquarium as a coral/invert QT. It's a 20 long, so it's the perfect size and depth, I'll make use of my ReefBreeders LED light, and a stand I had built for my old QTs. The only piece of equipment I'm buying is a large canister filer, used for $50 from my buddy. I'll plumb it into the existing overflow and bulkheads, and use it as a closed loop/return pump sort of thing.

More updates to come this weekend, I promise!
 
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All right, reefers, finally some more progress. Not as much as I would have liked; we had some snags along the way as usual, but we did some good work this weekend.

So, at last major update, these were the goals:

  1. Bring the sump home, and drill the holes in it, and the QT tanks, and install the bulkheads. I should also be able to drill the RODI holding tank above the sump and put it in its final location as well. This is the number one priority for next weekend.
  2. Finish my central vacuum project. Cap the open pipe, and install a new outlet so I can actually vacuum the other half of the basement.
  3. Finish changing the waterchange outlet for a GFCI and install the waterproof box. I may also do the final waterproof box on the outlet inside the stand, but this depends on me doing the final plumbing fit through the wall. That's something that can wait.
  4. Clean out my W/C bin, set it in its final location, drill the hole for the overflow and run the drain to the sink next to it, install the RODI float valve, run a RODI line to my unit through the suspended ceiling.
  5. Fix the RODI unit, change the filters, and run the line to the float valve on the RODI holding tank above the sump.
  6. Assess what plumbing we'll need to adapt the thermoplastic sump pumps I ordered for the mixing bin and QT drain basin to PVC standard.
  7. Plumb the drains for the QT tanks.

The sump was brought home last weekend, as mentioned in my mini update, but that's all that was done on #1. This weekend, I got the holes drilled on it, along with the ones for the QT tanks, and the RODI tank. Mostly.

Here's the success shots:



My buddy and I also vinyled the back of the tank, to hide the blank plate I put over an old electrical outlet, and an old central vacuum outlet. I dislike that it darkened the view of the inside of the sump a lot, especially with the addition of a black tank mat underneath it, but overhead lights will fix that issue.

There was another issue with this when I put it in place for the first time. My friend who drilled the holes through the cement blocks dropped the second hole by about 1/4" on each hole, so none of the pipes would pass over the edge of the sump. I fixed this by using an extra non-bulkhead sized diamond drill bit I had from the sets I bought and making the holes a bit larger. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, a pro-grade Dewalt 20v Max cordless drill and that diamond bit went through the cement like butter, and it was an insanely clean cut. Should have done this in the first place. We live and we learn.

I successfully drilled all of my 15g tanks (the two QT tanks and the RODI holding tank) without issue. I did misjudge the size of bit needed for the RODI push fit bulkhead and had to bore out the hole bigger, but this went well.





I'm slightly sketched out by this bulkhead, but I added liberal amounts of silicone to fill in the gaps and put a special gasket I had laying around. I think we're fine.



Of course, we can't have it all have been a complete success. Here's my first ever tank break when drilling, and it wasn't even my fault!



As it turns out, the bottom of a Deep Blue 30g Long is tempered. It's not marked. Who knew? Now I do!

I've ordered a replacement Seapora, hopefully it's available in non-tempered, but if not, we'll go through the back for the drain on this QT tank. Not a big deal, just a small set back.

All right, onto #2.

This danged central vacuum thing just won't be put to bed. I got the cap I needed to finish it, and went to add the tee to the existing line to add the new outlet. Turns out, my Milwaukee pipe cutter will shatter 20 year old central vacuum PVC. Of course, it also destroyed an elbow, which necessitated using existing parts I had, so I'm short parts now. I didn't take pictures, because I was too frustrated. I ended up having to remove the blade from my hacksaw and cut a pipe between floor joists with about 2" of back and forth room to make the cut. It was painful.

But the good news is, I am literally 5min away from finishing this as soon as I get two couplings and an elbow.

As per #3, I did finish the GFCI outlet for the waterchange corner. I'm not sure if this was mentioned before, but the old outlet that was there was so shallow it wouldn't receive a GFCI outlet, so I had to change it. This meant the outlet would stick out of the wall, as there isn't enough room for the bigger outlets behind the gyprock. Because of this, I decided to just use a waterproof PVC box for safety reasons, as this is the area where splashing and salt spray is most likely to occur.

I did not do the one for the main tank yet, as I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing here. I'm having some internal debate as to whether I remove the moulding or not, and I'm leaning not because I need to leave enough space between the back of the tank and the wall to run the lighting wires. I may even have to disconnect the wires from the fixture to pass them.

#4 is mostly complete. I cleaned out the bin, installed the new float, and ran the RODI line through the ceiling from the bin to the unit. I left it disconnected, because I'm still missing some parts to fix the broken RODI, and weirdly missing the compression gasket for the float valve. I'll have to pick one up. I also didn't drill the bin for the overflow, because I apparently do not have a 1 3/4" hole saw. Worst kit I've ever bought for that. I should have forked out the $150 for the good kit in the first place.

I'm also planning to use a uniseal. Never used one before, but I think it's the best for this application, given the radius of the bin. I am also buying a dehumidifier, and I believe I will also use a uniseal to add a constant drain to my drain manifold using a uniseal through the collection container.

#5 is done. I forgot to bring my push fittings to the house this weekend, so I couldn't attach everything, but it'll be five minutes and the unit, RODI holding tank and w/c bin will be connected up.







#6 was a gimme. I got my sump pumps, and bought the 1 1/4 threaded to 1" slip adapters I needed. I decided to all add unions above the adapters for ease of disconnection, as I plan to teflon paste the threads on those bad boys.

#7 was the only one where we didn't make any progress. Because of the broken tank, I will hold off on this until I get the new tank. I don't want to commit to plumbing things until I have all the pieces in place.

So for next weekend, we should be cooking. I've gotten done a lot of the little annoying details that prevented me from truly moving forward with the plumbing. Before I actually plumb the tank itself, I need to do the ceiling plumbing, which is going to be a much more annoying project than I had anticipated.

There are several areas which are totally blocked from me due to ducting, main drain pipes for the house and load bearing supports. This necessitates me going above them. Fortunately, the central vacuum line will serve as the template for this, but when that was done, there was no central air or suspended ceiling. It's going to be very interesting doing the plumbing in there. I will not have any room to work, and only 25% of the tiles can be lifted and moved completely out of the way.

So, here's the list for next weekend:

  1. Finish the danged central vacuum once and for all.
  2. Finish attaching the RO lines to the unit, w/c bin and RODI holding tank above the sump.
  3. Run the pipes through the ceiling for the w/c bin to the main sump and to the QT area, as well as the QT drain line back the other way. This is the biggest priority.
  4. Plumb the drain manifold. My friend and I came up with a much more elegant solution than I had planned, which should make my life far easier than anticipated. I estimate this to not take too much time, and I may do this ahead of the ceiling plumbing.
  5. I think next weekend the tank will finally go in its resting place. If I do this, I will finish the waterproof box for the outlet, and shim the tank to make it level.

I think that's ambition enough for next weekend. If I get this all done, then I can get into the nitty gritty and plumb the drains and return lines on the sump itself the weekend after. If we keep to this schedule, I think I can have the tank running by March 31.
 

Any special reefing plans for this week?

  • Yes

    Votes: 115 45.8%
  • No

    Votes: 112 44.6%
  • Maybe

    Votes: 24 9.6%

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