Kaleidoscope - Build Thread

thewalkingdad

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Hi everyone,

Welcome to my build thread, where I'm chronicling my journey into my first reef tank.

Some background on me and where I'm coming from. I've always loved anything underwater. I kept simple freshwater and planted freshwater tanks for a number of years. I was in the military then which meant I moved every few years. This made keeping a tank much harder, but I still tried and enjoyed doing it. I always wanted a saltwater or reef tank, but didn't know where to start and was put off by the initial investment cost. I ended up taking a multi-year hiatus from the hobby altogether.

I've since left the military and settled down a bit. I'm at the point in my life where I can feasibly pull off a larger long-term tank and decided to try my hand at a reef tank. I'm building a new home and wanted to make a reef tank a part of the build plan. So this thread will chronical my house along with my reef tank.

This journey started in January of 2018 when I decided to look into getting back into a tank. I stumbled upon the BRS 160 series and that started me off in the reef direction. Since then I've watched just about all of their videos, as well as those from a few other YouTubers. I also bought and read a few reefing books. I figured I would rather invest $100 in books before spending multiple thousands of dollars into a hobby I may not enjoy. After reading those books and nine-month later, I'm still excited about a reef tank.

As mentioned, I'm building a new home and want to incorporate a reef tank. I work from home and will have an office. The reef tank will be in my office. The house isn't scheduled to be finished until mid-January, but I could foresee that date getting pushed back even more. So I haven't purchased any equipment yet and likely won't for about another six months. So far, I've been focused on learning more about the hobby, what I want to accomplish, and how I can set myself up (from a house/fish room perspective) to increase my chances of success, oh, and also saving money because this stuff isn't cheap!

I'm working with a very well-known professional reef aquarist to help advise me on this project and source equipment. Since I am still so far away from purchasing equipment, I don't know many of the details for the actual build. I have ideas, but nothing is official at this point.

General Objective: Have a healthy and stable 100+ gallon tank to house as many different colors of as many different species of coral (mixed), peaceful fish, and other inverts as feasible.

Stocking Objectives:
Coral - mixed coral but beginning with softies and progressing to LPS and eventually some SPS
Fish - as many small, colorful, and peaceful fish as is responsible to stock
Inverts - function over form, but I want the lives of the CUC to be valued as I would that of a fish or coral

My office is situated directly over a mechanical room in my basement. This means my mechanical room is now also my fish room. This should allow me to keep my office largely free of equipment and noise.

IMG_20190816_174504.jpg


I told my contractors I wanted a floor that would support 2,000 lbs of weight. Not knowing how big the tank it would be, I over-estimated on the weight. They beefed up the joists to ensure they could handle the weight. This should also allow me to do a larger build in the highly unlikely event I want to.

IMG_20190923_181317.jpg


This is the fish section of my mechanical room. You can see where a utility sink will be plumbed on the left side of the room in that little corner. The RO/DI unit will be near there. I also have the outlets all GFCI and on their own dedicated 20 amp circuit. There should be about 8 total outlets mounted about halfway up on the wall. I will also have a CAT 6 ethernet port and a smurf tube that would allow me to drop cables down from my office directly into my mechanical room. The goal with the smurf tube was to keep the Apex in the mechanical room, but still controlling/monitoring everything on this system.

IMG_20190923_180929.jpg


Flow for days! I had them install six 1.5" pipes that go from the wall down into the fish room. I don't know what my flow requirements will be but, these will surely meet the demands. I imagined 2-3 being for drain overflow (still undecided on Herbie vs Be An Animal, Herbie should be plenty good with these pipe sizes), 2 for return flow, and 1 utility pipe. The utility pipe would ostensibly be connected to a python vacuum so when I vacuum the sand, the wastewater goes directly down into the utility sink in the fish room and I never have to deal with the dirty water. You can also see the top end of the smurf tube that can take cables downstairs. I also have another four GFCI outlets on a second dedicated 20 amp circuit. Lastly, I will have another ethernet port on the wall as well.

IMG_20190923_181310.jpg


Here are the pipes dropping down through the wall into the fish room. Not all finished yet. While I like the idea of having the smurf tube, I'm not entirely sure how I will feed cables through the bends. I'll figure something out though.

IMG_20190914_142412.jpg


And what good fish room would be complete without a drain? I don't love how the drain is so far away from the where the sump will be, but oh well. I do plan on having spill trays underneath the sump and mixing stations.

I hope I've thought of just about everything when it comes to prepping the house for the fish tank. Not everything is 100% ideal, but it should be good enough. I'm looking forward to making some more progress in the winter when the house gets closer to completion.

I would love to hear some thoughts and opinions. I may not take all of the suggestions, but I like to hear the diversity of thought around it all.

Cheers

TWD
 
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thewalkingdad

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A little more on what I am working towards with regard to tank endstate (if such a concept in reefing actually exists)

Tank dimensions should be around: 48” x 20” x 21”

With that size in mind, I believe the below plans could be a bit overstocked. But I'd rather have an overstocked plan that I can trim fish from, than not knowing what I want to work towards.

Inverts.png


I don't want to overstock my CUC and have them starve, die, and then nuke the tank. So the goal is to keep as many alive for as long as possible. Some of the CUC would be added incrementally as the tank build progresses.

Fish.png


As mentioned, I think this is overstocked, which is fine for my plan. I wanted to have a healthy school of fish when that particularly species prefers a school. I would also anticipate taking a year or so to make all of these additions once you factor in the quarantine process. The list follows the progression (left to right, top to bottom) of the order they would be introduced. The philosophy was smaller and more timid fish in first and more aggressive and larger fish in last. The Lawnmower Blenny and Mandarin Goby would be added later just so the tank was mature and stable enough to handle those types of fish. A big focus here is smaller, colorful, and peaceful fish.

I have less defined goals so far around the coral other than to start off with easier and more resilient coral before adding more demanding coral. Eventually, I would like a wide range of types, but that will likely take years to achieve and be done in phases initially.

Coral 1.png


Coral 2.png


Coral 3.png
 
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thewalkingdad

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Progress on the home is moving along. We got drywall put up in the house which framed the pipes in the office. Interestingly, the pipe diameter was pressing into the drywall from the opposite side. Adjacent to my office is a guest bathroom. The drywallers had to make small cutouts in the drywall in the bathroom in order to accommodate the pipes. Kind of funny and it should patch up fine, but it was something I hadn't considered ahead of time.

IMG_20191002_181511.jpg


IMG_20191002_181500.jpg
 
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thewalkingdad

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The piping for downstairs is now finished. I don't love the way it looks, but I can at least make this work going forward. Also, I now have a vent fan installed in the fish room to help circulate air and keep the humidity level down a bit. Idaho is normally very dry, but the basements can hold a little more humidity than the rest of the house so I'd rather have a fan in there running.

IMG_20191007_185659.jpg


IMG_20191004_175617.jpg
 

tripdad

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I think it's looking great so far. Welcome to the hobby! Make sure to enjoy it and don't let the worry steal your fun, we all worry about stuff and so will you I suppose. It's a great hobby, always learning something new and always something new to discover.
 
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thewalkingdad

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I think it's looking great so far. Welcome to the hobby! Make sure to enjoy it and don't let the worry steal your fun, we all worry about stuff and so will you I suppose. It's a great hobby, always learning something new and always something new to discover.
Thanks! I try not to worry, but I can overthink and over plan a bit. Mostly concerned at ensuring the house is tank ready.
 
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thewalkingdad

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I decided to tape out what the different tank sizes would look like in the space I will have the tank. At the end of this little exercise, I decided a 48" long tank just won't cut it (and my wife agreed!). So I am now planning on going with a 60" tank to better fill the space. I took a picture of the mock-up of the tank dimensions. I totally guessed how tall the tank would be with a hood, so you can ignore the top line of tape. The spot where the tank will be gets some afternoon sun, but I will also have blinds once the house is done.
IMG_20191012_144505.jpg
 
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thewalkingdad

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I took advantage of a few Black Friday sales, but I'll post more on that once everything comes in.

So this update isn't really tank related, but more home construction related. I'm getting closer to moving in. It should be within a month or so. I still don't anticipate having a tank for a few months, but things are progressing.

IMG_20191203_143750.jpg


Here is the way the office looks right now. I covered the in-wall pipes so they wouldn't get paint in them. They already have drywall dust and cobwebs :(

IMG_20191206_201305.jpg


This is the space I have to work with to fit my sump/QT setup on the left side and water mixing station on the right side.
 
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thewalkingdad

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So I'm probably about 1-2 weeks away from closing on the house and then I get to move in and actually start the build. Up to this point I've just been in equipment collection and system design modes. All while trying to continue to learn as much as possible.

As far as design goes, I've been mostly focused on drawing out my plumbing plan and buying all of the parts I think I need. In all honesty, it is the plumbing I am most concerned about. It is custom to every non-AIO tank and I've never really done anything plumbing-related in my life. And should I get the plumbing wrong, it would end up costing thousands in home repairs, so I am a bit nervous.

Here is the general layout of the fish room

Mixing station.png


For the water containers, I decided on using 2x 55 gallon water barrels. I have a number of these already for my family's home preparedness and emergency water storage anyway, so I am familiar with them and they usually only cost about $60 and don't need shipping. All of the other containers that were bigger and that I liked more would've cost me much more in actual price and freight shipping. For a 200 gallon total system, I would've liked bigger barrels, but these will have to do. I will likely end up cutting out a large part of the top so I can easily pour salt, adjust plumbing, or insert/remove equipment.

IMG_20191228_143653.jpg


I think starting a tank now is a fairly opportune time. I was able to take advantage of lots of the Black Friday and Christmas deals. I was able to save nearly 10-15% on just about everything. My wife and kids all think I'm crazy for the number of packages I've had show up and I'm not even done buying stuff. The basement in my temporary house is looking like a minefield of fish supplies. As things have arrived, I've opened up most of it to inventory and ensure nothing is broken. I've had a decent number of things break from UPS shipping. BRS has been pretty good to work with on RMA and making things right. They were a bit more challenging on the reef saver rock purchases, but they took care of it in a relatively fine manner.

IMG_20191228_143739.jpg
 
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thewalkingdad

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As I mentioned above, I had some trouble with the rocks. I purchased three of the pedestal versions of the rock, two flat top and one natural top. Both of the flat tops arrived pretty broken. I was dismayed to find out that the shelf is essentially two rocks glued together. They weren't glued together all that well either. BRS/UPS also won't insure rocks because they are, well, rocks. Had I known they were just glued together and that they weren't insurable, I wouldn't have taken the chance. BRS did help me rectify the situation, but if I had the chance, I wouldn't purchase them. I hope to repair them in whatever way I can and still try to make use of them somehow.

IMG_20191210_092117.jpg


IMG_20191210_092114.jpg
IMG_20191210_091643.jpg
 
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thewalkingdad

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I figured I would put together an equipment list for my build.

At this point, this is what I have:

Lighting
Aquatic Life dimmable 48" hybrid fixture
(still need to purchase the bulbs, but am leaning towards 2x ATI Coral Plus, 1x Blue Plus, and 1x Aquablue Special)
(still would like to purchase 2x XR30 G4 Pros with diffusers)
Neptune Systems LSM
Neptune Systems lunar lights (4-string)

Sump
Trigger Systems Platinum 39 Sump with fleece roller mat
BRS GFO & Carbon Reactor - Dual (with pump)

Skimmer
Reef Octopus Classic 202-S 8" Internal Protein Skimmer
Reef Octopus Automatic Skimmer Neck Cleaner (with 200 lid)
Reef Octopus 6" Waste Collector with Auto Shutoff
Reef Octopus Protein Skimmer Delay Timer
BRS Universal CO2 Scrubber
HSH-Flo Motorized Electric Ball Valve (to switch between recirculating skimmer air with ambient air)

Fuge
Kessil H160 Tuna Flora LED Algae Grow Light
BRS Bio balls (2x packs)
(will plan on growing chaeto)

Return Pumps
2x Iwaki MD-70RLT external pumps (I'll run dual returns)
(unfortunately, I think I am going to end up drilling two holes in the return section of the sump to accommodate my return pumps. I might just plumb over the top and down to my return pumps, but it seems like a waste of head pressure)

UV Sterilizer
Pentair Aquatics Smart UV 40 Watt (I would like to purchase another unit, one for each return pump)

RO/DI Production
BRS 7-Stage RO/DI unit
BRS Water Saver Upgrade Kit
Aquatec Eco-Systems 8800 Booster Pump Kit
Aquatec Eco-Systems Auto Flush Flow Restrictor Kit
G.A. Murdock Flow-Lok Leak Detector for RODI Systems
XP Aqua RO/DI Flood Guardian
3x BRS Reverse Osmosis Fixed Float Valves
3x Neptune Systems OS-1-M Optical Level Sensor V2 with Mount
2x 55-gallon water barrels
Iwaki MD-70RLT external pump (this will be my third pump for this system, which will allow me to cannibalize from my mixing station in the event one of my return pumps breaks down)
Neptune Systems DoS (for AWC)
Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155 Auto Top Off
Restuarant dunnage to hold both tanks
2x Neptune Systems 1/4" flow sensors

Flow
(I haven't purchase anything yet, but plan on getting 2x MP-40s with one spare wetside and one battery backup)

Heater
2x BRS 300 Watt Heater
BRS Heater Controller

Control
Neptune Systems Apex (I was able to snag a Dream Bundle from BRS
2x Neptune Systems EB832
Neptune Systems MPR
Neptune Systems Trident
2x Neptune Systems FMK (I needed 2x FMMs, but not 2x FMKs, but I had already purchased one FMK when I bought the Dream Bundle)
Neptune Systems LDK
Neptune Systems AFS
Neptune Systems Display Module
Neptune Systems DoS (this makes 2x DoS, one for AWC and the other for dosing)
Neptune Systems pH Probe
Neptune Systems ORP Probe
Neptune Systems Temp Probe
Neptune Systems Salinity Probe
Neptune Systems Break-out Box
Seneye Reef Monitor (with 3 months of cartridges)
Seneye Web Server with WiFi
Amazon Fire 7 Tablet

Tank
(I still need to purchase the actual tank, stand, and hood, but I am eyeing a Planet Aquariums Mega Matrix tank)
120 lbs CaribSea Aragonite Special Grade Dry Sand
~200 lbs of Marco Reef Saver rock (mix of small, medium, and large foundation pieces, shelf pieces, random pieces, and the pedestals)
Python no spill vacuum

Dosing
BRS 2-part with dosing pumps
Skimz DLC3 Triple Dosing Reservoir

Quarantine System
2x Petco 20-gallon tanks with light/hood (for H2O2 TTM)
Petco 10 gallon tank (for coral and motile invert quarantine)
3x Hydor Koralia Nano Powerhead (240 gph)
3x Amazon heaters
3x sponge filters
3x Ammonia indicators
3x fish nets
Drip acclimator
Frag rack
Lee's Aquarium Products heavy Duty Specimen Container (arrived broken from BRS, will need to repair the plastic)
Nearly every medication (as recommended in the medications to have on hand thread)
Bunch of PVC pipes
3x HOB filters
Kessil A80 Tuna Blue Nano LED Light


I'm sure there is more that I'm not thinking of. I will try to keep this post updated as necessary.
 
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DaneGer21

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I’m curious as to why the pipes were pushing against the adjacent wall. Are the wall studs not standard dimensional lumber? As we all know a 2”x4” isn’t actually 2”x4”. But I would surely think a 1.5” pipe would fit between.

Maybe I missed that part.
 
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thewalkingdad

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I’m curious as to why the pipes were pushing against the adjacent wall. Are the wall studs not standard dimensional lumber? As we all know a 2”x4” isn’t actually 2”x4”. But I would surely think a 1.5” pipe would fit between.

Maybe I missed that part.
That's a good question.

I think the answer is multi-fold.

1) I just don't think the plumbing work was great to begin with. Partially because this request was completely non-standard for them. All six pipes were supposed to be next to each other, but they didn't get to it immediately. So the HVAC guy put that vent thing in where a few of the pipes were going to go. So that pushed two of the pipes way off to the right.

2) The walls are "standard" 2"x4", based on where they specifically drilled the holes + the extra diameter of the 90* bend, it seems to have pushed out from the back a bit too much.

Those are my guesses. Not super happy how those parts turned out, but I don't think it will be a big deal.
 

DaneGer21

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That's a good question.

I think the answer is multi-fold.

1) I just don't think the plumbing work was great to begin with. Partially because this request was completely non-standard for them. All six pipes were supposed to be next to each other, but they didn't get to it immediately. So the HVAC guy put that vent thing in where a few of the pipes were going to go. So that pushed two of the pipes way off to the right.

2) The walls are "standard" 2"x4", based on where they specifically drilled the holes + the extra diameter of the 90* bend, it seems to have pushed out from the back a bit too much.

Those are my guesses. Not super happy how those parts turned out, but I don't think it will be a big deal.
Makes sense, I see they/you could have used something like a “1x” and saved a little room.

But, looks great that’s for sure! There will be many bumps, making it all come together is worth it. Have fun, good luck!
 
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thewalkingdad

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Makes sense, I see they/you could have used something like a “1x” and saved a little room.

But, looks great that’s for sure! There will be many bumps, making it all come together is worth it. Have fun, good luck!
Thanks. Some of the bumps make me even more excited, but the bumps that scare me the most are the plumbing-related bumps. I feel an immense pressure to get that right. Pretty much to the point I would be willing to pay someone just to do the plumbing.
 

DaneGer21

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Thanks. Some of the bumps make me even more excited, but the bumps that scare me the most are the plumbing-related bumps. I feel an immense pressure to get that right. Pretty much to the point I would be willing to pay someone just to do the plumbing.
Nah! Just take your time. Straight cuts, cleaner, and glue. You’ll be a pro after just a few pieces.

Measure twice; cut once!
 

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I’m curious as to why the pipes were pushing against the adjacent wall. Are the wall studs not standard dimensional lumber? As we all know a 2”x4” isn’t actually 2”x4”. But I would surely think a 1.5” pipe would fit between.

Maybe I missed that part.
I was thinking this exact thing, but glad it all worked out. Your gonna hit bumps. But they just slow you down. Dont let them stop u. Doing plumbing is easy. Just plan out what you want first. I honestly like the bean animal design better as you have one full dry drain as a safety. And you definitely have enough pipes to run that design.
 
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thewalkingdad

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I was thinking this exact thing, but glad it all worked out. Your gonna hit bumps. But they just slow you down. Dont let them stop u. Doing plumbing is easy. Just plan out what you want first. I honestly like the bean animal design better as you have one full dry drain as a safety. And you definitely have enough pipes to run that design.
Thanks. I made sure there were 6 pipes so I could run that design. 2x return lines, 3x lines for bean animal, and 1 more for a vacuum that will pipe into a drain.
 

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