Mega Matrix 180 build

zsxking

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After 6+ years of reefing, I finally got my first tang-appropriated size tank: a mega matrix 180 gallon tank. It's 72" x 24" x 24". So here is the build thread to share the build process of it. More posts below.

2020-11-04
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2020-10-11
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2020-08-09
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zsxking

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The tank arrived last monday. At it's then that I realized how heavy a 180 gallon aquarium is. I and my wife is totally not strong enough to even move it, not mention lift it onto the stand. So for several days, the tank sits quietly in my garage.
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I ordered the tank from saltwateraquarium.com. I was presently surprised that it actually comes with overflow plumbing kits. That's when I felt pretty dumb because the only plumbing parts I bought from BRS was the overflow plumbing parts ... oh well.
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Meanwhile, we moved the stand into the house, and put the sump into it. It required to have one of the center stand piece by the door to be removed to fit the sump into the stand. As per planet's customer service, it's only safe to remove that when the tank is not on the stand, or completely empty. Which means I'm not changing the sump ever unless I move.
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Honestly, the quality of the stand is a bit disappointing. Many edges inside the sump are pretty rough.
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The cut out of the overflow is not even straight. It's true that I probably won't see it after the tank is put on the stand, but still, for its price, I expected better.
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PacoPetty

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I will buy a tank but I always build my own stands. Looking forward to following your build because I am working on a 180 build of my own. I have my stand finished so the tank will be the last thing that I purchase.
 
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While I was figuring out where to find help to move the tank onto the stand, I started on building the aquascape . I had similar idea of what [email protected] was doing with the negative space aquascape (NSA). But I took a short cut to use Caribsea shaped rock and arches. So I'm not gluing dozens of small pieces together, but only gluing couple large pieces of rock to form the skeleton of the scape.

I started with 2 boxes of arches, 1 box of shape, and a box of normal caribsea rocks. These are the shape and arches out of the box. Center pile is shape box. One of the arches on the right pile broke in the box. But later it's proven to be a good thing for the build.
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This is the planning at the first night, before cementing. Some pieces are glued together with super glue and accelerator to help hold them in place. Box present the overflow box. This is basically what I cemented the first night.
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On second night, I added more smaller pieces to extend out some more edges. This is after cements the second night. Some added big pieces are too heavy to hold in place with super glue (more precisely, I ran out of accelerator lol). So wood and rocks to support while it dry.
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At third day, I added some final touches by a gluing some sand on the cement to cover it up a bit. Also lucky the I found a moving company to help bring the tank in place. So that night, everything falls into place.
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zsxking

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I will buy a tank but I always build my own stands. Looking forward to following your build because I am working on a 180 build of my own. I have my stand finished so the tank will be the last thing that I purchase.

I have zero faith in my own carpenter skill, especially for a piece that sit in the middle of living space and expected to look good for decade to come. But if I were to choose again, I'll probably either find some good carpenter to build a nice stand, or go with metal frame and wrap it up.
 
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With no plumbing parts at hand, I am not able to plumb the sump yet. But since rockscape is in place, why not start cycling the rocks in the display. So this happened.
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The tank is only filled enough to cover all the rocks. Then sand and some mature media were added. The marinepure block and balls were new and been cycling in a bucket for about a week. The brightwell block was from my running 42 gallon reef. I also have a 40lb carbisea rocks cycling for almost a year, but didn't got used because I was no longer building scape by piling up rocks. But I still pull couple pieces from those rocks to fill some corners of the scape along the back of the tank, to add some kinda live rock to it, as well as provide some hiding spaces.

I added red sea nitro bac and bacto start to kick off the cycling. But to my surprise, the next day after I add another 1 ppm worth of ammonia, the test result was almost zero. I have to test again to make sure I was not tested it wrong, and also tested for nitrate. It was at 20ppm already. I guess with some cycled media and bacteria product, I managed to instant cycle the whole tank.
 
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This is my planned equipment list:
  • Ecotech Vortech MP40 x 4
  • Maxspect Jump 8K x 2
  • Radion XR15 Blue x 1
  • Radion XR30 Blue x 2
  • Orphek OR3 120 - 48" Reef Day Plus LED Bar x 1
  • Maxspect Aeraqua Duo AD600 Skimmer x 1
  • BRS 300W TITANIUM HEATER x 1
  • Aqua Ultraviolet 57W UV Sterilizer x 1
  • Xp Aqua Duetto ATO x 1
  • VERSA PUMP 4 PACK x 1
  • IM Sump MiniMax Pro Media Reactor x 1
  • Controller undecided. Want to wait for coralvue Hydro Control 4 because I don't enjoy Apex much.

Fish stocking plan:
  • Sunburst Anthias x 3
  • Purple Tang x 1
  • Niger Trigger x 1
  • Regal Angel x 1
  • Pintail Fairy Wrasse x 1
  • Cleaner Wrasse x 1
  • Royal Gramma x 1
  • Mandarin x 2
  • Moorish Idol x 1
  • Majestic Angel x 1
  • Blue Tang x 1
  • Yellow Tang x 1
  • Yellow Coris Wrasse x 1
  • Carpenter Flasher Wrasse x 1
  • Radiant Wrasse x 1
  • Timor Wrasse x 1
  • Lineatus Fairy Wrasse x 1
 
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As I'm again having second thought about going for Philip coral care as light, I realized that it can't actually fit into the canopy, because of the piece on the beam on top is in the way. It will have to go under it, means mounting 2" lower. That will have it too close to the water and won't leave me much space to work. So, back to radion I go.
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The brace of the tank looks like this. But unfortunately it's not removable like other planet aquarium tanks can. Make putting in big scape a bit more challenging. But at least it's not blocking much light, should be fine to have light mounting closer to it.
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Half of the plumbing done. Of course I am couple fittings shot ... Going to see if I can find some schedule 80 fitting locally tomorrow. If not, will have to wait for a week for BRS.
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Over the weekend, I got the whole system up and running. All essential equipment are in place. Plumbing is 90% done. Got couple union short, so the part from return pump is left unglued for now.
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Lesson from this time is how much sealing tape it needed. Initially I used only 3 round of the thicker tape to screw in the bulkheads. Then 3 out of 4 of them leaked in test run. Redone all of them with 6 round of tapes and now they're all good.

My next task is cable management, because this is what it looks like right now.
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Still figuring out how to mount the radion to the underneath of the canopy.

A full tank short, with 100% more water.
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Lights are finally mounted. After evaluating my options for over a week, I finally decided on the solution to directly screw the light to the canopy from the top. The up side is, the lights can go closer to the canopy (1") than using RMS mount (1.5"), also the lights don't have to be aligned horizontally. The down side is not able to adjust position afterwards. This is how they are mounted.
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The XR30 on each side sits in the middle of front to back. But because of the overflow tower at the back, the XR15 sits towards the front as much as the canopy allowed, so that it's closer to the center of the usable area.
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Full tank shot with lights on.
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Added the first inhabitants, same as my last build, some NPS coral.

These two come from my 42G. They were suffering there as the anemone is taking over their spot and prevent their polyps to extend much. This is just couple hours in the new tank, they're already opening.
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This is a new one I happen to see in LFS when returning the light mounts. It's white with brown-ish polyps. First time see it at all. Also opening hours after addition.
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I always love some NPS coral. Now I'm really glad that I build the scape with this many overhang. Underneath of overhang would be otherwise unusable space for coral because of shaded from light, but is the perfect place for NPS coral.
 
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The second order of plumbing part finally arrived. So the last part are finalized.

This is my simple manifold. After did that several times, I learnt that easy assembly is a key to a long running manifold. Every attachment need to be easily removable for maintenance or change configuration. It can be done using series of union ball valves. But the down side will be the side of the assembly. It'll be quite big to fit under stand. So I chose to use push connect fittings this time.
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I also clamped down the long hanging pipes, so that the shock from check valve closing can be migrated a bit.
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Lastly, got two 90 elbow loc line for each output to make it sit closer to the wall.
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The final built of the whole system.
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My current problem to solve is cooling. This size of system is way harder to cool than I expect.

I have AC on most of the hot times and room temperature was between 74~78 the whole time. But all the stuff I tried so far, none managed to bring the tank belong 78. The lights were only running at 10%, and the 57W UV and skimmer have not turned on yet.

Initially I wanted to keep the glass top the tank comes with, so I want to have fan pointing to the sump for cooling. I really tried to get it work, but at the end it can't. The tank consistently hovering 80 last couple days.

Then I tried to remove the glass top, and add a single 120mm fan blowing on it. The temp dropped a bit to 79, but still not good enough.

Not sure what to do next. Maybe more fan above the tank could work. But the canopy will also need to be exhausted to keep temp and humidity low. That sounds on the way to be over engineering. I really hope I don't need a chiller, but so far, it feel that the chiller may well be the final solution...
 

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Sounds like you just need to get air moving around the top of the tank. That canopy is probably holding a lot of heat to the tank. I'd start with some ventilation in the canopy and add one or two more fans. One 120mm fan isn't going to do much for cooling but it sounds like it was better than trying to cool the sump.
 
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Sounds like you just need to get air moving around the top of the tank. That canopy is probably holding a lot of heat to the tank. I'd start with some ventilation in the canopy and add one or two more fans. One 120mm fan isn't going to do much for cooling but it sounds like it was better than trying to cool the sump.

I am actually running with the canopy wide open too see if it can work without the reduced ventilation when it close. If I can't get it work like that, I won't have a chance to have it work when canopy closed. Maybe I just need more fan pointing to the water surface.
 
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After tinkering for several days, I finally conclude to having screen top and have fan over tank. Fan over sump is not enough power to cool the whole tank.

I found this fan from Lasko. It has a clamp to clamp on the canopy, and it's blower type that's perfect to target air across water surface. I also add a couple blower fan to exhaust hot humidity air out from both evaporation and the Radion.
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The screen I choose is the red sea kit. It's definitely higher quality frame than a typical window screen.
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It's also sit flush with the rim and brace of the tank, which is nice. That's also the reason why I don't choose custom lid.
 

How do you feel about showing off your tank to "non-reefing" guests?

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