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My Crazy Journey

KenO

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I’ve been asked a number of times about starting a build thread. So I thought it was time to start documenting my crazy house and aquarium(s) build. Some of the decisions during the house construction literally happened overnight.

Here’s a quick overview of the aquariums, but before I get too far into the aquariums, I want to go back to the beginning and explain how this whole journey started……

My current setup:

250 gallon aquarium in family room

130 gallon aquarium in game room

Both of these tanks are plumbed together with one infloor concrete sump in the fish equipment room (more on this later)

Both tanks have been wet since October 2018. Things have not gone as expected (more on this also as I document this build).

Other tanks:

2 – 40 gallon breeder aquariums. These are being used as support tanks for my 250 and 130 gallon aquariums. These tanks are stacked in an Edsal metal storage rack.

60 gallon cube tank in fish equipment room. This tank is separate from the main setup and infloor sump. It has its own sump and support equipment.

Some history:

In December 2014 my wife Helen, our 2 beagles Kira and Dax, our cat Odo and I packed up and moved from NJ to Arizona. I was done with cold weather and I've always liked the Western US. I guess living in Colorado for 15+ years will do that to you. If it wasn't for the cold, I would have moved back to Colorado in a heartbeat. I definitely I made the right choice in moving to AZ. It does get hot, very hot here in the summer. For me, I like the heat. Anything now below 70 degrees is cold. LOL.

I like FW tanks and I've seen some really beautiful tanks, but about 8-9 years ago I started a SW tank. That was all that I needed; I was bitten by the SW bug. I have an EE degree and put it to use building DIY LED light systems for FW tanks. Having built FW LED lights for years, my friend Kevin who has had SW tanks for many years asked me to build him a SW LED light. The light worked great and I decided it was time for me to build one for myself and start my own SW tank. It worked great and I was very happy with the results.

Once we moved to AZ, Helen and I looked at a number of houses, but just couldn't find the right one. So we decided to look for property instead. This would allow us to design and build our own house. We are not new to building houses. This house is our 4th that we have built, and we also did an addition and garage conversion on our last house in NJ.

I feel that it is important to this aquarium build journal to document the house build that pertains to my aquariums since the two are integrated. Since we were building, I was able to integrate the future aquariums and equipment placement into the house design. You'll see as I continue this journal. Well let's get started.

The House

Here is a layout of the house. Most people downsize when they build, well technically we did downsize. Our last house was 3600 sq ft and the basement which was unfinished was another 1400 sq ft. So the house total was 5,000 sq ft. Our new place is 4829 sq ft.

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View of lot prior to construction

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View of when we were pouring/pumping concrete. If you zoom in to the left of the construction workers you can see two sets of black pipes with white caps on them. That's where my two tanks will eventually be.

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The Aquarium Equipment Room (AER).

When we were designing the house, I was trying to position a tank near an outer wall so that I could add a room behind it. It seemed like no matter what we tried it just wasn't working. So I figured that my sump was going to be under my tanks and that would be it. In our design there was an 8x10 mechanical room that would have 2 of my HVAC units and hot water units. As time went on, the placement of the HVAC units moved to other locations. That got me thinking that maybe a remote aquarium equipment room (AER) might happen. I worked with the builder, showed him some of my crazy ideas. I then needed to get approval from the boss (Helen) and she said yes, so the mechanical room now became my AER. The hard part was done, or so I thought.

I will be having 2 aquariums in the main part of the house. One will be in our family room and the other will be in our game room. What is a game room you ask? We wanted a room to have a pool table, shuffle board table, Helen's Mom's upright piano and a table to play cards, etc. So the family room will have the 250 gallon aquarium and the game room will have the 130 gallon aquarium.

Ok layout of the AER.

So looking at the AER layout. I wanted the following:

Sump
Coral frag tank
Coral QT
Fish QT
Sink
SW mixing and holding tank
RO/DI holding tank

For the sump, initially I was going to have a large tub sitting on the floor. The house is one level and we have concrete floors. I was going to run the hoses from the aquariums under the floor and then back up and into the tub. I wanted to make the aquarium as quiet as possible and one way to do this was to use what's called a bean style overflow. A bean overflow uses 3 drain lines. During normal operation; drain 1 becomes a siphon drain, drain 2 typically has a trickle of water flowing through it and drain 3 is an emergency drain. During the startup phase and after a power fail, all 3 drains will have water flowing through them. Then as the return flow and drain flow equalize, the system works as described above. As I started doing more research on having the sump/tub sitting on the floor, I became concerned that any water trapped under the floor in the drain hoses would need to be drained otherwise the water in them would go rancid. So having a sump/tub on the floor was out. So, I talked with my builder and explained the above issue and I asked him could I have a pit (sump) in the floor. The drain lines would slope from the tanks to the pit, so no trapped water. When I proposed this idea to him, he looked at me and said “cool let’s make it happen". The builder had another good idea which was to lower the floor level in the AER to help if I ever get water on the floor, it wouldn't flow into the house and to add a floor drain. Ok the builder was onboard with the idea. Now we needed to figure out how big and deep to make the pit. The pit once built would be made out of poured concrete.

When the AER was originally going to be my mechanical room, the designer made some dead space in the room next to the mechanical to route the HVAC return lines. When we moved the HVAC units we still had the 2 dead spaces. The spaces are 24"x24" each going from the floor to the ceiling. The ceiling in the AER is 11' tall. There is a local place that sells plastic water storage tanks. They have a 105 gallon tank that is 23" round by 63" tall. 2 of these would fit and work perfectly in those dead spaces. One would hold my RO/DI water and the other my SW for my automatic water change unit.

Sump Pit/Hoses: Design and Install

With the builder and Helen onboard with the Sump Pit. It was time to design it, figure out hose lengths, order hoses, install hoses and last but not least pour the concrete. All of this had to happen quickly, the builder was only 2 weeks or less from pouring the concrete floor.

When trying to figure out where the big aquarium was to go, we kept moving around in our family room. With the placement, we just weren't finding a good place to put it. Then one late night while staring at the plans, I thought what if we put it where the fireplace was to be placed. We talked with the designer, and the placement of the aquarium would interfere with the flow of walking through the family room. Ok, I haven't said what the size of the aquarium will be. Well to fit in the space where the fireplace would be the tank could be 70" long. As for the width, I wanted a 36" wide tank. The depth would be 24". It was the width of 36" that was the issue. No problem, since at the time the house was just lines on a page, the designer made the family room bigger by a few feet. Problem solved.

As for placement of the big aquarium in relation to the AER, that was another issue, the distance was 45' yes, 45' from the AER. I forgot to mention this before, but the AER is 8'x10'. The horizontal distance would add to the head pressure that I would need to overcome with the return pumps. The smaller aquarium in the game room is 25' away.

We spoke with the plumbers and we decided to go with a 1/8 drop vs a 1/4 drop for the plumbing run for the drain lines. Drain 1 when used in a bean style overflow, becomes a siphon so the water flow in that line would not be an issue. For the water in the other 2 lines, with that slope, the lines would still drain, maybe a little slower, but they would still drain. So for the drain lines we would need a 5 5/8" drop over the 45 feet (45’x0.125”. There was also the fact that we needed to go straight down through the future concrete floor which would be 4" plus we dropped the floor 1" under the tank and installed a waste drain into the main house sewer drains. So another 5", which would be 10 5/8". We decided to have the aquarium drain lines come in at 12" below floor height to be safe. We would also have the drain lines coming from the game room aquarium at the same level into the sump pit, which would give them some additional slope. I wanted to have somewhere between 150 to 200 gallons of water in sump while the system was running. So doing some math we decided to make the inside of the sump pit 4' deep x 4' long x 30" wide (Final size was 4’x4’x32”). With around 24" of water in the pit I would have around 150. If I am able to raise it up some I could easily get 200 gallons. When I finish the inside of the sump pit, I am going to put spray foam into the holes going through the concrete. The hard PVC that we used was 3" and 2" so there is a gap. I will then use a fish safe liquid rubberized membrane to cover the concrete.

When the sump pit was being built, we had the concrete guys put in 3" (FR Aquarium) and 2" (GR Aquarium) PVC pipes at the 12" down mark into the form so that when they pulled the wooden form off, we wouldn't need to bore out 3" and 2" holes. We also took advantage of the other concrete walls that were going to be poured later to support the walls around the AER. In the end it all worked out well.

This was taken right after the concrete was poured. The weight of the concrete did cause the wood to bow slightly.

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Doing some searching online I decided to use a high flex PVC hose for my drains and returns. So the drains for the family room aquarium would be 2" hoses the returns are 1.5" hoses. For the game room aquarium, the drains and returns would be 1.5" hoses. I found on eBay a place in California that had both size hoses and the lengths I needed. Shipping was included and hoses worked out to be less than $2/linear foot ($1.70). I wanted to use the high flex PVC to minimize or eliminate any hard 90 degree elbows, which would also add to the head pressure.

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Now it was time to lay the hoses which was done right before we poured the concrete floor. The builder wanted to have the flex PVC installed into hard PVC to minimize damage as the gravel was placed under and over it prior to pouring the concrete floor. I agreed and this added time to get the hose installed, but it was worth it. Here are some shots of the install of the hose.

Hoses for Family Room Aquarium.

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Looking from FR Aquarium location to Sump Pit.

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Looking from FR Aquarium location to Sump Pit.

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Looking down into Sump Pit.

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Looking from Sump Pit to FR Aquarium Location. Plumber is working on Game Room Hoses.

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Hoses higher up are the return lines, the drain lines are below them.

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Sump Pit to GR Aquarium location.

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Concrete workers filling in soil before gravel.

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In this picture you can also see what will become the under the tank drain (center front middle) which ties into the house drain lines, and the vent line for the under the tank drain on the right.

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Once the prep work was finished the concrete floors for the house was poured.

You can see the step down into what will become the AER.

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Enough for one post lol. I will continue on with additional posts... Questions? I sure you do. Please ask away, I'll do my best to answer them.
 
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KenO

KenO

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Equipment List

So, this was my original list of equipment. I indicated whether or not I stayed with my original list or changed it.

LR Aquarium: 70"Lx36"Wx24"D

Aquarium to have an external or ghost style overflow. Since my drain lines are 2", the overflow needs to be wide enough for bulkheads to match.

Starfire Glass on the front on 2 sides. Back glass to be black (painted or coated).

I will have 2 - 1.5" return lines which will each feed into 2 bulkheads for 3/4" lines and fittings. Originally, I wanted a rimless, since you don’t see the top I went for a Eurobraced style instead.

GR Aquarium: 38"Lx21"Wx24"D

Aquarium to have an external or ghost style overflow. Since my drain lines are 1.5", the overflow needs to be wide enough for bulkheads to match.

Starfire Glass on the front on 2 sides. Back glass to be black (painted or coated).

I will have single 1.5" return line which will feed into 2 bulkheads for 3/4" lines and fittings. I ended up with a 60”Lx24”Wx21”D rimless aquarium.

Sump:

Done, well at least the "pit" as we are calling it is done. Will go into more detail later on the sump.

Protein Skimmer:

I've narrowed my search to one of three; MTC external skimmer (custom skimmer which is manufactured in NJ), Reef Octopus external skimmer or a Skimz Monzter external skimmer. I ended up with an AquaMaxx ConeS CO-3 In-Sump Protein Skimmer.

Calcium Reactor or a Dosing System with Kalk (lime) in my top of water:

If I go with a Calcium Reactor, MTC (same manufacturer as skimmer) makes a nice one. A calcium reactor adds alkalinity and calcium to the aquarium along with trace minerals. In simple terms you use old coral skeletons which are in a container with SW, you inject CO2 to lower the pH of the water (6.5) and the acidic water dissolves the coral skeletons and the water from this is dripped back into the aquarium. Even with this setup I would still need to dose Magnesium or add Magnesium pellets to the reactor. I like the ability to control Mg separately.

If I go with a Dosing System, I will go with the Spectrapure Litermeter system. I currently use this system to do my automatic water changes right now on my 45 gallon setup in the rental. The system can be configured to do a number of different dosing setups. It comes with 3 pumps, so I can dose alkalinity, calcium and Mg. My alkalinity, calcium and Mg will most likely be held in 5 gallon buckets. The Kalk or lime water setup in conjunction with this will also dose alkalinity and calcium. With such a large setup the Kalk would reduce the amount of 2 part dosing (alkalinity/calcium) I would need. The Kalk is added to my top off water. So when the auto top off system adds water to make up for evaporation it is also adding alkalinity and calcium at the same time. Here in AZ during the summer, my 45 gallon setup uses around 1 gallon of top off water per day during the summer and about half that during the winter. I would guess that I will need around 3 gallons/day at the new house. At this point in time with the issues I’ve had and so very few corals in the 2 tanks, I don’t have a need for 2 part, kalk or a CALRx. When the time comes, I do have a GEO CALRx that will go on the system.

Auto Top Off (ATO):

I currently have an ATO system from Spectrapure for maintaining my water level. This system will be used on my new setup. It uses a peristaltic pump. Their setup can pump fluids up to 30' in a vertical direction and 100' in a horizontal direction. It is one powerful pump. The system uses standard 1/4" OD tubing similar to what you would find on a RO/DI system. That’s what I am using.

Auto Water Changer (AWC):

I currently have an AWC system (Litermeter III) from Spectapure for doing my continuous water changes. It also uses peristaltic pumps. You program the unit by indicating the number of liters per day that you want swapped out. The system has 2 pumps that are calibrated to each other. The system also uses standard 1/4" OD tubing. One pump adds water to the system and the second pump removes the same amount of water from your system. It breaks the water changes down into 150 cycles per day. It can do a minimum of 50mls per day to a maximum of 26 gallons per day. I will be doing around 5 gallons per day. The "waste" water from this system can be dumped down the drain or it can be used for example to flow through the Coral QT or Fish QT system. I started with the Spectrapure system, but switched to using 2 Versa pumps for doing my AWC. I have a GHL P4 system and I wanted that system to control the AWC function. So, I switched.

Heater and Heater Controller:

I have several already. Not sure what size heater I will need, but my controller can handle up to 800 watts. At the time I had an Apex 2016 system. I have since switched to the GHL P4. Additionally, I am using my tankless hot water system to control the heat in my aquariums. With a total system volume of around 600 gallons the tankless works a whole lot better. More on this later.

Return Pumps:

I will need 2 return pumps for the LR aquarium and 1 for the GR aquarium. I am looking at a few different DC powered pumps. The nice thing with the DC powered pumps is that they come with a controller to control the flow. No need to have ball valves installed on the return lines to control the flow. The DC pumps are more efficient since you run them at the rate of flow you want, vs an AC pump which runs at full power all the time and then you restrict the flow. For the GR aquarium I picked up a used EcoTech Vectra M1 DC pump. For me because of the height change from the pumps in the sump pit to the aquarium in addition to the distance the water has to flow, head loss is a major issue. I also called EcoTech and spoke with one of their engineers at length about return line length, return line diameter and material. That is one reason I went with the 1.5" high flex PVC hose. If I used hard PVC any elbows would add to my head pressure losses. I ended up going with 2 Jebao 20,000L return pumps for each tank. The Vectra pump was not going to handle the head pressure. The Jebao’s have no issue with the head pressure.

Filtration:

I plan on using an Aqueon sump that I have that has 2 - 4" sock holders built into it. I will plumb this into my big sump and have the water flow through it. I can have this 2nd sump on a stand which will make it easier to pull dirty socks and put in fresh ones. If I put sock holders into the big sump they would be harder to swap out since I would have to reach down into the 4' pit. I also plan on having my coral frag tank below the Aqueon sump, so the water will flow from the Aqueon sump into the coral frag and then back into the big sump. I will need another DC pump to make this part of the setup working. Another nice feature of the DC pumps is that they have a feed/maintenance button which either turns off or reduces the flow to a trickle for 10-30 minutes and then restarts flow automatically. Most also have a low water sensor and turns off the pump if it senses low water. I tried this and didn’t care for how it was working. I’m using a ClariSea SK-5000 roller mat for my filtration.

Coral frag tank and Coral QT:

I picked up 2 used 40 gallon breeder tanks that were already drilled and have overflow boxes installed. One will be used for my Coral frag as explained above.

The Coral QT will be setup on another rack. Just like new fish which need to be quarantined, corals also need to be quarantined. Corals can bring in a number of different parasites. I currently don't have a coral QT and ended up with what is called a Montipora eating nudibranch pest in my 45 gallon tank. It took months to rid my tank of the pest. In a 250 gallon aquarium, it would be a nightmare trying to eradicate a pest.

Fish QT:

I am going to use my current 45 gallon tank as my future fish QT system. Since I have all the supporting equipment; heaters, skimmer, filtration, etc. I’ve had a hard time with doing my own fish QT processes. I am now looking to purchase fish from someone online that does this day in and day out.

RO/DI system and Storage:

I picked up a used 75 gallon per day (gpd) BRS 5 stage RO/DI system. I had used when I was in a rental during the construction process. I added 3 individual meida canisters (Cation/Anion/DI) and turned it into a 7 stage system. I added a 2nd 75gpd RO membrane and I also picked up a water pressure booster pump. The higher the pressure on the RO membrane, the more efficient it runs. By adding the booster pump, I am able to get 200gpd. RO/DI water is used for both making fresh SW mix and for evaporation top off.

For the RO/DI water storage I am going to get a Norwesco vertical water storage tank. It will be a 105 gallon tank measuring 23" in diameter by 63" in height. This size will fit perfectly into one of the dead space areas I have. To automate the RO/DI process, Spectrapure makes a high/low control system for controlling the on/off water creation cycle. It also works with the water booster pump I have. When the low water sensor turns on it opens a solenoid on the water line and turns on the water booster pump. When the high water sensor turns on it turns off the solenoid and booster pump. I added a high, high water sensor that my P4 system watches. If the sensor was to trip, the P4 would kill power to my Spectrapure system to keep the RO/DI tank from overflowing.

The storage tank also comes with a bulkhead low on the tank. I am going to install a small water pump on it. The pump will be connected to a PVC line that the plumber will install in the wall with an on/off valve. When I want to fill my SW mixing bucket (50 gallon Brute can), I will have a switch on the wall that is connected to a switched outlet that the small pump will be plugged into. It will make filling my SW mixing bucket or getting RO/DI water for other uses easier. The Norwesco 105 gallon storage tanks worked out perfectly.

Salt Water (SW) Storage Tank:

The SW storage tank will be the same type of Norwesco water storage tank as the RO/DI system. I will also have a small pump installed on the bulkhead on this tank. It will also be on a switched outlet setup. The pump on this tank will run most of the time to keep the SW mix in motion. There will be times when I need to fill for example my fish QT setup. I will have several valves and hose on this setup so that I can pump the SW where I need it. I will be able to control the flow with the wall switch. The AWC system will pull fresh SW water from this tank to perform the AWC cycles. Instead of mixing the SW in a separate bucket and filling the SW storage tank, I plumbed the SW tank with a pump. I use the pump to transfer water from the RO/DI storage to the SW storage and then use the same pump to mix the water and salt. I ended up using the Vectra pump that I was going to use as the return pump for the GR tank. The Vectra pump is connected to a power outlet on my P4 and I and set the amount of time I want the pump to run.

Other Equipment:

AER Active Venting:


One concern I had for the AER was humidity buildup. The whole house will be using open cell spray foam for insulation, and this room will be using a closed cell spray foam in all the walls including the adjoining walls with the house. My HVAC guy installed a separate venting system for this room. Initially it will be on an on/off switch or timer. If needed I can take out the switch and install a humidistat switch. Also, the entire house will have an automatic fresh air exchange system to bring in fresh air into house and exhaust stale air. I tried a humidistat switch and that didn’t work as expected. At some point I want to add a 12Vdc relay and control the vent system from my P4. The P4 has an air temperature/humidity probe that I installed into it. Depending on the temperature or humidity in the room I have a circulation fan that moves the air around in the room to help. With the high ceilings, the humidity and heat get trapped up near the ceiling. The fan equalizes the conditions in the room.

Sink:

Nothing special here. I have a wall mounted utility sink.

Floor Sink Drain:

You see these types of floor drains in commercial applications. It looks like a mini sink in the floor. I also installed one of these under the FR aquarium.

Washing Machine Hook Up and Drain:

My builder suggested this. I can use the drain it has and it also gives me a hot and cold water connection that I can hook a garden hose to. The connections have come in handy for washing out quarantine tanks or even hosing the floor down. Since the floor is concrete, I had the guy who coated my garage floor coat the floor in the fish room with the same stuff. It worked out great. The finish is even salt resistant.

RO/DI Feed Water Connection:

My RO/DI system is mounted higher up on the wall. The cold water hookup was also plumbed near it to make it easier to connect the RO/DI system. This was a suggestion by my plumber. So he ran the cold water connection high up on the wall.
 
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KenO

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Ok now on to the most important room, Yes my Aquarium Equipment Room (AER). The room is 10' long x 8' wide. This was taken when the room was under construction.
View looking into room.
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RO/DI Water Storage location.

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Mixed SW Storage location.

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Monster Sump. Need I say more. It's 4'Lx30"Wx4'D

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This view shows where my RO/DI System will mount high on the wall. I will have a wall mounted sink below the windows.

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All the walls and ceiling of the AER have closed cell spray foam insulation in them, even the interior wall with the Casita. That's the wall to the right of the floor sump with the 2 indentations for the RO/DI and SW storage tanks. The difference between open cell and closed cell is that the closed cell prevents moisture from passing through it. So any moisture in the room stays there. The HVAC company I used installed a vent system for the AER. Initially I tried a humidistat switch, but it wasn't working correctly so I installed a Wemo Wifi switch. I have the switch set to run for 3 hours if I press it or turn it on remotely. At some point I want to install a 120Vac relay switch that can be controlled by my GHL P4 controller. I have an air temperature/humidity probe installed in the P4. I also installed a washing machine hookup box to the right of the sink. It will allow me to hook up a garden hose and it also has a drain built in.
 
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The concrete sump. So for this section I am going to post a bunch of pictures showing the progression of getting the sump ready to hold water.

When the sump was first poured the concrete was pristine. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. At that point in time I should have had the builder put a wooden board over the top of it and sealed it shut. I didn't so I had to spend a lot of time in the sump cleaning all the buildup of material from the construction process. Also the walls and floor of the sump had excess concrete which had squeezed between the forms and there were blobs of concrete on the floor of the sump.

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There was only one way to get the sump prepped and ready, yes I had to climb down into it and use a heavy duty scraper, a wire brush, a 3lb hammer and rock splitting chisels. My shop vac vacuum worked overtime too.

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There I am, thinking what the heck am I doing in this hole in the ground. Behind me and to the right in the picture is my temporary RO/DI setup. On the other side of the fish room, I had a 3 tank setup holding all my fish and corals that moved over from the rental we were living in.
Little did I know at the time the best was yet to come......

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The PVC flex hoses that are the return and drain lines for my tanks needed some work to seal them before the real fun was to begin. So I bought a bunch of flex seal tubes and went about sealing the gaps around the flex hoses.

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Remember that fun part I was talking about. Yeah, now it was time to seal the concrete. I debated over using a pond liner or a liquid product. I decided to go with the liquid product. It was not fun. Eventhough the product when cured is safe, while it was drying it smelled up the entire house for a couple of weeks. It was hot outside during the day. I would work in the early morning while I could have the windows open and I had fans everywhere. Then I had to close the house up during the day because it was hot. I would then open the house back up at night with the fans going all night long.

Now working in the pit as I called it was bad. The fumes would sink to the bottom of the pit and yes there I was in the bottom of the pit applying the product with a brush. I used disposable brushes so when I was finished the brushes went straight outside in the trash. I ended up doing 4 coats on the walls. I did 2 black coats first and then 2 white coats. I wanted the white finish so that I could see if I dropped something in the pit I could find it again. For the floor of the sump I poured the contents of the cans right onto the floor and used a squeegee to spread it out. I used 2 gallons of black and 2 gallons of white on the floor. The product went on thick on the floor which is what I wanted, but it took several days for the black to full dry prior to applying the white which then took several more days. I had to use fans pointing down to blow the fumes up and out of the pit. The vent system in the room was left on during the whole time. Still the house smelled. My wife and I don't talk about this part of the build process. Yes, it is best forgotten.

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The finished sump pit. Now you don't see one of these everyday. Where I have it set with the water height, it holds about 150 gallons or so. I don't need to worry about it overflowing when the tanks are off, but I did install flapper valves on the outlets of the pumps and shutoff union valves. I'll go into the pumps and equipment in a future post. Also its not an optical illusion, the back wall of the pit has a bow or wave in it. The boards holding the concrete almost blew out when the concrete was added.

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I'm going to fast forward to the 250 gallon aquarium install in our family room. This was back in October 2018. I had a LFS do the install for me. My aquariums and stands were built by CDA in California.

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Here is a set of videos of the tank being placed on the stand.


Drain and Return lines under the tank.

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If the tank is big enough, you have to climb in. I needed to check the pipes in the overflow. No other way to do it.

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Here is the sump pit showing the pumps installed and water going in to test for any water leaks. I have 4 Jebao DCP-20000 pumps. 2 for the 250 gallon tank and 2 for the 130 gallon tank. I will have to post the 130 gallon tank in another post.


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I mounted the power supplies and pump controllers on the wall above the sump pit.

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KenO

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The 130 gallon aquarium install happened on the same day as the 250 gallon tank. It was a much easier install for the installers.

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My RO/DI and SW storage containers. I picked up from a local supply company 2 Norwesco 105 gallon water storage containers. I have the 2 indents in the fish room one for each of the storage containers. The containers are 23" in diameter and just barely fit into the openings. I cleaned the storage containers in the garage and tested the bottom bulkhead fitting for leaks before installing them in the fish room.

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The pump I was going to use was way to small, so the plumbing setup changed when I moved the storage containers into the fish room.

This is the storage container for the RO/DI water. It fit without too many issues, we did scrape the wall to the right a little getting it in place.

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This is the storage container for the SW storage. Well it was suppose to go into the other indent in the room, but we couldn't get the tank into the opening with the temporary fish tanks and the copper piping coming from the big blue filter housing on the wall. So initially the SW storage had to sit next to the sump pit until the temporary tanks were moved.

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Final plumbing until it was moved into its final location. I used the repair couplings to make it easier later to move the storage container.

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To help keep the RO tubing at the bottom of the storage containers, I used large PVC pipe caps and drilled a hole to hold the RO tight in place. The PVC pipe caps sink so the ends of the RO tubing stay at the bottom of the storage containers.

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With my sump pit being concrete, I needed a way to hold my Spectrapure ATO sensor. I came up with this design. I used PVC pipe and I mounted an acrylic sheet to it using nylon screws. I could then use a magnetic probe holder to hold the sensor in place.

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For the 250 gallon setup, I built the led light system for it. The system consists of 4 individual led lights. I will do a larger post on the led lights later. Right now I am controlling the lights using 4 Bluefish controllers. I have plans on upgrading the lights to work with my P4 controller and I also want to add some additional led wavelengths to my existing colors. Here are a few pictures of that system and how it looks above the tank.

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For my 130 gallon setup. I am currently using 2 Ecotech Radion Gen 4 non pro and 1 Gen 3. When the tank was first setup I only had the 2 Gen 4 lights over the tank. My future plans are to upgrade to 2 of the Mitras Lx7206.

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So far this journey has been anything but smooth. My tanks have struggled to support corals, and I've struggled and there has been days where I've wanted to give up. But I am still here and still going on this project, or is it an obsession? lol.

Here is a list of some of the issues I've had.

When we moved into the new house from the rental we were in, I had a 45 gallon cube tank. I wanted to keep the corals and fish I had. If I had to do it again, I would have sold all the livestock and not had any temporary tanks to begin with. This would have allowed me to focus on the new tanks and the work needed to get them running. In the end I lost most of the livestock I was trying to save during a tank crash of the temporary setup.

I used a sealant product on my concrete pit. I think it would have been easier and a lot less smelly if I had used a pond liner product to seal the concrete.

I was using Tropic Marin Pro salt and switched to Brightwell's NeoMarine. I eventually had issues with the NeoMarine salt and switched back to the TM Pro salt. My total system volume is 600 gallons. It takes a lot of big water changes to fix an issue like that.

Having tunnel vision when you are having an issue. I've been struggling to keep corals alive in my new setup for any length of time. Things started out just fine, but changing salts gave me a major setback. Then I did a number of ICP tests on my tank and RO/DI water and found high levels of Tin. This is where the tunnel vision comes in. I was so focused on that Tin was what was killing my corals that I missed other data in the report, mainly salinity levels. By missing that, I didn't see that my digital refractometer was not reading correctly and my salinity level has been too low for months. I also ran microbiome tests also thinking I had some deadly bacteria in my tanks. So this leads to not trusting what your other equipment is telling you. I had an Apex system prior to getting my current setup which is the GHL P4. I ignored the conductivity probe on my Apex because I could never get it to calibrate correctly. So with the P4 and I actually have two P4 systems, I installed and calibrated the conductivity probes on both setups and they were reading low at 50ms. Since the conductivity probe didn't work correctly on the Apex, I just assumed it was the same with the probes on the the P4. When I finally looked at the salinity levels and I had both Triton ICP and ATI reports and both of them were showing low salinity, so I took a closer look at my salinity level. Through testing, I determined my Digital Refractometer while it was saying 1.026, the level was 1.024. Guess what both my P4 conductivity probes were reading 50ms each which translates to the 1.024 reading. I had some 53ms conductivity solution and tested my conductivity probes and they read that solution correctly. So I corrected my low salinity and guess what my corals are now looking so much better and I'm seeing new growth on some.

When I mounted my LED lights and the heatsinks I'm using are heavy, I used anchor bolts to hold the lights in place. One morning I came out and my one heatsink is barely hanging and one end of it is now underwater. Luckily the power to the unit was off at the time. Plus the end that fell into the water just missed the eurobrace on the tank. That could have been a disaster. Not sure if this was related but a few days later I had a funky fungus outbreak in the tank and lost my blue hippo tank and 5 royal grammas. If I had taken the time to mount proper supports for the lights, I wouldn't have had these issues.

At the same time that I was having salt related issues, I ended up with a green mat that completely covered my sand in both the 250 and 130 gallon tanks. I tried siphoning the sand and removing the mat to only have it return again and again. As part of my microbiome testing, I decided to use Chemiclean to see if it would alter the bacteria and bacteria levels in my tanks. When you get desperate, you will try most anything. As a side effect the Chemiclean killed the green mat even though the green mat was not cyanobacteria. The green mat was not spirulina either. I sent in a sample of the mat for testing. I'm still waiting on the results.

So as you can see it's been a struggle, but now I think things are moving in the right direction.

I need to look through my pictures on my phone and continue with this journey.......
 

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