My first reef tank is a Crystal Dynamics 250 gallon build.

Don Lidtke

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The time has come for me to venture into the realm of a build thread, so, here goes.


A little history about how I got here. My Love and I decided that if we were to get involved with our only grandsons life that we needed to be closer to him. This lead to the decision that we needed to move from the Silicon Valley in CA to the Salt Lake City area of Utah. During the process of finding a new home My Love and I had a discussion about what I would like to do in my retirement. I wasn't really sure. I had gone back to college and started working on a 4 year degree in something other than computers. I had just retired from the 24/7 lifestyle that comes with being a sysadmin and neither of us wanted to deal with that anymore, 35 years was sufficient.


My Love was the one that reminded me of the saltwater fish only tank I had run 25 years ago and wondered if now would be a good time to set up another tank. Honestly, I had put this out of my mind when I took down the tank and gave it away to a friend. Now would be the perfect time to do so. With that in mind we started talking about where a tank would go, the size and type of tank. With the advent of technological improvements, the wealth of knowledge available on the internet and the fact that my personality is in details it seemed a reef tank should be in our future.


Another huge advantage to moving to UT was basements! Nearly every home we looked at had one. It also became apparent that an unfinished basement would be ideal. After an exhaustive search we came upon the house we currently own. Everything we needed for our aging bodies was on the main level and the basement was a clean slate to be designed to our likes.


What follows are the pictures of the transformation of the downstairs of our new home. A side note, I was chidid by a very close friend after she saw the completed basement, that we were no longer allowed to call it a basement because basements did not look like ours. It would be referred to henceforth as the downstairs.


The first two pictures are the start of the remodel, nothing but studs, but that is a pretty good place to start.
Fish Room Build 1.jpg
Fish Room Build 2.jpg


The pass thru into the fish room so that I can run “stuff” between the tank and fish room.
Fish Room Build3.jpg

The plumbing for the sink.

I built a house in 1980 where I had to cut and sweat copper pipes but today with SharkBites and PEX piping, wow, things are so much faster and hassle free. Oh ya, no leaks!
Fish Room Build4.jpg


Hardie board being installed. What marvelous stuff!
Fish Room Build5.jpg
Fish Room Build6.jpg

Power and networking installed.
Fish Room Build7.jpg


Sheetrock and taping done. The job is almost complete!
Fish Room Build8.jpg


The painting is done so now I can start on the actual fishroom work.
Fish Room Build8a.jpg



Time to start painting. I am a bit of an odd duck in that I enjoy taping. It started back when I was helping a buddy with his body shop, way back in my youth. He said he needed someone to help and I was available so I said I could help out. He asked if I had any experience, which I did not, but he tossed me a roll of masking tape and asked me to lay a line done. He was shocked at how I did it and said I must have done that before because I started the tape and run the run the entire length without a break. He said that most people would tear a piece off and than lay it down. I started working for him, he showed me the tricks of the trade and I was his taper. In fact I was hired out to the other guys in the shop ,when things were slow, or they had a car they did not want to tape. Anyone for a 1965 Cadillac with the full chrome package? All that chrome, I was in heaven! So ya, a bit of an odd duck...lol!
Fish Room Build9.jpg

My Love chose the colors because I was ready to go with Navy camo. This is a much better choice!
Fish Room Build10.jpg


And DONE! I was very happy with the outcome.
Fish Room Build11.jpg
Fish Room Build12.jpg


Time for some storage...
Fish Room Build13.jpg
Fish Room Build14.jpg


Ready to start building the water storage...
Fish Room Build15.jpg
Fish Room Build16.jpg
Fish Room Build17.jpg
Fish Room Build18.jpg
Fish Room Build19.jpg
 
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Don Lidtke

Don Lidtke

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The work bench, and shelving unit for the quarantine tanks are in place. Time to start looking into setting up the QT's.
Fish Room Build21.jpg


The quarantine tanks got to be very involved, far more than just 25 gallon glass box. I wanted to experiment with a smaller body of water before forging ahead to my main tank. This has worked out exactly as planned. I made a bunch of mistakes while setting up the QT’s and I have not regretted the complexity I built into them.
Coral QT Tank Equipment .jpg


Being a retired sysadmin I must have my controller and toys, err, modules. I went with the Classic to just get my feet wet with this stuff. It worked out well for me.
QT Apex Build.jpg


Finally the QT's are up and running!
QT Running1.jpg


I started researching a reef tank by reading books, a bunch of books, and discovered that nearly every author had the best way to setup a reef tank. I would need to be careful about what system/information I would chose to follow.

I came across the Red Sea systems and was impressed with them. At the time the largest tank was the Max S-650. I did a YouTube search on the tank and came across such a variety of other videos. I was overwhelmed. In that collection of videos I ran across this channel called BRS, Bulk Reef Supply. They had just started a series called “52 Weeks of Reefing” and it was extremely informative. A side note, it’s been a pleasure watching Ryan change from the stiff, non-animated presenter, to the live stream host he is today.

Sometime later I came across Tidal Gardens. Than’s presentations were a joy to watch with a great deal of helpful information. More books were read, more videos were watched and more research on tanks.

Along the way Red Sea came out with XXL 750 and that was my new tank of desire. I put together an extensive equipment list and cost analysis based mostly from the BRS site. I really like the idea that they were reefers and sold stuff they would use on their personnel tanks. Ok, I was a little biased because they are located in my home state and rather enjoyed hearing the MN accent. Another aside if I may, riddle me this; why is MN my home state when I haven’t lived there for more than 40 years? Both my wife I have still have the majority of our families there so we always smile when we call MN our home. Back to the story…

Enter MACNA 2018. This would be my first MACNA and since Las Vegas is only a 6 hour drive from our current home My Love and I thought it would be a great road trip. An excellent chance to see more of this amazing state of Utah. Yet another side note, there are areas here in Utah where the only sign of humanity is the Interstate road we were on. There were no fences, no power lines, no billboards, not a single indication of humanity for as far as the eye could see. That was a first for me! Even in northern MN there would be powerlines running along the road when there was nothing else but trees.

I was blown away by what I saw there; amazing stuff, everywhere! Here is where I came across the tank and sump of my dreams. While more expensive than the XXL 750 a custom tank from Crystal Dynamic (72x30x27) and a sump from Geosreef (46RD-PRO-AFR) were the setup I had been looking for. The order was placed several months later and I took delivery of this system the 11 January 2019.

The gorgeous sump!
Geosreef1.jpg
Geosreef2.jpg
Geosreef3.jpg
Geosreef4.jpg


The tank is HERE!
Tank HERE!1.jpg
Tank HERE!2.jpg
Tank HERE!3.jpg


With the help of family and great friends the tank is being moved downstairs!
Tank Move1.jpg
Tank Move2.jpg


Here the beauty sits. I really can't believe that this is my tank!
Tank w Doors On.jpg
 
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Don Lidtke

Don Lidtke

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Love your fish room! This is going to be epic! Well done Don!!
Thanks Dave. When I moved to Utah I never thought I would have a neighbor who was as knowledgeable or fun to be around as you. Your wisdom and encouragement are greatly appreciated.[emoji16]
 
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Don Lidtke

Don Lidtke

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Right after the tank was ordered I ordered 140 pounds of MarcoRocks Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock from BRS. I started curing them shortly after they arrived.

Rocks1.jpg
Rocks2.jpg
Rocks3.jpg
Rocks4.jpg
Rocks5.jpg
Rocks6.jpg
Rocks7.jpg



With the tank in place it’s time to connect all these additional pieces I have laying around. The drains seem like a reasonable place to start.

Overflow and Return Drains Started.jpg



The returns are going to have Apex flowmeters so I need to get those installed as well.

Flowmeters - Return lines - 1.jpg



With the addition of the UV Sterilizer and Protein Skimmer the sump is nearly complete.

Sump Nearly Done - 1.jpg
Sump Nearly Done - 2.jpg
Sump Nearly Done - 3.jpg
 
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Right after the tank was ordered I ordered 140 pounds of MarcoRocks Reef Saver Aquarium Dry Live Rock from BRS. I started curing them shortly after they arrived.

Rocks1.jpg
Rocks2.jpg
Rocks3.jpg
Rocks4.jpg
Rocks5.jpg
Rocks6.jpg
Rocks7.jpg



With the tank in place it’s time to connect all these additional pieces I have laying around. The drains seem like a reasonable place to start.

Overflow and Return Drains Started.jpg



The returns are going to have Apex flowmeters so I need to get those installed as well.

Flowmeters - Return lines - 1.jpg



With the addition of the UV Sterilizer and Protein Skimmer the sump is nearly complete.

Sump Nearly Done - 1.jpg
Sump Nearly Done - 2.jpg
Sump Nearly Done - 3.jpg
This thing is crazy! I love it!
 
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Don Lidtke

Don Lidtke

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The black and grey looks very sharp. The cords kind of disappear.
Thanks! I was thinking I was being a bit silly with running the cords inside flex covers because it's a bit of a pain to deal with but in the end I like the cleaner look so I will deal with the inconvenience of the covers, at least for now.
 

Hemmdog

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Thanks Hemmdog.

Might I ask about the username, where did that come from?
Lol yea. My last name is Hemmer. In college I acquired the nickname, it kinda stuck amongst my friends haha.
Well longer story I was a pledge in a fraternity at the time and one of the brothers called me Hemmpuppy for some reason, then once I finished pledging some people started calling me Hemmdog, still not totally sure why, haha. More catchy than Chemmer(Chris Hemmer) (my old username for stuff) I suppose.
 
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Don Lidtke

Don Lidtke

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Amazing build !!! Following>>>
Thanks spyder813! Your build look great and the upgrade sounds like it's going to be a fair amount of work with removing the shower and wall. Best to you as this progresses!
 
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