NXE's Red Sea Reefer Peninsula 500

NXE

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NXE's Red Sea Reefer Peninsula 500 Build Thread

Introduction
Hello and welcome to my build thread! This is my first post on R2R, although I have been monitoring the forums for the last 1.5 years gathering inspiration and information about the hobby. I am a new reefer, based in London, UK, and this is my first reef tank. It is also my first large aquarium, having previously kept a couple of freshwater nano planted tanks. My tank is now just over one year old and starting to become established, although very much far from complete in terms of stocking. I have kept records and taken photographs throughout my build process with the intention of putting together a build thread once I had something worth sharing. Now that the hardware side of my build is largely complete, I feel that moment has come.

In terms of what you can expect from this build thread, my build is heavy on DIY, 3d printing and open-source software. The tank is controlled by reef-pi (using the Robo-Tank controller from @robsworld78) for which I have developed a custom touchscreen interface (I will be making the code for this available soon). I will be sharing .stl files for all 3d printed parts as I go along. Stay tuned if this is of interest you.

To begin with, here are some pictures of my tank as it stands today:

In situ

IMG_20210726_131230.jpg

IMG_20210726_131055.jpg


FTS

IMG_20210726_131156.jpg


Sump/cabinet closeup


IMG_20210726_131038.jpg


Livestock

IMG_20210726_131330.jpg
 
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NXE

NXE

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Tank Selection and Assembly

Selection
I'm sure a question that many of you have is why pick a peninsula tank and put it against a wall???
There were a few reasons I decided to go with the Peninsula 500:

  1. It gave me the most water volume for the space available. When we moved into our apartment, my girlfriend (now wife) agreed that I could have a large tank and there was an alcove in our living room that naturally lent itself to an aquarium:
    IMG_20190126_172812.jpg


    The alcove is 140cm wide, meaning that I would sadly be limited to a 4 foot tank (at least for now!). At the time (2019), the only real options available in the UK for a modern rimless reef tank were Red Sea and Evolution Aqua. After comparing the two, I decided to go with Red Sea as I preferred to sump design. That left me with a choice between the Reefer XL 425 and the Peninsula 500. While the dimensions of the tanks are similar, the Peninsula 500 is slightly larger in every dimension (it is 5cm wider and taller and 2.5cm deeper) and has a greater total water volume (500 litres / 132 gallons vs 422 litres / 112 gallons).
  2. I prefer having the overflow hidden to the side of the tank rather than in the centre. I was determined to avoid the 'wall of rocks' type of scape and create something more akin to the 'two islands' style design. I felt that the side overflow of the Peninsula 500 would help create the aesthetic I was looking for and give a more natural look.
  3. I also prefer having a clear back panel. Again, I feel that it looks more natural to have clear glass for the backpanel rather than a black background. Of course, I have come to learn the difficulty of keeping a glass backpanel clear without easy access to the rear of the tank! For now I have decided to let coraline cover the backpanel and ultimately think that I want to cover the back with gsp.
Assembly
Have made the decision to go with the Peninsula 500, the tank was ordered and assembled in the summer of 2019. We were still busy decorating the apartment at the time, so the tank sat empty for a few months while we completed that and I learned as much as I could in the meantime about reef keeping and read build threads here for inspiration. The assembly itself was straightforward. Here is the tank in its stock configuration:
DSC06605.JPG

DSC06609.JPG
 
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NXE

NXE

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heck yeah man!
I bought a reef pi years ago but not being a techie never got it going. but glad to hear you will be rocking one.

I also have a RS peninsula tank such cool tanks.
Thanks Devaji! Your build thread was one of my inspirations – I wish I had space for a 650! When I first got my 500 I thought that it was huge, but the further I get into the hobby the more the desire for something bigger grows...

Yeah, reef-pi is a bit intimidating at first, but the Robo-Tank controller makes the hardware basically plug and play and @robsworld78 has published some excellent guides on setting up the software. Being open source means that it is easy to customise and extend functionality, so I can have things like alerts delivered via Telegram and metrics displayed in grafana.

Here is a sneak peak of the touchscreen interface I have developed:
1627379482885.png


1627379467314.png

1627379497440.png
 
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mike89t

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Thanks Devaji! Your build thread was one of my inspirations – I wish I had space for a 650! When I first got my 500 I thought that it was huge, but the further I get into the hobby the more the desire for something bigger grows...

Yeah, reef-pi is a bit intimidating at first, but the Robo-Tank controller makes the hardware basically plug and play and @robsworld78 has published some excellent guides on setting up the software. Being open source means that it is easy to customise and extend functionality, so I can have things like alerts delivered via Telegram and metrics displayed in grafana.

Here is a sneak peak of the touchscreen interface I have developed:
1627379482885.png


1627379467314.png

1627379497440.png
Very slick!!!!
 
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NXE

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Initial Equipment Selection

Most of the core pieces of equipment for my tank were purchased in late 2019. At that stage, I was not thinking about running an aquarium controller, so I picked items individually based on reviews rather than going with any particular system. Most of my initial purchases remain in use, but I have since swapped out a couple of items. Here is the initial haul, largely picked up in the Black Friday sales:
1627933897790.png


Return pump: EcoTech Vectra M1 – I picked this up second hand and it has been running flawlessly for the last year and a bit. I have no real complaints about the pump – it runs very quietly and I like the ease of connecting it to a battery backup (more on this later), but when I come to replace it I will likely go for one of the Reef Octopus VarioS return pumps for the 0–10V control input.

Skimer: Reef Octopus Classic 150-INT – I went with a fairly basic AC skimmer that is rated for my tank size. This being my first tank, I didn't want to spend too much of my equipment budget on an oversized expensive skimmer (the 150-INT was about £150 whereas the identically sized DC Regal-150 is close to £500). I have been very happy with the performance of the INT-150 – once I got it dialed in it runs consistently without requiring adjustment and pulls out a good amount of waste. The noise is acceptable and not particularly audible with the cabinet doors closed (I have it on a silicone matt to absorb vibrations).

Lighting: Red Sea ReefLED 90 x 3 – These don't appear to be very popular on R2F compared to the Radions, but I have been very happy with these lights. My plan is to create a mixed reef, so I knew that I wouldn't need complete coverage for wall-to-wall SPS or very high intensity. The ReefLEDs had recently been released when I was making my purchases and I was persuaded to go for them by the good review from BRStv and the fact that the spectrum is managed so that you only need to pick the colour temperature that you like. I also liked that they have built in wifi and are a single lens design, meaning there is no 'disco ball' effect. While I cannot comment on how these lights grow coral compared to others, the lights make my corals look great, have a nice shimmer and the ReefBeat app has good functionality and reliability.

Filtration: Clarisea SK-5000 – I also picked this up second hand for about half its retail price. I knew that I would not have time to swap out and wash filter socks every few days (nor would my wife let me wash them in the machine!), so I decided to go with a filter roller from the outset. The Clarisea does a great job at keeping my tank's water clear, but I have had a few issues with it which have required some modifications. My unit is a v.1 Gen2 and the issues seem to have been resolved in more recent versions.

ATO: Tunze Osmolator (now replaced with reef-pi) – I bought the Tunze because of its reputation for reliability but subsequently replaced it with a DIY controller using reef-pi. While I have no complaints about the Tunze's reliability, there were some annoyances, particularly the fact that there is no easy way to disable it (short of unplugging it) when performing a water change and the lack of any ability to monitor it remotely. The Tunze is also very expensive for what it is – for comparison, it costs the same as my RoboTank deluxe controller and accompanying Raspberry Pi, which is a complete aquarium controller.

Heating: Eheim Jager 250W x 2 – I used Eheim heaters on my previous freshwater tanks and found them to be very reliable. Warning – the 250W units are very long! They fit horizontally in the Red Sea sump, but it is a bit of a squeeze.

Heating controller: Inkbird ITC-308S x 2 – I had these already from my freshwater tanks. While I could now control the heaters using reef-pi, I prefer to use standalone controllers for maximum reliability. The Inkbirds are set up in a redundant configuration controlling one heater each, with one unit set 1 degree lower than the other so that it should only come on if the other fails. I monitor the temperature separately with reef-pi, so will be alerted if it deviates from my set range.

Wavemakers: IceCap 4K Gyre x 2 – These were not purchased until some time later in 2020 and had to be imported from the US as they are not available here in the UK (the Maxspect gyres are, but not with the IceCap controller). My original plan had been to go with MP40s to match the Vectra M1, but with further research I came to understand that the MP40s would not work well for a peninsula tank if both on the same side as they will not reach the far end. I have been happy with the gyres once I got them set up properly, particularly with the updated Hydros app which now has some good presets and is much more reliable. I will detail how I run these in a later post.

These are only the main pieces of equipment running on my tank. I have added many more items as my build has progressed, which I will detail in subsequent posts.
 

Ranjib

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Stellar equipment choice :)
i went with titanium heater this time. Eheim has always been my go to.
I'll recommend considering the "alert on failure" and "disable on alert" features to ensure the pump stops and you get notified when things go south.
One thing i liked from reef-pi ATO is the ability to see how much water is being poured and when. That along with my ambient temp/humidity pattern gives me a good idea of what the situation is, as they should always be in harmony. When things deteriorate, they diverge. And you should be able to diagnose (ato pump issue or any other type of changes),. Another tangential benefit of knowing how much RO water is being transferred is that I can calculate certain doesing elements (like tropic marine all in one or soda ash etc) and supply them straight through ato.
 
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NXE

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Stellar equipment choice :)
i went with titanium heater this time. Eheim has always been my go to.
I'll recommend considering the "alert on failure" and "disable on alert" features to ensure the pump stops and you get notified when things go south.
One thing i liked from reef-pi ATO is the ability to see how much water is being poured and when. That along with my ambient temp/humidity pattern gives me a good idea of what the situation is, as they should always be in harmony. When things deteriorate, they diverge. And you should be able to diagnose (ato pump issue or any other type of changes),. Another tangential benefit of knowing how much RO water is being transferred is that I can calculate certain doesing elements (like tropic marine all in one or soda ash etc) and supply them straight through ato.
Thanks Ranjib! I love the power of the reef-pi ATO function. I have a couple of optical sensors in my return pump compartment and a float switch as a backup. I also have a pair of float switches in my ATO reservoir to alert me when it is high/low.

Another great feature of reef-pi is the prometheus support for metrics export. I have a grafana dashboard which shows my ATO usage/status and sends alerts via Telegram:

1627984417923.png

1627984475497.png
 
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Sump Modifications

1. Removing the filter socks
The first modification that I made to the Red Sea sump was to remove the filter sock holders so that I could fit the Clarisea filter roller. I used a scalpel to cut through the silcone holding the sock drawers in place, being careful not to damage the glass. It took a while to clean up after removing the silicone but this process was relatively straightforward:
1628021623956.png


Test fitting the Clarisea in the former filter sock compartment:
1628022270408.png


2. Wrapping the sump
After seeing a few other builds where the bottom of the sump had been painted white to improve visibility, I decided that I would remove the stock black foam base (which I re-attached to the cabinet floor so that the sump would still have some cushioning) and wrap the sump with adhesive vinyl. As my Reef Octopus skimmer has red accents, I decided to go with a red vinyl for the base and contrast it with white vinyl for the sides.

The first step was removing the adhesive which had held the stock foam in place. This was a complete PITA to remove and took several razor blades and lots of isopropanol + elbow grease to remove all the residue:
1628022320691.png

1628022367803.png


Vinyl applied to the base:
1628022468033.png


Top down view:
1628022551173.png


With some equipment test fitted:
1628022648021.png


Wrapping the sides:
1628022731564.png

1628022742831.png

1628022778775.png


And here is the wrapped sump re-installed in the cabinet:
1628023001386.png


I am very pleased with the way that the sump turned out and feel that the red brights up the sump area and gives it a more consistent visual style.
 
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Ranjib

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Sump Modifications

1. Removing the filter socks
The first modification that I made to the Red Sea sump was to remove the filter sock holders so that I could fit the Clarisea filter roller. I used a scalpel to cut through the silcone holding the sock drawers in place, being careful not to damage the glass. It took a while to clean up after removing the silicone but this process was relatively straightforward:
1628021623956.png


Test fitting the Clarisea in the former filter sock compartment:
1628022270408.png


2. Wrapping the sump
After seeing a few other builds where the bottom of the sump had been painted white to improve visibility, I decided that I would remove the stock black foam base (which I re-attached to the cabinet floor so that the sump would still have some cushioning) and wrap the sump with adhesive vinyl. As my Reef Octopus skimmer has red accents, I decided to go with a red vinyl for the base and contrast it with white vinyl for the sides.

The first step was removing the adhesive which had held the stock foam in place. This was a complete PITA to remove and took several razor blades and lots of isopropanol + elbow grease to remove all the residue:
1628022320691.png

1628022367803.png


Vinyl applied to the base:
1628022468033.png


Top down view:
1628022551173.png


With some equipment test fitted:
1628022648021.png


Wrapping the sides:
1628022731564.png

1628022742831.png

1628022778775.png


And here is the wrapped sump re-installed in the cabinet:
1628023001386.png


I am very pleased with the way that the sump turned out and feel that the red brights up the sump area and gives it a more consistent visual style.
It looks awesome. it make huge difference in visibility.
 
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NXE

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Plumbing Modifications

1. Replacing the diaphragm valve
The Red Sea Reefer tanks come with pre-made plumbing, but based on widespread reports that the stock diaphragm valve on the main drain requires frequent adjustment and cleaning to maintain a consistent water level in the overflow box, I decided to replace it with a gate valve. There are numerous guides on how to replace the stock valve on the regular Reefer series tanks, but the Peninsula 500's plumbing is different so I created my own solution.

Here is the stock pipework and valve:
1628797153260.png


I wanted to retain the stock bulkhead connector since as far as I know those are proprietary, but there did not appear to be sufficient exposed pipe above the stock valve that I could simply cut the old valve off and replace it. As a result, I decided to cut the stock piping halfway along the horizontal segment (where the black line is marked) and re-do everything to the right of the black line shown above.

Here are the new pieces laid out before cementing:
1628797625096.png


As you can see, I used a 32mm coupler to attach the new pipework to the remainder of the stock pipe. Metric pipework is standard here in the UK, so it was easy to purchase a 32mm gate valve and associated parts.

Here is the newly cemented part:
1628797855982.png


2. Spray painting the pipework
I then primed and spray painted all of the pipework in red to continue the theme of my build.

All threaded parts were protected before spraying:
1628798037793.png


The painted parts:
1628798102406.png


The finish is not 100% perfect in some places, but good enough for my purposes.

Installed on the tank:
1628798212465.png

1628798266589.png


3. Hard plumbing the return
I wanted to hard plumb my return to avoid any possibility of it becoming disconnected. Hard plumbing the Vectra M1 to the stock return pipe was surprisingly straightforward. The outlet of the M1 will mate to the top half of a 25mm union and the stock Red Sea return plumbing accepts a 3/4" BSP thread.

I used a 3/4" BSP thread to 25mm slip connector, 25mm pipe and a 25mm union to connect the M1 to the stock plumbing:

1628798682647.png


I also spray painted the inlet connector of the M1 red to match everything else. Red isn't even my favourite colour, but once you start it's hard to stop... :oops::oops:
 

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