Reef Rehabilitation 29g cube and equipment room build

gatohoser

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Well, 10 years have passed since my last attempt at a reef tank at least. Maybe more. But now I have a house, a wife, and two little girls who will love to see a reef bloom in their home. I bought this house five years ago with the specific intention that it would one day be able to support a large reef tank that I was never able to attain as a student.

I kept busy for the first year with my African Cichlid peacock 4' tank. Here's some shots from that:
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That only lasted a year. Then I was ready to pull the trigger and bought a used 280g acrylic tank and stand and all of its equipment for a steal. I was ready to set it up with an under-stand sump and forgo my dream of an equipment room due to some funky design of my house. When I had a more experienced reefer look over the tank for me, he pointed out a couple bad bubbles in the tank and convinced me I wasn't going to enjoy the 280 gallons of saltwater on the floor of my new house. Having had a tank flood in my teen years which nearly destroyed a whole floor of a house, I wasn't about to do that to my new home. So I sold the tank and stand and kept the equipment and managed to recover my costs plus a bunch of equipment to store for the next attempt one day in the future.....Here it was in all its giant glory.

IMG_8935.JPG


The next disaster came when I bought a nice 24"x24"x12" cube set up with Starphire glass and complete with stand, sump, skimmer, pump, and everything but lights. As I looked this tank over, I realized I had made the same mistake. Though the previous owner had this tank running, it had quite a few joints in need of resealing. So I began to cut out the filet seals only to find when you start doing that, you need to cut the whole darn silicone joint out and break the tank back down to panes and reseal. So I started that...three years ago. Finally this fall I got sick with what turned out to be MS. Three days later my second daughter was born. That motivated me that now was the time to live my dream and build a tank. I might not be able to do it for long, and I didn't want the feeling of having not lived out my dream.

So I decided I was going to build an equipment room onto my house and make room for my tank one way or another. I have been slowly getting that work done to build the equipment room, but meanwhile, it was time to refresh myself on aquariums and finish that darn cube set up. This thread will be the build of that cube and perhaps some of the equipment room too as the cube transitions to running from sump-under-stand to through-wall. Here's a shot of my long term plans for my equipment room next to my patio which at this point is just slab and plumbing. The tank will be on the opposite side of that room's wall.

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I eventually plan to have a roughly 84"x24"x30" ~400g tank where this cube tank will go, and when I feel confident I have refreshed myself on how to keep a reef alive in my home, I will go big and start that build. Here's a shot of what that tank should look like in my space:

patio redesign expanded fishroom new wall 7ft tank.png


I am quite far along in the set up and purchasing at this point, but have been too busy to write up a thread, so let me start by catching up in pictures and stories of how I've gotten to the point I am at.

actual_tank.png
 
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gatohoser

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Here's the goal for this build:
actual_tank.png


Next, I'll begin in earnest with the progress pics to catch up to this point including the building of the tank, the design and creation of my funky little sump seen above and the purchasing and planning of all the equipment. This tank is basically going to be a test platform for equipment going onto the big tank, so I'm not purchasing anything that solely serves a nano tank as much as possible, for example having a Neptune COR-20 pump as my return on this teeny little tank.
 
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gatohoser

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Thanks, you two. I feel like a noobie again with Reef Central abandoned coming over here.

So as I explained earlier, a friend and I had to completely reseal the tank:
2018-10-01 Reef Tank 002.JPG
2018-10-01 Reef Tank 005.JPG


I think we used around 60 safety blades when all was said and done. It took days of scraping to get these joints clean. Meanwhile, we regrouted the tile on the custom stand and repainted.
2018-10-02 Grout Stand 006.JPG


We got the glass siliconed back up with a number of issues along the way due to our amateurness. Don't let anyone tell you building an aquarium up from panes is an easy task. It's not. Practice lots. Weird things become important, like how straight your silicone lines are, where you put tape that you might not have realized needs it for doing clean lines, and exactly how large your silicone is. Oh and don't silicone your tank down to the plywood your working on like I did...I had to cut it off with a fillet knife to free it from the table. It was pretty funny. I was so frustrated I nearly told my wife I was done and giving up :mad:o_O But finally it was done.

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My least favorite part of this tank is the overflow box. It's a small 1.25" bulkhead plumbed with an internal skim box thats teeny. Maybe 4"x1.5"? It looks like trouble, especially because my proposed plan towards my wife's desires was a clownfish tank with a BTA in it. I worry the BTA will release and clog this overflow. Thoughts everyone?
2018-10-07 Reef Tank 014.JPG


So anyways, the stand was being finished. Here's teh stand from the back as I painted the rear and inside white. I added some accents to the cabinet door since it was sort of a cheap DIY version previously. I painted the business facing side of the stand black.
2018-10-07 Reef Tank Parts 002 - Copy.JPG

2018-10-08 Reef Tank and Boat Trailer 004.JPG
2018-10-08 Reef Tank and Boat Trailer 015.JPG


Then I got to the business of water testing everything including some old tanks I was considering using as a sump.

2018-10-08 Reef Tank and Boat Trailer 017.JPG


The ten gallon sump pictures above was the previous owner's solution. I didn't like its lack of a refugium chamber and thought I could do better with the 24" square space under the tank.
 
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gatohoser

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So I went shopping for sumps and came across this nice old breeder tank at my LFS. In fact its roughly the same dimensions as my display. The only downside was the hole cut in the bottom for a bulkhead. But I pulled the trigger and began planning a design on Sketchup that would have a silent overflow, a filter sock, a large skimmer chamber, a small refugium, and a return chamber with bubble baffles (missing in the pic).
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Then we mocked up the entire thing in to-scale cardboard to see how it would all look and work. The only thing that really came out poorly on the sump was that I didn't plan for the location of the bulkhead hole in my design which was silly, and forgot to account for the fact that the inside dimensions of the tank are different enough from the outer dimensions due to the way glass corners overlap. This resulted in my refugium being 3" wide.... Whoops! Oh well. I think it will still grow chaeto and pods just fine.
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I got the glass cut at a local glass shop (took me two tries due to measurement messups) and installed it over a period of a week or so.

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Now the stand and sump are inside, and the system is ready to be plumbed. That's where the tank stands today. Here's the stand before I attached the cabinet door. I still haven't been able to attach the cabinet door perfectly. It is just not enough lip to attach the hinge too. I'll figure it out eventually.
IMG_1684.jpg


In the tank and around the tank you can see my 2 48" Coralvue 250W DE Metal Halide and 2x65W power compact fixtures from an ago long ago which I may use until I want to buy a Kessil, along with way too much Bulk Reef Supply Black Friday orders and the Marco's Rocks I'm going to use. You can see my Neptune COR-20 return pump (reminder, I bought big of everything so I don't need to buy a second set of gear when I go to my 400g in a year or three), my Cobalt Neo-therm heaters, and my ASM MiniG Skimmer from the previous owner's seutp. I'd ditch this skimmer but I actually read it's a good skimmer so I'm going to give it a chance before I switch to an Reef Octopus 110SSS or somethings similar.

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While this is all setting up I also realized I need a quarantine tank and set up my old freshwater 29g tank and stand next to this. Pardon the work in progress mess.
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Finally, last weekend my friend helped me construct my RODI 7 stage frankenstein system built from two previous RODIs I had. I combined them together with some BRS and Amazon parts to make this dual membrane 150gpd, three DI BRS-style setup. I don't quite know where to set this up while my equipment room gets built since there isn't a good spot for this inside and outside poses issues such as freezing (which happens rarely in coastal Central California) and sunlight.
IMG_2306.jpg


Finally, in preparation for the big tank, I've also been installing solar panels (a 3.5kW system for now with a 9.8kWh battery backup for which I am installing circuits for the aquarium) with the help of my step-father who is a solar installation company owner. That'll be all the updates for now until I get some plumbing done hopefully this weekend and get my first RODI water brewing to make the saltwater for the quarantine and DT so I can start the cycle. I plan to use Dr. Tim's and some ammonium chloride.

IMG_2183.JPG
 
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gatohoser

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Yesterday I got my RODI running and tested out. Posted a little thread about some issues I had with high TDS due to the dual stage ordering where my second stage processes brine of the first. My TDS coming in was 450 and is well water. My first stage put out 12 TDS and my averaged combined water was mid twenties. After the three stage DI it was 0 of course but I worried about wasting resin. So I will split the membranes apart and either use one or just put them in parallel.

I had an idea a minute ago where I could use my short 3” refugium to suspend an Algal Turf Scrubber. Any idea or links to good ways to DIY your own? I will have a manifold off my COR-20 so that would be perfect for supply. I have also considered using my free Somatic UF-1 filter media reactor I got from a recent BRS plumbing order to do a macro algae reactor. Any advice on which would serve me better?
 
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Well I've got the QT tank filling up and ready to begin cycling my rock in while I wait to start plumbing the DT and sump this weekend hopefully. My health has just not been up to par and I haven't been able to make progress at the rate I'd like.

Pics will come of the QT later tonight when its full. I added to it a Hydor Koralia 750gph pump and a 150w heater I found in my old freshwater aquarium parts. Gave them a good soak in vinegar along with some 4" PVC fittings I had lying around from the fish room prep which I will add to the tank when the rock comes out to give my fish a place to hide in the QT.

Meanwhile, does anyone have any advice on my question in the last post regarding an ATS vs a macroalgae reactor in the somatic UF-1? Both would be a DIY.
 
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Had a nice hole in the wall where my cable used to come through with a gasket on it and everything and used this to temporarily pass the RODI tube in to fill the tank.
IMG_2442.jpg


Got to show my daughter her first home aquarium. Wish it could have started off being more spectacular than a pieced together QT tank (with some equipment in there for testing like my MP40) but it'll do!
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Don't worry the electrical has been cleaned up since then. I have a little more to do to hide the cable with a conduit/raceway to hide the extension, and I also need to swap that faceplate with a GFCI which I'll do this weekend. But, I got rocks in and cycling for the DT (I'm going to cycle them in here until the DT is ready and move them over) and added ammonia and a mix of Dr. Tim's One and Only and another brand of bacterial additive that I don't recall the name of right now. I figure if there's a chance they have different strains, the diversity can only be a good thing.

IMG_2453.jpg
 
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Well on startup I added Dr. Tim's One and Only and I added some brand from my LFS (for diversity) along with some ammonium chloride from Dr. Tim's (added 20 drops more three days in, 100 on day one as recommended) and checked the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate with a checker Sunday. I had 0.2 ppm ammonia and 0 of everything else. I guess I'm doing an old fashioned slow cycle... Hrm...

Anyways, I don't care much about speed, since I haven't done plumbing on my DT still. I added a new shoe cabinet that I am going to use as an electrical cabinet, for my Apex and everything else, in between the tanks on the wall and it is just too crowded. I'll have to find a way to do some rearranging, maybe shutting down the QT tank and moving it across the room. I did manage to get a GFCI installed and the extension cable swapped out where that outlet was so I'm on my way to a more child-proof setup. The cabinet now blocks the outlet and cable so that helps.

I have plans to do the DT plumbing this weekend if other remodeling tasks don't jump the line, and start moving the rocks over there to cycle in the DT as I had planned which will allow me to add my sand. For sand I am using Caribsea Special Grade that a reefer friend of mine gave me a couple years back when he shut down his tank. I have washed it in 5 sessions in a bucket with a hose and it still isn't sparkling clear water, but most of the small particulate is gone. I have used well over 200 gallons of water I'd wager washing it which is my personal limit. I've never had such a hard time cleaning sand, but there is so much dusty fines in there. I'm really looking forward to getting it up and running.
 

lbacha

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Nice start, I’m working on setting up a similar tank (25g nuvo lagoon black). You will like having the ledge around your tank. I had one on my nano then changed to a stand without one and having the room for tests and fragging is huge. My nuvo is going to have a nice 12” shelve on one side which will be great. It also makes the stand big enough for lots of equipment. Good luck and I’m following along.
 
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Nice start, I’m working on setting up a similar tank (25g nuvo lagoon black). You will like having the ledge around your tank. I had one on my nano then changed to a stand without one and having the room for tests and fragging is huge. My nuvo is going to have a nice 12” shelve on one side which will be great. It also makes the stand big enough for lots of equipment. Good luck and I’m following along.
Thanks Ibacha. I’ll check yours out too and see what I can pick up. Glad to hear the ledge will come in handy. I thought it was a very interesting stand the previous owner had built.
 

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Thanks Ibacha. I’ll check yours out too and see what I can pick up. Glad to hear the ledge will come in handy. I thought it was a very interesting stand the previous owner had built.
Old stand (the 6” lip was very useful)


New stand due to moving locations and wanting the tank higher (no lip so I have to do tests in the kitchen)


New tank nuvo 25g (this will be plumbed into my 8g nano’s sump and sit next to it with the sump in it’s stand)
 
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Old stand (the 6” lip was very useful)


New stand due to moving locations and wanting the tank higher (no lip so I have to do tests in the kitchen)


New tank nuvo 25g (this will be plumbed into my 8g nano’s sump and sit next to it with the sump in it’s stand)
Gorgeous tank. I just read through your build yesterday. I had been very curious about those 8020 stands.
 
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Made some small progress this holiday vacation. I was prevented from doing plumbing by misclicking order with super saver shipping on Christmas Eve at Bulk Reef Supply who couldn’t upgrade my shipping with an email ten minutes later sadly. Darn! But I was able to make progress on the electrical cabinet. I plan to use this cabinet for mounting all the electrical components for the tank and the ATO container which I’ve yet to pick out until I determine how much room I have. In this cabinet will go a Neptune Apex, FMM module for leak detection and level detection in my sump for some safety redundancy, WXM module to control my MP40QWD (and maybe radion if I don’t go A360X as I have planned), EB832, Tunze osmolator 3155, MP40QWD driver, and Neptune DOS pump for automatic water changes.

The cabinet was built from this amazon product:
Yaheetech 3 Shelves Shoe-Storage Cabinet with 1 Drawer 2 Doors Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MS6PQZL/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_dQslCbHVT0S0G

It had a flimsy cardboard back so I replaced it with some 3/4” plywood I had lying around and painted it black to match.

At this point I have mounted all the screw-in equipment (not the Tunze or MP40QWD driver), but ran out of time to do the hole saw cuts and furniture grommets into it.


Ignore the pipe and carpenters square I used to try and level things out. When I finish it I’ll take a complete pic but right now it’s up on a table and too hard to get a pic.
 
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I’ve been remiss in adding to this thread so let me attempt to catch up a bit in a few posts over time. There have been lots of updates and changes.

I finished the electrical cabinet up largely and finished cycling my quarantine tank quite a while ago. I added Dr Tims ammonia and ghost fed a few times with reef chili I had on hand all while adding a handful of bacterial additives for variety. It still took a couple weeks to cycle.

Meanwhile I worked hard to get the plumbing figured out. I started by building my manifold.

There were originally four of these put together with various barb or push connect fittings but I forgot to measure and rushed and it wouldn’t fit under the stand! [emoji1751]‍[emoji3603] so I cut one off and proceeded fitting plumbing and shopping for missing fittings and fitting and shopping. The usual cycle. Until finally I finished cementing the PVC last Friday. I proceeded to do a leak test only to find it was rapidly leaking. Then my smart wife pointed out that her silly husband had forgotten to cement a few joints which is why it leaked. I couldn’t believe it because I beveled and sanded every section of pipe and recut pieces with the miter saw three times or so for each critical piece. It was really tricky to fit so much plumbing on such a small setup but it’s working phenomenally and can flow massive amounts through the sump. It can nearly handle the full COR20 flow with one out bulkhead at 1.5” though it’s limited by two input 1/2” pipe.


The manifold from the back of the tank:


More story to come soon. Lots has happened since.
 
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gatohoser

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Alright let’s catch up a bit more. So with the plumbing complete it was time to water test it.



Video of the test with pump turning off halfway through since someone’s butt pulled the plug.

After that it was time to add some sand. I had been washing some Caribsea special grade, a friend gave me five years ago when he got out of the hobby and I was prepping that 200g tank, in a bucket. I had been washing it with a hose for a month on and off until the water ran nearly crystal clear. That was to keep anything that would get stirred up by high flow in the tank out of my tank.


At this point I added water and measured out salt with a scale and added it to the display slowly.


The next morning.


I didn’t put the rocks in yet since they were cycled in my quarantine for about a month and a half and were well alive at this point. Didn’t want them to get harmed. Then I moved them over in a random non-aquascape as a TODO for later and headed out to Neptune Aquatics to get my first fish with the family!

 
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