Robert's 300G SPS & Angel Build

roberthu526

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After keeping fish for over three years and keeping reef aquarium for over two year, I have finally started my dream build. This is something I have planned for over a year and been actively preparing since last June. But I didn’t really know if or when it was going to happen until my wife gave the green light a month ago. Cheers!

Brief introduction: I have been keeping fish for a little over three years. First year was just fresh water tropical fish. Then in February of 2016 I started trying out saltwater fish and I thought I would never get into reefing because all corals seem so boring to me: they don’t move or even eat. However after merely 2 months I started to realize that a tank with just fish and rocks were even more boring. Sigh…

My first salt water tank was a 40G breeder and it quickly escalated to a 125G which I am still running.
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Overall everything is doing pretty good in this tank but the dimension is far from ideal. It is only 18” deep (front to back) which made it really hard to aquascape. There is very little room at the front of tank for coral placement. In addition, since this is my first real reef tank, I didn’t plan everything very well. From the pics you can see the stand is basically bare-bone and the wires are all tangled. And to make things worse, everything is in the living room so needless to say the wife hates it. As a matter of fact she hates it so much that she granted me the funds for this 300G build, as long as I take down the 125G and keep everything in my home office. Score!!!

Now let’s get into the new build. Below is my home office/fish room. The tank you see in this room is my quarantine setup, another 125G which I am going to be using to quarantine everything that goes into the 300G. Obviously the room needs some cleaning. The wife and the kids are going to stay with grandpa and grandma for 40 days in the summer so I have plenty of time to reorganize everything. The room is next to the garage and the dimension 12’ X 10’. I plan to set the tank next to the window where the computer table is now. One problem I am facing is the room is on the west side of the house and it gets really hot in the summer afternoon. My plan is to setup a chiller in the garage and run 1" PVC through the wall. Then I realized since I am going to run water into the garage, why not keep the skimmer in the garage as well. That way the skimmer will always draw air from outside while keep the noise out of the room. And I don’t ever have to worry about the skimmer overflow on the floor!
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With the location determined, next is the tank. I went with Custom Aquariums after doing research for about eight months. I basically searched all reviews for all aquarium builders available online and some of them go back to 2006 I think. I was going to go with Glass Cages at the beginning due to their low prices but after reading some pretty negative reviews I moved on. While I want to save as much money as I can, the aquarium is simply the most important part of the build and the one thing I can’t start over with.

Then after a few months I stumped into Custom Aquariums website. It got my attention because it had a tool to let me custom build the tank I wanted and gave me a pretty accurate quote. I probably built hundreds of tanks using this tool just to see what prices I would get. The price was pretty reasonable compared to other builders. Plus they offer some innovative designs for overflow and return nozzle. I certainly had some doubt when I first found them since there were very few reviews available. What helped me make up my mind was in late 2017, a guy on Youtube called Travis with a channel called Fishofhex shared his experience with Custom Aquariums and posted multiple videos of the 300 gallon tank he received. Photos and videos are worth more than a thousand words when it comes to aquariums. The tank he received just looked awesome!

So as soon as my wife said yes I sent Custom Aquarium an email asking for a quote. And within 24 hours I received a reply from Bob Pontow with a quote in the attachment. Then after emailing back and forth for about three days fine tuning the details I found myself speaking with Bob telling him my credit card number. Something worth mentioning in this process is I had never had to wait for more than 24 hours to hear back from Custom Aquarium. They even replied on Saturday!

The tank I ordered is 96” long, 30” deep, and 24” high with ultra-clear front and side panels and tempered bottom. All glasses are ½” thick and the frames are made of anodized aluminum like all other tanks they make. I also purchased one of the H2Overflow kit with a capacity of 2400GHP and two Siphone Stopper return nozzles (I actually bought them a while ago). To make moving the tank easy, Bob suggested I rent 8 industrial standard suction cups which cost like $40. The tank is about 400 lbs and these suction cups should make getting the tank into the room and on the stand much easier. I was told the lead time is about two months so I should be able to receive it some time late July or early August.
 
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Tahoe61

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Wow!

Boy I would never get any work done in that office. A 125 to 300, that is a significant upgrade congrats!
 
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roberthu526

roberthu526

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Wow!

Boy I would never get any work done in that office. A 125 to 300, that is a significant upgrade congrats!
LoL. Thank you! It is a big step up and honestly I can't believe my wife was Okay with it but hey what you know!
 
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roberthu526

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With the tank under production, the next thing is the brain/controller of the build – Neptune Apex. I bought the full package from BRS last Black Friday. I think it was either 20% or 25% off (told you I have been preparing for a long time, lol). I already have the gold and Jr. versions on my current tank and the quarantine tank. I went with the 2016 version for the new build because I want to monitor the water chemistry with their Trident water testing module which is still not released as of this post… The new tank is going to be SPS only with angelfish so I want to do the best I can to keep the water in check.
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For filtration, I bought a Super Reef Octopus 6000 Ext. I bought it brand new from a fellow reefer on this forum who planned to build a 220G but ended up not happening. This skimmer is rated for 500 gallon well stocked tank. I chose an external skimmer because I don’t want to deal with water level in the sump. The current skimmer I have is a Super Reef Octopus 3000 Int. It works really well on my 125G but every time I have to use the feed mode on the return pump I need to remember to turn off the skimmer first. If I forget the skimmer over flows in like 20 seconds. I just never want to deal with that again. For backup, I have an Aquamaxx CoesS Q-5 In-Sump model. I bought this one when MarineDepot had it on sale for like $200 off. I will probably end up selling this one but for now I want to hang on it for just a little longer. Sorry the skimmers are in plastic bags because I don't want dust on them before they see water.
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For biological filtration, I am going to buy 80-100 lbs of Pukani rocks from BRS when they have them back in stock. However I am not going to rely solely on the live rocks because I really want a minimal rock structure to create room for coral growth. So I bought 4 Marinepure blocks. Saltwateraquarium.com has them on sale right now and you earn 5% back on points. I have had good results with Marinepure in my current tanks so I am going to stick with them.
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roberthu526

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For sump and filtration, I want to make it as simple and easy as possible. I want to make sure it's super easy to maintain so I am more likely to do it. Below is a rough drawing. If anyone seems any potential issues please point it out and I would greatly appreciate it!

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For sump, I am going to go with two 40G breeders. First of all, 40 breeders are very cheap when Petco rolls out the dollar per gallon event. Second, 40 breeder is almost the perfect dimension to fit beneath the tank. 18" front to back leaves enough room to put my gears and reactors. I plan to connect the two 40G in the middle with either one 1.5" pvc or two 1" pvc. Depending on what drill bit I buy but I think 1" holes are easier to drill.

The H2Overflow box I am going to get has four 1.5" drain lines and I am going to use the two in the center as the main drain line and reduce them to 1" and put two gate valves on them. The two on the sides are going to be the emergency drains and I am just going to keep them as 1.5" just in case. Since the two 40G are connected in the middle, the water level in these two tanks should always be the same.

I plan to use two Reef Octopus VarioS8 on the opposite ends of the two 40G to pump water back into the display tank. With two pumps I should have enough redundancy. If one dies the other will still be able to circulate water through one of the 40G. With Apex FMM I should get notification as soon as one pump is not functioning and with two pumps I should have enough time to fix the problem.

I want to use one of the 40G for mechanical filtration which hooks to the external skimmer and reactors and the other for refugium.
 
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I would strongly suggest you not do a parallel sump setup. I tried this on a smaller scale (two 10g's under a 55 with identical pumps) and it failed miserably many times before I eventually caved in and tore it down to 1 sump. Even two identical model pumps will not move the exact same amount of water, and the drain lines will not return the exact same amount of water. End result is trying to tune two plumbing systems and/or flooding in one, shallow water in the other.

It's not guaranteed to happen over a short time frame I suppose, but it certainly wasn't the effort. If I were to do it again, I'd have the returns go to one of the sumps and plumb them both in series with the return in the second sump.
 
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roberthu526

roberthu526

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I would strongly suggest you not do a parallel sump setup. I tried this on a smaller scale (two 10g's under a 55 with identical pumps) and it failed miserably many times before I eventually caved in and tore it down to 1 sump. Even two identical model pumps will not move the exact same amount of water, and the drain lines will not return the exact same amount of water. End result is trying to tune two plumbing systems and/or flooding in one, shallow water in the other.

It's not guaranteed to happen over a short time frame I suppose, but it certainly wasn't the effort. If I were to do it again, I'd have the returns go to one of the sumps and plumb them both in series with the return in the second sump.
Thank you for the suggestion.

Did you also plumb the two sumps so they are connected? I am going to use bulkheads and pvc to connect the two drain chambers so the water level will be the same in both tanks.
 

ca1ore

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As long as the two sumps are connected so as to be essentially a single body of water they work fine. You do know that a bulkhead for 1" PVC needs a much bigger ground hole than 1", right? When I did connected sumps like you are proposing, I ran a single 2" connector pipe.

I think I see check valves in one of your pictures. I wouldn't use them. They almost always end up not working. Also, have you seen the H2Overflows in operation. The external box is fine, but a buddy of mine ran them for a while and hated the internal elbows with the 'goiter' on top (his term LOL). May want to consider a proper internal skim box.
 

Mohammad D. ALMUTAIRI

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nice job.
it's always a good sign when the WIFE goes into accepting mode!
but be careful she'll come hunting back for something of her own! haha "I know for sure" :)

as for the build, I can't wait to see how it goes with all this work, you seems to be good to go as the tank hits the floor, everything ready for operation!

will keep an eye on this one fore sure, good luck man
 
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roberthu526

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As long as the two sumps are connected so as to be essentially a single body of water they work fine. You do know that a bulkhead for 1" PVC needs a much bigger ground hole than 1", right? When I did connected sumps like you are proposing, I ran a single 2" connector pipe.

I think I see check valves in one of your pictures. I wouldn't use them. They almost always end up not working. Also, have you seen the H2Overflows in operation. The external box is fine, but a buddy of mine ran them for a while and hated the internal elbows with the 'goiter' on top (his term LOL). May want to consider a proper internal skim box.
That's what I thought too. It's just a smaller baffle.
Yes I plan to use the check valves in addition to the siphon stopper Custom Aquariums provides. The siphon stopper essentially is a return nozzle with a covered opening at the top so when the return pump stops running, the opening lets air in to break the siphon. I just want to use the check valves as additional safety measures.
As for the H2Overflow, I have only seen it running in Youtube videos. I am going to have them installed as high as possible and align with the back panel. I do see your buddy's point because regular overflow box is just a flat surface and blends in with the background most of the time whereas elbow is something that sticks out. My view is although it's a pipe, it's still smaller than a normal overflow box and takes less space. Besides we all have return nozzles sticking out in the tank so I am going to give it try.
 
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roberthu526

roberthu526

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nice job.
it's always a good sign when the WIFE goes into accepting mode!
but be careful she'll come hunting back for something of her own! haha "I know for sure" :)

as for the build, I can't wait to see how it goes with all this work, you seems to be good to go as the tank hits the floor, everything ready for operation!

will keep an eye on this one fore sure, good luck man
Thank you! I am excited too and I am well aware of the "pay back"!;Drool

The next step is to build the stand. Instead of a bare-bone again I am going to take my time and build something that is "wife approve" and maintenance friendly:)
 

Mohammad D. ALMUTAIRI

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Thank you! I am excited too and I am well aware of the "pay back"!;Drool

The next step is to build the stand. Instead of a bare-bone again I am going to take my time and build something that is "wife approve" and maintenance friendly:)
good luck with that :D

for the stand, I'd go with steel it can be made with the full view of the stand open, so you can easily work on the sump without anything in the middle holding you back
check @melev stand in his website, it's wonderful
more room with open space, that's what I'm going to do with my next build soon.
 

najer

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I would do a single sump below with 2 drains and 2 returns, it is what I have, you could even go through the wall and have a nice sized sump in the garage! ;)
 
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roberthu526

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good luck with that :D

for the stand, I'd go with steel it can be made with the full view of the stand open, so you can easily work on the sump without anything in the middle holding you back
check @melev stand in his website, it's wonderful
more room with open space, that's what I'm going to do with my next build soon.
I thought about steel stand as well but in the end decided to go with DIY because the room is not very spacious and everything really have to function to it’s full capacity yet be easy to maintain. With a custom stand I can have all the equipment laid out exactly I want. It’s going to take some time but self designing something like this is actually a lot of fun!
 
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roberthu526

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I would do a single sump below with 2 drains and 2 returns, it is what I have, you could even go through the wall and have a nice sized sump in the garage! ;)
With an 8 ft tank I would need a 6-7 ft sump witch is going to cost a lot of money. I am guessing $1K to $1.5K. With two 40G breeders connected I am looking at $100 to $150 tops and it should function the way I intended. We shall see.

I would totally put the whole sump in the garage but my wife’s driving skill would make me go crazy everyday worrying she would hit the sump... And I am not joking...
 
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roberthu526

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A quick update. Finally got some pukani dry rock from Premium Aquatics and Marine Depot. It seems very difficult to find some pukani rock recently. BRS says shipping from Fiji has slowed down and they expect the next shipment in July. Not sure what is going on but I am glad I managed to find some at decent price.

Anyway, after I received the rocks, I noticed some interesting things right away.

First of all, the rocks from Premium Aquatics are very big, some are as big as a basketball! Even the small ones are the size of a soccer ball. Every singe piece of rock is wrapped in paper then placed in a carton. On the other hand, the rocks from Marine Depot are much smaller, the biggest piece is about the size of BRS single media reactor (thought I compare it to something that is commonly know in the community). Most of them are softball size. The mixed size from these two suppliers actually worked out nicely for me.

The second thing I noticed is, the rocks from PA seemed to be a little wetter and darker than the ones from MD. Of course the rocks were not dripping water in any way. My guess is since the rocks are directly pulled out of the ocean, it must have some salt left on the surface of the rock and salt absorbs moist. The rocks from MD were noticeably whiter on the other hand. But they also seems less porous.

The last thing is the total weight. I bought two 40 lb boxes from PA so the total weight is 80 lb. However when I got the shipment it was 96 lbs! I am sure the box and wrapping paper is part of it but they were definitely less than 16 lbs. On the other hand, from MD I bought two 25 lb boxes so the total weight should be 50 lb. And the two boxes I received were exactly 25 lb each. So minus the weight of the box I got probably 45 lb of rock. Just because of this alone, I am going to buy my next batch of rock from PA for sure.

Below are some photos of the rocks right after I opened the box for reference.

Premium Aquatics Rocks
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Marine Depot Rocks. The big piece is from Premium Aquatics. Notice how the rest compare to the Hydor Corolia powerhead.
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roberthu526

roberthu526

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Then last night I got them soaked in salt water and started the curing process. Since everything is in the garage, I don't need to heat the tanks.

Just one night you can already see the bubbles on the top of the water. Keep in mind this is without any air pump or other aeration equipment. And the smell is already overwhelming....

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Blue Tang Clan

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Nice acquisition!

What's the plan for the rock? Are you going to just remove the phosphates, or seed it with new bacteria?
 
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roberthu526

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Nice acquisition!

What's the plan for the rock? Are you going to just remove the phosphates, or seed it with new bacteria?
I am going to wait for a few more days then dose some MB7 to speed up the process. But I plan to do two water changes to make sure the rocks are definitely clean. Then I am going to start the aquascape. Hopefully with the hot summer, the rocks get cured before mid-July!
 
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roberthu526

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Just changed out the water in the curing bins. One thing I noticed is after I dosed 10 ml of MB7, the Sergio smell disappeared. I am guessing that the smell was mainly ammonia and the bacteria consumed it and converted them to nitrate.
The water I dumped was so yellow that it was almost brown... I am going to leave it be for three weeks now and see how it goes. Glad I bought the rocks early or they wouldn’t be ready by the time the tank is here.
 
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