sbash's 220 Gallon Through-Wall Build

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Back in 2015, I moved into a new, much bigger house. So, bigger house means bigger tank right? (It was my wife's idea)...

My first plan was to just get an off the shelf MarineLand Corner-flo. I was going to put it in the as a primary display piece in the main room of our new house. The goal was to put it on an outside wall and brace the floor underneath (conveniently building myself a fish room right below). However, in the house we actually purchased, the only suitable wall is right above the garage doors (lol). Anyway, long story short, I have decided to put the tank in a wall as a room divider. This of course meant I had to pull a wall down and run a fantastic build project. I had an engineer come to reassure me, and give me an official report, so I could do the installation without the house caving in on itself!

Note: This was originally written as I went, as I posted it on another forum at the time (I feel so dirty)... Please forgive any weird tenses that I may have missed.

Here are some decisions I had made before actually purchasing the tank:

2 return pumps, I purchased two Mag12 pumps, I chose two for redundancy.
4 Hydor 1500 powerheads for the DT, I picked up four of these on sale, I already have a 600 and two 850s which seem to work well in my 65 Gallon. With the return pumps, this gave me just over 30x the flow (to volume).
I wanted to Switch to Eheim heaters, I purchased a 250W to augment my 100W, and I have two 200W Hydors (which seemed to be horrible heaters) to use as backup. I have enough wattage to get started, once I get a feel for heating the system, I will likely switch entirely to Eheim. After a while, they all stuck on, so I just use two of them and a $50 temperature controller. The temperature has been rock solid ever since.
At first, I was going to go with 5 Arctic-S026 LED lights, I have one already on my 65G (not exactly, but same specs w/same LEDs), and my corals love it. However, the Canadian dollar tanked right before I bought them and ended up going with some that are closer to SB lights. Eventually I will swap some diodes, as they do not have enough UV spectrum.
Migrated my existing 55G sump/refugium system, I removed all the bubble trap baffles, essentially leaving only dividing walls. This is a very small sump for this system, but it fit perfectly in the space I had to put it. You will see later on...
I wanted to keep my RS-80 skimmer for a while, it was 'rated' for a large tank, and I only had five fish from my 65 gallon. However, it died about a month before I ordered the tank, so I got an Aquamaxx ConeS Co-3.
The sump went in the basement, directly below the DT.
For rocks, I probably had 100lbs in my 65G, and I cured close to 100lbs of rubble for the refugium and another 100lbs of DT rock. I also had about 50lbs of rubble in cold (room temp) water and 40lbs of dry rock (ready to be cured). I was hoping, this will give me enough 'base' rock for the system to minimize the initial cycle. That said, I was not trying to rush things, as I was planning to have enough time to ensure a proper cycle when I fire this thing up. BUT! and a big but, I wanted to minimize the time the 65G runs without a sump/fuge/skimmer.
Aside from the 1" bulkheads, all the exterior plumbing was done in 1.5" PVC.

I went with a BeanAnimal style overflow as part of a custom Miracles Aquarium, shipped to my house. It was technically a custom tank, drilled to my spec (three holes), tempering on the bottom and drilled end. I also went with euro-bracing to eliminate the need for the cross bar. I will never go back to a plastic braced display tank, the euro-bracing is just fantastic! That said, it was a painful purchase, as I have mentioned on a couple other threads. For example, it took three days to reply to my email. 1 year warranty. Due to the communication issues I decided to put the overflow in myself, as I could not get decent advice about the sizing - and I needed to be sure I could fit my hand into the overflow (i.e. with the euro-brace in the way).
 
Corals.com
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Anyway, how about some pictures?

Here are both sides of the wall, before I started ripping it down:



Removed the trim and prepped for demonlition on both sides (only one side shown, I can post the other side if you really want):


No drywall!


As you can see, there is a duct running through here. I did know this in advance, there is also a cold-air return beside it, running between the two studs. The duct needed to be routed around the outside, and I left the holes for the air return to create airflow inside the cabinetry.

Also, if you look closely enough, you can see there is clearly not enough room for a tank in the section that is removed. I needed exactly 8 feet to have room for the tank, the plumbing and the king/jack studs on each end...
 
Last edited:
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Now, this is where it gets a bit more interesting. With the fancy engineer report, I was able to turn this (load bearing) wall into a display tank. There was two general issues with this, the first being the floor above, I needed to be sure to build it properly so the house does not cave in. The second being the wooden foundation, i.e. the walls below the tank...

First, the foundation walls below the tank needed to be reinforced. Used here is a specific thickness of plywood, as well as a specific nailing pattern (with a specific size of framing nail). I also recall having to double up the studs inside the wall:


As you can see here, the duct is crudely rerouted (Ii wanted it to be flush, but would have had to redo the work from the basement, so I just made do). I put up a simple temporary wall to bear the load while I pull down the old studs and the new support framework is installed:


And, here we are... The 2x10s in the door way (pictured above, on the right of the framing, without drywall) have been trimmed back. There are two LVL beams (also with a specific nail and nailing pattern) are in place:
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
It was an intense moment when I pulled the temp wall down. However, the house settled on its new supports just fine :)



At this point, you might be thinking... 'This is all fine and dandy, but where is the tank already???'

Well, you see, the tank was ordered about a month before this milestone. It was supposed to arrive a week later, which was precisely when I had planned on having the stand in place.

What I can show you is the live rock which had been curing for about three (maybe four) months at this point:

The tub on the right has all the curing rubble as well as an equal amount of rocks. Soon enough, this will all be in place!
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Okay, back to building stuff... Things are about to start getting intense. At this point, the floor is cut back enough to fit the stand. It turns out there was a layer of hardwood parquet flooring underneath... Quite annoying to pull up, lol...

Here is the basic construction of the stand itself. Added before the tank went on were extra vertical supports and diagonals...


A week or so later, this was dropped off in my driveway:
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Here is the tank, uncrated, in my driveway:



At first, I grathered a couple friends to help get it inside. We lifted it straight up, looked at each other and set it back down. The tank sat in my driveway for several days until I worked out a plan...

In the end, it took six of us to get in into place. We had to use lots of moving straps, dollies and a pickup truck to move it.

We put it (on the pallets) into the back of the pickup. Drove it to my back deck and unloaded it onto dollies. Then we rolled and shuffled, shuffled and rolled until it was in line with the stand.

The hardest part was the stand, not only was it a three foot vertical, but the styrofoam made it hard to slide the tank into place:
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Okay moving on; here we are just under 12 hours into filling with RO/DI water:


It was a long wait, however, it gave me a few days to sort the overflow box out. Originally, I was going to just bend some acrylic to create a removable overflow for easy cleaning. However, there was plenty of clearance to get my hand in there, so I ordered some glass...

At the 2/3 mark, I had to stop filling it with water because I was waiting for the overflow glass to come in. I installed the powerheads, brought the temp up, added the substrate and the salt and let it mix for 24 hours. Half of the rocks then went in, this is not the final rock layout, I just wanted to get filtration going asap. They are already cycled, so I have to keep on the chemistry, but there has not been an ammonia or nitrite spike thus far, hopefully it keep stable..
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Now, it was super awkward to install the overflow with the water only a few inches below the bottom. I would like to address the oddness in timing. Ideally, you need to go slow and not rush anything. BUT, I was under a deadline. At this point, I had five days to have the system up and running for a Hallowe'en / Housewarming party we were throwing. It would not have been a weird rush with the overflow, but the first glass company I used messed up the order twice (and took a week). When I changed companies, I had it the same day.

However, it turned out alright, as you can see here. I would be happy to go into detail about how I did it with water right below, but I will save that for another post (on demand, lol)... Also, as you can see here, the rough electrical is in, and the plumbing is more-or-less complete. From front to back, there are three bulkheads: Full Siphon, Emergency, Durso. The returns are awkwardly placed in the tank as well.


Here we are in the basement, with the plumbing roughed in and waiting for the sump. The overflow lines were cut and a union valve was installed before the sump was put in place. The two return pumps are roughly sitting where they would in the sump; accounting for glass thickness and a bag of sand (to cut down vibrations) under each pump).



The focus here is the valve for water changes. There is a pit (i.e. my houses sump pit) directly below this valve, so I can easily drain the old water. Now (not pictured yet), I have a Mag 5 in my water mixing tub, which pumps the water directly into the sump; so 10% water change is fairly effortless and only takes minutes.


After a few tests, I had to install these onto the return lines as a siphon break. The holes I drilled in the pipes were not effective. If the pump turns off, the overflow will empty, and the flex tubes will be open to the air. While the system is running, the ends of the flex tubes are submerged. This also works as an easy to see warning if there is something wrong (I see tonnes of air being sucked into the return lines)...
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
I am not sure which order to post next. So I am going to post two posts worth here. Getting the sump installed was needed to finish filling up the water. However, it took a couple days to do so, as at this point, I needed to mix the water before adding it...

This is the first glimpse of the finished tank. Although not really visible in this picture, the inhabitants of my old 65 gallon have been moved over. Which is why in the next picture, the rocks have a clear difference in maturity.

I had just tacked the 1/4" plywood up. For this side of the room, I colour matched the existing cabinetry, and used the same doors on the finished product. The otherside was a flat black to match the trim on the fireplace; I thought it would be way too much black, but it looks fine... The painting was fairly involved, there were four, 4'x8' 1/4" plywood sheets. At first I tried to airbrush them, but that took way too long, so my lovely wife was gracious enough to roll paint them. Which actually turned out quite nice and smooth. To get a nice finished (not textured) we used the longest nap we could find - maybe I have that backwards, lol, it could have been the shortest nap (please comment if you know the answer!):


Here we are from the other side, when full of water and fully lit. In the end, I turned the lights 45 degrees for better coverage and easier access:


Finally, plumbing reasonably complete and the sump in place... The open 90 degree seen beside the skimmer cup has since been moved to the refugium chamber to get it out of the way. The ATO (on the left, you can kind of see the float) has been moved to the far right because it broke and I have not moved it back to the pump chamber)... lol, anyway, here it is at the initial install:


As you can see by this picture, the sump perfectly fit in the space I had for it. If I went with a bigger sump, I would have had to move the house's sump pump line; and like I mentioned earlier, we were on a bit of a tight schedule (due to the delays in the tank arriving):


So, that concludes the October 2015 portion of the build. It was up, running, and looking good for our party. Next up is the next six months of growth and additions, followed by some progression shots up until present day (it has been a wild ride, and you will see why soon!). Thanks for tuning in so far!
 

[email protected]

Living the Reef Life
View Badges
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
26,468
Reaction score
27,255
Location
Ontario, California
Great job on the build!
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Great job on the build!
Thanks! There is are a few things I left out of the process, and I am not sure why I did not photograph every step of the way. I also did not photograph the cabinetry and the fish room portion as it was built out. I will take a couple shots and add them to the thread eventually :)
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Here we are with the panel board down for a while to fine tune the insides. This is also the picture for some growth comparison. The few frags which are in here are new, there are a couple small colonies (one hammer, and a 'big' acro branch). I felt, at this point, it needed more rocks. So I had some curing in the basement. Also, time for more fish, so the old 65 gallon is now the QT in the basement.



After a few months of adding frags and adding frags, the system still seemed pretty barren. Then I found something wonderful!

...
 
OP
sbash

sbash

Not Just a Potato
View Badges
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,521
Reaction score
957
Location
Ottawa, Canada
A few months later, while searching the local classified (something I do regularly to find diamonds in the rough), I came across a mature 65 Gallon LPS reef system. Literally 2 minutes after it was posted I jumped on it. The ask price was way lower than it should be, given the stock (I resold the system cycled, but unstocked for the same price)... Anyway, after a few weeks of observation, I integrated the wonderful new colonies and it instantly gave the tank a much fuller look:





But it still feels, a bit empty...
 

Rate your current reefing satisfaction level! (CLICK HERE)

  • Very satisfied

    Votes: 224 45.3%
  • Just satisfied

    Votes: 121 24.4%
  • Somewhat satsified

    Votes: 107 21.6%
  • Not satisfied

    Votes: 43 8.7%

Online statistics

Members online
1,890
Guests online
5,488
Total visitors
7,378
Reef-A-Palooza Chicago 2019
Top