Terrys Red Sea Max E170 Build thread

Taxus812

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Here we go.
I started my tank build before getting to R2R but I did make a log of what was going on so I can do a bunch of catch up posts until I get current. Some of this is in my introduction so I am sorry about the repeat information

Background of what I want and how im going about building it.
Several months ago my daughter asked me to drive her to a good fish store. She is really enjoying freshwater tanks and this store had a good selection of plants. While they looked at plants I decided to poke around. I found a tank with a skunk cleaner shrimp and was fascinated. I really thought about putting a tank for one in my bedroom (I had a spot). My daughter informed me it was salt and there is a lot to learn about. There would also be a lot of work involved with keeping one.

Cleaner Shrimp 11.jpg
(Photo from fishlore.com)

Fast forward a few months. I got sick and was hospitalized for several months and then stuck in bed when I was released. I can't watch another movie on Netflix. NCIS lost all its charm and the news was causing abdominal distress. I decided to go for it and buy a tank. The learning curves should keep me busy for months to come.

Here is abbreviated version of my condition. I had a pancreatitis that left part of my pancreas and stomach dead . I now had large pseudo cysts (1200ml) on my stomach (later to find I ad another 1200ml around my lung) and the risk of rupturing was extreme if I exerted, flexed. Due to atrophy of my muscles (loss of 85 lbs) lifting was very limited. The reason I am telling you this is it heavily influenced what I wanted for a tank.

Specifications for my tank.
  • I had limited space so I was looking at a NANO class of tank.
  • I would like a fully designed and assembled system
  • I was looking for a low maintenance (Ultra low maintenance tanks).
  • Bending was a problem so major components up high was a plus.
  • I wanted to have a mixed reef so a light that could support it was important.
  • I wanted the light to be programmable
My high level goal was to be able to setup the tank on its base and pour in premixed water to start the cycle.

I went into that same fish store with my list of wants never expecting to find all of them. they pointed me to the Red Sea Max E-170 170L/45Gal salt water tank. It hit every mark and I was shocked. It had a fully built sump and filtration on the back of the tank. Everything was up high so I had little bending to do. The tank came with the AquaIllumination Hydra 26 HD light which is great for mixed reefs and it fully programmable.


max 170.jpg

https://www.redseafish.com/aquarium-systems/max-aquarium-systems/max-e-series/#unique-identifier

I was originally looking at the nano but the guy at the fish store pushed me to the next size up stating it will be a little easier for me to maintain with a mixed reef (and my inexperience). My wife was fully on-board and told me to go to the next size up (then ran off to look at corals). I t would still fit where I wanted it to. So I purchased it along with 40gal of seawater, cured dry live-rock, live sand and something called seed.

Now starts my adventure.
 
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Taxus812

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3/16/2019 - We got the tank home and up the flight of stairs. Thank GOD I have teenagers or it would still be in the Jeep. It came in two boxes one for the base and one for the tank. the tank box was 55lbs.

The base went together pretty easy. I have put together a lot of assemble yourself furniture over the years and this was pretty high quality in comparison. the nylon inserts for the pegs made it a lot easier to assemble.

My son, daughter and her boyfriend put the tank on the stand, added sand, built a live-rock framework and then filled it with the seawater. I want to have digging critters so I put a thick layer of sand down to make them happy.

We made a few noob mistakes.

1) We forgot to clean off the inside of the tank glass.
2) we put the sand down before the rock
3) we put the rock to close to the glass. (cant clean there :) )

However we got it setup and cycling in a relatively short amount of time.

IMG_7636.JPG

Here it is in it final location. I can lay in bed and look at my tank. Please note the closet door, doorknob does not hit the glass. The door can be opened that far but I have a rubber bumper on the stand just in case.
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Taxus812

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3/17/2019 - Wiring

My daughter and her boyfriend tried to neaten up the wiring the best they could. I wanted to clean it up and add drip loops to everything. I also decided I wanted a wave generator of some kind. (I envisioned my soft corals flowing back and forth, the fish happily eating you know paradise lol ). I packed up and went to my new home the LFS. I decided on the Current eFlux Wave Pump Kit (the 1050gph) . It had three channels and that was all I needed. I also purchased a second pump so I could setup gyre. I figured it would be better to wire it all at the same time.


So I got a pillow, got on the floor and started to work. I made sure I used Velcro to wrap all the wires to make it easy to break open a harness if needed. I have plane to add a ATO so I kept a 5 gal water container and put it in the cabinet so I make sure I don't put things in the way.

I decided to put the eflux controller display on the inside of the door. Honestly Im not going to mess with it once I find the right settings. When I do, i'm going to be up close so its not a problem to open the door. I also added some Velcro for the remote.

I learned the hard way when I go down on the floor I cant get back up ;Nailbiting. I needed some help to get up LOL

(you will notice a glaring safety issue I seen as I was updating this page. lets see if you can find it)

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IMG_7651.JPG
 
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Taxus812

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West side guy is spot on but there is an additional item.

What I was seeing was that the plug was behind the aquarium. What if I had a leak or overflow back there. The plug itself could spark a fire. I added a weather cover and a gfi cord. It took some trimming at the bottom but it should not get wet.

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(Btw I thought that circuit was protected at the panel but found out when went to test it wasn’t. )
 
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3/17/2019 - Its going to cost me how much a week to do a water change using packaged seawater :eek: !! This is the first post sale "oh yeah you will need one of these"

I think i'm going to have to mix my own water. My original intention was to go the no muss no fuss premix but on 60% salary its going to break the bank. I could buy RODI water at my LFS but it really isnt that local. So to make that work I would need a LOT of 5 gal containers. I just physically cant do that.

I looked at my existing RO system its not going to cut it. It is 20 years old and produces 5 gal a day. I decided to look up RODI systems. I was on Amazon to till 3am sifting through all the choices. I decided to see if my LFS sold them. Sure enough they did and they were close to the price in amazon. They told me they use the system they sell for their water changes. The softer is an AquaFx Barracuda Glacier. This should produce 100 gal per day which is way more than I would ever need. The good part is my daughter has fresh water aquariums and has been using tap. Now I can easily justify the expense. Sold !

The barracuda Glacial has the following features and is at about the $200 price point.
  • An Automatic Source Water Shutoff
  • Quick Connect Check Valve
  • Manual Flush Kit
  • Pressure Gauge
  • Inline TDS Meter that measures in and output TDS
  • Carbon Block Filter
  • 1 micron Sediment Filter
  • RO filter rated for 100GPD
  • Cool Black Pure Aluminum Bracket

Well started watching lots and lots of videos on how to best set it up. I have one critical issue. I have a well and my pump fluctuates between 35 and 60 psi. I decided to set it up by just attaching it to a sink in my basement and measure the outflow. Overall with my well I could get 2gph but honestly I discovered at the pressure gauge my pressure fluctuated between 30 and 55psi. With it under 40 psi it would just stop producing. to rectify I would flush the toilet and that would be enough to kick the well pump on so it went back to 55psi. However if someone else flushed again it would drop to 30psi. This just wasn't going to work. I would also need a boost pump. "oh yeah you will need one of these" number two. I would also need a 20 gal barrel "oh yeah you will need one of these" number 3.

My overall impression is this is a very well built system. With the boost pump, I can fill a 5 gal bucket in under an hour. The built in TDS meter is nice to have. My input is 493 to 550 TDS and my output is 5 to 8 TDS so Im getting 98.5% removal at the RO. the DI is removing the rest leaving me with 0 TDS in the bucket. AuquaFX is a good company. If you need support or even want to ask question I would advise calling them. They are VERY personable and want to really help you out. Email? Not so fast and a bit cumbersome. Just better to call them.

I decided to permanently mount this is a bathroom in my basement office. Here are a few pictures of my setup.

I needed a mounting board so I used two shelves I got at home depot a few years ago. I secured them with cabinet screws.
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I got the RO system all plumed and ready for mounting.

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Here it is fully mounted and leak tested. I decided not to put the pump just before the RO filter after the pre-filters as the manufacture recommends. The reason is it caused the pressure gauge to pulsate horribly. There is no way for me to adjust it. I would need to figure out some kinda flow restriction to stop that. I decided to put it at the inlet before the pre-filters and add a 100 micron screen the filter any large debris for now.
IMG_7678.JPG

I put this behind the door so when not in use I can simply hide it.
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Update: 3/30/2019 - I got some parts I was waiting for in the mail and I completed my build. I cleaned up the pluming and the wiring.
IMG_7688.JPG


I added 1/2 inch split wire loom to keep the inflow water line and the waste water line together. I think it makes the install a lot neater. The boost pump has a drip loop for obvious reasons.
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I love this diverter where both the inflow water and waste are in one unit. I can leave it connected and still use the sink. UPDATE: I later changed the faucet. This one is gross :)
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My inflow water is has a lot of dissolved solids
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This is my outflow after the RO but before DI. I was shocked and had to check it. It is correct. They said that more pressure would have a positive effect on TDS. They were not kidding ! lol
IMG_7693.JPG
 
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Taxus812

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3/19/2019 - I need a bucket !

I realized I will need to do more than 4 gallons of RODI so I purchased a Brute 20 gal bucket, lid and a Shutoff float. Home depot sells the wheeled dolly but none of the stores had them. They were $34 anyway. I decided to go to harbor freight and buy a mini moving dolly for $8 and modify it. I added a 3/4" piece of oak scrap for Home depot I got for free. then I simply added a flat rock to take up the void in the center of the barrel. I am not sure it needs it but it doesn't hurt. I will later add another piece of scrap and fasten it to the dolly. Perhaps it will work, perhaps I will be washing my floors again. We shall see.

Update: after my daughter dumped over the barrel of rodi I ditched the rock and bought the wheeled base built for the brute barrel. :)

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3/17/2019 - buying fish to complete the cycle today. I used water with established bacteria, live rock and live sand. My water is clear and my levels are at 0. When I first purchased the tank we discussed when I can add two fish to complete the cycle. The water testing is great so today is that day. We bought two clown fish. I will be doing daily water testing for a bit.


Update: after joining R2R I learned a better way to complete the cycle is to add ammonia (made for this use ) to feed the bacteria instead of fish poop. My clowns didn’t seem to mind and the ammonia was barely measurable.

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3/20/2019 - Is it getting hot in here?

The great heater mystery of 2019. I have no clue but my tank temp was 77 for a week solid and now it has been climbing 1 deg per day. I emailed the manufacture (Eheim) but got only an automatic email. I suspect the location may have something to do with it. I read that these type of heaters do best on an external controller. I decided to not risk it and pulled it.

I looked at ink and a few other brands and finally decided to buy an aquatop titanium 300w heater. I liked this because it has the same features of an external controller but in a single unit. Only one point of failure instead of multiples. I installed it in the sump and put the external controller on the side of the stand. The tempature probe is in the main tank just before the water return grills.

It works great. My temps fluctuate between 77.5 and 77.9. The only issue is the temp on the controller is off by 1 deg. I tested the temps in the water with three thermometers and they all agreed. So I simply added a degree to my desired temp.

Update: we put the Eheim heater in my daughters 45gal fr shwater tank. It has been rock solid at 75 deg. I have no clue. Perhaps it did t like the sump with all that turbulent water.


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3/22/2019 - Chernobyl in my base cabinet !

Just a quick update. When I did my wiring I used 3M VHB to stick the power brick for my light to the side of the cabinet. I opened my cabinet the next day and it was on the ground. When I picked it up it was very hot !!!! I actually measured 140 Deg what the heck !! I was concerned it seemed just to hot. I emailed Aquaillumination with my concerns (and my lighting profile). In the meantime I pulled the brick outside of the cabinet for more cooling.

I secured the power supply to the side of the cabinet for better airflow.
IMG_7665[1].JPG

Aquailllumination emailed back. They actually ran around and measured the temps on their power supplies in the office to see what they were seeing (thats cool) ! they told me that they were seeing about 110F however they don't typicality utilize more than 100% on any color channel. The great thing about the Hydra 26HD is I can send them the a picture of the lighting profile (which I did). I was using a downloaded AB+ profile. Aquaillumination noted that in the profile I was using several channels were in excess of 100% (consuming 85w). This is likely the source of the extra heat.

IMG_7669[1].PNG

I was just using an AB+ profile I found. I found another profile on their website and it provides similar light but only consumes 65w of power. The temperature on power supply dropped to 110F at peak.

The takeaway here is if you plan to utilize higher power settings you should consider the airflow and cooling for the power supply.

I can safely chalk this one up to the learning curve.
 
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3/25/2019 - I need an ATO.

Topping this tank is not horrible but I go through about 1/2 gal a day. I quickly discovered it is going to get old having to walk downstairs to get RODI.

Researching I quickly discovered not all ATOs will work in this tank. Tanks with the sumps in the cabinet likely have more volume so the pump will run longer to refill the tank. I have the Red Sea Max E - 170. The tank has its sump at the back of the tank. (The circulating pump keeps the main tank at the maximum level even if the water level drops significantly in the sump). The sump is approximately 4”x 10.5”. I can see a 2" drop with only 1/2 gal of evaporation (2" drop has zero effect on my protein skimmer since it has its own pump and tank that it keeps full from the sump. )

Now with an ATO. The float only travels a few mm before activating the pump. In my case the pump would likely only pump 1/10th of a gallon then shut off. That would probably only take 30 sec. So the pump would cycle about 5-6 times a day with a short run.

Many of the gold standard ATO's have timed run in addition to the sensor to account for "waves". Well if it has a 60 sec on time that is going to overfill my sump. Fortunately many have a overfill sensor. Unfortunately I hear they don't always work for various reasons. Ugg my head is going to explode !!!!!!!!!

Another issue is how much Safety do I have for a failure with the pump stuck on. All of the manuals I have read state your ATO reservoir volume should not exceed the maximum safety volume of you tank to run unattended.

Crap here comes the calculator and rulers.
Long story short I measured the tank volume above the water line to a point I thought was "safe". I then measured the sump area to that same point. The safety volume on an RS Max E -170 is approximately 1.25 gallons with my manual calculations. ( NOTE: I later learned I could also just look in the manual and they had 1.5 gal ;Facepalm).

What a max 1.5 gal ATO reservoir volume is crazy low and good for three days. What if I want to go on vacation for a week ?

The reason they state this is if all of the electronic sensors fail (or you have a controller failure) and the pump is left in a running state, it can overfill and do bad things to you fish, floors and wallet.

Honestly cant they just put a mechanical OH CRAP safety in ?

NOTE: There needs to be a article or video on how to properly size an ATO for your tank.

The worse part about all of this is I probably could design and build my own ATO with safety's that cut the power to the pump and is actually separate from the controller (not super hard to add a relay to cut power to a 9v pump). I just don't have the all the testing capability that a manufacture has and this is in my bedroom with wood floors.

I am thinking I am going to add a float valve to the fill line. This way if there is a whacked out failure I KNOW it cant overfill. I already 3D printed a mount.

IMG_7722[1].JPG
 
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I selected an ATO finally. I got it in the mail today !

I originally purchased a Tunze nano based on my specs above but when it arrived the box looked like it got wet, thrown down the stairs and opened/returned a few dozen times. It was all there but I was not sure I was going to trust that the relay wasn’t damaged. I sat on it a few days and decided not only to return it but to go a different route. I called marine depot, told them exactly what happened. @MarineDepot was super helpful and sent me an RMA and return shipping.

While I had them on the phone I purchased the AquaQua smart ATO micro.
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As you can see everything is very small.
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What is disliked about the Tunze nano 3152
  • Mechanical relay
  • Mechanical float switch
Tunze if your ever reading this if you had an LED sensor on the nano It would likely be hanging on my tank now. A solid state relay would be over the top. May ne time for an update ;)

I also looked at the Tunze 3155 (gold standard for ATO,s). There was a lot to like about this ato, however there were a few things I felt, were keeping it from a good fit for my tank.
  • It used a mechanical relay
  • I would need to turn the pump WAY down as to not overfill my sump.
  • It has a startup and end run time regardless of the eye detection which adds up to about 40 sec. In my sump that would likely put the sensor underwater
  • When I shut off my circulation pump to feed my fish, it would trigger the high water sensor and thus the alarm. This is because my sump water level raises about 3” when off.
  • Mechanical safety float valve.
What I like about the Smart ATO Micro.
  1. It uses a solid state relay. Mechanical relays are well ... mechanical and can short closed. This can leave the pump running even if the controller is dead. Not to say solid state ones don’t but it will occur much less. Typically if a solid state relay fails the whole controller fails and it is simply dead and (off). (Note : a sensor failure can leave the pump running on both type units. Safety’s should stop the run in those cases)
  2. Led float switch
  3. Safety is a timer that cuts out at 3x the runtime of the first run. I can couple that with a float valve on the fill line and have a top notch system.
Installation was very easy.( I still have to get an adaptor for my float to the 3/8 tubing. I installed it as designed for now). One note, the included siphon break is very useful if you have your resivoir level higher than your sump or water level you want to fill. So when you start the water flow and shut off the pump, a siphon is not created draining your resivoir into your sump. My sump is 4’ above my reservoir. Putting the siphon break in the location described in the manual will add no value (in reservoir above max waterline). I ensured the fill tube is above the max waterline. This adds an air gap that breaks the siphon when the pump is shut off in this installation. Later when I add a float valve I can further ensure their is always a gap or the valve is closed

I shut the circulation pump off to determine where the max waterline is. I then put the fill tube about 1/2 inch above that. I put a twist tie on the end of the fill tube So the tube can’t pull out as a just in case.
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The sensor is held in place with a magnet. It is supposed to be able to work on 1/2 glass but it was a little weak.

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I used a 5 gal water jug I had from when I first filled the tank, I cut a hole I the cap so I can unscrew the top and pull the jug out to refill,
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I used zip ties to zip tie the fill tube and the pump power lead together making an umbilical of sorts. This was the threaded through the hole in the cap. The control unit installed on the back wall and the pump is plugged into that. I used 3m 60lb tape to stick it to the wall. While I was at it, I neatened up my cords and cables. (Everything always has a drip loop. Every line, so water has no way to get into a controller or outlet.
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Overall the installation was easy and I am very pleased with this ATO. It is super quiet (I can’t hear it fill). The alarm will sound and shut the pump off, If the pumps runs 3x the first run since power on, for any reason ( like the resivoir runs dry). The sensor is very sensitive and on this tank that works better for me. The only bad is the alarm is a little quiet. We shall see how things work out over time.

Onto the next event !
 
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Hooray my cycle may be nearing the end !

About two weeks ago I woke up to brown diatom algae everywhere. When I did my tests I found that my ammonia was now zero and my nitrite was past what my test kit could measure ;Wideyed. I posted my new find and was told, don’t worry it’s a good thing and normal for a new tank (the term “the uglys” was used).

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I decided to add a few small snails and a few small crabs to eat the diatoms. I got loads of enjoyment watching them do their work. (Knowing the diatoms would disappear I only got a few cleaners so they wouldn’t die off quickly). I didn’t find the uglys so ugly. It was cool to see the cleaned rocks and sand where they were.

Here are the little buggers :). My cleanup crew.
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Fast forward a week or so later to today. The diatoms have totally disappeared. All of My water tests show the ammonia remained at zero but the nitrite levels fell a lot. The best part is the nitrate levels are now rising from zero. I’m getting a more complete cycle! (I also discovered a syringe makes filling those glass vile soooo much easier)

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:mad: My ATO tried to overfill my tank ! One day in ! (This is why I am writing this at 3:00am. I suspect it was sensor placement but I did discover a design flaw! (They all have them)

I woke up to nature’s call and could hear a strange sound in my tank. It was the ato pump running dry in my reservoir. The light on the sensor was blinking blue. The water was well above the ATO sensor. Fortunately I only had a little over a gallon in the reservoir. This was less than the safety volume of the tank so no wet floor.

My theory :
Micro bubbles tripped the sensor while it was under water. The Controller did not yet setup a safety timer and ran the reservoir out.

The possible design flaw:
The pumps safety is that the pump will not run longer than 3x the time it took for the first run. The issue: if it overfills on the first run there is no safety! That is the design flaw.


Other info:
I could see small bubbles at the sensor where I put it. They didn’t seem to interfere the first day.

My water level was a little high so I shut off the ATO and moved the sensor lower (putting It slightly underwater ) . I then turned the ATO back on and it booted and indicated it was ok with a solid blue light.

I went to bed ....... woke up to nature’s call and you know the rest.

I suspect micro-bubbles may have triggered the ato to fill. Since it was underwater it just ran and ran because the safety never got set since I power cycled and this was the first run.

I will check with the vender in the morning.

Changes to my design
Installing the mechanical float valve on the fill line ASAP.

I may add an external safety as well.
Aqua Auto AutoAqua Smart Level Security unit
https://www.marinedepot.com/search?Query=smart+level+security&oq=Smart+level+security



Before you ask if I regret returning the nano . I did at first but after thinking about it. The nano could have also failed on for a similar reason (meaning sensor error). It’s timer is preset so it would have shutdown after 1.4 min. So in this scenario it would have performed better. However it is still using a relay and can get stuck in the on position ignoring the timer with the same results. So six of one 1/2 dozen of another.



UPDATE: I worked with coralvue tech support and it is not super clear about why it did what it did.

Three theory's are:
1) Debris or microbubbles caused a false trigger
2) The water by the exit of the protein skimmer was too turbulent for this type of sensor. Causing a false trigger
3) flakey\defective sensor that could be affected by just about anything.

All three failed on the first run since power on thus bypassing the safety since it never set the base time. This caused the pump run until I shut it off. (they really should program in a default time of 10 min). Just not a super common situation.

A simple move of the sensor would knock out two of the three. I moved it to the other side of the sump (over the circulation pump).


Original sensor location
smart ATO micro sensor placment 1.jpg

New sensor location
Alt Location 2 - last chamber over circulating pump.JPG
 
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The sensor move was it. I have had no issues since( and I tried to get it to fail.)

However I added a float valve to the fill line anyway. I honestly planned on doing that from the beginning after reading all the overfill stories.

I had some issues in the beginning with noise. When the pump started it would push out the air in the line. This made a swoosh noise flowing through the float.

I worked out a solution with help with the DIY section. I had to replace the float valve I wanted to use but the end result was a super quiet ATO fill with a mechanical safety

To quiet the float valve on an ATO fill line you need to:
  1. Make sure your float has the largest orifice you can find (.093", 1.5 gpm @ 60 psi seems to be the biggest).
  2. Add a check valve near the pump so when the pump stops water remains in the line.
  3. (optional I didn't need it) Add some filter foam under the fill line.
Please note how quiet will depend on the PSI you pump can produce. Head Height will affect how much pressure you pump will generate.

Here is mine before adding the check valve. It not as loud as it gets (never behaves for the camera) be but you get the idea.


Here are the parts I used.
1)Kerick MAB22 PVC Mini Float Valve with 1/4" Barbed end (5/16 tubing was included with my ATO). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0077RB0LC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
2) Check valve with a low breaking pressure. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003LYHNJS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

IMG_7765.JPG

Float installed and full of water! Hope I don’t have to use it.
39C70B53-B0AE-4880-8A38-6C983B30DE71.jpeg

I added the check valve near the pump but above the waterline of my reservoir (not sure if that matters)
1966C658-EC04-4C58-8207-05B872E5A84D.jpeg
 
Last edited:
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Taxus812

Taxus812

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Not much to do while waiting on the cycling and ageing before I can get sooooo

I did some work on the ATO it has been fun so far. Its pretty quiet already since I added the check valve. I decided to add some foam to cut down on the water noise.
(Oh yeah I discovered video :). I may have to add some to older posts.)

Here is the ATO before adding foam. Please note that the room is quiet ! and the skimmer is off.

I added this foam right under the float. It sits on top of the larger filter so no support is needed.
IMG_E7791.JPG

Here is the after :).
 
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