The House of Orange

Fish Styx

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Hey, all. I'm finally getting around to starting a build log for my system, which has been wet and running for two years now. I just spent the better part of the last three hours sifting through and organizing the photos that I could find and will try to assemble them here in a way that makes sense and keeps you engaged (hopefully). The goal is to get you caught up from where I started to where I am today, making note of the changes between then and now, and then continue to update this thread as a journal. So, I hope you'll come along with me for the ride and share in this journey.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we...

After a brutal break up back in 2014, I was forced to tear down my system (125 gallon), rehome my livestock, and sell off my gear. That left me heartbroken (over the tank, not my ex) and tankless until the end of 2020 when I started putting this system together. During my dry time I saved and planned the build obsessively, resigning myself to stay dry until I could build a "dream system", if you will; and that is exactly what I did. It should be noted, however, that said "dream" had to be tempered by my budget, available space, and wife's (I have since remarried) patience. lol

Anyways, it is a 260 gallon total system volume (TSV) comprised of a 180 gallon display tank (DT), a 20 gallon (breeder) remote display refugium, and a 60 gallon sump. The DT is a Mega Matrix from Planet Aquariums in Texas, and I had it built and subsequently shipped to me where I currently reside, in the DC metropolitan area. The build is intended to be an SPS dominant reef, with some LPS peppered in for good measure. A caveat issued by my wife, hereafter referred to as "The Dainty Dictator", is that it must have an anemone and "Nemos" <groan>. So in addition to the stony corals, her highness must be appeased with the addition of a nem. I went with an RBTA, but more on that later...

Equipment and stocking list will be discussed as this thing unfolds. Shall we get started? Alright then, buckle up. Here we go!
 
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Fish Styx

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Like I said, the DT was ordered from Planet Aquariums in Texas, and TBH, I couldn't be happier with the build quality. After looking at several custom tank manufacturers (Reef Savvy, Glasscages, etc) I settled on them based on price point and review quality. I opted for the rimmed variety with an internal overflow. The overflow style due to placement of the system and ability (or lack there of) to reach behind to the plumbing for maintenance, should the need arise. Here are some photos of delivery day. My father in law strategically placed for size comparison.
 

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Fish Styx

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I was a bit disappointed that it was just curbside delivery, but hey, at least they dropped it in my driveway. I called my brother in law and another buddy to come help me break down the packaging and move it in to the garage. I was really happy with the crating, and like I said, the quality of the build, bracing, and silicone work were (are) amazing. This is definitely the nicest tank I've ever owned! Here are some photos of breaking it down and moving it in. Note my brother in law laying inside the tank and pretending it was one of the glass coffins from the Philippines. SMDH

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Okay, it's here. Now what? Well, historically, I have always built my own stands. Since this was the package deal, I was going to have to modify this one to meet my needs and match my taste in home decor. Orange is, after all, the new black. At a minimum, the stand would have to be painted, inside and out. However, I also wanted lighting underneath, magnetic closures, additional storage on the inside of the doors, and a few other bells and whistles. For the interior of the stand, I used a marine grade gloss white to aid in waterproofing and to reflect light better. Here are some pics of the painting process:
 

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Fish Styx

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Now that the inside paint was complete, it was time to add some lighting. I don't recall offhand the manufacturer of these lights, but I did order them from amazon. They are daisy-chained, low-profile LED's that are enclosed to protect against splashing and come equipped with a dimmer switch.
 

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Alright. Now that the inside was finished, it was time to move to the exterior. My color schemes are as follows: Orange for the exterior of the stand and canopy, and blue and white for under the hood (sump, filtration, etc). By the time this thread is done, you'll either appreciate my OCD, or be completely disgusted by it. hahaha. Here are some pics of the painting and finishing of the stand:
 

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Fish Styx

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awesome build so far and following along. I just got a custom planet tank as well. Do you know if the wood stand comes pre-coated? Curious if i need to put down a protective layer on the inside.
It does, but I coated the interior with an oil-based marine grade paint. I'm a big fan of over engineering things.
 
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With the stand complete (doors not pictured) and foam levelling mat in place, it was time to get the sump under this beast. In keeping with my color scheme for under the hood, I had initially purchased a Trigger Systems Sapphire CR44 sump, but decided to go with the Tideline 60 for additional water volume. This posed an issue later on that caused me to change where and how I mounted the UV sterilizer, but more on that later. The Trigger Systems sump did not go to waste though, as it is supporting a different system in my basement now. So, win win. Anyways, in order to get this monster under the stand, I had to remove the back braces. This made (and still does, TBH) me nervous that, in the event of a failure with the acrylic, swapping out the sump would be near impossible with the tank in place and full above it. YOLO though, amirite!? So, here are some pics of the leveling mat being applied to the bottom and it being put into place:
 

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With the stand complete, it was time to turn my attention to the canopy. Now, my plan was to construct a motorized lift system to raise and lower the canopy from the tank. Given the size of this thing, I wouldn't be able to take the canopy off by myself (safely) in the event that I required significant access to the inside of the tank for maintenance or whatnot. So I drafted some very crude designs using Powerpoint. For the lift, I would repurpose linear actuators designed to adjust 250 lb. solar arrays. With two of them, I would have more than enough oomph to raise the canopy. here are the "schematics":

Canopy Lift System DRAFT.jpg Canopy Lift System Profile View DRAFT.jpg
 
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In order to bring this half-cocked plan to fruition, I would need to modify the canopy in order to provide mounting points for the rear struts, but also to reinforce it to avoid forward deflection / torque. Definitely didn't want this thing coming loose and / or dropping from 20 inches onto the glass below. I did this using lumber, steel "L" brackets, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease. This would essentially shift the entire load of the canopy, lights, etc. to the insert and then down the rear bracing of the lift. Here are some pics of the process:
 

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Time to finish reassembly and paint. I wasn't concerned about the interior, as I would be lining it with reflective mylar. Additionally, all hardware was coated with a marine corrosion inhibitor.
 

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This is the corrosion inhibitor that I mentioned previously. It is made by CRC Marine. I promise, I don't keep this stuff near my desk. Hahaha. I ran out to the garage to grab it.
 

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Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the canopy. I wanted to ensure proper ventilation under this thing, so I added some fans to it. I believe these things were ordered from Amazon and originally intended to cool electronics equipment stacks:
 

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Given that this system was being built predominantly for SPS, I did not want par to be an issue, and therefore wanted to ensure that I was able to eek out every bit of performance from my lighting as possible. I heard somewhere <ahem> that growers of certain plants <ahem> frequently use reflective mylar in their <ahem> "operations" to reflect back and direct light. I heard...

So if it works for <ahem> vegetation, it should work in a reef tank, right? Maybe, maybe not: but, it certainly couldn't hurt to try, right? My thoughts exactly! I knew I liked you! So, I found an online retailer that specialized in providing equipment for the growing of certain <ahem> plants and procured a roll of the stuff. I wasn't terribly concerned about the wrinkles, because the lighting would be mounted on top of the stuff. I taped the seams and corners with highly reflective HVAC tape. Here are some pics of the process:

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