The Maelstrom 120

AbjectMaelstroM

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Since my wife and I agreed that a year is too long to go without seeing a reef (we do dive vacations every year) I am now getting close to pulling the trigger on my first saltwater mixed reef aquarium, so I figured I would get a build thread going as I'm sure I'll have tons of questions and it's always good to have a second set of eyes. Going to have to apologize in advance as the updates will probably be slower than most as work has been killer lately and the only time I can actually get more than an hour of productivity in, is on weekends.

After about a month of looking and reading, I’ve pretty much settled on a Planet Aquariums - Planet 48 (x24x24) 120G tank. Nothing too fancy, standard framed tank w/ standard glass. Heading over to the LFS this weekend to get a quote from PA for the tank as well as having the tank drilled for the Synergy Reef Overflow. My LFS would drill the tank, but after talking to PA, unless the drilling was done by them, the warranty is void…. At Least that's what I took away from our 10 min conversation.

Going to be using a 40 gal breeder from petco as my sump, probably 3 sections: drain which contain the skimmer (maybe a sock), middle section for the fuge (hoping to add chaeto) , and the last section for the return pump.

Tentative Parts List:

  • Planet Aquariums - Planet 48 120G Aquarium
  • Petco 40g breeder sump
  • External overflow - synergy Reef or maybe Planet Aquariums own external overflow drilled for bean animal style. 1.5 inch bulkheads for drain and 1" bulkheads for return (to ¾ locline).
  • Reef Octopus varios 6 return pump
  • 2x EcoTech Mp40w ES powerheads. (picked up used on R2R)
  • Skimmer… Either Nyos 160 or Aquamaxx Q2. Nyos looks nice, but so does the price of the Aquamaxx… Thoughts?
  • Lighting - that's a whole other can of worms. I really like the color and the shimmer of LEDs I saw at the LFS. But, those were radions and at $600+ a pop and I would need at least two of them, it's a bit more than I want to shell out. Right now I'm considering several options: T5/led hybrid (AL48), DIY led using either pre-made pucks or full on DIY, or go with something like an Photon V2+ or SB reef BB. All have their pros and cons…My research needs more research.
  • 2x Heaters Enheim Jager 150w controlled by reef pi.

I will also try to DIY as much of the build as I can, partly to save money, partly because I like to tinker and work with my hands. I’ve already started working on the stand of common dimensional lumber (2x4s and 2x6s). As of right now it’s just a frame skinned in ½ and ¾ plywood. Trim and doors are next.

In parallel to the stand, I started working on a Reef Pi controller, huge thanks to the lads over in the DIY section (@Ranjib @Michael Lane) for putting in the amazing work. To start, my plan is to have the Reef Pi controller handle an 8-outlet DIY power controller for pumps, heaters, skimmer; 3x temp probes, and pH probe. Later I would like to add an ATO and if possible, automate the water change process.

I will start posting my progress on the stand as well as the controller over the weekend. I've carved out a few hours Saturday and Sunday to tinker.

Lastly, for all of the research that I've done, I don't know what I don't know, so if you guys see anything that needs to be addressed or seems off and you have questions, please let me know.

Buckle up, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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So while I'm sitting here at work, I've been kicking around the idea of some plumbing. Here's the skinny....

Directly on the other side of the wall to which the tank will back up to, is a half bath.

20190814_100947.jpg


I marked the location (within and inch or two) where the drain pipe (P tap) is on the other side.
20190814_100502.jpg


So... What I ultimately would like to do is be able to tap into the drain to:

1. Make water changes easier by draining tank directly into the sink drain.
2. Tap RODI into the cold water line and waste line into the drain, then run fresh water into the tank.

Has anyone done something like this? What would be a good way to go about it. Assuming theres nothing in the wall cavity (unknown) could place an access panel or a conduit between the two rooms to run 3/8" water lines through. I might now have enough room under the tank for a 6 stage RODI so I may have to mount it under the sink. Otherwise, I'm hauling buckets.

Thoughts/ideas? Or am I too off of the beaten path here?
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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So as promised, here is my current progress on the Reef-Pi controller.

Parts list (Current):
  • Ras Pi 3
  • Reef Pi HAT v2 by @Michael Lane
  • Isolated pH board, also by @Michael Lane .... I know it's been said many times already, but this man does fantastic work that makes the DIY easy for the masses.
  • 2x Temp probes
  • 2x Mini XLR for said temp probes
  • JST connectors w/ wiring (3 and 4 pin)
  • 3.5mm jack for power brick
  • 12v 2.5A Power Brick (12v-5V buck converters in the mail)
20190812_105243.jpg


20190817_081356.jpg


Put some heat-shrink on the base of the temp probes to minimize water intrusion. I know these are sold as "waterproof/water resistant" however there have been plenty of report of these probes rusting out and leeching nastiness into the tank. Still need to silicone-dip the tips.
20190817_091308.jpg


Finished wiring everything up this morning. Waiting on the pH probe to come in from Amazon. Both temp probes are running and are within 0.1 F of each other. (Don't panic about the 73F read out on the probes, they're in a glass of water ;) )

20190817_085708.jpg
20190817_085742.jpg


dash.JPG


Next up will be the 8x controlled power outlets.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Got the outlets/relays wired and tested. 3/8 outlets wired in normally closed for return pumps/powerheads incase power goes out and comes back on. 5/8 wires as normally open for everything else. Need more rainbow cable/jumper cables to finish up the D9 then build an enclosure for the thing... Or maybe build it into the stand...maybe?

20190818_175008.jpg


20190818_175015.jpg
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Well, it's absolutely miserable outside today so.... While the wife is out of the house, desides to do some stand work.

After some back and forth, I decided against using appearance board to fa e the front of the stand, instead I used a 1/2" plywood that I had on hand. Made for a much more unuform appearance.

Made a rough cut with the jigsaw

20190819_111640.jpg


Followed up with a router and a flush bit.

20190819_111929.jpg


Next, instead of fully seating the back, I out in 24x48 sheet of 3/4 ply I had left over, and flushed it with the router.
20190819_135222.jpg


May put two 16-18" wide panels on the left and right perimeter of the opening to button it up some more. Plumbing will dictate. What do you guys think?

Still need to do a bunch of filling and sanding before I prime. An unfortunate side effect of warped 2x4s. :confused:





Ps. Doors are next, probably this coming weekend.
20190819_122605.jpg
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Day off today, so I tried to get a little more work done and ended up doing more than planned before it started drizzling.

Added most of the trim, the last but will be added once I have the tank up to make it all flush.

20190826_121433.jpg




20190826_121449.jpg


Assembled the doors. Don't mind the scuffs, it'll all be primed/painted over.


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Got it somewhat put together. Needs corner molding.


20190826_121825.jpg



20190826_121837.jpg


Added corner molding.


20190826_141327.jpg



20190826_141426.jpg



Now, the "PIA" part of the build, picking out colors.

Was thinking something like (need to run it by the wife):
Crucible.JPG
Cool Gray.JPG



Inside the stand, I'm not sure yet, probably just white, I think I'll use an oil based paint just to help with moisture. I'm also considering using flex-seal on the bottom of the stand (lower 4") to create somewhat of a rubber rub, to make spill clean up easier; or maybe do bathroom liner as Mike has suggested. I also plan on re-painting the room. Two tone, lower 1/3 (below the chair rail) in the dark gray and 2/3 (above the chair rail in the white/cool gray.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Well, this portion of the tank build is nearing completion. Got the paint down yesterday and pretty happy with the results. Just have to go back and touch up places where the brush slipped and some tape bleedthrough.


20190901_090732.jpg



Debating whether or not to paint the bottom base the same gray as the trim or leave it white. How about the door shakers (inside square portion)?
 

samnaz

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I’m really looking forward to this one. Outstanding work so far, never seen an unfinished wood stand look so nice, and finished.

Im loving the wood two tone, and if it were up to me I’d replicate that pattern by painting the bottom moulding dark... and maybe even around the doors. But that’s just me. Carry on!
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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I’m really looking forward to this one. Outstanding work so far, never seen an unfinished wood stand look so nice, and finished.

Im loving the wood two tone, and if it were up to me I’d replicate that pattern by painting the bottom moulding dark... and maybe even around the doors. But that’s just me. Carry on!
Thank you for the kind words.

I've considered painting the bottom trim the gray color but had originally decided against it due to where the stand sits and the color of the walls (see pic below). However, ever since I moved it in place, I'm starting to reconsider leaving the bottom white.

I may just give it a shot... Worst case, I'll just repaint it white.

20190902_075658.jpg
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Went to Lowes and got my 32g brute and spent the weekend playing with the 60lb of dry rock from BRS.

Results:
20190907_074557.jpg


20190907_074635.jpg


Next order of business... Even though water in the tank is still a few months out, I thought about starting the cycle in the brute in the meantime.

First, I need a way to maintain "instructions" to my aquascape layout. Maybe ziptie numbers to all the rocks and take pictures as I disassemble the structure or start cementing some of the rocks together? Rinse all the rocks in tap water, then once it's all "clean", can I just put all the rocks in the brute, mix up salt water (red sea blue bucket), drop in a heater and powerhead (one of the mp40s that'll eventually go on my tank), toss in a shrimp and let it go? Or should I soak/cure the rock in saltwater + powerhead for a few weeks before adding shrimp?
 

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This build is coming along beautifully!
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

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Unfortunately not much to update as work has been crazy, hopefully should be full swing in a couple weeks.

In the meantime, picked this puppy up for chump chnage at a garage sale. Ladybsaid it didn't work.

20190914_184211.jpg


Got home, cracked her open and all it was is a blown fuse. $0.97 later, we're back in business. Playing around with it, was able to run the fridge, a window AC unit no sweat. Hopefully I never have to use it, but it will be nice to have. I may have to make a battery bank to go with it.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

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Interesting development this morning. After breakfast my wife asked me if I'm ever going to open the package I got earlier in the week.

I completely forgot! Here are the goodies.
20190915_092824.jpg


The Exotic Marine overflow looking superb! After comparing it to the Reef Synergy Shadow, the Reef Synergy promptly went back in the box and will be going back to the LFS today. Quality of construction just doesn't compare. Reef Synergy feelt like a tupperware container in comparison.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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Weather is looking kind of sketchy over next few days and Packers about to kick off, figured I'd get some work done.

Went out and cut the panels for the equipment cabinet/dolly (it'll be on 2" casters). Thought about doing a 2x4 frame then skin it, however, given the light weight, I decided to just stick with 3/4 ply and pocket holes.

20190915_124537.jpg
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

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Got some work done today. Assembled the main frame and fitted the panel.

20190916_120918.jpg


Started planning out the layout. A little hard without having all of the quipment on hand.

20190916_114301.jpg


The main panel is recessed ~5" into the "cabinet" leaving me room to add a door later if I go that route. Behind the panel there's an additional ~7" where I'm going to be able to fit 1-2 batteries for the backup a little down the road. The cavity should be more than enough room to hide the rats nest of wires that will come as equipment arrives.

Going to fit some raceways along the back and to the tank to separate sensor wires from AC wires to cut down any any possible interference.
 
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AbjectMaelstroM

AbjectMaelstroM

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the stand looks great with the bottom painted dark, good call. can't wait to see the controller cabinet all wired up and finished!
So I went ahead and added 2" casters to the stand; unfortunately, on the carpet it's a bit unstable due to small contact area. I'm thinking I'll be taking them off and matching the base to the main cabinet out of 2x4 scrap I have left.

Oh well, had to try it.
 

Do you run TWO return pumps for redundancy and to be safe? (check all that apply)

  • Yes I run two return pumps..

    Votes: 137 21.4%
  • No it's a waste..

    Votes: 78 12.2%
  • No but I would like to..

    Votes: 157 24.5%
  • No but I have a spare return pump...

    Votes: 304 47.4%

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