The Next Chapter: From Display System to Frag System

nickkohrn

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I created a build thread last November to document the progression of my Waterbox 100.3, which had some ups and downs. It was intended to live as a display system, but after much thought, I decided to replace it. If you are interested, then I will share the reasons for my decision in a subsequent post. However, there is one reason that I will share now — my wife and I will be moving into our first home within the next couple of years, and I don't want to have a beautiful display system that will be moved, risking losses of livestock due to corals being attached to substrates. I want a system that can withstand a move more easily.

So, here begins the documented progression of my frag-system build.

I picked up an Aqueon 40-gallon breeder that will be used as the main holding tank for frags. Its dimensions are 36"Lx18"Wx16"H. I decided to use a tank that has the same length as my Waterbox because it will allow me to have a decent amount of room while limiting how many corals that it can hold, which is desirable due to my addiction to SPS corals. ;Greedy

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I will likely purchase an additional 40-gallon breeder during the next $1/gallon sale so that I have a backup should something unfortunate happen to this during the drilling process or after it is set up and filled with livestock. I will drill it with the same configuration as the primary tank so that a relatively easy swap can take place.

I will be using a Bashsea Smart Series sump. I am excited to use it because it will allow me to control the water-heights within its compartments, which will be quite useful when setting an appropriate depth for my skimmer.

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Since the sump has three drain bulkheads, I decided to order an oversized overflow box from Modular Marine. It will handle 1,600 GPH, which is more than I will need, but I like its features and the fact that I can use it on a future build. The selling points were the extremely low-profile skimmer box and Bean Animal configuration.

I was looking at purchasing an extruded aluminum stand to use, but it was far outside of what I want to spend after configuring the add-ons. Luckily, @Billdogg reached out to me and offered to build my stand and equipment cabinet since he is local. After exchanging many messages regarding my desires, he started on it yesterday, and I am incredibly excited! Below are a few photos that he sent.

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In the meantime, I cycled a quart of MarinePure spheres and Bio-Balls with an elevated temperature of 86ºF and a salinity of 18ppt, which was inspired by Dr. Tim Hovanec's MACNA talk.

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One piece of equipment that I wanted to get ahold of was delivered this morning, with my overflow box — a Neptune Systems Trident! I will be waiting to set it up until I have the frag system plumbed and running.

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I will begin moving equipment over from the Waterbox as I set up the frag system, which can't happen soon enough! My excitement is tough to contain at the moment. :)

So, there's my initial progress report for this build, which is turning out to be more exciting than I thought!
 
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nickkohrn

nickkohrn

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Ill bite. Curious why you wouldn't just use the waterbox as the frag system?
I appreciate your interest. :)
  • The combined height of the tank and stand makes it difficult to maintenance without standing on a stepladder. I am excited to have a tank that I will be able to easily clean, including the bottom glass, without difficulty.
  • The total height of the aquarium makes it difficult to sit in front of because the lights are at a height that results in difficulty viewing the tank from a sitting position. Without modifying my lights, it's not enjoyable to view while relaxing.
  • The Waterbox came with metric plumbing, which I converted to U.S. standard plumbing at the point at which it enters the stand. I have yet to feel confident when making any adjustments to valves or maintaining equipment.
  • The return plumbing in the overflow box is leaky, which causes drips to be heard all day. I have tried to fix it multiple times, but it continues to be an issue. Since it's a reef-ready system that uses metric plumbing, having an entire system plumbed with U.S. standard plumbing is far more desirable to me.
As indicated by the unordered list, the reasons for my decision are not in any particular order. However, the reason at the top of the list does hold more value to me; if a system is easier to clean and maintain, then I am far more likely to clean and maintain it.
 

infinite0180

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I appreciate your interest. :)
  • The combined height of the tank and stand makes it difficult to maintenance without standing on a stepladder. I am excited to have a tank that I will be able to easily clean, including the bottom glass, without difficulty.
  • The total height of the aquarium makes it difficult to sit in front of because the lights are at a height that results in difficulty viewing the tank from a sitting position. Without modifying my lights, it's not enjoyable to view while relaxing.
  • The Waterbox came with metric plumbing, which I converted to U.S. standard plumbing at the point at which it enters the stand. I have yet to feel confident when making any adjustments to valves or maintaining equipment.
  • The return plumbing in the overflow box is leaky, which causes drips to be heard all day. I have tried to fix it multiple times, but it continues to be an issue. Since it's a reef-ready system that uses metric plumbing, having an entire system plumbed with U.S. standard plumbing is far more desirable to me.
As indicated by the unordered list, the reasons for my decision are not in any particular order. However, the reason at the top of the list does hold more value to me; if a system is easier to clean and maintain, then I am far more likely to clean and maintain it.
Thanks, i figured the height had something to do with it. Honestly thats why ill be looking for something shorter when i upgrade. The new Waterbox Frags have a 16 inch height. Honestly that seems like a sweet spot. A bit sad to hear such a nice system has poor plumbing, but then again my rsr nano was expensive and the plumbing is pretty shotty too...
 
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nickkohrn

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The new Waterbox Frags have a 16 inch height. Honestly that seems like a sweet spot.
The 40-gallon breeder has a height of 16”, and my stand will have a height of 36”. I’m absolutely thrilled to have a total height under 5’. I won’t need to use the extended grippers that many hobbyists use to grab items from the bottoms of tanks! :cool:
 

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Thanks for the shout-out Nick!

I'll be cutting the puzzle pieces to correct length this weekend (but not during THE GAME!), drilling a whole bunch of pocket screw holes, and starting assembly. The magnets from www.kjmagnetics.com came in today for the doors as well. ou'll have your stands before you know it!!!
 
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Thanks for the shout-out Nick!

I'll be cutting the puzzle pieces to correct length this weekend (but not during THE GAME!), drilling a whole bunch of pocket screw holes, and starting assembly. The magnets from www.kjmagnetics.com came in today for the doors as well. ou'll have your stands before you know it!!!
I wish that I could “Like” this more than once! :)
I don’t know how I feel about it, but I’m excited to throw some money at you! ;)

I’m ready to watch TTUN get a whoopin’!
 
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I opened my Modular Marine overflow box this morning, and I must say that I was highly satisfied with how the overflow box and other contents were packaged. Below are photos of the overflow box and other contents.

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I am thrilled with how well the external overflow box fits against the top trim of my 40-gallon breeder. It feels well-made, and I’m absolutely pleased with my decision at this point in time.
 
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This week is shaping up to be a fun one!

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I decided to switch out my Radions for a 6-bulb ATI T5 fixture. I have always been intrigued by T5s due to their reputation of being great for coral growth, but I skipped over them when I went from metal halides to PAR38 bulbs to full-blown LEDs. So, I ordered the fixture, three Coral Plus bulbs, and three Blue Plus bulbs. The decision was made after reading through @Big E's thread, which is filled with incredibly gorgeous corals. ;Wideyed ;Drool

@Billdogg sent me a couple of photos yesterday to give me an update on the progression of my stand, and I couldn't be more excited! In this process, I have learned that custom builds are the way to go for me in the future. The flexibility is difficult to beat, and I have enjoyed building a relationship along the way.

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I'm going to attempt drilling the aquarium this upcoming weekend. It will be my first time drilling an aquarium, so I will be picking up a couple of small pieces of glass from a local hardware shop to practice with. I will also be attending the CORA frag swap this weekend, and I am going to practice restraint with regard to purchases because I have a stand and cabinet to finish paying for. :cool:
 
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Mmmmmmmmm pocket holes~
And GLUE! Never forget the GLUE!!!

I love pocket holes for this sort of thing - they make an incredibly strong joint, and as long as you can make a square cut, you are almost guaranteed a square assembly.

Now for some plywood skin, and a few doors, a coat or 3 of paint, and they'll be done!
 
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As someone that has not drilled a tank before, I have read and watched many tutorials, so I understand the basics and what I should and should not do. I want to make the process as easy as possible, so I picked up a guide, tubing, and hose adapters so that I can use a steady stream of cold hose water. The true test will come this weekend!

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Also, this should make fragging much easier than what my Dremel makes it:

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Today felt like a win. I successfully drilled an aquarium for the first time, and I was able to test the fits of the bulkheads.

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The overflow box bulkheads were slightly misaligned, but I was able to get everything to fit snugly.

I installed the T5 bulbs in the ATI SunPower to verify that everything works as expected. At first, only one channel illuminated, but I was able to get all bulbs illuminated on the second try.

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And for today’s final update, @Billdogg sent me a photo of the cut skins and doors for my stand and equipment cabinet! I’m becoming more and more excited for this!

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I couldn’t wait any longer, so I took the Radions off of my Waterbox, sold them, and installed my ATI SunPower fixture today. I’m in love. :oops:

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Even though this fixture will be going over the new frag tank, I couldn’t wait to see what the combination of Blue Plus and Coral Plus bulbs had in store. The light emitted from this fixture is so much more gorgeous than what my four Radion XR15s with diffusers provided. I saw features of corals that I didn’t see when I had the Radions over them. I’m in awe after seeing the difference.

Although I may miss the deep, evening blues, I think that I’ll enjoy the colors that these bulbs will pull from the corals.

I’m so glad that @UWC pointed me to @Big E’s thread so that I could see what this fixture and bulb combination is capable of.
 
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I used my Seneye today to get some PAR measurements, and I’m quite pleased with the results.

The bulbs are suspended 9” above the waterline. The outer two platforms sit 24” below the bulbs, and the middle platform sits 28” below the bulbs. The two outer platforms are getting ~300 PAR, and the middle platform is getting ~250 PAR. since the Waterbox is 22” high, I will likely have to raise the fixture higher above the frag tank since it’s 16” high.

I can’t believe how uniformly lit the tank is under the T5s, The four Radions didn’t make the tank look as nicely-lit as the T5s do.
 
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Over the recent weekend, I decided to stop at a local home improvement store and purchase three 8-packs of 3"x6" travertine tiles to use for growing corals on. After using my new Gryphon AquaSaw to cut each tile in half, I ended up with 48 3"x3" tiles for less than $15. I used to use Oceans Wonders 3"x3" tiles, but they have a cost of $1/tile, whereas the travertine tiles ended up costing less than $0.35/tile.
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Also, I picked up a voltage meter from @TheHarold to keep an eye on the state of my EcoTech battery backup. After plugging in the meter and unplugging the charger, I noted that my battery needs replaced since the meter detected 10.5 volts instead of the 12 volts that a healthy battery should produce. So, I ordered a new battery from Amazon, which should arrive on Wednesday. Once I have a free evening, I will remove the original battery and replace it with the new battery.

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The $40 cost of the replacement battery was much more appealing than the $180 cost of a replacement directly from EcoTech. :cool:
 

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