The tale of a newb, a sump and a Glasscage.

dreamcatcherr9

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PART 1:

Introduction:


(The Good Stuff will start at PART 3: Equipment List; PART 4: Pre Construction Pics)

So begins my build thread!

72 long x 30 wide x 24 tall Tank (approximately 240g) plus a 60g sump (so can I call it a 300g build LOL)

Okay, probably only 220g in display and 30g in sump, so 250-gallon system.

I have never done a build thread or shared this much detail on this hobby. It is nice to have an outlet to share something that most of my friends and family to not share the same passion about. Even friends I have meet from other hobbies (like Jiu Jitsu, Archery, etc.), stay interested in that hobby, no one cares about my fish! Seriously though, if you are taking the time to read or follow this, I do appropriate it.

As the title suggests, I am a newb to sumps and plumbing, but I do have a bit of experience with fish and aquariums and I will elaborate further. If you are a master with lots of experience, please help me and give comments and options anywhere you can. If you are inexperienced and looking to educate yourself, hopefully you can learn something from my experience (or we can learn together through this journey).

Appreciations:

Thank you to my wife (and children); who allowed me to achieve my goals and dreams.

Thank you to my employer of over 15 years; during good and bad times. I am lucky to have a job.

Thank you to everyone here at on Reef2Reef; everyone who every commented on my posts and everyone who ever posted something I found helpful.

Special thanks to @Water Dog and @naterealbig who provided some great feedback and a personal sounding board for me to ask all my stupid questions (expect more to come!).

Special thanks to @Joe Glass Cages, who helped me achieve this dream and provide excellent customer service, and an awesome custom tank that was made to order and built just for me!

And thank you to me, for loving me so much, hahahaha (jk).

Awaiting Tank & Stand delivery (hoping before the end of this month).

99% of equipment is purchased and has been delivered.
 
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dreamcatcherr9

dreamcatcherr9

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PART 2:

My Story


I turn 45 this year (body feels 95 most days). I started with my first fish when I was about 10 yrs old, it was a gold fish in a bowl (like many of us probably), didn’t live to long and I didn’t take very good care of it (I was 10). I won it as a prize from a school fair, but it was enough to peek my interest.

I had a Betta fish in a bowl by 12yrs old, and around 14 had a 10 gallon freshwater tank with a filter and some tetras. I remember around then (1989 ish) I walked into a LFS, and saw saltwater fish for the first time. So colorful and beautiful, I asked the clerk what I needed to be able to keep one. He laughed. It wasn’t a good laugh (not funny haha), like a sarcastic laugh. He barely wanted to talk to me (granted I was just a kid), he was frustrated in his voice with a basic answer of, “it’s too hard, you won’t be able to do it”. Those words stuck in my head for years (decades) and probably helped push me, since many of us don’t like being told they can’t do something.

Years (decade) past. I had a few freshwater tanks, nothing bigger than a 30g. When I was 25, I purchased a book “Saltwater Fish for Dummies”. Ok, sounds silly, I know, but it was dumbed down just enough for me. I don’t read many books, and I actually not only finished the entire book, I went back to reference the book a few times (and eventually gave to a friend for their education). This book changed my life.

My eyes opened, I didn’t even hate the LFS owner from a decade earlier, I understood how it was just too much information to have in one conversation (especially with a 14 year old kid). It’s just like being in a Jiu Jitsu class (I am a Brown belt, for reference that’s one below a Black belt), and having a new student ask you to teach them everything in a 2 hour class; it’s just not possible.

Knowledge in anything is a growing and expanding force. The more time you spend; the more you research, learn and practice, will equal advancement in anything.

Now ready for a “real” aquarium (saltwater); I went and purchased my first 30g (Petco, cannot go wrong when its $1 a gallon). Used a HOB power filter, sand (never used sand before) and a HOB Protein Skimmer. So began the never-ending battle with HOB Protein Skimmers!!!!

So, from the 30g, I went to a 60g, then a 90g, and finally, my ultimate achievement, 180g tall tank! But all of them run with Canister filters and HOB equipment. Even my 180g had 2 Canisters, 3 HOB power filters and 2 HOB Protein Skimmers (curse you!). Actually, over years, I found some HOB skimmers better than others, but most were disappointing. I have also had a few AIO systems.

I meet a LFS owners (in Las Vegas) who were great, helped a lot, and I proudly purchased most of my tanks from them (retired now, I wish them peace and happiness, though I miss them as my primary LFS support).

They always suggested I should go sump. Same with most forums and discussions lead there. But I never did. I was not going to drill a tank myself. I was (am) very limited in my skills with tools (though this hobby has helped me grow and learn in that aspect). After getting married and the first few years with kids, I retired myself from fish tanks, but again, like many of us, I got the ich again, and it all started over …..again.
 
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dreamcatcherr9

dreamcatcherr9

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The Decision Process

I found myself at LFS (tell me if this sounds familiar). I go to buy RO water………….LOL. Actually, while in store, I spotted a 180g tank. Reminded me of my old (large tank). I felt disappointed that my current tank (a Nuvo 20) was so small (limited stocking ability). So the wheels started spinning. While the tank at the LFS (standard framed) was cheap (and predrilled internal overflow), it was standard, not very wide, and the footprint left something to be desired.

So began the plan. I had been maintaining a freshwater tank over the 5 years. It was a 112g Male African Cichlid Tank. After 5 years the fish had grown big (and aggressive), anyways, not to side track, I sold tank. Sold a bunch of stuff and started saving for new tank!

I wanted something bigger than 180 standard (hopefully nicer). So I looked at the majors: Redsea 3XL 900, Waterbox 220, Planet Aquarium, Cadlights, Proclear and Nuvo. After price shock (and realizing if I wanted something nice, that is what I was going to have to spend), I dissected the products.

Redsea had bad reviews on the stand, Waterbox and Cadlights sump was to small, Planet are very expensive and NUVO are not sized how I wanted. Enter Proclear Rimless 230. At $3000 for 72x26x24 with a nice built stand (I considered tossing the sump at that price, I wanted something bigger and fancier). But actual display tank volume only 190. I wanted something over 200 (truly be the biggest tank ever for me).

I started to consider custom tanks and other options. Then I decided I wanted to plumb from scratch myself (even though I have never done) and pick my own sump. I blame members on R2R who convinced me!

I researched a dozen manufactures and custom builders. I emailed all of them and got quotes back from at least eight (8) different companies. To list a few: TankmeUSA, Planet Aquarium, Glass Cages, Miracles, Reef Savoy, SCA, Custom Aquariums, CDA Aquariums and two (2) LFS. At the end of a long decision process, I went with Glass Cages.

Glass Cages was very response. Super friendly. Not only replied to emails quickly, offered to call and discuss (and I did), at which point with no sales pressure, answered dozens of product questions both specific to their products and aquariums in general.

The price for a 240g (72”) quote for GC vs SCA was around $100 difference (in favor of GC) w/ shipping included. But it was not about the money. If it was, Proclear might have been the most economical choice. But Glass Cages offered a truly custom tank, exactly to any specifications I would ask for (with a few limitations). And it was the customer service that sold me! Joe is knowledgeable, friendly, and super easy to talk too.

My only suggestions specifically for GC is update your website. It is useful and better than others (Planet website not good, hard to get a hold of anybody or get custom order quotes easily). More options in the tank customization section (to show how far you have come and where the company stands today), and a FAQ section may go a long way. I am sure they get asked similar questions multiple times that a FAQ section could help. But the one on one personal touch was beyond amazing.
 
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PART 3:

The Equipment List


Here is a breakdown (list) of my equipment:

Tank & Stand: Glass Cages (I would say custom order, but ALL of their orders are custom orders!)

External Overflow: Exotic Marine Systems (EMS); 32: Overflow Box w/ 1.5” Drains

Sump: Bashsea SS60 (60x16x15)

RODI Unit: Typhoon III Extreme, AirWaterIce

Return Pump: Reef Octopus Various 8 (x2)

Protein Skimmer: Reef Octopus 300 INT

Wavemakers (Display Tank): Aqamai KPM WIFI Controllable DC Wavemaker Pump (2700 GPH) x2

Circulation Pump (Display Tank): Sicce Extreme Wave Pump (925 GPH) x2

Circulation Pump (Sump): Hydro Korolia Circulation Pump (425 GPH)

ATO: Tunze 3155 Automatic Top Off

Lights: Hydra 32 (x4); w/ Mounting Arms & Rail 72”.

Sand: Nature's Ocean Bio-Activ Live Aragonite Saltwater, Natural White #1 (x6 @ 20lbs = 120 lbs total), estimated sand bed depth 1.25”.

Rocks: Real Reef Rock (55lbs XL?) for Display Tank / 45lbs Caribsea Life Rock from pre-established tank (my Nuvo 20, 6+ months running) for Sump.

Salt: Reef Crystals / Instant Ocean (for initial set up and cycle); Instant Ocean (for water changes). Possible change to Tropic Marine in future (but so expensive!).

Additive: Dr. Tim's Aquatics One & Only Live Nitrifying Bacteria for Reef (appropriate amount).

Bio Blocks: Marine Pure (Cubes x 12 that I have had sitting in established tank for 2 months).

Red PVC Pipe: Formufit

PVC Fittings: pvcfittingsonline.com

Bunch more stuff that I dare not tell my wife about (Primer, glue, wood sealant, flex seal, a miter saw!).
 
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dreamcatcherr9

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Lucky man!
You definitely have a plan - looking forward to seeing what you end up with!
Thank you! I am trying to have a plan. But it’s the little details.....man, just when I think I got it all covered, BAM! But that’s kind of fun too, the little challenges and hurdles you overcome.
 
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PART 5:

The Wait………..


Now with all my equipment (99%) purchased and on hand. Diagrams for my plumbing ideas sketched out. I even made a two-dimensional full-size cardboard cutout of the tank and stand so I could lay out PVC pipes and fittings to estimate size and distances. I have asked a bunch of questions here on R2R. And I continue to read and follow threads for anything I think might be helpful. I think I am ready….

If you bothered to read all this, thank you! I can’t wait for The Tank and stand arrive so I can actually begin the build process?
 
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PART 6:

FIRST THOUGHTS:

The RODI System


https://airwaterice.com/typhoon-iii-extreme-150.html

WOW. Just wow! My first RODI unit (wish I had bought one years ago). My TDS from my tap if over 450, with the Typhoon III from Airwaterice, it is down to zero (0)! I will attempt to upload a few pics or video. I was worried about installing the unit, but it was super easy (and I am not skilled).

I connected into / under bathroom sink with a John Guest adapter. I did not tie in the wastewater to waste line, instead I plan to use wastewater for yard irrigation (I live in a desert, literally). Tested the unit and works great! Cannot wait to start to fill the tank!

The Overflow Box

https://www.exoticmarinesystems.com/products/35-overflow-kit

Once I decided on a custom sized tank and DYI build (with a designer sump); I knew the Overflow had to match. Originally, I was going for an internal overflow (for simplicity); then I decided on the EMS 32” (1.5” Drain) Overflow Box.

Lots of good (educational) videos on the product. Good customer service feedback when I emailed them. But more important, look how cool it looks! Actually, now in hand, it is solid! Very well made, the acrylic is super high end and clean. I was most pleased with aesthetics of the box. Let us see how good it works!
The Sump

https://bashsea.com/bashsea-products/signature-series-sumps/

Did I spend to much on it, probably? But I was not going to make my own sump myself. And I considered letting [email protected] make me a sump, but I decided the designer sump look was too cool to pass up. Actually, part of the reason I went with plumbing tank myself instead of a Plug and Play system (like Redsea, Waterbox or Proclear) was being able to pick my own sump. I disliked the design, style or size of the sumps in the PNP systems. And the fact they count that for total tank volume for marketing (even though we will not fill a sump up to capacity). So, can I say I have a 300 gallon system! LOL.

I was really considering Trigger System. I loved the look, style, everything! It was the reason I looked at sumps to begin with, but at the end, it was just too small. The biggest they had was only 48” long, and never plumbing a tank, I was told “get the biggest that will fit”. To help compensate for backflow from main tank, I wanted a sump that could handle a large volume of water.

I considered Synergy, but the added shipping cost put it well over the Bashsea price (but it was a strong runner up). Now the Bashsea SS60; it’s beautiful. When it finally arrived, I told my wife and kids it was the actual tank. They starred at it for a minute, then asked “where’s the stand?”. After my good laugh, I explained this was just the sump going into the stand under the actual display tank!

Now the only downside, the internal dimensions are accurate to specs, and allowed me to fit two (2) Various 6 return pumps in the return chamber (without the inlet screen on pumps; and only ¾” or so to side panel wall). BUT there is a Euro brace that fails to be calculated for in spec dimensions. Why does that matter you say…….

I had focused so much on fitting two (2) return pumps (you may have seen some of my other threads); I never considered the skimmer. I wanted a Reef Octopus and was deciding between 250INT and 300INT. The dimensions for sump showed they both would fit, but the 300INT would be a tight fit. I wanted this skimmer to be my primary filtration. I wanted it oversized on purpose. So, I went with Reef Octopus 300INT……

Side note, did I mention I never plumbed or used a sump before? Did I also mention this is the biggest beast I have ever owned? I was not prepared for actual / physical size of things. Everything is mega sized! The PVC pipes, the pumps, the sump! OMG the skimmer! The box was huge! My point, neither the sump (which was delivered on a pallet!) or the skimmer (oversized box) was getting returned.

As you can guess by now, it was not fitting. It was the euro brace and the cord management “loops” that interfered. After a few mins of sweating and stressing, it was obvious what I had to do, and it hurt to do it. I wanted the skimmer in the first chamber, but found it was going to be easier in the 3rd (or last large) chamber. The euro bracing is smaller (thinner, not as wide) near the return section.

Basically, I mutilated my sump. Ok, to strong, but I did have to cut throw one of the cord management loops, which allowed me to slide the skimmer in. Some aesthetic damage, but completely functional, and now I have a monster skimmer for my engine! Okay, that was a long story.
 
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dreamcatcherr9

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Location of the tank in my living room. I wish I had a basement or a room I could dedicate to a fish room.

But tank will be front and center in the house. RODI, fresh water holding station, and saltwater mixing station will all be separate. But I make do with what I got.

5B5B42A9-4998-47D9-86BD-04E095B926E7.jpeg 98442930-F51E-44C0-8636-A8BB65AFE744.jpeg
 
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Building RODI storage tank and separate Saltwater Mixing Station.

This was my Father’s Day project with my kids (8 and 5). My 8 yr old was helpful, my 5 yr old wanted to help.....hahaha.

Lots of lessons learned, I will share for anyone reading who has no experience (like me), to help the struggles.

First, all the planning on paper in the world isn’t as helpful as laying the pump and parts out in front of you.

RODI water holding station was easy enough. One hole drilled for RODI line, one whole drilled for bulkhead. One ball valve, a few pieces PVC to connect, not bad. My Saltwater mixing station a little more work.

My external pump input and output needed male and female barbed adapter (I thought they the same when originally ordering).

First lesson learned; Dry fitting, is a great idea and a must do. But the pipes only pushed into fittings so far (they were tight and I didn’t want to push in to hard for dry fittings), they are hard to pull apart.

When I went to do final gluing, the primer and glue loosened PVC pipes and they slide in together way easier (and much deeper). This affected the measurements. I was able to adapt to the shorter lengths, but it did cause a problem (pump needed to be raised lightly), I was able to solve with a sound damping pad to raise pump a little bit.

Second lesson learned, it’s messy. I covered my work area, wore gloves and mask, but it was hard to keep excesses off the pipes And fittings. I posted a thread asking if there was way to clean up, apparently there is not(?). So functionally I think I will be good, esthetics I was a little disappointed.

At the end, it’s not as pretty as I was hoping, but it was great practice! I never glued PVC before, it was a great test for the upcoming tank to sump plumbing I will be doing.

Few pics to share...

There is a before pic (dry fitting stage) you can see the red PVC pipe connections. In the final glued product they all disappeared. I would have preferred to see them (esthetics), but again, good lesson learned.

C7DD6ADD-4CE5-4F5E-A023-5900A8921C59.jpeg 69EE4D37-894A-48D8-948E-C61FB934B234.jpeg 66EF0098-0985-4141-97B2-FE465C6EA462.jpeg 6B1C4EE9-93AF-4357-9CF0-E40BF96FD424.jpeg
 
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dreamcatcherr9

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Filling SW mixing station with RODI water. Tested the pump and leak test (I guess I should have filled with tap water first to test?).

One small leak at pump outlet / barb to hose fittings. I think it’s coming from the pvc fitting not the rubber tubing.

It was a small leak in comparison to total water volume, it actually has stopped now (or reduced to nothing in the last hour, I haven’t seen any more water drip). I’m hoping once I add salt, and with time, the salt creep may help seal (?).

If I notice leak again I will try to isolate and repair (if possible with complete dismantling). Here’s a video if it uploads.
 
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naterealbig

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PART 1:

Introduction:


(The Good Stuff will start at PART 3: Equipment List; PART 4: Pre Construction Pics)

So begins my build thread!

72 long x 30 wide x 24 tall Tank (approximately 240g) plus a 60g sump (so can I call it a 300g build LOL)

Okay, probably only 220g in display and 30g in sump, so 250-gallon system.

I have never done a build thread or shared this much detail on this hobby. It is nice to have an outlet to share something that most of my friends and family to not share the same passion about. Even friends I have meet from other hobbies (like Jiu Jitsu, Archery, etc.), stay interested in that hobby, no one cares about my fish! Seriously though, if you are taking the time to read or follow this, I do appropriate it.

As the title suggests, I am a newb to sumps and plumbing, but I do have a bit of experience with fish and aquariums and I will elaborate further. If you are a master with lots of experience, please help me and give comments and options anywhere you can. If you are inexperienced and looking to educate yourself, hopefully you can learn something from my experience (or we can learn together through this journey).

Appreciations:

Thank you to my wife (and children); who allowed me to achieve my goals and dreams.

Thank you to my employer of over 15 years; during good and bad times. I am lucky to have a job.

Thank you to everyone here at on Reef2Reef; everyone who every commented on my posts and everyone who ever posted something I found helpful.

Special thanks to @Water Dog and @naterealbig who provided some great feedback and a personal sounding board for me to ask all my stupid questions (expect more to come!).

Special thanks to @Joe Glass Cages, who helped me achieve this dream and provide excellent customer service, and an awesome custom tank that was made to order and built just for me!

And thank you to me, for loving me so much, hahahaha (jk).

Awaiting Tank & Stand delivery (hoping before the end of this month).

99% of equipment is purchased and has been delivered.
Thank you for your kind words! I am honored you picked me to be a part of your journey. Keep the questions coming - there are no dumb ones!
 
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dreamcatcherr9

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Sooooooo pretty! I can't even tell where you cut the sump to make it fit. Looks super sharp!
Thank you! It was a very nice sump (better be for that price, LOL). Actually I love the length, layout, quality of the build. It’s a nice sump. Can’t wait to get it running!
 

naterealbig

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View attachment 1643399 Filling SW mixing station with RODI water. Tested the pump and leak test (I guess I should have filled with tap water first to test?).

One small leak at pump outlet / barb to hose fittings. I thing it’s coming from the pvc fitting not the rubber tubing.

It was a small leak in comparison to water, it actually has stopped now (or reduced to the last hour I haven’t seen any more water drip). I’m hoping once I add salt, and with time, the salt creep may help seal (?).

If I notice leak again I will try to isolate and repair (if possible with complete dismantling). Here’s a video if it uploads.
Some small drips I have seen "fix" themselves over a couple days. Plastic is bendy, and can change form around a fitting. If needed, maybe there is a repair that can be done without dismantling the entire piping?

I love the white brute cans, and the red and Grey plumbing look great! Looks simple, clean, and most importantly - manageable. :).

Keep the updates coming!
 

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