TrueTricia's Beachside Build

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
Hello!
Welcome to my Beachside B&B, complete with a reef tank. Well, soon to be complete with a reef tank. ;) I'm currently deployed to Qatar for the moment, and I'm using this time to plan out my next tank build! Which means I'm stalking lots of other members' posts, build threads, product reviews and the like. So until I get home, there won't be a lot of videos or pictures, but once I do get back, I'll be documenting the entire process.

So let's start off with some background. I used to live in DC where I had a 120g mixed reef DT with a 40B sump. This was an upgrade from the 40g I had when I lived in Miami, but there, I got a lot of my fish, invertebrates, and rocks from the ocean (I had a collector's license). In both cases, my equipment and budget were limited, and my level of care was less detail oriented. My 120g DT successfully kept lots of beautiful softies and LPS, but my success was limited outside of the easiest SPS. But my equipment was all used, thrown together with little planning, and honestly not nearly sufficient for SPS care.

Then I moved to Norfolk for work (Navy civilian; Army Reservist) and bought a condo. I decided to do a lot of renovations to the condo, and as a result, put the entire tank into storage, and gave the livestock to friends (@DCReefer!). Everytime I thought I was ready to set it up, something happened, I got activated or sent away for a significant time, etc. Like now, where I'm serving on a year deployment. But now I'm on the tail end of the deployment and I'm ready to come home. I'm also in a better place then I was when I lived in DC, and I can affored to plan for a nicer system. So I'm watching videos (THANK YOU to melevsreef, BRS, and MrSaltwaterTank), planning out my system and the equipment I'll need.

So here are my goals:
1. A 120 or 90g mixed reef LPS-dominant DT.
2. A fish room in the storage area under my stairs that will share a wall with the DT.
3. A ULM design that incorporates automated systems to allow for vacation, travel, and my active lifestyle.
4. A redundant system that provides peace of mind for my condo and livestock.
5. Responsible livestock choices that meet the above goals and also support environmentally responsible sources.

As I move forward, I'll post my planning, ideas, etc here. And I welcome the R2R community's input. Thank you for following me on this journey, and I look forward to enjoying my tank!
 
Last edited:
Top Shelf Aquatics
https://www.omegasea.net/
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
The STARTING POINT:

So let me help you understand the space I'm working with. My condo is a two floor condo with patios on each floor. Each patio has an integrated storage area that shares a wall with the main living space. The upstairs outdoor storage houses my tankless water heater. The inside stairs use a landing, with the space underneath of it currently functioning as an empty storage agea.

So, here's an old picture of my condo from when I first moved in. I've since removed the mirros on the wall, resurfaced it, painted it (porpoise gray, actually), installed new tile flooring, and painted the stairs white with a gray hand railing (among other things). The DT is going to against the stairs wall, spanning the entire width of the wall. Problem is, I can't remember the exact length of that space, and my tenant hasn't sent me measurements yet. I don't want to block the area under the stairs bc that's where my LitterRobot goes, and I need to be able to access it. Therefore, my tank will either be 48" or 36" depending on that wall. I'm relatively certain it's 48", but we will see.

20160316_193646 (1).jpg


I'm not certain that I want to do an in-wall display here. First off, I am not sure I want to cut into any wall supports that support the stairs. Second, I think I want the DT height to actually come up a bit higher than the stairs. If the DT is below the landing, it makes it highly likely that dirt, debris and other things will get accidentally kicked into the tank as people walk. Also, I have cats. With the tank elevated even a few inches above the landing, I hope to eliminate debris falling into the tank, and discourage the cats from reaching down into it. I will put a small piece of acrylic along the stair railing to help with this regardless.

So I'll be building a stand to support the tank at the right height. I have a couple of stand ideas, but basically, it'll be split into a right and left side. Since the vast majority of the equipment will be stored in the fish room (under the stairs), the stand needs only to hold a few things. Therefore, I'm going to enclose half of the stand on the right side, and leave the left have open as a bookcase. It'll be skinned white to match my very clean modern decor, and possibly with farmhouse shiplap style. I've got some ideas of what I want to go in the stand, but I'll post those later. I'm debating what to put there and what to put in the fish room, based on ease of access, not just for me, but for anyone watching the tank.

My lights will hang from the ceiling. I'm considering building a false beam to hold the cords. There's some ceiling considerations that may make that easier or harder. I have to look back at photos to decide what will be best, or just wait until I get home. Either way, hanging from the ceiling will complete the clean look.

EQUIPMENT
So here's what I'm working with from my old build:

Amazon Alexa
Apex Classic, temp & pH probe, and 2 EB8 bars
120g rimmed DT (if this works with the wall)
JEBAO DC Return Pump
Skimmer (Brand unknown) rated for 200+g
BRS dual dosing pumps
5 & 10g glass tanks
TLP Phosban reactor
Tubs of live rock stored in sealed buckets

And here's what I've bought or am planning on buying:
AI Hydra 52HD white (bought)
Neptune WAV KIT (2 WAVs, FMM module) (bought)
PM2 Salinity module and probe (bought)
Neptune ATK
COR 15/20 Pump
DOS system for AWC
New APEX (EL) & EB832 (for integration with AI lights and system security features not in Apex Classic)
extra FMM
Two Neptune ALD sensors
Extra optical or float sensors
New pH probe
Two new heaters, each underrated for the entire system for safety
New dry sand
New Caribsea Liverock (purple)
 
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
You might want to consider a sump bigger than 10 gallons. I run a 40 gallon sump on a 150 and sometimes could use more room, but I do have a big refugium.
My sump is a 40g long tank. It currently has two baffles, but I'm adding a third. I want it divided into water entry into a refugium, then flow into the skimmer, and finally a dual return pump.
 
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
We'll be here to welcome you back and follow your build! A fish room, even under stair fishroom, makes having a tank so much more enjoyable!
I'm excited for a dedicated fish room! Under the stairs means i have to walk through the coat closet to get to it, but that's still better than nothing! It'll be like going to Narnia! Maybe that's what I should have called this build lol
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
How do you plan to use Amazon Alexa in this build?
I love the fact that Neptune is allowing Apex to be fully integrated with Alexa. I have multiple hubs throughout my house, and being able to turn particular outlets on or off with a voice command is brilliant. There are a lot of possibilities here, and I'm still exploring how to use it. I just know I'm particularly lazy at times (I LOVE my voice controlled lights when I'm on the couch or in bed), and being able to just speak a command is going to only foster that. Yay!

https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/amazon-alexa-meets-apex-fusion.424266/
 

DavidDB

Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 24, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Hi truetricia, I am trying to refurbish an old freshwater tank in Oman and use seawater and self-caught local fish in Oman. Have caught marine fish before using snorkel and had fish-only marine tanks before, but have never tried to make a reef tank and one without a sump may be pretty difficult. Curious that you caught your own fish in Florida, I did not know many people who did that, but in Oman right now it is hard to find marine fish to buy. Did you use nets like butterfly nets to catch them? That is what I have been doing. Your plans look very good to me. I am also looking at doing more toward automation and am wishing for some of the Apex units you are planning. Wish you all the best.
 
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
Hi truetricia, I am trying to refurbish an old freshwater tank in Oman and use seawater and self-caught local fish in Oman. Have caught marine fish before using snorkel and had fish-only marine tanks before, but have never tried to make a reef tank and one without a sump may be pretty difficult. Curious that you caught your own fish in Florida, I did not know many people who did that, but in Oman right now it is hard to find marine fish to buy. Did you use nets like butterfly nets to catch them? That is what I have been doing. Your plans look very good to me. I am also looking at doing more toward automation and am wishing for some of the Apex units you are planning. Wish you all the best.
Hi David

I worked in the aquarium industry for years, although more on the training side than reef husbandry. I prefer clear containers to nets, or nets with a really fine mesh. Tickling sticks like they use for lobsters are also helpful for getting fish to swim into something clear. But a lot of fish and animals that I got were from marinas and harbors, where they weren't necessarily all that hard to catch. I had an entire sea horse set up that was nothing but sick sea horses we got from an oil slick. Rescue, rehab, and release. But I am certainly not the expert on catching wild fish. It's also been nearly 10 years since I did that on a regular basis.

I know there's a few other reefers on here from the Middle East; you might want to check with them regarding where they get theirs. So many beautiful fish in this area (I'm in Qatar right now) with the Indian Ocean right there.

As to the Apex, there's so many possibilities. If you're looking to do more with automation, definitely check out BRStv and @melev on YouTube. They have amazing information on setting up reef tanks, ways to automate, and ways to make your system as simple/easy as possible.
 
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
So in planning my build, my brain needs to have a broad view and then focus on the details. So let's go over that, and then I'll post more detailed plans for individual items...


The 10,000 FT VIEW:


1. DT: My 120/90g DT will sit in my living room on an appropriately sized homemade stand. The 120g tank I have is a center-braced dual overflow tank with the standard 48x24x24 dimensions. The stand will be divided in half, with one half being an enclosed cabinet for various reefing items and/or containers, and the other half being an open bookshelf. Herbie or Bean Animal plumbing on this one. Internal flow will be achieved using two WAV pumps.


2. SUMP: My current 40B sump is divided into two sections currently. I want to divide it into three. Water will enter via the drain line and go through a filter sock before emptying into the refugium section of the sump. Water will then pass into the equipment chamber with the heaters & skimmer. After going through a baffle/bubble trap, the water will be taken up by dual return pumps (for redundancy). The pipping coming off the return pumps will split into a return line and a manifold. The manifold will power two reactors (GFO and CAC) with plans for two additional water outlets before returning to the refugium. Dosing tubes and probes will be in here as well. Dosing will happen with BRS dual dosing pumps. Everything will be connected to an Apex.


3. RO/DI STATION: My tankless water heater is upstairs in my outdoor patio storage area. This is where all my exposed plumbing pipes are housed, and where I have a hookup for an RO/DI system. I'll run the pipe down to the downstairs storage area (same level as the tank), and set up an RO/DI storage container there. I haven't worked out the exact system yet, but this will NOT be connected to my Apex system. It may, however, be connected to my Alexa for say a solenoid valve, pump, etc with a simple on/off function.


4. ATO: Either under the stand or in the fish room, I'll have an ATO container connected to the Sump using Neptune's ATO system.


5. AWC: Auto Water Changes will occur using the Neptune DOS system. A large saltwater container in the fishroom will supply the fresh saltwater, while a waste container, either in the fish room or in the stand, will be the recepticle for old water. Connecting to a drain or a drain pipe is not possible in the tank/fish room location. Water level sensors will provide safety features for preventing overflows.


6. FISH ROOM: The fish room floor will have waterproof flooring put in to create a lip and thus prevent spillage from becoming a problem. I'll also put in some raised rubber tiles (can't remember the name) to prevent falls. I need to install a general light overhead, and check the outlets. They may need to be connected to new dedicated breakers. I'll also install a couple extra outlets in their own waterproof boxes.

I'm planning on building a stand for my sump. My idea is to have the Waste Water and ATO container underneath, and the sump on top. A larger Rubbermaid barrel for saltwater will be next to the sump.

Off on the other end of the fish room will be my QT system. I'll build a stand that will allow fish QT on one level and eventually a Coral QT on the bottom level.

The fish room is unfinished with the studs exposed. I plan on building shelving between the studs to maximize storage without using space in the room. This will also allow for a board to be hung for things like the DOS, dosing pumps, dosing supplies, and reactors to hang between the studs or be attached to the board.

My Apex Controller Center will either be here or in the cabinet area of the stand. I'm undecided. If it's in here, I'll be including an acrylic overlay yo protect the equipment from splashing.
 
Last edited:

madweazl

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 19, 2016
Messages
3,472
Reaction score
4,070
Location
Virginia
I was looking at the picture you posted; 4" spacing is typical on the hand rails so it's likely closer to 36" (maybe even slightly less). If that is the case, would it be possible to run it as a pseudo peninsula tank with the back wall against the previously installed mirrors? That would still allow you to plumb it into the storage space under the stairs (hopefully I'm wrong about the length of the stairway wall and no alternatives are necessary).
 
OP
truetricia

truetricia

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 23, 2014
Messages
360
Reaction score
327
I was looking at the picture you posted; 4" spacing is typical on the hand rails so it's likely closer to 36" (maybe even slightly less). If that is the case, would it be possible to run it as a pseudo peninsula tank with the back wall against the previously installed mirrors? That would still allow you to plumb it into the storage space under the stairs (hopefully I'm wrong about the length of the stairway wall and no alternatives are necessary).
Unfortunately that won't work with the rest of the living room design, and the giant mirror I put back on that wall to reflect light.

But a 36" space would give me the excuse to buy a new rimless tank.... It's ok if it's slightly less as I just need enough space to pull the LitterRobot thing out and I've got a little space to give.

Thanks for the info!!!! Now to start shopping for a rimless tank....
 

madweazl

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 19, 2016
Messages
3,472
Reaction score
4,070
Location
Virginia
Well dont go shopping before your tenant has a chance to give you the real numbers :)
 

Where do you go in case of a real reef tank emergency?

  • Me, myself and I

    Votes: 130 41.4%
  • Local Friend

    Votes: 30 9.6%
  • Reef2Reef

    Votes: 128 40.8%
  • Other

    Votes: 26 8.3%

Online statistics

Members online
2,281
Guests online
5,267
Total visitors
7,548
Your Reef
https://www.triton.de/en/
Top