undermind's Reefer XL 425 (v3) - Heavy DIY

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undermind

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Welcome to my first ever build thread!

full-frontal(1).jpg


I tend to get long winded, so I'll keep this first post brief, then write up a lot more in the next few posts.

Tank:

Red Sea Reefer XL 425, v3

Equipment:

Plumbing:

Stock sump
COR15 return pump
Loc Line output nozzle, Y, 1/2"

Lighting:

Hamilton Cebu Sun 48" MH + T5
  • 2x Radiums MH
  • 2x Blue Plus T5
  • 2x Purple Plus T5
Refugium light: This Amazon guy

Controller:
Apex Classic – with PM2 module, 2xEB8's, mounted display

Auto Water Changes / ATO:

Auto Aqua Smart AWC Touch
Storage tanks in fish room

RO/DI:

Vertex Puratek Deluxe 100 + DIY drinking water system

Refugium:

Stock refugium chamber loaded with

Dosing:

Cal / Alk / Trace via BRS Dosing pumps. 1.1mL
Magnesium by hand

Other Equipment:
Reef Octopus 150 INT SSS
BRS Deluxe Media Reactor
Tunze 6095 powerheads x2
More stuff in fish room (explained later)


My Background

I've been keeping saltwater tanks for 24 years. After 3 years of FOWLR, I set up my first proper reef tank about 21 years ago (started that one with Tampa Bay Saltwater rock). While that's a lot of time, there was a lot of off-and-on in there. I'd usually keep a tank up for 6-7 years then end up moving, and have to go tank-less for a few years.

Tank Goals

  • Build the tank I've always dreamed of: I've always thought I was running a kickass tank while I was running it. But after many years, I feel like I've learned a lot about how I want to run the perfect tank. This is obviously different for everyone, but for me it means cutting no corners, automating as much maintenance as possible, and making it beautiful and healthy. Many people want the biggest tank they can fit in their space. This is a size I really like.
  • Stability/automation: The system I've designed is almost entirely automated. I didn't do it for ULM reasons – I actually like doing maintenance. I did it because the more automated that things are, the more stability I expect. If I say I'm going to do manual water changes every 2 weeks, I'll do it every 5 weeks if I'm lucky.
  • Make a dreamy place to live for the inhabitants: My favorite part of running a reef tank is the concept of being in charge of a little tiny ocean full of life. I think the hobby is beginning to realize that our reef tanks don't act like the ocean in a lot of ways. But ultimately, I want my corals and fish to have the best life possible. While I'm sure everyone wants this, I plan to accomplish this by understanding chemistry and individual critter needs better than I ever have before. Every purchase of an inhabitant (fish, coral, etc) will be well researched, with the end goal that I want to see that animal reach its full expected life span.
  • Mixed reef: I'm not an absolute stick head. But I plan to keep some SPS happy, as well as other things I love like LPS and perhaps softies. Yes, this does bring up questions of water params, and a lot of long-standing notions of "clean" and "dirty" water, but I'm not afraid of focusing on a smart approach here.
  • Be able to go on vacation: Going on vacation has always been stressful. My biggest tank crash happened during a winter trip to Costa Rica. I'm utilizing more monitoring and plan to build in more redundancies than every before. I also am building a network of reliable tank sitters.

In the upcoming posts, I'll share some of my DIY projects, my thoughts on the new v3 Reefer setups, my reasons for particular purchases, future plans, and share a little about myself.

Oh yeah, and plenty of pics and video! ;)


full-frontal(1).jpg
 
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undermind

undermind

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ABOUT ME:

You're almost certainly dying to know all about me. I won't keep you waiting

JK. But really, for some reason whenever I read build threads, I always want to know a little bit about the builder – where they live, what they do for a living, and even what rooms look like in the house that don't have fish tanks. You may not care about any of this, in which case, this would be a good post to not read ;Facepalm

I live in Boise, ID. I grew up living all over the west coast – CA, OR, WA, born in AZ. I got into saltwater tanks when I was living in SF. I would consider it the best place I've lived for access to LFS's and of course, proximity to the Monterey Bay Aquarium – pretty much heaven for someone obsessed with marine biology.

I operate a recording studio in downtown Boise. I've been involved with music for a very long time, and started touring and living as a musician from a pretty young age (moved out of my parents house at 17, they didn't let me play music). After taking many years off from being in a band, I'm gigging again, with my band Ola Sweet.

Other Hobbies:


Garden:
Now that I have a huge yard with plenty of sun, having a highly functional garden is high on the list. This garden produces lots of food for us, and is irrigated by a 100% solar powered watering system I built.
IMG_0797.jpg




Outdoors:
I've had an obsession with climbing and backpacking for a long time. Now that I'm in ID, My wife and I spend tons of time camping, backpacking and traveling.


Land Cruisers:
1977 FJ40 and 1999 FJ100
IMG_0848.jpg


The yard:
We get long, warm summers here, and we pretty much live in the backyard. Most of my upcoming projects involve the backyard (outdoor kitchen, wood fired pizza oven, hot tub). Last year I put in a motorized projector screen and surround sound on the patio. Here's a typical summer evening with the Mariners:
IMG_1261.jpg


Otter:
IMG_2048.jpg


I should stop there. But there's a lot more.

The house:
We recently bought a mid-century home on a pretty large lot and really love it. We keep the main level of the house pretty peaceful. No TV's. Downstairs is the spot for spilling drinks, watching Netflix and reef tanks.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 3.23.34 PM.png


OK so that's me. Thanks for looking. The rest is all saltwater from here on out ;)

Big Rainbow-B_mini.jpg


IMG_0556.jpg
 
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undermind

undermind

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Following your build... I have a RSR425 XL on order and will be starting my own build thread soon!
Nice!! I truly love the tank and build quality. Even though I'm just starting this build thread, I've got my tank up and running now. So I'll share some ideas on little upgrades and tips. Excited to see your build! I really like the Reefer v3 improvements, which I imagine you'll have too.
 
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undermind

undermind

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The Basement
We spend a lot of time in the basement. It's a funky space that has grown on us a lot. It's a full footprint finished basement with tongue and groove wood plank walls (exterior walls), tile floors, and tile ceilings. This is where we watch TV, chill, and usually eat dinner. Reef tanks have always gone in the living room for me in the past. I'm pretty excited to set this up in the basement where I can spill water, drown the room in light that pretty much only looks good on corals, etc.

This wall feels right. Decent amount of space, and conveniently backs up to one of those big utility closets under the stairs (behind the door):
tank-wall.jpg


As you can see, I have 2 different colors of electrical tape. I had originally planned on the 3 foot tank (white tape), but wanted to see what the 4 foot tank would look like (black tape).

The space under the stairs became a very solid fish room. I'll post more details on that in a future post.
fish-room-door.jpg



Here's the stand in many pieces:
tank-wall-stand-parts.jpg
 

MichaelE

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Looks like you’re of to a great start! Nice and neat.
Where did you hide away your ato reservoir?
Any thoughts on future livestock?

I’m in the process of setting up a reefer 350 myself and I’ll be following along hoping to steal some ideas ;)
 

ccombs

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Welcome to my first ever build thread!

full-frontal(1).jpg


I tend to get long winded, so I'll keep this first post brief, then write up a lot more in the next few posts.

Tank:

Red Sea Reefer XL 425, v3

Equipment:

Plumbing:

Stock sump
COR15 return pump
Loc Line output nozzle, Y, 1/2"

Lighting:

Hamilton Cebu Sun 48" MH + T5
  • 2x Radiums MH
  • 2x Blue Plus T5
  • 2x Purple Plus T5
Refugium light: This Amazon guy

Controller:
Apex Classic – with PM2 module, 2xEB8's, mounted display

Auto Water Changes / ATO:

Auto Aqua Smart AWC Touch
Storage tanks in fish room

RO/DI:

Vertex Puratek Deluxe 100 + DIY drinking water system

Refugium:

Stock refugium chamber loaded with

Dosing:

Cal / Alk / Trace via BRS Dosing pumps. 1.1mL
Magnesium by hand

Other Equipment:
Reef Octopus 150 INT SSS
BRS Deluxe Media Reactor
Tunze 6095 powerheads x2
More stuff in fish room (explained later)


My Background

I've been keeping saltwater tanks for 24 years. After 3 years of FOWLR, I set up my first proper reef tank about 21 years ago (started that one with Tampa Bay Saltwater rock). While that's a lot of time, there was a lot of off-and-on in there. I'd usually keep a tank up for 6-7 years then end up moving, and have to go tank-less for a few years.

Tank Goals

  • Build the tank I've always dreamed of: I've always thought I was running a kickass tank while I was running it. But after many years, I feel like I've learned a lot about how I want to run the perfect tank. This is obviously different for everyone, but for me it means cutting no corners, automating as much maintenance as possible, and making it beautiful and healthy. Many people want the biggest tank they can fit in their space. This is a size I really like.
  • Stability/automation: The system I've designed is almost entirely automated. I didn't do it for ULM reasons – I actually like doing maintenance. I did it because the more automated that things are, the more stability I expect. If I say I'm going to do manual water changes every 2 weeks, I'll do it every 5 weeks if I'm lucky.
  • Make a dreamy place to live for the inhabitants: My favorite part of running a reef tank is the concept of being in charge of a little tiny ocean full of life. I think the hobby is beginning to realize that our reef tanks don't act like the ocean in a lot of ways. But ultimately, I want my corals and fish to have the best life possible. While I'm sure everyone wants this, I plan to accomplish this by understanding chemistry and individual critter needs better than I ever have before. Every purchase of an inhabitant (fish, coral, etc) will be well researched, with the end goal that I want to see that animal reach its full expected life span.
  • Mixed reef: I'm not an absolute stick head. But I plan to keep some SPS happy, as well as other things I love like LPS and perhaps softies. Yes, this does bring up questions of water params, and a lot of long-standing notions of "clean" and "dirty" water, but I'm not afraid of focusing on a smart approach here.
  • Be able to go on vacation: Going on vacation has always been stressful. My biggest tank crash happened during a winter trip to Costa Rica. I'm utilizing more monitoring and plan to build in more redundancies than every before. I also am building a network of reliable tank sitters.

In the upcoming posts, I'll share some of my DIY projects, my thoughts on the new v3 Reefer setups, my reasons for particular purchases, future plans, and share a little about myself.

Oh yeah, and plenty of pics and video! ;)


full-frontal(1).jpg
Following as I felt like I was reading my own mind as I read your goals! I have not had the success I have wanted yet, but I love a tank that fits the goal, not just big to be big. I also love your approach to the livestock reaching full life span. This is another thing I have failed at but I am working harder and harder every day to reach that. Best of luck! I look forward to following!
 
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undermind

undermind

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Thanks all!!

Where did you hide away your ato reservoir?
Any thoughts on future livestock?
The ATO reservoir is in my "fish room". I was actually going to do a new post explaining that room, but as far as the ATO... The reservoir is the first of the tanks seen in the image below. I've run plumbing through the wall and into the sump return chamber. This is combined with my AWC.

For future livestock, I must admit, I'm a little further along than my pics show. I wanted to get a few of the older pics posted so things are chronological. I got delayed in starting this thread up, but I'll be caught up soon!

IMG_1668.jpg


Good luck on the new build! I’m going on first backpack trip this year (can’t wait) I’ll be following along your build progress
Nice! Where are you going backpacking?
 
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undermind

undermind

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Impressive so far. What's it like to be at a point in your life where you can do things pretty much exactly how you want :)
Hah! While I understand you're likely being tongue in cheek, this is something I've actually been pondering.

One thing I'd have to say I've seen change since I started in the hobby 20 years ago is the hobby embracing high end, expensive gear. In 1999, you really didn't see many high end brands in the reef hobby. And when you did, they didn't thrive. The thought of paying $400 for a powerhead would have been absurd. Now, MP40s are pretty much standard equipment on a reef tank.

So when I see people starting up a new tank these days, I can't help but to think they're in a pretty decent place financially. Personally, I'm obnoxiously frugal. But I also want what's best for the inhabitants in the tank. While I don't want to skimp on things like lighting and flow, I also don't want to become addicted to gear. I'm a little suspicious that's kind of a "thing" for people in this hobby, especially in recent years. If you look at the used gear for sale in classifieds, it is absolutely jam packed with previous generation Radions, MP40's, Kessils, etc. It seems to be pretty easy for people to convince themselves they need the latest greatest feature. Not knocking it! Just something I'm trying my best to not get caught up in myself :)
 

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Hah! While I understand you're likely being tongue in cheek, this is something I've actually been pondering.

One thing I'd have to say I've seen change since I started in the hobby 20 years ago is the hobby embracing high end, expensive gear. In 1999, you really didn't see many high end brands in the reef hobby. And when you did, they didn't thrive. The thought of paying $400 for a powerhead would have been absurd. Now, MP40s are pretty much standard equipment on a reef tank.

So when I see people starting up a new tank these days, I can't help but to think they're in a pretty decent place financially. Personally, I'm obnoxiously frugal. But I also want what's best for the inhabitants in the tank. While I don't want to skimp on things like lighting and flow, I also don't want to become addicted to gear. I'm a little suspicious that's kind of a "thing" for people in this hobby, especially in recent years. If you look at the used gear for sale in classifieds, it is absolutely jam packed with previous generation Radions, MP40's, Kessils, etc. It seems to be pretty easy for people to convince themselves they need the latest greatest feature. Not knocking it! Just something I'm trying my best to not get caught up in myself :)

That wasn't so much tongue in cheek as thinly veiled envy :)

Totally agreed on the gear freak aspect of the hobby. A ten year investment in lights saves u nada if you have to have the next model due out in 18 mo's, but to each his own, and I really mean that.

Not knocking diy'rs either, but with what I've spent in just gas, materials, and used lights on my canopy... to say nothing of time.. another $300 and I could be staring at a flawless Kessil. Makes you think.

Interestingly, I just found a key piece I needed in a dumpster by my work. I wasn't diving either. Just walking to the office and there it was, shimmering in the sun. At the very bottom. Have a laugh... https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/65g-dream-errrr-reality-build.552444/#post-5817159
 
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undermind

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Not knocking diy'rs either, but with what I've spent in just gas, materials, and used lights on my canopy... to say nothing of time.. another $300 and I could be staring at a flawless Kessil.

Interestingly, I just found a key piece I needed in a dumpster by my work. I wasn't diving either. Just walking to the office and there it was, shimmering in the sun. At the very bottom. Have a laugh... https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/65g-dream-errrr-reality-build.552444/#post-5817159
Oh I hear you! After years and years of "clever" DIY, I've come to the conclusion that you're usually not saving money unless you've already got the materials sitting around. I haven't done my taxes yet for 2018, but when I do, I'm going to have to squarely face my neatly archived Home Depot receipts from 2018 – which are all for reef tank projects. It will be scary.

Another drawback to DIY...
My last tank was DIY top to bottom, custom built stand, canopy, plumbing, Arduinos running lights, X10 switching, hand built air pressurized ATO, etc. While I was so proud of the ingenuity, it was literally impossible to teach anyone how to operate it all when I needed a tank sitter.

All that said, I still love the hand's-on projects. I'm just approaching DIY in a new way. The challenge is now to create pure clean functionality and simplicity. Now that my tank is up and running, I'm feeling sad that I don't have anything to design and build now. :(

I love your build thread! Your approach is exactly what I admire the most! In my previous post, I got a bit philosophical, then erased what I wrote. But the gist of it was that back in the day, I feel like people just did what they needed to run a reef tank, regardless of how fancy their equipment or display was. It was a true focus on the life in the tank. I love the ingenuity and creativity that comes from restricting spending or operating on a budget.

By the way, what is that in the dumpster? Mylar?
 

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Oh I hear you! After years and years of "clever" DIY, I've come to the conclusion that you're usually not saving money unless you've already got the materials sitting around. I haven't done my taxes yet for 2018, but when I do, I'm going to have to squarely face my neatly archived Home Depot receipts from 2018 – which are all for reef tank projects. It will be scary.

Another drawback to DIY...
My last tank was DIY top to bottom, custom built stand, canopy, plumbing, Arduinos running lights, X10 switching, hand built air pressurized ATO, etc. While I was so proud of the ingenuity, it was literally impossible to teach anyone how to operate it all when I needed a tank sitter.

All that said, I still love the hand's-on projects. I'm just approaching DIY in a new way. The challenge is now to create pure clean functionality and simplicity. Now that my tank is up and running, I'm feeling sad that I don't have anything to design and build now. :(

I love your build thread! Your approach is exactly what I admire the most! In my previous post, I got a bit philosophical, then erased what I wrote. But the gist of it was that back in the day, I feel like people just did what they needed to run a reef tank, regardless of how fancy their equipment or display was. It was a true focus on the life in the tank. I love the ingenuity and creativity that comes from restricting spending or operating on a budget.

By the way, what is that in the dumpster? Mylar?

I think it is mylar. whatever it is, the back is adhesive and I just have to peel off the backing and stick it. Haven't really investigated it yet, as I'm at work. To be clear, I'm not on a dumpster diver's budget.. lol.., but there it sat, literally on the day my diffuser and acrylic were delivered to finish the project. I'm just having fun with it atm. This isn't my "forever" tank. Figure it's better to take my rookie lumps on a 65 than a 220.

You can always do a nice DIY frag system! Best of luck. I'll be following along
 
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Fish Room


When I was pondering the best location to place the tank, I wasn't imagining a fish room. I had other concerns like power outlets, visibility, ability to spill water, etc. The location I selected happened to back up to a wall that was adjacent to a random storage space under the stairs down to the basement. This storage space was downright scary. There was about a 1/2" of black dust that was on the concrete floor that fell off the stairs above while we installed hardwood flooring on the stair treads and the landing at the top of the stairs. I have no idea what that stuff is, and I don't think I want to know. There was also all the regular stuff you see in a neglected utility closet in a 70 year old house – cobwebs, old paint cans, and enough rusty metal bits to lock your jaws right up.

A little time with a shop vac, broom and cleaning supplies fixed it up pretty nicely. I cut a carpet remnant to fit the space and dropped that, along with a cut to size rubber mat from Home Depot. The carpet is for my knees (you can't quite stand up in there) and the rubber serves as a mat for the tanks I use for water reservoirs. There were built in shelves that now function as storage for all my tank supplies.

Otter is helping me evaluate the comfort level of the carpet. He insists that carpet pad should be installed. We're still debating that one.
fish-room-otter.jpg



Electrical


This house is a mostly beautiful mid-century time capsule from 1947. One not-so-beautiful thing is original knob and tube electrical. I'm pretty comfortable with it in general, as I'm fairly knowledgable of the risk and how to live with it. We've mostly lived in older, turn of the century homes for a few decades, so it's nothing new to me. But when it came to running this entire setup on 70 year old wiring... Mmmmm, no thanks. I installed a new circuit all the way to the breaker. The breaker itself was pretty ancient, so there was a lot to be done. But in the end, the tank runs on an all new modern GFCI circuit, with a new service panel outside to boot.

I wired up the utility closet/fish room as well with outlets and lighting as well.

Next post: plumbing
 
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