Waterbox 130.4 Build

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golgobot

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It's been 20 years since I kept fish and now seems as good a time as any to start up again and it's amazing how much the hobby and technology has changed in that time. Since January 1st 2021, I've been slowly building my reef tank piece by piece. It's only been 6 weeks, and I don't event have any fish yet (or even water in the tank), but I've already learned so much through scouring reef2reef posts and builds, watching youtube videos, and making tons of mistakes. I want to use all modern equipment, utilize the prettiest aquascaping techniques, grow the best coral, and even have a clean-looking mixing station! Whew. Pretty much everyone I've talked to about it has asked for details, pictures, and progress updates. After reading through so many great build threads here, I wanted to make by own build thread. I hope I can add to the mix and inspire others like they've inspired me. I've only been at this 6 weeks, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Feel free to chime in to correct or support me!



Components

Starting this hobby again after 20 years and making the move from fresh to salt water can be pretty intimidating. The choices in products, tanks, plumbing, and chemistry were honestly overwhelming. I'm not one to take on a challenge and meet it halfway. I suppose "go big or go home" best describes me. I sat down and did a few days of research before deciding to take the plunge. I knew I wanted a 60-100 gallon tank, so I ordered a bunch of items I thought fit.

  • Controller System - Neptune Systems seems to have the most comprehensive system. They have the widest array of components that integrate together. Having a single app (or as few as possible) to control my tank is of paramount importance for me. The easier I make this for myself the longer I'll stay in the game.
  • Wave Maker - I started with EcoTech MP40s, because this seems to be the gold standard. Maybe they have the best marketing? However, it turns out that there's some kind of technology war between Neptune and EcoTech, and there was no way to integrate this wave maker into the system. Neptune used to make a controller called the WXM, but it only works with old versions of their firm ware, and the module is discontinued. I ended up returning the pair of MP40s and got the Neptune WAV pump 2 pack. Literally half the price, integrates with the rest of Neptune systems, can adjust direction, and has just as many features.
  • Cor-20 Pump - Again I want a single controller for all my components so I went with a Neptune pump. I ordered the 20 over the 15 because most people seem to say you want at least 10x system volume turnover an hour, so for a Waterbox 130.4 that's 1300 gph. That leaves 700 gph leftover to run through extra components.
  • Lights - I ended up going with the Kessil A360x Tuna Blues. They seem to have the best spectrum compared to say the Red Sea ReefLED, and less of a "disco effect" than the AI Hydras. Of course this might all be marketing, but any of these options are probably great! They all have WiFi capabilities, and the ability to adjust to many different spectrums.
  • Flow Monitoring Kit - I want to know exactly how much water I'm turning over in my tank, as well as any other components I'm running water to. I want to run an Algae Scrubber, which works best at ~300 gph.
  • DOS and DDR Dosing System - Since I want to keep coral, I thought an automatic dosing system would make this easier than hand dosing. From what I've learned, coral build their Calcium Bicarbonate skeletons from Calcium and Carbonate ions naturally found in seawater. In a tank, those ions get used up and need to be replaced. There are a couple ways to do this. This video explains pretty well how to dual dose. It's basically having one solution of calcium chloride and one solution of sodium bicarbonate fed into the tank in small doses on a daily basis. The only problem with this method is that the left over sodium and chloride ions end up raising the salinity of the water over time, so you have to keep up with your water changes. Reef2reef has a great series on water chemistry I've learned a lot from. It's definitely worth the time. The other way is by using a calcium reactor. This device dissolves calcium bicarbonate in a low alkalinity chamber and then drips the ions into the system. The advantage of this is that there are no left over ions. The disadvantage is that these systems are very expensive.
  • Auto Feeder - I do want to go on vacation someday :)
  • Auto top off kit - Water evaporates and leaves behind the salt, increasing the salinity of the water. The fish don't like that. Most sumps come with an extra chamber to store fresh water. The top off kit will replace evaporated water if the water level gets too low.
  • Water analyzer - Having a system that automatically tests and logs water parameters will really help to tune the auto dosing system.
  • Algae Scrubber - I got a Clear Water CW-100. Originally the Red Sea sump didn't have enough room for a refugium big enough for a tank of its size. Algae scrubbers are really good at cultivating algae for their size. I've even heard of people cultivating pods in theirs. We'll see if that's true.
  • Reverse Osmosis Deionization filter - I got the Spectra Pure 4 stage with a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter. Seems to be the gold standard.

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The Tank

I started by placing an order for a Red Sea Reefer XL 300, a 60 gallon tank. Turns out that everyone wanted to take up fish keeping during the pandemic! I ended up waiting 6 weeks for a tank that never shipped. I called up every distributor and they all had back orders for months. Finally, I ended up contacting a New England based Local Fish Store (LFS), OSA Services, and they happened to have a Waterbox Reef 130.4 on display at their store. I immediately placed the order and a few days later a couple guys delivered and carried the 200 lbs tank to my second floor office.

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The tank itself is beautiful. Thick 1/2" ultra clear glass on all four sides. The cabinet is sturdy and solid. My only criticism is that the sump is huge. It doesn't leave room for much else beneath the tank.

The tank was delivered in the evening, so it was pretty dark and I didn't noticed a crack in the sump till the next day. I called OSA and they kindly offered to replace it.

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I used that as an excuse to drive to their location an hour away swap out the sump and check out their spectacular coral selection.

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Tank Placement

The tank is pretty heavy, so I made sure it was situated against a load bearing wall perpendicular to the joists in the floor. I even consulted a structural engineer. I gave him the datasheet for the I-joists used in my condo, their spacing, the length they span, the blue prints to my condo complex, approximate weight of the tank including rocks, sand, and equipment, and the dimensions of the tank. From that he was able to calculate a tank this size would be within code.



Plumbling

The Waterbox 130.4 comes fully plumbed. It even includes a manifold. But the stock plumbing didn't meet my requirements. First I wanted to install flow sensors both on the return line and on the line to the algae scrubber. The scrubber works best at a specific flow rate. Furthermore, the stock plumbing uses ball valves on each manifold line, which make it difficult to adjust the water pressure accurately. Gate valves are much better at this. So I decided I wanted to build my own manifold!

This turned out to be much more difficult than I originally thought. Firstly, Waterbox uses metric plumbing sizes!! I had originally followed
this YouTube video on how to install a manifold, so I made the assumption that the manifold input from the stock plumbing was a 1/2" female thread. Boy was I wrong.

I ended up calling Waterbox support and they were very helpful. They gave me a couple links, and recommendations on fittings. There's a great
thread here where someone goes through the same thing. At the end of the day the two important pieces were
  • 32mm Metric Union - This allows you to have a fresh non-cemented union to work from the stock return line
  • Metric to Imperial Adapter - This allows a conversion from the metric union to my imperial manifold. From there I could use standard (Canadian and American) fittings and tube sizes.​
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Mixing Station

One thing I've heard over and over again is the easier you make things for yourself, the more successful you'll be. One of the worst parts of fish keeping is the dreaded water change, one of the most import parts of maintaining aquarium health. Add to that the task of mixing saltwater every week, things become time consuming very quickly. There are lots of great threads here that will give you tons of inspiration when it comes to mixing stations. At the end of the day they all have the same basic features
  • One tank for RODI fresh water connected to an RODI filter
  • One tank for mixing salt water
  • A way of transferring water from fresh to salt tank​
  • A way to mix or churn water in salt tank​
  • A way to access fresh water​
  • A way to access salt water​
With one pump and a set of ball valves this is actually pretty doable. I ended up ordering a couple of 30 gallon ULINE liquid drums. I drilled 35mm holes in the bottom and used a bulkhead fitting to attach the piping.

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Unfortunately, in my biggest mistake so far, I didn't realize that bulkheads don't work very well on curved containers. Once I had filled up the right tank with water, the bulkhead started slowly leaking. I panicked and started gobbing super glue over the seal, but to no avail. All that did was create a very unsightly crust and ruined both the tank and the bulkhead. I ended up having to throw away these drums and opted for ones with the bulkheads preinstalled. I ended up getting Norwesco 40 gallon tanks from NTO.com, which should arrive next week. The shipping was expensive, but there are few other options. Lots of people recommend the Brute trashcans. They're cheap and safe, but they're too wide to fit on my storage rack. I needed the tanks to have a diameter of 18". I'll post an update next week after the storage tanks arrive

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I had my plumber install a dedicated line for the RODI filter and have them run the waste line to my basement sump pump. In retrospect, I wish I had asked for a gate valve instead of a ball valve. The RODI filter operates between 40-60 psi. My water pressure is 70 psi, so it's a bit tricky to get the ball valve to output the correct pressure, but I can usually get it right after a bit of fiddling.

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Aquascaping

I love the technical aspect of fish keeping. But there's also an artistic side to is as well, so I was really excited to start on this project. I did a lot of research on how to aquascape and how to connect coral rock to each other. There are a few different methods. The first video I ran across was this one. They use a type of mortar to hold the rocks together. The mortar itself is expensive and takes 24 hours to dry and be load bearing. This was definitely too slow. After digging deeper I finally this method which only requires thin super glue and coral rock. The basic idea is that you crush some of your coral rock into a powder, sprinkle it between a joint, and squirt some super glue on it. If your power is fine enough, within seconds, there's a chemical reaction, lots of heat and sometimes smoke, and the joint is solid enough to hold its own weight. In fact, the joints end up being stronger than the rock itself.

I used

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Using a large hammer and chisel (with a hand guard), I broke down the pieces into smaller manageable sized chunks.

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Here's the final setup before building. The purple tape represents the inner dimensions of the Red Sea tank.

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Then I spent the next 8 hours gluing, crushing powder, gluing, breaking and re-gluing, until I thought I had something that looked neat, gave the fish places to hide and swim, and allowed plenty of places to attach coral. That blue nitrile glove lasted all of 30 minutes before the it was torn to shreds by the glue. The thicker yellow gloves work much better.

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After the first round I ended up with this:

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After I switched to the bigger Waterbox tank I went in for a second round to expand the rockscape. Here's the final scape. I ended up breaking apart the original structure in favor of three separate pieces.

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Quarantine Tank

I think I keep reading over and over again is the importance of having a quarantine tank (QT). So much money is invested in the main display tank and one bad fish or coral can ruin the whole thing. QTs don't have to be fancy, shouldn't have sand or rock, maybe just some easy to clean PVC fitting for the fish to hide in. Here's my setup. It has

  • Landon 17 gallon rimless (I like the look) .
  • Kessil A80 Tuna Blue Light for quarantining Coral
  • Hang on back filter (HOB filter) - I used a cheap Aqua Clear. People seem to recommend that one. You can just cycle the medium in your main tank and when needed transfer it to the QT.
  • Wavemaker - Don't need anything fancy here, just something to produce flow. I went with a Jebao.
  • Heater - Went with a submersible Jager heater.
  • Bubbler - Newly QT'ed fish can be stressed and need well oxygenated water. Well, at least that's what I've read on threads here. At least it can't hurt :)
  • Thermometer, ammonia alert, PVC fittings, a tank stand
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Cable Management

There are lots of cables and components to hook together. I thought it was worth it to invest some time and money in a good cable management and mounting solution. I opted to get an Adaptive Reef Control Board. It fits in my tank's cabinet (only sideways though, more on that later) and it has lots of areas for zip ties and mounting power bricks. One of the last things I wanted was a bunch of cables and power bricking sitting on the cabinet floor. That's an electrical hazard waiting to happen.

Here's as much as I could put together without hooking up components connected to the tank itself. I think it turned out relatively clean looking. Not quite as fancy as some others, but I'm happy with it.


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Just so you know how the sausage is made, here's the back. It could definitely be neater back here, but my main goal was to make the front look neat, and create drip loops so water can't short out any components.

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I wouldn't have been able to do half of this without this community. I've learned so much. That's all I have so far. I'll keep posting as things update.
 
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golgobot

golgobot

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Mixing Station Update

The new mixing tanks arrived from National Tank Outlet on Wednesday. I also upgraded the pump from a 500 gph to a 2000 gph eFlux pump (very reasonably priced). These new tanks are much better suited for the job. They hold 10 more gallons than the blue ULine tanks, they have gallon markers on them, and most importantly, the preinstalled bulkheads don't leak!

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I made sure to use teflon tape on any fitting with a thread. I also used stainless steal hose clamps where the soft tubing fits over barbs.

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A few small details, though, would have made this perfect.
  • The shelf the drums sit on is a bit too high. I need a step ladder to access the tank caps.​
  • For some reason, the RODI water had to be on the left and Saltwater on the right. Unfortunately, there's a pipe right above the access port of the salt water drum, which makes it difficult to pour a large container of pre measures salt into it.​
  • The pump does not have a button to turn it off. This means I need to plug and unplug every time I want to transfer or mix. Slight inconvenience, but annoying nevertheless.​


Hopefully this weekend I can finish up the electronics and start filling the tank with salt water!
 

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golgobot

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Mixing Station Plumbing

I found it quite difficult to find a clear design for the plumbing. I found myself searching posts here for pictures and trying to understand what all the valves do, why some are different, and which one I should choose as my design. So here I'll attempt to outline the setup I chose, why this design works for me, and also touch on other designs for people with different requirements.



My Mixing Station Plumbing

One of the first things I noticed was that I could greatly reduce the complexity of the plumbing if the drums where sitting on a shelf. This way I can use gravity to access both the fresh and salt water, without using a pump to assist. So in this configuration, the pump performs two tasks, transferring RODI to the salt tank, and mixing the salt tank.




Piping.png


Accessing RODI or salt water doesn't need the pump, because gravity is there to help. Here's a table that describes the configuration for each function of the mixing station.


TaskGate 1Gate 2Gate 3Gate 3Pump
Move RODI to Salt DrumOPENCLOSEDCLOSEDCLOSEDON
Mix SaltCLOSEDOPENCLOSEDCLOSEDON
Access RODICLOSEDCLOSEDOPENCLOSEDOFF
Access SaltCLOSEDCLOSEDCLOSEDOPENOFF



Optional Drain Valve

You might have noticed that when switch from either transferring or mixing, there can be some residual fresh or saltwater left in the shared pipes. Some people choose to add an extra gate valve to drain this area before performing a task with the pump, to ensure there is no cross contamination. I opted not to do this because it doesn't significantly effect the salinity enough to warrant the extra effort and points of failure. Nevertheless, for those that want, here is the plumbing with the extra valve.

Drain Valve.png


Drums On the Ground​

Many people don't have the option of placing the drums on a shelf. This could be for many reasons​
  • Two 40 gallon drums weight about 700lbs. You need to have a shelf that can support that kind of weight.​
  • Even if you did have a shelf that can support that weight, it has to be big enough to hold the drums. Mine have a diameter of 18", but Brute trash cans are much wider.​
  • Ceiling is too low. Not everyone has a ceiling that high!​
So, the trick here to supplement the lack of gravity with the power of a pump!
No Gravity.png

This configuration requires two gates to be open at a time and the pump to be on to perform any task. There's the configuration table for this setup.


TaskGate 1Gate 2Gate 3Gate 3Pump
Move RODI to Salt DrumOPENCLOSEDOPENCLOSEDON
Mix SaltCLOSEDOPENOPENCLOSEDON
Access RODIOPENCLOSEDCLOSEDOPENON
Access SaltCLOSEDOPENCLOSEDOPENON



Hope this helps! All of these configurations were inspired and copied from people posting their setup here. Of course, people have all sorts of variations on these configurations depending on a particular person's needs and requirements. But I hope I got at least the basics here for newbies like me to get started on their own!​
 
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golgobot

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Tank Plumbing

I thought it would be helpful to diagram the tank plumbing along with the mods I made to the stock Waterbox plumbing.
  • The manifold branches off the return line. At first I thought maybe it should come off the drain line. After reading tons of posts, it turns out that it's really hard to get a consistent flow if you put it off the drain line. You need the reliable pressure from the pump to get the most out of the gate valve.
  • The emergency drain line should not submerge below the waterline of the sump. This gives an audible warning (in the form of splashing) if the main drain line is blocked.
  • The sump should have enough extra capacity so that if the pump fails and water from the tank is siphoned down, that it won't spill over.
  • The main flow sensor should go after the manifold and before the tank, otherwise you're measuring the return flow and the flow through the manifold.


Tank.png




This weekend I hope to finally fill the main tank with water!
 
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Hey everyone. I've moved this build thread to a better place under "Member's Aquarium Discussions". If you want to keep following I'll be updating here:

 
BRS

What would you buy RIGHT NOW if you found an AMAZING deal on it?

  • Equipment

    Votes: 361 52.8%
  • Dry Goods

    Votes: 18 2.6%
  • Fish

    Votes: 66 9.6%
  • Coral

    Votes: 177 25.9%
  • Other Livestock

    Votes: 6 0.9%
  • Nothing

    Votes: 47 6.9%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 9 1.3%
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