YurgiReef - FINALLY - My FIRST "Real" Reef Tank!

YurgiReef

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Hello and thank you for checking out my build thread: YurgiReef - FINALLY - MY FIRST "Real" Reef Tank

Current TANK status: Aquascaping being completed, finalizing return plumbing (UV Sterilizer), RO/DI installation

I have always had a passion for the sea and the fascinating life that lives beneath the waves. Spending family vacations snorkeling in the warm Caribbean waters only deepened my joy for the creatures beneath. I still vividly remember the first time I came across a school of Needle Nose fish, thinking they were going to do me complete harm, and then swimming as fast as I could for shore scared out of my mind. How little did I know, but my curiosity was sparked. It was only a matter of time before I was pestering my parents for a little piece of the ocean of our own.
That first setup when I was 15 years old was a classic 29 gallon: 30"W x 18"H x 12" D. I remember a yellow tang and feeding romaine lettuce. We had a compact fluorescent and were experts at keeping red algae very happy. The setup used a "BioWheel" and maybe 4"x12" filter pad. I also remember the sand bed in pretty bad shape and my parents had paid some guy to come and "clean" the tank every couple weeks. Okay, so I was a far cry from being a reefer. Or even a hobbyist...

Life went on, as it does, and I aged. Moved away to college and like every kid, figured out how to spend my parents hard earned money. My 7 yo daughter is now learning that lesson, well :)
I took that same 29 gallon tank that was sitting in my parents basement when I went to school in FL. Knowing basically nothing and armed with "How to Setup A Marine Aquarium" book, I went to my LFS in St. Pete, FL. They had no problem setting me up with +lbs of live rock, substrate, fluorescent compact light and 250gph powerhead. I dumped everything in the tank at the dorm room and away things went. I'm not even sure I cycled the tank. Somehow, I kept that FL tank going, throughout the yearly moves and craziness of college for 7 years. I made horrible in probably every aspect of the hobby. By year 7 the tank had become a complete hassle, overrun with red and green algae. It was that final year, when I was 25 years old, that I moved back to Colorado. Doing so, the tank did NOT fair well on the trip. Upon arrival the glass was cracked on 2 sides. I was done - out of the hobby.

SO...fast forward 15 years. I now live in Maine. I have a family: a wonderful, FT working wife. An amazingly curious and smart 7 yo daughter. And finally our newest addition, our 20 month old son. For Xmas 2019 they all "surprised" me with a wonderful present - A NEW SALTWATER TANK!
I have been talking to my wife for probably about 3 years now about the idea of getting back into the hobby. That it would be great for the kids, enjoyable to have at the house, and something that I really miss being involved with and caring for. This present completely floored me and needless to say, I have been completely OBSESSED with getting the system setup. It would be somewhat alarming to many to consider the amount of hours I have spent this year (2020) working on this build. Not only that, but the amount of time researching the reefing hobby has been overwhelming. The amount of information out there is endless, and often difficult to sift through. THANK YOU REEF2REEF for all your help, all your members and their experiences and shares! I've learned so much.

With that said, I thought it was only best to finally get involved with the R2R community and start posting. And I figured what better way than start with my very own Build Thread :)
As I stated, the new tank was a Christmas present from my family. My wife, having done her "own research," had chosen a 50 gallon plug-n-play system from SC Aquariums. With her original purchase, SC Aquariums states that you only need add lighting and saltwater. Yes - in theory!
I ended up having her original order changed so that I ONLY received from SC Aquariums the following:
  1. 50 gallon rimless Starfire glass tank with internal overflow, 3x 1" pre-drilled holes
  2. Black acrylic overflow cover
  3. Atman 2500 - Return Pump
  4. SC-301 Protein Skimmer (for 65 gallon aquarium) with pump
  5. Durso drain, plugged drain and return line plumbing
My initial research regarding SC Aquariums was that the tanks are terrific, most other pieces are adequate, and the plumbing and cabinets are altogether horrible. So - I stuck with my wife's choice and went with the SC Aquariums tank and other primary equipment. However, I decided a different sump and doing my own plumbing would be a good start to a more customized system. I also like to tinker with minor construction projects. I thought building my own cabinet would be much better than the company's flimsy MDF cabinet.
I have now spent the last 3 months working on building the cabinet, getting equipment ordered, learning as much as possible about setting up and running a modern day reef tank, incorporating redundancy and trying to remember to take some photos in between. Oh yeah, work as usual and taking care of the family are always top of the list, but you guys know how that is.

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 13 - JAN 2020.JPG


AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 14 - JAN 2020.JPG


AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 17 - JAN 2020.jpg


Thanks again for dropping in on the YurgiReef - FINALLY - MY FIRST "Real" Reef Tank build thread. Again, it's been 15 years out of the hobby and I have so much to learn and do before this tank really gets going. I will continue to make postings to get everyone reading "UP TO DATE." I will do my best to make as many postings as I can that hit all the major spots I have addressed so far. I think my next posting will include the following 2 items. 1) My goals and ambitions for this tank and 2) Review of SC Aquariums 50 Gallon Starfire glass aquarium (delivery and initial setup).

HAPPY REEFING!!!
 
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Mega Meltdown After Sale
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YurgiReef

YurgiReef

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I'm BACK on my Build Thread!!! - I know there are many of you out there who seem to have "extra time" on your hands; unfortunately, that's not me. This whole quarantine and COVID has turned my life upside down. I've become a 1st grade teacher and toddler care while trying to still work 40 hrs a week. HELP!!!

Current TANK status: Aquascape ALMOST final, saltwater mixing station plumbing to complete, marine fish QT and coral QT being finalized in the new "fish room" down in the basement.

In my last post I promised an update and to address 1) my tank goals and 2) review of the SCA 50g Starfire PNP System.

1 - Goals: A) To create my own little piece of the Western Pacific Ocean both with fish and corals. Majority of focus will be on LPS with some softies, perhaps adding some SPS if parameters, lighting and flow allow over time. I do believe that my lighting WILL allow for SPS growth, just a matter of finding some stability in the system over time I think.
B) Attempt to minimize unwanted algae growth via routinely planned maintenance and water changes, weekly parameter testing, UV sterilizer, GFO reactor, CUC, and some nuisance algae eating marine fish.

2 - SCA 50g REVIEW: This aquarium was chosen by my wife (ZERO experience in the saltwater world) and given to me as a 2019 Christmas present. I tried to talk her into a larger volume tank, but this is the size she would allow.
SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING - RIGHT?!
So far I am pleased with the tank itself - the silicone beading is done very well and the glass looks great. We'll see how the rimless goes after some months - never had that before. The tank came pre-drilled with 3 holes for 1" bulkheads. SCAquariums claims that their PNP systems come ready to use, "just add lights." Well, that's ALMOST true...As it seems so many reefers already know -> you get what you pay for. The price tag on the SCA 50 gallon PNP system is great, especially if you get it on sale like my wife did. She got it on sale for $795 but we ended up paying around $575 since I took a few items out of the overall package.
Here are my negatives about the system and things that I have addressed and taken care of on my own:
Cabinet - The cabinet that comes with the PNP system is made of MDF panels and 1"x2" trim boards. From my research the piece sounded rather poorly built, perhaps flimsy and 100% susceptible to water damage. For an additional $180 you can order their solid wood cabinet. The solid wood piece looks much better and has several different finishes to choose from. However, for that kind of cash I figured I could build my own cabinet with some neat features. I also ended up building the cabinet wider than the tank. This allowed me extra room in the cabinet for a larger sump, equipment and even a "trap door" to access the top of the sump instead of just from the front.
Return Pump - Atman PH2500 When you go look this pump up online it's sold as a skimmer replacement pump. Pushes about 700 gph at 0.0ft head height. I ran my first return line flow test after plumbing the UV sterilizer and was not even getting 350 gph. This pump has been ditched, not only for lack of power but also I have a major fear of this thing failing sooner than later! It's new home is in the mixing station.
Return Plumbing - I used the 1" hard plumb "T" return and loc line, but threw away the Herbie drain and plugged drain. The SCA 50 gallon has 3 holes drilled but they only send you plumbing parts for 1 return and 1 drain. You PLUG the third hole!
I decided to go with the Bean overflow and used the third hole for my emergency drain.
Plumbing (General) - I threw away ALL of the flexible tubing sent for the plumbing. I ended up going with a hard plumb down into my sump.
Center overflow - the internal overflow sticks out almost 5 inches into the tank and is 11.5" wide. This leaves an open space in the back right and left of the tank that is quite difficult to scape or even use. Wasted Space. I think a corner overflow or even the entire rear wall would work better for this tank.
Sump - I actually did NOT purchase the sump from SCA. Their PNP sump seems fine, but is quite cramped for the 50 gallon cube. Their sump for this tank is approx. 18 gallons and has chambers. Very simple, almost DIY. With the money saved I was able to purchase a blemished Trigger Systems Sapphire26 sump and 5 gallon ATO container. Now THAT'S a sump - in LOVE with that piece of equipment!!!
Packaging/Shipment - This is an area that I was VERY disappointed in SC Aquariums with. Since I did not order the cabinet or the sump, the company merely packed up the tank and threw in the return pump box, skimmer box and return plumbing. During the 2 week trip from Cali to Maine on the transport truck(s), the boxes inside the tank slide all over the place. The overflow's black acrylic is completely scratched up. I tried to use some polish, but without much success. I ended up trying to build my aquascape to cover some of the marks. Secondly, with the boxes slamming all over the place, the return pump was damaged. The plastic pump housing cover was completely cracked and half of the cover would not stay on. This leads me to SC Aquariums Customer Service -> WORSE THAN THE SHIPPING!
SCA Customer Service - I had a couple really good conversations with Steve Chow (assuming the "SC" of SC Aquariums) when I was making my purchase. Then, once the tank arrived with the damaged items, I only got to talk with a secretary and leave messages. I left voicemails, sent emails, also a few texts, and numerous times completed the online "contact us" form. It took nearly 5 WEEKS for SC Aquariums to replace the damaged return pump!

WOW! So...I guess in the long run I'm NOT that impressed with the "COMPLETE" 50 gallon PNP System from SC Aquariums. In the long run, I really wish that my wife would have "approved" the 66 or 90 gallon SC systems. These tanks are wider and I think overall I would have been much happier.

Still, I'm REALLY excited to get this thing wet and start my new reefing adventure. The family has been incredibly patient since January and I can't wait to see how this thing goes.
 
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YurgiReef

YurgiReef

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What am I going to put this tank on?
As mentioned before, I was NOT very impressed with the SC Aquariums' PNP 50 gallon cabinet and instead of spending extra cash on their nicer wood stand, I decided to build my own. I do like to dabble in basic carpentry so I thought building a custom wood stand wood be a fun project, something to be proud of, and customized to my reef tank...WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
The SCA cabinet is built as almost all other tank cabinets, the footprint of the cabinet matches the footprint of the tank. I thought it was a good idea that the new cabinet use as much space of the dining room corner (tank location) as my wife would allow. Added bonus - I thought there would be plenty of room for some cool extras. In hindsight, it was a true blessing in disguise that I made the stand larger. Currently, I barely have enough room to install dosing pumps and dosing containers. Those will be my last additions.

Here are a few of the major highlights to my cabinet:
  • Lifting top lid next to tank to access the sump area from above
  • Built-in electrical cabinet
  • LED puck lighting (really helps to see what I'm doing when working down in the sump)
  • Dual staining - base: Walnut trim: Ebony + 7 coats polyurethane
  • 1 trip to the Emergency Room - please be careful with your miter saw - STUPID me
  • Color theme - GO BRONCOS!

Photos:
Tank Location (Dining Room Corner, 12.29.2019)
& CABINET BUILD (JAN 2020)
AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 1 - JAN 2020.JPG

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 2 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 2a - JAN 2020.JPG

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 3 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 5 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 6 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 4 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 9 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 12a - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 12 - JAN 2020.JPG

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 2b - JAN 2020.JPG
- STUPIDITY -> ADD 10 days to the cabinet being finished....doctor's orders ;Doctor
AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 13 - JAN 2020.JPG

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 14 - JAN 2020.JPG

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 16 - JAN 2020.JPG
 
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YurgiReef

YurgiReef

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So I had a friend back in college (late 90s) that did pretty well for himself and had a 55 gallon saltwater setup in his small rental house. He had a sump, and a protein skimmer. I had no idea what those things were but he was keeping some corals. Mostly softies as I remember. Anyways...remember how I said that I did not purchase the SC Aquariums' sump with my 50 gallon PNP system? Actually, I hadn't even finalized the purchase of the tank when I ended up buying the sump.

THANK YOU TRIGGER SYSTEMS!!!

Researching late at night how a sump works in a reef tank, I stumbled across Trigger Systems based out of TX. Their website was great and their products just beautiful. Of course many of you know that already, probably from personal experience. Now, this tank was a present from my wife and kids; she didn't really have any idea how much goes into this hobby and running a successful reef tank. My thought process throughout the build has been to purchase middle of the road equipment that fits my budget for now, and as items fail then will be the time to "upgrade." However, you can't start a system without the sump! So, I justified the purchase and started browsing the website in more detail. Again, beautiful and great product with an equally sufficient price tag.

Enter my saving grace and absolutely positively good decision, perhaps my best in this ENTIRE reef build. [email protected] you are my HERO :cool:
Scanning the Trigger website I came across the "Blemished" tab. I grew up in CO but now live in ME (Maine). Several years ago I purchased 2 really nice kayaks that were "factory blemished" and at a major discount. I thought to myself, "maybe, just maybe..."
There were numerous sumps and ATO containers listed in their blemished section. I emailed Trigger and Andrew completely took care of me. I have to see, even when I look at it this morning I get a smile. And there's not even water in it yet!

A. NEW Trigger Sump - Sapphire26 UNBOX 1.jpg

I LOVE THE TRIGGER LOGO CUTOUT!
Trigger Sump - Sapphire26 UNBOX 4.jpg

A. NEW Trigger Sump - Sapphire26 UNBOX 3.jpg


Initial fitment/configuration in the cabinet:
AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 17 - JAN 2020.jpg

Far right, slightly darker blue is the Trigger ATO 5 gallon AquamarineTriton.
Remember I live in Maine and am from CO - Gotta represent the home team colors whenever I can around here :D

Happy Reefing
 
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YurgiReef

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Dry run on plumbing the sump - just bought a bunch of PVC fittings at Home Depot. Nothing beats their return policy!
I've spent WAAAY to much time making trips back and forth to HD the past few months.

This is my first tank utilizing a sump and also my first time running hard plumbing. I thought a mock-up would be the best place to start for me...

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 23 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 20 - JAN 2020.jpg

AQUARIUM BUILD - Pic 21 - JAN 2020.jpg


I had originally planned on running the emergency drain directly into the filter sock; however, after careful analysis and consideration, this plan seemed too much of a pain to deal with in the long run. I had started to fabricate some acrylic for the modified filter sock plate cover where the E-drain was going to run through.

E Drain MOD on Sapphire26 - pic3 - R.Yurglich.jpg

E Drain MOD on Sapphire26 - pic2 - R.Yurglich.jpg

E Drain MOD on Sapphire26 - pic1 - R.Yurglich.jpg

In the end I decided that every few days when I went to change the filter sock I would be taking apart, or at least moving, the emergency drain. It was a nice idea, but just not feasible.
 
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YurgiReef

YurgiReef

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So I was on the Trigger Systems website and digging around at some of their other sump products. I have the Sapphire26, kind of the "basic" of the Emerald/Sapphire/Amethyst lineup.

My Sapphire26:
Sapphire26.png

Sapphire26 - Trigger Systems

The SapphireCR44 really caught my eye. I could only fit a sump that was 30" or less in my under cabinet, so this was out of the question.
I was amazed at the fine detail Trigger has on these sumps.

I decided to reach out to Trigger Systems and ask if I could purchase the CR44 additional pieces:
CR44_Details.png


#6 - Two additional adjustable input fittings that can be placed in the skimmer section or return section
CR44_Additional_Input3.png


#5 - Cable/Hose organizer (2x)
CR44_Hose_Holder.png


#7 - Four position probe holder (on my sump) with countersunk holes on second level (CR44)
** I ended up fabricating my own "lower level piece" for the dosing holes. NO quick connects being used, just 2 o rings on each dosing line between the 2 plates to keep the lines in place.
CR44_Quick_Disconnects.png


Sapphire CR44 - Trigger Systems

After manufacturing my filter sock plate I had become a bit comfortable working with the acrylic. My biggest fear was MESSING UP THE SUMP. Once I cut/drilled there was no going back!

Here's my handy work - managed to get all the items installed properly and they look great. Used the additional adjustable input fitting to run the return line through. Also went with about 6 inches of silicone tubing from the return pump up to where the hard plumbing comes down through this new input holder. SO HAPPY WITH HOW IT TURNED OUT - YES!!!

Sump Mods 2 - FEB 2020.jpg

Sump Mods 4 - FEB 2020.jpg

Sump Mods 8 - FEB 2020.jpg

Sump Mods 6 - FEB 2020.jpg

Sump Mods 7 - FEB 2020.jpg

Sump Mods 5 - FEB 2020.jpg


HAPPY REEFING!
 

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