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Cdklos

Beginner's 240 Gallon Reef Tank

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I realize "Beginner" and "240 Gallon" is kind of an oxymoron, but go big or go home...

I recently acquired a 240 Gallon tank that is set up to be a reef tank, although the farthest it every got with the previous owner was about 1 month with water and some rock in it. It has been sitting in a garage for about 7 years. I purchased the whole set up and I want to get started assembling the tank and getting it going. I have no idea what I am doing, but I have been doing a lot of research and I think I have a few ideas...

1. I want an Apex controller

2. I want (2) Kessil AP700 lights. The light box that came with this tank is old technology and I don't want to deal with the big metal halides. I also like the look of a more open top tank.

The tank was custom built, the stand was custom and the sump was custom. It has a 4', 60 gallon sump which seems about right from the research I have done. The skimmer was the latest and greatest when it was new, 7 years ago, but it hasn't been run but maybe 2 months its whole life. Although it has a crack in it, not sure if i can fix that with some aquarium silicone or epoxy or what not.

I'm looking for some direction and some help if anyone can help guide me in the right direction. I want it to be high quality, and I like redundancy too. Also, I like to have as much automation as possible. At this point, I'm not even sure what questions I need to ask...So I'm hoping someone can spur some conversation and help me figure out what the right questions are to ask. I look forward to joining this community and learning from anyone that is willing to take the time!!

**Note** These pictures are of the tank when it was originally set up approx. 7 years ago, it is in pieces right now, in my dining room.**

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"""""""Although it has a crack in it, not sure if i can fix that with some aquarium silicone or epoxy or what not. """""

Need picture of crack and location?

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There is a picture showing a close up of the crack. I can take a larger picture showing more context tomorrow when I get back to it.

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Way to jump right in! And welcome to the forum. I'm still relatively new and these guys have been extremely helpful.

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1 hour ago, Cdklos said:

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I think the best way to start is to take an inventory of what you have and go from there. The first picture above looks like a calcium reactor - it's got a place for the probe, CO2 inlet and effluent out. Do you have a picture of the protein skimmer or know what kind it is? It's hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like an ASM. I would use it as long as it has a decent rating. It looks like you have a good pump to run your closed loop as well. Truthfully, you only need a sump, return pump, water filter and protein skimmer to get started. Using a calcium reactor is a personal choice and you wouldn't need it for several months.

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Knowing the guy I bought it from it will be the best protein skimmer that money could buy at the time. Being at least 7 years old that won’t be a problem? At what point do I add the rock and water?

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2 hours ago, Paula said:

Way to jump right in! And welcome to the forum. I'm still relatively new and these guys have been extremely helpful.

Thanks Paula! I tend to jump into the deep end when doing stuff, but that’s what makes it fun right? Thanks for the warm welcome!

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I would say it sound like the protein skimmer would work as long as the crack doesn't impede the function of it. Like said before all you need to get started is tank, water, sump (if using one), return pump and some power heads to move water around inside the tank. But that is basics.

I would definitely take an inventory of what you have and figure out the type of tank you want (sps dominant, mixed reef, softies, lps heavy, fowlr) and that will decide on what equipment you use or need to buy.

I am sure you can sell some of the equipment you have to help fund the new items if you decide you don't need them.

Where you are located might help someone who is close to decide to reach out to possibly give a helping hand


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Based on my limited amount of research I think I will be shooting for an SPS dominant tank. There is a huge light box with bulbs and ballasts and what not that I would be more than happy to sell. Don’t know what they go for but I can post some pictures later and maybe someone could make an offer. I am located in Hutto.

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15 hours ago, Cdklos said:

Based on my limited amount of research I think I will be shooting for an SPS dominant tank. There is a huge light box with bulbs and ballasts and what not that I would be more than happy to sell. Don’t know what they go for but I can post some pictures later and maybe someone could make an offer. I am located in Hutto.

So basically, you want to do the hardest thing in the hobby.

"It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it." - Tom Hanks A League of Their Own

You'll need to clean the tank, clean the equipment, and make sure it all works. Use 1:4 distilled white vinegar and not soap or bleach. After that you should make repairs to what doesn't work, put the tank where you want it, and paint/stain all of the stuff that you want to color up. Now you can plan your future equipment, plumb the tank for future expansions, and set up the electronics. If it were me, then I wouldn't acid wash the rocks or sand. I would leave the sand in the aquarium, take out all of the rocks, rinse them in tap water, dry, put them on a flat surface and plan the aquascape. I drill my rocks, but you could also stack them or epoxy in place. It's better to use epoxy while they're dry. When you have all of the decorations figured out, then you can start filling the tank with RODI. It'll take about 3 days if you have a 75gpd unit. Once the tank is full, then you can turn on all of the equipment and seed the bacteria. Now you get to wait for the tank to cycle. During this time you should set up a fish quarantine tank and a separate coral quarantine tank. IME dead rock takes 3-6 months to seed and you'll need to introduce microfauna. The best way is to buy some clean LR from someone so that you also get microstars, various worms, and multiple kinds of pods. Don't buy pods in a bottle! When the tank is cycled, the rocks are growing algae and you have pods running a much, then it's time to start stocking livestock. Everyone does it differently and you can pick a method that you're comfortable with. Good luck!

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Question? I installed a 105 gallon storage tank for RO water and added 1 cup of bleach to the tank to disinfect it before I drain it and fill it for good. Question is, can I pump the water with the bleach into the sump to clean it up also? There is a lot of sediment in there that needs to be washed out anyway. I was gonna use vinegar and water, will the small amount of bleach used to cleaned the sump cause a problem in the future?

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You’ll get tons of answers about the bleach. I personally wouldn’t be concerned about getting some bleach in there while cleaning. Just be sure to rinse it very well multiple times. Also if you leave it in the sun to dry the sun should break down the chlorine. I may catch flak for this, but have done it many times. I do try not to use bleach for cleaning though. Vinegar and muriatic acid work too well to chance bleach.


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I don't use bleach or recommend bleach as a general rule. People would come into the shop all the time asking what they could do after killing their tanks with bleach.

If I remember right, 5% is the right cleaning solution and it evaporates in 24 hours.

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**UPDATE**

Hey Guys! Update on the new tank, and a few questions.

Got the stand sanded and stained, came out quite nice I think, I built a sump inside the stand to catch anywater that may overflow from the sump, I’ve heard some horror stories and I want to do everything possbile from flooding my floor. Got the sump cleaned out and looking like new. Cleaned the tank with water and some vinegar, got a bunch of guys from my office coming over tomorrow morning to help me put it in place. I ordered a bunch of stuff this weekend and I should be able to get started plumbing mid-next week. 

2 Questions:

1. I got a bunch of “dry rock” from the guy I bought the tank from. It was all sitting in his garage for about 7 years. He had it in a tank at some point before that. It’s about 250lbs. of rock. How do I clean this rock so that it is ready to go in my tank when I’m ready? I want to get ahead of it, everything I have read sounds like it will be a month or so of soaking it before I can put it in the tank. I have gone ahead and put all the rock in some water with a little bit of bleach and some pumps to circulate the water. Where do I go from here?

2. I need to get some overflow covers made and also I want to add another section to my sump. Is there somewhere local I can get some acrylic cut so that I can weld it in myself, or is there someone that can do it for a nominal fee? I want to add an extra area for filter socks in my sump before heading to my skimmer.

 

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The rock I would have just pressure washed it and left out in the sun to dry. With putting it in bleach you definitely need to let it sit out of the water in the sun to try and let all the bleach evaporate now. Some people use muratic acid to clean their rock there are a lot of different ways to do it

 

And for anything in the future I would stay away from bleach going in your system

 

 

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im the paranoid type.   I'd acid wash the rocks.  muriatic acid.. 1/4 gal per 10gal water.  they probably need to soak for like 10 mins.  after that, spray off w/ hose, then soak them in tap water overnight (if you have a swimming pool, this works well too).  then pressure wash and start the curing process.  add some extra prime into the water, theres gonna be a lot of dead on the rocks.   then after about a week, ask someone for a rocks from their system to seed yours.

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I agree with Shawn. You said the rock was only in his tank for a month, so you probably won't have a lot of organic material on it. I'm betting it's pretty dusty and dirty though. I would soak the rock for 2-3 days to loosen any soil, then remove and shake each piece as you take it out. I don't know of any benefit to soaking rocks in tap water, but LR is known to absorb phosphate over a period of time. I've personally had rocks leach for about 9 months before I started to see a decrease. A week or so probably won't hurt anything. 

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I really appreciate all the experience you guys have. I’ve got the rocks soaking. Now I’m waiting on a bunch of stuff from BRS. I have an ASM skimmer that uses (2) sedra 9000 pumps. I started putting them in the sump today with the skimmer and the skimmer does not fit. I can jam it all in there but it won’t sit flat. I would like to get rid of this skimmer and get a different skimmer that would support this tank when heavily stocked, but also with a pump that is inside the skimmer. I was looking at the reef octopus, does any one have any suggestions?

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I really appreciate all the experience you guys have. I’ve got the rocks soaking. Now I’m waiting on a bunch of stuff from BRS. I have an ASM skimmer that uses (2) sedra 9000 pumps. I started putting them in the sump today with the skimmer and the skimmer does not fit. I can jam it all in there but it won’t sit flat. I would like to get rid of this skimmer and get a different skimmer that would support this tank when heavily stocked, but also with a pump that is inside the skimmer. I was looking at the reef octopus, does any one have any suggestions?
The skimmer won't work in fresh water. You could cycle your rocks in a brute using salt water if you want to get a jump start. It's a good idea if you don't plan to fill the tank for a month or more. Truthfully, you could use the ASM just fine if you have the room. I had good success with a G4 back in 2002. I'm currently using an Aquamax skimmer with good results. It's not as quiet as a DC skimmer but they're cheaper and they have a small footprint.

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1 hour ago, Sascha D. said:

The skimmer won't work in fresh water. You could cycle your rocks in a brute using salt water if you want to get a jump start. It's a good idea if you don't plan to fill the tank for a month or more. Truthfully, you could use the ASM just fine if you have the room. I had good success with a G4 back in 2002. I'm currently using an Aquamax skimmer with good results. It's not as quiet as a DC skimmer but they're cheaper and they have a small footprint.

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I haven’t tried to run it yet, it physically won’t fit in the sump. It takes 2 Sedra pumps on the outside and won’t fit in the sump, so I’m looking for other options that will do the same amount of work with an interior pump. I’ll take a look at the Aquamax.

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On 12/2/2017 at 1:13 PM, Cdklos said:

I haven’t tried to run it yet, it physically won’t fit in the sump. It takes 2 Sedra pumps on the outside and won’t fit in the sump, so I’m looking for other options that will do the same amount of work with an interior pump. I’ll take a look at the Aquamax.

The best time to buy a skimmer is Black Friday, but they'll go on sale again as we get closer to Christmas. Dry rock takes a good 6 months to colonize and you won't need a skimmer right away unless you plan to stock heavily from the start. The next decent sale after Christmas would be Memorial Day.

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**Update** 

I drew up some overflow covers on a CAD program and sent it over to Regal Plastics. They CNC’d both overflow cover and they did an incredible job. However they would not bend it. So I put a diamond blade on my table saw and scored it 2x about an 1/8” Deep. From there I set it on the smooth surface of my toolbox and heated it up with a heat gun. This took what seemed like an eternity but probably about 10 minutes. Once the acrylic loosened up, I was easily able to bend it to 90 degrees. Got those installed and they look sweet. Also got most of the large plumbing done underneath the tank. Next to start is all the electrical.9D2B2E76-79BF-4190-AE1C-CF36943C99E9.jpeg

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This is turning into an epic build.  Going to have to remove the word "beginners" from the title, at least in regard to the build quality!

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