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ReefHaus 75 Gallon Resurrection

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4 hours ago, ReefHaus said:

Is the primary concern;

1-The tank?  Humidity increases heat in the aquarium making it more difficult to keep it cool during spring/summer.

2-The house?  Tank evaporation (estimated 2gallons/day?) might lead to excessive levels of humidity in the house (>70%) which could contribute to bigger issues, down-the road.

The temperature in the house is comfortable to me, even when humidity measures in the 70% range.  The "higher-than-ideal" humidity levels (50%+/-10%) don’t seem to bother me.

The articles I've found cite that excessive humidity might lead to the presence of higher-than-normal allergens, and can also bring mold/mildew, which is a potential health concern.  The primary indicators that point to excessive humidity are:

1-Condensation:  The presence of condensation on the interior windows - this isn't present in the home. 

2-Allergens:  Higher than normal reactions to allergens.  I do have seasonal allergies (specifically, I have reactions to mold spores and grasses).  Having said that, my allergies have not acted up, and are significantly less inside the house than outside during peak allergy times.

3-Mold/Mildew:  This seems to be the greatest concern.   I’ve not yet experienced the presence of mold/mildew forming in the home.  The house is still new, so I suppose it’s possible that mild/mildew could develop into a problem if humidity is left uncontrolled over time?

I spoke with my General Contractor this morning and they suggest starting out by ventilating the fish room, then monitor the actual impact on humidity before considering a whole-house solution.

I dont think any are more important than another.

If you have A/C then you can always turn it down if a problem comes up. It will dry the air. It will cool the air. If air movement thru the tank room is not enough, you can add an intake fan to your set up. As long as you are exhausting the humid air I dont see a humidity issue. You have it contained in the tank room and bathroom.

Since I have an A/C vent in my tank room I dont have to deal with air movement. I do leave the door open at night and turn off the exhaust fan.

My wife has mold allergies. She has not had any issues with increased mold in the house. Im going to say its not any different for us with or without the tank.

Now if you have condensation on going (windows , walls, floor) then you have a problem. We have concrete floors. If its humid outside and we leave the windows open in the spring and the floors are cold they get wet. Not from tank moisture, but from humid outside air.


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Just a quick update for the week,

I went ahead and sealed the understair area with a thick coating of weather/mold-resistant paint.  After looking at the backside of the drywall, I realized that its just a thin layer of cardboard.  The paint seal gives me more comfort and confidence for weathering the potentially humid environment, once the system is up and running.  It was challenging to get up under the stairs with the paint brush.  Once I got started on it, I found that I couldn't resist sealing off the entire area, including the closet.

I also framed out the base of the entire fish room area (including the closet).  This is part of my water containment plan.  I've been leaning towards the showerpan liner idea with a sump pump - then adding some kind of industrial rubber floor mats to the floor, TBD.  


I've installed the electric:  

1- GFCI Circuit:  I attached a long, industrial-grade, 10-outlet power strip to an area that will be above the sump.  This is tapped into the GFCI outlet in the guest bathroom, which is one of the design elements I was hoping to incorporate.


2- Switched outlets:  I installed an 8-port rocker box over the interior doorway to provide a bank of switchable outlets.  This switched box connects to a separate circuit from the GFCI  - also a goal I had of the build.  I'm looking to distribute the load pulled by the system across multiple circuits.  With 2 circuits in the fish room, and a third located at the display, I hope to have plenty of juice, with room to grow, by simply extending the homes existing electrical lines.20190728_203243.jpg

Lastly, I framed out the coat closet with a pair of 2x6 support beams to serve as the floor of the "upper-level" of the water mixing station.  This is where the freshwater tank will go.  I was looking for a way to "go high"  in the closet to capitalize on all the room I have available.  Right now I'm leaning towards a 26 gallon freshwater tank to rest on these support beams next to the RODI unit.  The idea is to have the freshwater tank serve as an ATO to the sump, and also feed the salt mixing tank, which will go in underneath it.  Allowing the build to "go high", reaching up into the closet area has really freed up a lot of space in the tight quarters I'm working within.  This also allows for an unobstructed walkway to go in-and-out of the stairwell area from the coat closet door.


Coming up next:  I've ordered the ventilation fan, which should be delivered this week, then:

1-Humidity control:  I'll complete the installation of the ventilated air-flow design

2-Water Mixing Station:  At the planning stage.  I'm evaluating which tank sizes are best suited to fit into the allowable space.  Then, I'll be looking into different options for building a stand for the salt-mix tank.  Lastly, researching various plumbing options.  

3-Water Containment:  I'd like to get the shower pan liner installed, but I want to wait until the ventilation system is up and running and the mixing station design is further along.

Feels good to be making progress on the fish room.  4-weeks into the build and I've accomplished some of the core concepts I was hoping to capture.  Now I have a basic structure with plumbing/electric and soon to be ventilated area with water-containment.  Feeling confident today - there's plenty of time to be humbled.  Love the challenges of this hobby!  ...to be continued.

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The ventilation fan arrived!

I went with the AirTitan T7 crawl space fan.  It came with their standard setup, which is "exhaust" mode.  I had to unscrew the fan unit and reverse the fans to convert the airflow to "intake" mode to accommodate the airflow direction I was seeking.  That part went pretty smoothly, and having installed the fan, I can endorse this model. 


It also has the remote temperature/humidity controller, which makes for a clean install.  The display shows the temperature (73) and humidity (66) is holding pretty close to the ambient temperature of the house.  It's a relatively humid day outside, and I'm still not totally pleased with the humidity level in the house.  The only way to bring that down is to make the house much cooler by setting the homes A/C waayyy down (below where I'm comfortable in the house).  Alternatively, I could invest in a whole-house humidifier. That's an expensive solution that I'm not prepared to make right now.  I'll just have to keep my eye one the variables and see how it performs, once the sump is installed in the fish room.


I installed the temperature probe for the ventilation controller about six feet away in the under-stairs area of the fish room:


The fan box fit neatly into the upper part of the closet area:


Exhaust passes through the wall into the adjacent guest bathroom, where it ports right next to the bathroom ventilation fan.  I couldn't run a dedicated duct to the exterior house without incurring significant expense, so this was a compromise.  The idea is to vent into the bathroom and if the humidity really kicks up, turn on the bathroom fan.


I also installed a register vent at the base of the stairs to provide a way for the fish room to "breathe".  The air flow comes in from the living room, next to where the display tank will ultimately be:20190801_130846.jpg

This register vents into the back of the fish room at the base of the stairs.  For now, I just set up a basic stand-alone-fan to draw in the air from the living room.  The fan is pretty quiet.  I don't notice too much sound sitting in the living room with set to "high".  It has 3 settings, and while it's definitely working the best on the strongest setting, I may be able to keep it running at a lower setting if it ends up being too loud.  My plan is to run this fan 24x7, with the AirTitan set to auto-operation controlled by the thermostat.


Overall I think the ventilation solution turned out better than I'd expected.  The design I'd seems to be performing the way I intended it to.  I won't know how effective it'll be until the whole system is running, but for now I'm feeling pretty good about it!

fish room ventilation.jpg

Next, I'm planning to complete the water containment basin.  I'm going to install a shower-pan liner around the 2x6 frame.  Hopefully this solution works!

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I installed the shower pan liner today.  I started by taking a suggestion from a youtuber to layout the liner in the sun to soften it up.20190802_105813.jpg

I then tucked in the corners and tacked down the liner around the 2x6 frame:



Next step is to tidy-up the liner edging a bit, and lay down some rubber floor mats.  I'm considering something like this:


Does anyone have any experiences with rubber floor mats?

I'm hoping to find more of an 'industrial strength' mat with a deeper thickness then the ones I'm finding on amazon...

I also got the water storage tanks:


This is the flat-bottom 26-gallon for RODI water.  It sits on top of the frame I built, and will serve to feed both the ATO and the salt mix tank below it:


This is the 55gallon salt mix tank.  It's 18" x 18" and fits perfectly under the freshwater tank.

I'm still researching plumbing options for the system.

The shower pan liner looks to have been an effective solution for the water-containment I was  hoping to incorporate into the build.  Still have some work to do, adding the rubber matting and plumbing the shallow-water automated sump to the homes drain-line.

Onward on the path to SPS bliss!

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Does anyone have any experiences with rubber floor mats?

Yes sir,

They come in black and red. Red being grease resistant. They were developed for restaurants. They come 1/2 to 7/8 inch thickness and generally are made in 1 piece.2x3, 3x5, 4x6 ect...

I used 2 of them under my old 125gal long tank stand. They work great if you spill water. Soak up what you can with a towel , the rest will evaporate.



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On ‎8‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 8:04 PM, Dogfish said:

I used 2 of them under my old 125gal long tank stand. They work great if you spill water. Soak up what you can with a towel , the rest will evaporate.



Thank you!

I just ordered a 3'x5' and two 2'x3' of these:  https://www.webstaurantstore.com/cactus-mat-3525-c1bx-vip-tuffdek-3-x-5-black-heavy-duty-rubber-anti-fatigue-floor-mat-7-8-thick/844B3525C1.html

The 3'x5' should fit under the stair area which is 3'x6'.  There'll still be a 12" gap at the end of the containment basin where the ATO and emergency sump pump will sit.  I'm cautious to put the acrylic ATO box, with its sharp-edges, directly on the pan liner.  So long as I'm careful setting into position it shouldn't be a problem.  The pan liner seems pretty durable.

The pair of 2'x3' mats should cover the closet area which is 4'x3', but I may have to shave off a bit of the 3' side to accommodate a slightly narrower closet depth (about 35")

I also ordered the automated sump pump.  


The extra effort to install a water containment/drainage solution may never be needed (hopefully I'll never experience a major leak or flood).  Experience has proved me wrong here.  As much precaution as I've put into past builds, there's always been that moment where I flood something, for some reason (usually human error, not equipment failure). 

Worse case, I just wasted a few hundred bucks and some time, putting in something that never gets used.  It might fail when the time comes when it's actually needed.  Weighing the pros/cons - I'll gamble on this one!

Next, PLUMBING PART 2:  The heart of the room, where plumbing goes beyond basic hook-ups.

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PLUMBING PART 2:  Time to get serious about the salt mixing station and all the plumbing hook ups for the system. 

BASIC CONNECTION/HOOK UPS:   I've already installed basics, connecting to the homes existing plumbing.  I've installed access to both water-line-in plumbing (tapped to the bathroom sink), and drain-line-out plumbing (tapped above the P-trap of the bathroom sink)


There's 3 (possibly 4) sources for drainage-out I'm planning for:

1- RODI Waste-Water:  This one's the simplest.  Waste-water discharged out the RODI unit needs to go somewhere.  I’m thinking of setting the RODI next to the freshwater tank in the closet, then gravity-feed the waste-line into the drain-line. Done.

2-Emergency containment basin sump drain-line:  I'm planning to reduce the fitting on the automated sump pump outlet to 1/2".  From there, I'll connect to a 1/2" PVC pipe that runs from the base of the stairs where the sump pump is, up to the upper level of the closet, where the RODI unit is.  Somewhere up there, I'll tap into the drain line.  I'm researching best way to plumb this.  Not sure if a need a check valve to prevent back-flow into the sump or not? 

3-System return for water changes:  I'd like to connect a pump from the sump's return area to the drain.  The idea is to flip a switch, activating the pump, and exporting water from the system, directly into the drain line (no buckets for water changes). Once the sump's been drained to a specified level, I'd refill it by pumping water back into the sump from the salt mixing station.  So long as I have an accurate way of measuring the gallons-in / gallons-out, I think this should work?  Probably as simple as marking a line on the sump-level targeting a specific gallonage for periodic water changes?

4-Automated water change dosing pump discharge (optional):  There's a possibility for connecting an automated water changing system to the build.  At this, I'm unsure of including it or not and I'm weighing pros/cons.

Manifold Control.  The heart of the plumbing for this drainage-out solution is a 3-way, or 4-way manifold.  This is needed to provide access for all the drainage discharge sources to feed out to the single bathroom drain.  I'm researching various ways to plumb this manifold.  It'll probably include ball valves for the emergency sump and system return line, and (if necessary) check valves.  I'd prefer to avoid check valves, where possible, as they're potential fail points.



There's a total of 4 (possibly 5) water-lines-into the system I'm contemplating:

1- RODI In:  The basic hook up for water-line-in is already plumbed from under the bathroom sink.  All that remains is tidying up the lines connecting it to the upper level of the closet where RODI is located.

2 - ATO In:  This is a straight-forward run - from freshwater tank in the closet - to the ATO tank next to the sump.  Ideally, I'd just T-off the freshwater tank and gravity feed it with a ball valve. 

3- Fresh water into the salt water mixing tank:  This comes down to a decision between T-ing off the fresh water tank and gravity feeding it, or T-ing directly off the pressurized RODI into the salt water mixing tank.  I’ve not decided which way to go.  I'm leaning towards T-ing off the RODI. The CON is that it adds another fail-point.  The PRO is convenience (It takes substantially less time to fill the salt-mixing-tank directly from the RODI out).

4- Salt Water In (sump):  I'm planning a run from the salt-mixing tank into the sump.  I imagine a T’ing off the recirculating mixing pump and redirecting flow with a ball valve to a pipe connected to the sump.

5-Automated water change (optional):  Depending on whether I decide to include this in the build or not, it'll require a dosing pump with "in/out" connections. The "In" connection between the salt-mixing tank and the sump, and the "out" connection from the sump to the drain-line for discharge.

I think this covers the overall design of the more detailed plumbing for the build.  I recognize the importance of fish-room plumbing - this is where patience and foresight are critical.  I'm taking my time with it.  I'll post images of the layout as I go - I know its difficult to visualize all this (It is for me, at least!)

Once plumbing is implemented, it can be difficult to alter – all suggestions welcomed!

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Where did you get that mix tank? I have been looking for it for ages... tank depot in DS has been backordered forever. 

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The tank depot in San Antonio had it.  I think the manager there (John?) said he had like a-dozen or  so in inventory.

Dripping Springs Tank Depot did not carry this one.

It was about 2-hrs each way from Cedar Park.  I guess that's the price for ...greatness!!!



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How much did they charge ? The DS wants to fold in shipping to the cost! Yikes!

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On ‎8‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 11:57 AM, victoly said:

How much did they charge ? The DS wants to fold in shipping to the cost! Yikes!


They charged the advertised cost of the tank 128.99 + TX sales tax.

The delivery charge was substantial, I don't recall the exact amount.  I want to say it was around $60.00

I bought 2 tanks, so the total delivery cost for both was going to be over $100.00

This is why I decided to drive to the Tank Depot location in San Antonio, where both tanks were in-stock and available for pickup.

There was no charge for pick-up.

There is no cost, beyond the advertised rate - if you pick up on location.

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2 hours ago, victoly said:

How much did they charge ? The DS wants to fold in shipping to the cost! Yikes!

The shipping on those things is very high because of the size. When I was looking I could not find anyplace that had the Ace Rotomold tanks that I wanted in stock. You either have to wait until the local store buys more tanks or pay for shipping. Since they are more geared to home and farm water finding tall thin tanks is a problem. Most common is the 65 gallon round ones at Tractor Supply. 2 Years ago San Antonio did not have these those sq tanks in stock. Get while the gettin is good


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The rubber floor mats arrived.  I cut 2" off the 2'x3' mats so they'd fit in the closet:


I laid down the 3'x5' mat under the stairs and took the remnants from the closet pieces to use as a support the ATO (That round thing in the upper-right corner is the automated emergency sump-pump).


PLUMBING UPDATE:   I'm challenged to prioritize/visualize which aspect of the plumbing to tackle first.  I feel the need to have the whole system laid out before cutting a single pipe. 

RETURN FROM SUMP TO DRAIN:  Originally, my priority was to layout all the drain-line plumbing.  Then, I realized that the display's return pump could also serve the dual-purpose of draining the sump for water changes.  The return-line is closed during water changes, so I could simply redirect the return pumps flow from the display to the drain.  This would eliminate the need for a dedicated pump for water changes.  

This has a cascading effect, as it impacts return-line plumbing to the display.  It brings into question the intentions for the manifold over the sump (reactors, U/V filter, spare lines, and possibly the chiller).  Ultimately, I'm left trying to plan ahead for all possibilities of what might be attached to the system. 

My head's spinning.   Many possibilities, many considerations ...this is going to take some time!

What's attached to your display?

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I have 3 of those square tanks I have been meaning to setup for over 2 years. Haha. I was about to buy a house and things went sideways financially so they have been in storage ever since. Hopefully I'll be in my own place in the next year or two and can finally get the water station setup! 😭

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I spent the weekend contemplating plumbing.  The large sump takes up a huge footprint, so I constructed a 2"x2" lumber frame to replicate its dimensions in the room.  It's difficult to visualize how everything's going to fit - I need to be able navigate around without having to move the actual sump.  The wood frame is light, so I can easily move it around to install plumbing.  Once the actual behemoth is placed, it's not going anywhere!  The picture shows where the sump will ultimately rest - in front of the ATO located at the base of the stairs.


PLUMBING:  I'm still not sure where to start.  I've been focusing on the mix-tank - everything flows and drains from that point in the closet.  I have a basic design in mind.  When I elevated the freshwater tank high-up in the closet, it opened up a lot of space below for the mix-tank.  This allows for the design to be reduced to a small 19"x19" square platform-base with just enough height for the external pump to sit underneath the 55-gallon. 

Water Mixing Station Design.jpg

I'm concerned about the weight of all that plumbing sitting on top of the return line.   I'm thinking a short FLEX-PVC run attached with a union to the rigid PVC pipe.  Then, somehow mount the rigid PVC to reduce the weight pressing down on the pumps return housing.  The return pump housing is pretty tough.  Its the Iwaki MD-30RT:    https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/iwaki-md-30rt-japanese-motor-510-gph.html

I ended up buying the Iwaki pump on my last build after the Pan World pump I'd originally bought IMMEDIATELY broke at this exact fail point:  https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/pan-world-30px.html

There was hardly any weight on the return line and the cheap plastic housing snapped within the first 24 hours - BRS wouldn't take the item back :( and I bought the much more expensive, but much sturdier Iwaki as a replacement.  It worked great ever since.  You get what you pay for.

I'm going out of town this week, so I'll to step away from the project for a mental break and give my head a chance to clear.

It's like playing 3-d Tetris in there! 


House is 73 degrees, humidity running at 72%.

The outside temperature is 100 degrees and outside humidity registering only 40%.

Not sure why there's such a differential between the outside and inside of the house, but I'm still comfortable with the house temperature and there's no evidence of precipitation anywhere.  It might be due to the insulation in the house?  It's strange because if I open up the house to air-out, the humidity indoors begins to drop immediately to meet the ambient humidity level outside.  This doesn't make sense to me because everyone says the house humidity should be less than outdoors with the A/C on, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

The ventilation in the fish room is holding at 70% humidity.  I'm still not clear on whether or not this is actually a problem. 

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