Jump to content

ckimble's 280g upgrade Blog


Recommended Posts

I wanted to document and share my upgrade from my current 90g reef to a shiny new 280g. My current tank has been up and running for about a year now, and I am quickly learning and outgrowing that setup. The 280 dimensions (72x30x30) fit what I was looking for as I like what the 30" width allows for aquascaping. Carlos @ RCA is giving me the hookup for the tank and misc equipment. The tank has been on order for several weeks and should be available the week after Xmas. The wait has been timed perfectly as several of the large components will be DIY.

On to the details so far...


Euro-braced 280G 72x30x30, center overflow, and will be drilled for closed loop

Custom-built sump and stand by yours truly


Deltec AP851 I scored used from Reef Central


Oceans Motion 4-way powered by a dart pump

Return will be powered by a snapper pump

Possibly will be adding a Tunze wavebox in addition to the OM depending on flow characteristics


3 x 400W PFO ballasts

Luminarc III reflectors

14K SE Hamilton bulbs

VHO Actinics

Custom Canopy TBD


Digital Aquatics ReefKeeper II

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Given my ISTP personality profile, I wanted to tackle this project full-on and DIY as much as possible. Not neccesarily to save money, but rather to have things exactly like I want them. Case in point the stand. Looking at what is available in this size pre-built, I wasn't happy with my options. Most designs out there are all frilly with lots of crown moulding, raised panel doors and a general foo-foo design. Not to mention small door openings, and just good-enough structual design. I came up with my own plan and attached the photo documentary of the build...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been playing with acrylics for a couple months now, building "stuff" i find I need for the reef or otherwise. It is amazing what you can do with this material. I am getting better at the technique so it was time to knock out the sump for my new tank. I wanted to incorporate a refugium in the design and came up with this layout. I just filled it with water this weekend and it is rock solid. The overall dimensions are 48x24x14.

Can't wait to put it to work....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have built a small rack to hold the American DJ power switch as well as the RKII. My biggest complaint on my current tank is the way it is wired. It is a royal pain to remove devices for cleaning and such. With this setup I wanted to have everything terminate in a single location and use good cable management to make maintainance easier. I believe this should work out nicely

RKII and powerstrip


Block diagram for the geeks...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks great! I am jealous of your shop. Can I have a beer?

BTW I find it helpful on my power strip to have like things next to each other. For example pumps are 1-3, fans and heater 4-5, lights 6, etc.. Just a thought. It helps me keep track of what is where.

Thanks... stop on by anytime, there is always cold beer in that 'fridge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I rough cut the pieces with a 80T blade on the table saw. To get the smooth edge for bonding I trim it up on the router. I have also tried the tablesaw and scraping method. It works alright, but the edges are never perfect. If I can find a good deal, I plan on getting a jointer to make quick work of the edge prep.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you use the table saw and router do you get any melting on the plexi? Are you using a fixed speed router or variable speed? I have used a jig saw in the past and found that if you use a higher RPM, it starts melting. I also found that melted plexi that falls on bare skin HURTS!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have found that extruded material will melt horribly while cutting and is an all around pain to work with. The cell cast does not, and cuts beautifully. The first couple of projects I tried were all with cheap HD plexi i.e. extruded and it was very difficult to work with.

Yeah, I know the melted plastic on the hand feeling....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I am done with the sump for now minus a couple of misc additions for probes and such. I figured I should bring it in the house to give it a shot in the stand. It was tight, but fits nicely. Until the tank and pumps show up I can't really start on the major plumbing. Up next is ATO and custom media reactors.

on to the pics...


Skimmer side


fuge section


Link to comment
Share on other sites

And where can you buy sheets of cell cast around town? I have only seen the stuff at Home Depot. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I am wanting to build a custom sump as well.

You can get 3/8" and thicker at Regal Plastics. Unfortunately their 1/4" is extruded, if you want cast it is special order. I also found you can get cast at Interstate plastics, but haven't bought from them yet. The material from Regal is more expensive, but it is name brand i.e. Plexigls G. What I was quoted at Interstate was "import" material. I see you are in Cedar Park as well, you are more than welcome to use my shop if you want to give it a shot...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Got the call from Carlos yesterday, the tank has arrived from Oceanview. I made the calls and got a bunch of friends lined up to help lift. Last night after close, Carlos, Misty, and Jake delivered the tank. It took about 5 minutes and we had it up on the stand. Thankfully it fit, with about 1/8" to spare on the sides. This thing is massive, but looks incredible. I definitely can't wait to get started on the plumbing and get it full of water...

Stay tuned...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

First Off... Happy new year!

I am a little groggy today as we did it up hard at a friends house last night. They got their kids Guitar Hero III for Xmas, so the adults stepped it up and showed them a thing or two. :)

I have been making nice progress on acquiring, building, and getting the tank ready for water. I have most of the big equipment to get things plumbed out, just waiting on an order of union ball valves. They are supposed to arrive tomorrow, so hopefully by the end of the week I can fire it up and leak test my work. There is too much to update, so I will just show you the pics of where I am at...

6000GPH of flow just waiting to be unleashed


This is an awesome deal for anyone needing water reservoirs. Austin Home Brew will sell you these for $10 a piece. I plan on using one for the top-off, and the other is going to be plumbed in for mixing SW and doing water changes.


I built this the other day for running PhosBan, but it came out so nice I plan on building a second for charcoal. The concept is very similar, so I may also build a larger calcium reactor to use with this setup. Nice thing is they are easy to build and the materials are fairly inexpensive to acquire.


For the drains, I wanted to try the Hofer Gurgle Buster. On my 90 I am currently running Durso standpipes and they work alright. They are a little noisy, and take up a lot of room. I don't have the room in the overflow on this tank, so it was either a Stockman or the Hofer. They are basically the same concept, except for the direction the water enters the standpipe.


Sometimes the timing of a picture is everything....




Here is where it sits today. The last thing I did was cover the back in limo-tint and installed the bulkheads. I am going to run a bead of silicone around the bulkheads on the inside to hopefully minimize the chances of developing a leak down the road.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice. I like those drain pipes. Let us know how they work. I was real close to using one, but I guess I chickened out.

If you get making Calcium reactors down I want one. Where do you buy the acrylic cylinders.

Happy New Year.

The reactor is my next project (after plumbing) so you can check it out to see if you like the design. I get the tubing at Regal Plastics off Metric and 183ish. They have all your DIY supplies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it up and running yet? I'll have to bring you the drawings of where I need the sump drilled so I can see it!

not running yet... but close.

Sure, stop by after work and we can get that sump taken care of.

give me a call


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a quick update as it is late and I need to go to bed. I have been working hard on getting the tank ready for the water test. It is full of water and I am letting it run to work out the bugs in the system. Yesterday I filled it up and discovered one of the ball valves was bad and leaked through the shutoff. Of course it was the most difficult location to have to replace. The Hofer drain pipes took a while to dial in but are woking nicely now and are very quiet. I still need to tweak the drains to the sump cause there is a fair amount of noise there, but a little adjusting should fix that. Other than that everything is holding solid. I have some tweaks I need to make, but overall I am happy with the initial testing. I will shut up now and just show the pics...

OM 4-way


Pumps plumbed through the wall in the garage


Short clip of the sump in action


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...