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90g(RR) Reboot


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Hey guys,

Wanted to share my progress on the reboot of my 90g reef tank.

Back Story

I had this tank back in 2010 and had it running for almost two years before moving into my house in Leander. When i bought the house, the tank condition had greatly decreased due to the most relentless dinoflagellates (or at least I believe it was) infestation I had ever seen. My spirit was crushed, so I tore everything down, sold off the live stock, and was certain I was done with reef tanks.

However, I made a horrible mistake - instead of selling off the equipment I stored it away in my garage where I spent the last two years staring, tripping over, and walking around it.

Finally I caved in - time to reboot the tank!


I love my little house - but I didn't have a great area for the 4ft long tank in my living area, but I did have a nice area in the kitchen. The whole house is pretty open - so my biggest concern was noise coming from a tiled kitchen and echoing all over the house.

The 2nd consideration was really to see if I couldn't improve on my set up and equipment - being the first time around I just 'learned on the fly' and really could have used better insight going in.

The Stand

First big thing I tackled was the stand. It had some wear from the original owners, and could greatly benefit from a little bit of paint and shine.


I hit the sand with the random orbital sander - and hand sanded the parts I couldn't get with the tools. I tried to spin this part of the project as a positive thing. "Hey - I have an excuse to buy a new orbital sander!" - but it did little to help. I really...really... really hate sanding.


Here's the finished product after spraying with new paint. I used an outdoor semi-gloss paint - so hopefully it will stand up to the salt and water and clean up easily. It really did help breath life into a tired old stand! Amazingly the whole painting process went rather smoothly - with little error.


Here's step one of trying to make the whole system quieter. I cut out a sheet of ply to make an enclosed backing for the stand to hopefully trap in some of the sound (and give it an over-all cleaner appearance). To help protect the sump from getting two warm - I installed two computer files to move are in and out of the stand. I have them hooked up to a 4-pin MOLEX to 120v adapter that I got off of newegg to run the fans. They worth pretty well - and move a ton of air. However - I could have invested in quieter fans. These aren't too bad - but can add a little noise to the system.


Here's the reverse look of the new backing to the stand. I've since moved the fans and screwed them in from the inside of the stand so I can access it later after the tank is set up. I also installed in some industrial sound proofing material (~1-1.25 inches thick). This stuff is EXPENSIVE but man does it work!


This is the finished look with all of the sound proofing material installed. It cuts down on the area I have to work with for my sump - but everything fits in there OK with the equipment I have now. Hopefully it won't hamper any improvements down the line.


I decided to re-purpose my 20gl sump again. The 48x18 cabinet didn't allow me many options for sumps - and I couldn't find a 23gl tank anywhere. Still - there were some room for improvements.


Let me first apologize about the fuzzy pictures you guys are going to get. I was poor at documenting my progress - and I think working in the heat of August just makes pictures blurry.

My first sump had the refugium section in the center baffle with the return at the end - and the skimmer chamber at the other end. That was fine, except I got way too much flow going over my sump and it was difficult to keep any kind of substrate in there. I re-baffled the sump to have the refugium at the end, and moved the return chamber to the middle. I also opened up the return chamber a bit more to allow more evaporation. I also correctly baffled my skimmer chamber to the suggested 6 inch operating height (which wasn't even a known consideration for me before!)


Leak test looking good!

Oh - so funny story. If you ever buy industrial adhesive (for the sound proofing) and Silicone Caulk (for the baffles) - be careful not to mix them up! I totally set all my baffles in place with adhesive doh.gif the first time around! Luckily I realized about an hour later and was able to still pull them out - however - cleaning the tank again with the razor blade was not fun!


Here it is in the tank! I still have some room to move around there (although not much room from the front of the stand to the back.

I updated my plumbing here some. I placed a T with a ball value from my return pump to the refugium area. This way I'll be able to regulate the flow going into my refugium. I had debated about doing this with the overflow into the sump - but the more I mapped it out the more complicated it was and the more risk was involved (in terms of flooding the tank). So this is what I decided on. I also added a check valve (which I'm not 100% sold on yet - we will see how it goes when it's in action) to help stop back flow into the sump and keep my skimmer levels consistent. Note you can see the fans now mounted on the INSIDE of the stand here.


There's a FTS of how she all looks put together! Yes, yes... I know that door is hung crooked... I'll fix it... eventually....


And it finally begins! Added in some sand late last night. Can't wait to get the LR added in here in the next day or two and get this guy running and cycling!

I still have some wish lists to add yet. Tank controller / Mp40es / ATO and a few other items. I'm hoping to get these in place as the tank cycles.

I appreciate the input - and will hopefully keep documenting the progress!

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Love the thread and that you're back in the hobby. I can't tell you how many times I've seen leaving that equipment lying around is just your subconscious asserting your actual desire to be back. Keep up the documentation, I'd love to see followups as the tank progresses.

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*** Update 8/30 ***

The latest in the tank had my heart pumping pretty good.

Rock Work


Not too much to say here. Was trying to go for an 'amphitheater' look but still have lots of open real estate for corals down the line. I like the way it came out. For the record: This was WAY easier to stack on the kitchen table than it was to stack in the tank! smile.png

After a few hours of being a perfectionist - I got the rock in the tank - and finally I was able to fill up the remaining water and fire up the new sump set up for the first time. I was so excited until...


Oh man, some of the most intense minutes in my fish tanking career.

Here was the main issue.


The bulk head on the right was leaking. I didn't catch it before because my over-flow chamber never did have water until the display was completely full. I saw a drop leak every 15 seconds or so coming down the threads of the bulkheads.

It was at this time where I wasn't thinking clearly. To be honest these bulkheads have been in the tank since I bought it - and I've never installed a bulkhead anywhere at any time. The leaking caused me to panic some. Thinking that the threaded part actually passed through the bulkhead and not part of the top fitting - I reached in there and gave her a good crank to the right (you know... to tighten..)...

The stream of water that followed gave me a pretty good indication that this was the wrong move. I twisted back to the left and I was left where I started - a pretty fast leak coming down the threads.

I finally conceded and went to the internet to see what these things looked like. Realizing that the threads were part of the inside the tank fitting, and not passing through the fitting - I finally understood that I had to tighten down that bulk head nut.

But look at the picture. The nut was nestled about 3 inches past the threads. It was almost completely update against the other bulkhead, and worst of all, the bulkheads themselves were recessed up into the stand. In short - there was no way I was getting a wrench on that guy.

Furthermore - in reading I was seeing that these bulkheads were only supposed to be hand tightened. - Otherwise you could break the tank glass by over tightening - or crack the bulkhead. I tried grabbing and turning the nut with my hand, but nothing was budging.

In the end - I was able to get a set of long nosed vice grasp onto the sides of the nut and got a little less than a 1/4 turn on the nut. Nothing broke - and the leak stopped with only (all things considered) a minimum amount of water spilled. Wheeeewww.....

The 2nd leaks wasn't too bad. It was on this guy:


My fitting on my check valve had a slow drip. At this point the last thing I wanted was to rip off my plumping - so a little silicone sloppily applied too care of that guy.

So now I wait. Cycle has commenced. Rocks are in. Pumps are working. Sump looks good. What do you guys think?



The only thing I don’t' like as of right now - is that my overflow pipe to the sump has a gurgle to it. I'll have to see if I can't do something to stop that.

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I know you're not going to want to hear this, but those check valves are prone to failure over time :(you might be best off, at some point, not now when you're frustrated with it) get a check valve with union valves on either side for easy cleaning and replacement. sorry to hear you're having a rough go, I know it sucks.

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Oh not too big of a rough go - it's nothing I haven't been able to work through.

I heard that too - the whole plumping can come off easy with my unions on each side. I haven't been 100% sold on the check valve (although it is working nicely right now).

I think eventually if it fails - I'll just remove it all together and pipe in an inline UV sterilizer.

But I like the input. I had though of that when I was setting up the check valve but didn't have the unions to place on either side. So instead I just placed it where I coudl access it easily should I need to remove.

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Where did you get your acoustic foam? I've used the egg crate looking stuff in the past, but I wasn't especially impressed with it.

Well, back in highschool/college I used to work at a factory. I still know some people from there and was able to get one of them to order me the foam. I believe it's the same grade acoustic foam they'd put into builds like mobile homes to help dampen the sound between the outer walls.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update - 9/23

Thought I'd share this. Modified my stand pipe to a Durso Stand pipe a week or so ago. WHY HAVEN'T I DONE THIS SOONER! doh.gif

Best $4.00 and 15 minutes investment of the tank so far. Nice and quiet! Took a little time to get the airflow right - but it's up and running smoothly.


I also added a few manual fan controls for the built in computer fans in the stand. The fans when plugged in were running at max speed and were by far the noisest thing left in my setup (since the Durso update). Unplugged my Temp was pushing 81 degress which is a little warm for my liking. They were $6 each at frys and it allows me to dial in a nice quiet speed with still moving a good amount of air volume through the stand. I'll see if I can't snap a picture after work.

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Everything looks great! I'm always so impressed by how you all seem to be able to make the sump area look so clean and organized. I've tried and tried and mine never look like that. Patience is not one of my virtues though. Great job! Can't wait to see some livestock swimming around in there.

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