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Dual Personality Frag Tank


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Ok so I figured it was time to start a build thread for my new tank. I have been quietly putting together equipment and designing the sump and lighting. The tank has already been paid for in November 14' and the delivery ETA is May 15'. Yes that's a 6 month lead time on getting a reef savvy so its giving me plenty of time to get the sump and stand built. Most of the equipment has already been purchased so I could touch, see, feel and have it as I'm designing the sump. My goal is to have the system ready to plug in when the tank shows up. The reason behind the name as most of you know is I like zoas and SPS. I keep them both in the same system so one half of the frag tank (36"x32") will be higher par 200-500 for light loving SPS. The other half (36"x32") with be lower light 50-250 par for the zoas. My goal for the Running TWV of the system will be 175 gallons including displacement.

The Tank -

Reef Savvy 120 gallon frag tank

72" long x 32" wide x 12" deep

Black silicone

Custom 26" Ghost Overflow with 2 - 1.5" drains and one 1.5" emergency

2 - 3/4" returns

Abs bottom

The equipment list -

Return pump - Ecotech Vectra L1 (3000gph)

Skimmer - Avast Marine CS1 powered by a Sicce psk1000 set in recirculating mode fed off the return pump.

Skimmate chamber - Avast marine large Davey jones Skimmate locker with float switch

Calcium Reactor - Geo CR618 with Ehiem 1048 recirculation pump and custom 418 second chamber

15 Lb aluminum Co2 bottle with custom built Dual stage regulator and needle valve by me (Victor SGT 500 with swagelok series 21 needle valve)

Algae scrubber - Turbo Aquatcs L2 revision 4

Algae scrubber feed pump - Sicce syncra silent 3.0 (714gph) 300gph to the screen

Live Rock - BRS Dry Pukani 50Lbs

Sand - 220lbs CaribSea black Hawaiian

BRS single 10" reactor for carbon

Innovative marine Minimax reactor "Midsize" for GFO

Heater - 1 finnex HMX-S 500w in skimmer compartment, 1 finnex HMX-S 200w in Fuge compartment

ATO - Reef keeper DP1 with custom avast style float switches

DT Lights Metal halides - 2 Mogul Based 400w and 250w Metal Halides (Hamilton Cozumel Sun reflectors) , radium lamps run by Solis Tek electronic ballasts model STK400

DT Lights T5 supplements - 6 24" running front to back - 3 ATI blue plus and 3 ATI Actinic

DT Lights LED supplements - 8 10w square chipsets. All Royal Blue.

Controller - Digital Aquatics Archon with Lab grade ORP & 2 PH probes from BRS, DA Salinty probe, 3 DA temp probes

Powerhead - 2 Maxspect Gyre XF150 with icecap modules and icecap battery backups in main tank, 1 Maxspect Gyre XF130 in Fuge compartment.

The Sump -

Custom built 52" long x 29" wide x 14" deep

Built out of 3/8" acrylic by Melevs Reef

The Stand -

Custom Steel Built 72" long x 32" wide x 36" tall

Powder coat semi gloss black

3/4" cabinet grade plywood tops painted semigloss black marine acrylic paint.

The Skins -

Custom made rustic Hickory cabinet skins

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Nah I'm completely winging it. punk.gif

You mean this picture......Where I started to lay out the sump design with blue tape on my wife's dining room table. And she laughed her butt off and asked what I was doing and then I told her. Then she laughed some more and went straight faced said Seth if you damage my table Ill cut you, stuck her tongue out and walked away.

I have since moved the layout to the floor where the tank will reside.


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I'd love general feed back about the sump design. Some notes. The sump will be built out of 3/8 acrylic with a 1" euro braced top. To go to a rimless design requires going to 1/2" and a significant cost increase. The red squares with the black circles are drain outputs and will be bullheaded into the eurobracing that will be a 3"x3" square with rounded corners in that area. The sump and stand is being designed for a 200g tank up top. The equipment has been bought for a appropriate sized system that I will be running but I made the compartments big enough to fit bigger equipment.

Fuge area (Left),

There won't be any LR in the top tank. All the LR will be housed in the fuge area. It will be platformed up 1" so as to allow water flow on the bottom side. The platform will have slots or holes in it to allow water flow through. I have the dry Pukani LR already. It is going to be sized and baked in my friends rock tank so it can cycle and get covered in coraline before the tank goes live. It will have approximately 4 months bake time on it. I am only planning on using the kessil A150 Amazon sun because I already have 3 from a planted freshwater setup I'm not using. Otherwise I would go a cheaper route. I plan on doing some kind of Marco above the LR. I haven't decided on Ulva or cheato yet. They both have their downsides. The drain into the fuge area will be 1.5" drain that is run open without a filter sock. The divider between the fuge and return pump sections will be black. I am currently in the beta design stages of how it flows over to the return section. Right now I am toying with the idea of the divider going all the way up with comb teeth cut to the desired water level. On the inside of the fuge having a couple pieces of U channel acrylic that a window screen fits down into covered with 100 micro filter sock material. This will allow for any particulates to get caught such as cheato pieces and it being full length will allow for when the return pump is off the macro not floating up and out of the fuge compartment. The drain for this compartment will have a valve to adjust water flow through it.

Return compartment (middle),

This is pretty self explanatory. The biopellets reactor (reef octopus BR70) will pipe over to the filter sock on the skimmer compartment. This should catch any pellet blow by and put the water closer to the intake of the skimmer. It will not just dump out into the return area. I imagine the biopellets reactor will also get mounted with titanium nuts and bolts to an acrylic platform to get it to the height that is manageable for service. I am not sure that I will even need to run the reactor but I would rather plan for it and not need it. I would also like to figure out the thermal load of the running system with it in place running empty. The return pump has been speced as the sicce syncra silent 5.0 at 1321 gph. This will run the returns, two BRS single 10" reactors (GFO & carbon), bypass and the calcium reactor feed. The return pump compartment has been designed for a sicce HF syncra. They make them from 2500gph to 4500gph. I don't think I will need that much flow but other then the danger mags they are the only reliable submersible pump that will do that kind of gph. I haven't figured out the placement of the manifold and BRS reactors yet. I am thinking about putting the reactors on the left side feeding into a tie on filter sock so I don't bypass GFO or carbon into my fuge.

Skimmer compartment (right side),

Again this is pretty self explanatory. The skimmer and calcium reactor will be platformed up to allow LR or the ceramic blocks to be located underneath. I am not completely sold on the ceramic block and their ability vs cost vs LR. This compartment will have a tie on filer sock on the main drain which is in the middle. The drain in the corner is for the emergency drain. The main drain for this compartment will be valued to adjust flow. The emergency drain will be left wide open. The skimmer will be airlined to outside and to a BRS 1/2" ports reactor running bitimunious carbon. Since I have a house with foam insulation my co2 saturation is higher. The airline outside helps keep my ph above 8 on my other tank, so I am going to replicate it on this tank. This compartment is also sized to allow a skimmer for a 200g tank and a larger geo CR. I can't find any down sides to running the calcium reactor in the sump except for the transfered heat. I am going to give it a shot running it in the sump. The ehiem 1048 pump that came with the CR is submersible.

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Looks like a well thought out design. Only suggestion I have is to maybe cure the rock with your actual sump light at your friend's house if possible... that way the light stays consistent.

I'd use the Ceramico ceramic block anyways over live rock just because it's perfectly flat. I couldn't imagine trying to balance my skimmer on a really flat piece of live rock... I don't care how flat it is, it won't be as flat as that manufactured block and it would bug me that it doesn't sit straight.

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I should have been clearer. The skimmer and calcium reactor will be on separate acrylic platforms anyway that are sitting on the sump floor. The rock or block would sit under the platform.

Good thinking on the light. He has one of my kessils anyways so he can just throw that over the rock tank.


In short, no. My Al per the triton tests tripled last month. Everything is happy and growing even that piece I got from you. So at the end I really don't care what they say about my Al levels. I haven't found a way to lower them anyways besides doing water changes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So I have been through the sump forwards and backwards. I'm pretty happy with the design. I'm sure there will be some things that get tweaked a little along the way.

I have drawn a rough drawing of the stand and cross bar lay out and I am sending it to my metal guy to be run through his engineering and load program to determine what size and gauge of tubing we will need to use. Forgive the lines are just a bit skewed I whipped it up pretty fast with a ruler. I have been going back and forth on whether I want to rhino coat the stand or just use hot dipped galvanization on it. I know if I use hot dip material it can be scuffed up and primed to be rhino coated. I have also designed the cross bars where the frag tank can sit in the middle or slide to either side and still be supported on the ends. I have designed it this way for a couple reasons. First is more metal cross bars on top never hurt. I have toyed with the idea of having a small frag tank that is plumbed into the main system that can be quickly disconnected and used as a frag swap tank. I am not sure how I feel about selling at frag swaps it seems like a lot of work but I would like to leave the option open. By my calculations I can fit a 16" wide x 24" deep x 12" tall frag tank next to the big tank. It would be acrylic and a AIO system so the inside dimensions would likely be 16" x 18" x 12". It would also have its own lighting and not run off the main systems lighting. As stated previously the stand is being designed to hold a 200 gallon system up top. That way the stand can be transferred over if I ever choose to spin down the frag tank.

As always I welcome any input.


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The idea came to me when I had to buy some big 4" cam lock fittings and then I saw that they make 1/2, 3/4, 1 inch polypropylene cam lock fittings. I thought that would be an easy way to detach a scout tank :).

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I should have been clearer. The skimmer and calcium reactor will be on separate acrylic platforms anyway that are sitting on the sump floor. The rock or block would sit under the platform.

Good thinking on the light. He has one of my kessils anyways so he can just throw that over the rock tank.


In short, no. My Al per the triton tests tripled last month. Everything is happy and growing even that piece I got from you. So at the end I really don't care what they say about my Al levels. I haven't found a way to lower them anyways besides doing water changes.

One of two scenarios:

1) Aluminum doesn't have meaningful impact at readily encountered levels, or

2) Triton gives you garbage data.


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So I have been thinking about the enterprise and shuttle idea. I'm not sure how practical it is to set it up that way but I did a redesign on the stand to accomadate a 24x24x9 AIO frag tank. I think that a 16x24x6 AIO frag tank is for all intents and purposes a little narrow. My goal was to keep the frag tank at or below 20 gallons. I'm still not sure how I feel about working a frag swap but that is a whole nother ball of wax.

So I redesigned the stand to be 72" long x 32" deep x 36" tall.

This allowed me a bit more space under the cabinet. I decided that the one aspect that I haven't been happy about with the sump is that using 3/8 material you end up with 2" of burned space in just material. So I did a quick redesign on the sump to allow for true compartment measurements left to right. This is important to me since I'm trying to cram 50 lbs of pukani into a 24x23.25" compartment. I couldn't give any space on my other compartments and still achieve what I wanted to. Now I can smile.png

I also redrew the sump and stand layout. I didn't scale the equipment in because at this point it would be redundant. I have done it before and I know it fits.

Here are the drawings.




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And yes I know 72" is a lot to clear span with metal. I'm waiting on my metal guy to finish his load calculations and determine if spanning 64 or 74" is economically possible with a 0.01" deflection. I know it can be done but I really don't want my stand to weight 1000lbs and be built out of 4" I-beam.

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Richard as always I appreciate and will always consider input. I wouldn't say your late to the party you can see my responses in REDsmile.png

•Make sure the fabricator adds adjustable feet to the corner posts. No floor is level and feet are a good, cheap solution. Four of them will appear flimsy compared to the rest of your design but they can handle a ton of weight.

I have thought about the leveling feet but I just haven't gotten around to locating any yet. I agree that they are invaluable. Have you used any before and which ones did you use?

•Consider removing the 5 floor braces and set your sump directly on the floor on a sheet of high density foam insulation. Structurally those braces do very little and you would pick up a few more inches of clearance and save a few bucks.

My thoughts on this were to have the sump off the floor so I don't transfer any heat down. Since it will be sitting on a tile floor and I keep my home a frigid 69 degrees year round. I believe that even with the thermal load of the equipment and lights I will still need a heater. The tank and sump would be sitting on 1/4" yoga mats on top of 3/4" PVC top and bottom. At the end of the day your right I can probably do just fine with the way that you designed at a cheaper cost.

•Along those lines, I would suggest moving any of the horizontal braces off the floor so the post are the only thing on the ground. Much easier to level and they won't end up sitting in saltwater when you have the inevitable spill.

Again agreed. I like the idea of being able to clean under the stand too.

•Just curious, what's the purpose of the double braces at the bottom

Metal work is cheap for me and adding that particular brace allowed me to move the sump all the way to the front edge of the stand next to the leg so I can have just an inch or two more to squeeze a larger ato chamber back there. That way the sump would still be supported on both ends. Plus I may have a habit of way overdesigning stuff. Just saying smile.png

•Long term Id be concerned about hot dipped galvanized metal holding up. Love the idea of the Rhino coating though.

My metal guy does a lot of work with hot dipping. I have a good friend that does rhino coating. Either is a viable option that affects the cost just a miniscule amount. I lean towards the rhino coating myself. Although I honestly believe that the hot dipping would hold up better. The problem is it is impractical to send it to be hot dipped assembled so you start with hot dipped material and everywhere its welded you paint it with cold galv zinc paint. The actual hot dip never rusts. This is where the rust usually starts. So that takes me back to rhino coating.

•Consider having the stand fabricator add some tabs to the back supports so you can easily bolt a piece of plywood to the back to mount odds and ends (BRS reactors, ATO controllers, Apex components, etc.) Avoids drilling holes in the frame exposing bare metal. Probably do something similar for the top braces so you can easily mount your fuge light (if needed).

I will do tabs!!!! Geeze how did I miss that. I was just going to screw in into the legs itself but that would allow me to recess in into the leg area.

•Is the ATO reservoir a custom piece? If so consider slanting the bottom so if you add Kalk it will settle to one end for efficient mixing. I found flat bottom tanks build up old Kalk over time.

Yes it is a custom piece and yes it will have a slanted bottom. I don't think I said it but I wanted it that way so the tunze doesn't leave an inch of water in the bottom. I don't plan on running kalk but as you know plans change. I just didn't verbalize this plan because that is a piece that is likely going to get built last.

•Now that I have a few frag swaps under my belt, I think the traveling frag tank is something you will find impractical. Moving your corals into a separate tank with different flow, lighting etc. for any period of time before the swap risks pissing them off and not looking their best. Plus you can't really transport the corals in a shallow frag tank with water without it sloshing out and knocking the corals around so you'll be draining it before the swap anyways. I think you'd just be adding more steps to get ready for a swap and you really want things to be simple and streamlined. Plus I like storing my frag tank dry and clean so it looks perfect for the swap. No coralline, salt creep or gunk to worry about.

I agree. It's a nice thought but I think its impractical as you said. I liked the idea of having somewhere that my frag tank can get stored and not messed up in my garage being in the way. I'm better off just having a case for the tank made and dry storing it.

General thought about this frag tank. I'm assuming that the primary goal with this frag tank is to raise coral in perfect conditions, hence the long list of equipment which most of us have on our DT's. But isn't main for most of this stuff is to counter the heavy nutrient loads that fish create? It seems to me that adding fish to this system would be counter to the primary goal. If you go fishless, I'd bet you could get rid of bio pellets, macro algae (and associated light) and the GFO reactor. Maybe even get away with a smaller skimmer and less live rock. Less of a chance for a nutrient roller coaster ride which our precious SPS will not tolerate.

I agree 100%. The only fish will be a sixline for pods, bristle worms and flatworm control and possibly some kind of grazer if I start to get an algae problem. One spot fox faces are out because they can nip closed polyps. Not because they want to eat a polyp but because they can look like bubble algae. With that being said I think a little fish bioload is a good thing. Like 2 utility fish. I'm not talking about stocking to the full gallonage. Also it's a lot easier to buy a little more equipment now and not need it but have it designed to be there rather than need it and have to jerry rig something in later. I doubt that the GFO reactor or bio pellets reactor will be needed. That's why the gfo reactor is separate from the carbon reactor and the bio pellet reactor is on its own feed pump. Also I have designed and built everything for a 200 gallon reef tank not just a frag tank. The likelihood of me spinning down the frag tank to start a big tank is unlikely but I like to have equipment that can be dual purposed.

My Final thoughts.
Thanks for dialing that into sketchup. I have started to play with it but I am a marathon away from proficient. I'm still better and faster scaling with an architect ruler and a sheet of paper. On a separate note. Like the sweater that keeps knitting since I'm already at a 64" long stand I am strongly leaning towards just doing a 72"x24"x12" frag tank and upping the size of the stand and scrapping the scout tank idea for all the reasons that you mentioned. The gallonage of the tank as originally designed with sump is 109 gallons running water volume not counting displacement. The design in which I make the sump to true dimensions and go to the bigger single frag tank is 149 gallons running water volume not counting displacement. The Calcium reactor is still within those specs, The skimmer is rated for 100 gallons but with my fish load of 2 fish I'm certain it will remain sufficient. The return pump will also remain sufficient at about 800 gph actual output counting manifold and reactors. I may need to rethink my flow patterns in the tank with power heads when its running. Trying to do so now I think is just speculative and a waste of time.

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