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MrZ2u's tiny little reef


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So I started about a year ago wanting to set up a little nano reef and its been one thing after another slowing or stalling that project down. A pair 'open box/scratch-n-dent' specials kicked it into gear again.


Picked up a Rio90, small 25w heater and this little ATO.


Didnt like the lights mounting bracket, seems too thin for such a thick piece of glass and I wanted it on the top anyway. Glass is not quite the right size to be the top on its own...but wait, there are screws.


Cut a new top from a piece of 1/4 plexi I had laying around, left 10mm plus three 1in slots for air exchange and cords in the back and frosted that area...not sure why, just felt like the thing to do smile.png


I didnt like how the LED's reflected thru the top...

So I masked and painted it...

...and gurrrr, its still an issue. Think I might cut a rubber or neoprene gasket. Thats probably helpful in keeping moisture out of that space anyhow.


...and that is where we are to date.

I tore up my foot being stupid so I had surgery to fix that just before new years. Will be on crutches till probably March so that makes setting up a little difficult. I am trying REAL hard to be patient in setting this up. This is going to be upstairs so if I can convince my wife to haul up the heavy stuff we might get started sooner but I also kinda dont want her paying that much attention to whats going on either smile.png

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I bought a RIO 90 to replace the missing pump and it came with a handful of fittings that really didn't go together or make much sense. They were slightly bigger than 3/8 and 1/2 so that made for a nice tight fit with the really stiff tubing at Lowes. I needed about 4in of one and about 3/4 in of another so I have quite a bit left over from the 1ft minimums. Its strange to be working on such a small scale. In our previous home I had a 200gal setup for about 12 years and this is quite a change!

I was worried that the pump wouldnt move enough water but the way its kicking around the little bits of debris in the water it seems to be a lot more than I thought it might. May be different once I get rock in there.

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Was trying to figure what I would do with those little filter inserts this thing comes with and in the process decided I would ditch them and build a media tray like one I have seen in larger nanos. Ended up destroying the thin that holds the factory gear so there was no turning back. Once again I am vindicated for keeping all the scrap material I do from other projects cause I had enough material left to build this little dude and even in my haste to build it quickly it fits just right. Only thing that worries me a little is the gap between the baffle is a lot smaller than it was OEM. I will filler up and see if that made an issue or not and rebuild if needed.

Plans are floss, purigen and on bottom chemi-pure blue in those little 2x2in "nano" packets.

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Its not as clean as it looks. I would have prefered to cut it on the laser but I didnt want to spend the money for time on the machine. Lots of tool marks from blades not really suited for cutting lexan. The gap between it and the baffle in the second chamber is a lot smaller than it was OEM. I dont know if thats going to be a flow issue or not. If it ends up being a problem I will narrow this a little and may see if I can get a friend to cut it for me with the laser.

I also would have prefered to dado the slots for the shelves vs bonding the little brackets the way I did but I didnt have the right size end mill. I was either a little big or small and nobody in town had the mill I needed. smile.png


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  • 11 months later...

This project is taking FOREVER!

I have just not had time to do a few things I wanted to do before I set this up...for what, almost a year now! I finally got moving again. I wanted to build a "stand" if you will for this before I put a drop of water in it and that is what was stalling everything. I have been building a canoe/camping and it was/is taking up all my space in the garage making the process of pulling out the table saw and such a hassle. Went thru the hassle the past two nights and got it finished except for painting.

Will be matte black after finish sanding and priming.


I left the shelf the tank sit on short of the full back to slide cords and such into the cavity under.


The top comes down about .75 inch to hide the water line from view.


Center hole for temp controler panel




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Its wet! Will be running tests on temp controller and the auto top off with just some live rock for a while. I want to make sure I know how the equipment behaves for optimal predictability to set my SOP's. Good goals always. I dont guess I knew this and its not a huge deal but I wish the STC1000 would do fahrenheit.


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So far in testing with the temp controller I think the light is perhaps a little bit of a heat issue. I have the temp set to 25.5c to approximately match what I observed the preset heater held pretty stable. I ran the light for probably more hours than I would in reality and it seemed to top out in the tank at about 26.3c I think 26.3c is a little warm? and its also more than the heater will maintain.

I am going to put a fan on the light to see if that helps first but I may have to raise the fan as well. Anyone have any input based on the setup you have seen above and/or any experience with this particular fan?

Another option is to raise the light to the cleats and also drill some holes in the "lid" to allow air to/from flow to the surface?

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I think the light sitting on top of the tank was the problem. I moved the fixture back to the glass it came on and it fits neatly into the dadoed channels I made to possibly raise the light. Now the temp controller is only turning on the heater and not asking for cooling. Problem solved. Not sure why I was so concerned about evaporation since I have the ATO. It didnt have tubing from the pump to the tank and I needed some sort of "hook" to fix it to and aim it into the tank. Was at Lowes for some other things and I though I would try this clothes line pulley which looked the same size as the tubing. I drilled it out, cut a channel into it, drilled holes and fixed zip ties. Kinda ugly but works smile.png

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On 11/01/2016 at 8:05 PM, MrZ2u said:

Not sure yet really. GSP, Zoe, etc...easy color. This is for my desk to keep me sane. Trio of sexy shrimp maybe...

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

Sexy shrimp are so awesome in pico reefs!!! Good call on thinking three.

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