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Hello all, 

I'm new to the forum and would like to document my build. I will be documenting my build in detail so other beginners can learn from my mistakes or success.

I believe this is the right section for this but feel free to move if needed. 

Well, it started as a present for my wife. See she has been asking for a fish tank for many years now and I have always been against the idea. I'm not a huge fan of fresh water tanks, nothing really against them just not my cup of tea. We were just cruising around Austin and she happened to point out a local fish store. I was immediately intrigued by the salt water coral and the vibrant fish. While I'll never would admit it to her I have looked into getting a fish tank in the past. Since I have never been a big fan of fresh water tanks and salt water tanks always intimidated me I was never able to pull the trigger on the tank. Needless to say we ended up putting in a order the very next day for a new tank. 

Summery:

Main focus is small school fish (Wife heading that part of the project), soft coral and a little SPS for balance and fill . We are hoping for a well balanced tank with an overall dynamic appeal. 

Already on the way:

Tank: Marineland NV33012 93 Gallon Frameless. Size 29-7/8x29-7/8x 24-7/8. Glass thickness front/back 10mm, bottom 12mm, Two pre-drilled plumbing lines or 1" bulkhead fittings. http://www.marineland.com/Products/glass-aquariums-and-tanks/cube-column-aquariums.aspx

Stand: Custom made by NDstructible Welding. https://www.facebook.com/NDstructibleWelding/

Sump: Custom Advanced Acrylic Sump. http://advancedacrylics.com/

Reactor: BRS GFO & Carbon Reactor Deluxe. http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-gfo-carbon-reactor-deluxe1.html

Heaters: 2 x Jager TrueTemp Eheim tank heaters. http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/eheim-jager-trutemp-aquarium-heater.html

Still left to get or decide on (Each Item will have it's own additional post as to why I think it is the best item for the tank):

Pump: Echotech Marine Vectra L1 DC. http://www.aquariumspecialty.com/equipment/pumps/ecotech-marine-vectra-dc-controllable-pumps

Skimmer: Reef Octopus  Regal 200SSS. http://www.marinedepot.com/Reef_Octopus_Regal_200SSS_Protein_Skimmer_In_Sump_Protein_Skimmers_for_Aquariums_Reefs-Reef_Octopus-CV25173-FIPSIS-vi.html

Sand: Carib Sea, Hawaiian Black sand. http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/hawaiian-black-arag-alive-live-reef-sand.html

Rock: Bulk Reef Supply, Fiji Dry rock. http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/brs-fiji-dry-aquarium-live-rock.html

Lighting: Single Kessil AP700 LED light. http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/ap700-led-lighting-panel-kessil.html

Powerhead: Maxspect XF230. http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/xf230-gyre-pump-with-controller-2300-gph-maxspect.html

 

Tank:

To start off with, we purchased a Marineland 93gal rimless cube. All the research stated that when you first get into salt water tanks the bigger the better up to 140 gallons. It is said that since the volume of water is more significant it can take more fluctuations in elements before the tank crashes. Given this information we assessed the space and location we had with the available tanks and respective sizes. We ended up with the 93 gallon tank due to it's four sided viewing angles, tank size, and small footprint. With the tank at 93 gallons and the sump tank at 15 gallons we should have a total system rated at 108 gallons.  While at the time I was not fully aware of there reputation I was still hopeful of a solid build. While waiting for the store to bring the tank to the front ( the store was very busy at the time) we spotted the same tank on the display floor. We loved the size of the tank, but due to my OCD I started to look at the tank a little closer. The tank sides were not true and had sloppy silicon work with over sealed corners. This immediately made me worried about our tank. Once the store moved the tank to the front of the store we asked to insect it. They were very understanding and upon visualization of the tank we were very happy. The sides were square appropriate amount of silicone work and the bulkhead was nicely secured in place.  When we placed the order for the rimless tank it was not made aware that I would not be able to build a canopy for it (rookie mistake, should have figured that one out by looking at the name), but hey roll with the punches.  I will post close up photos of the tank we received once I get home from work tomorrow. 

 

Stand:

Next came the planning for the stand. My first thought was we need a steel stand... right? Well I'm sure most of you would agree that a wooden stand would have worked fine for this tank. Wood is great if you are in a low budget build or need something short term. Wood though is very specific in its behavior. In other words a lot more planning would have to go into the design. The boards would have to have their grains arranged to prevent warping with higher humidity, the wood can adsorb water and moister, along with overall deterioration (rot), different grades of wood stock comes into play as well and species of wood. While I'm not a carpenter nor am I a wood guru I feel that this was not the best route for us to take. While I'm sure some have thrown a stand together with spare 2x4"'s and ended up just fine, I wanted a more stable foundation. Since this stand will be holding the tank and all it's contents above all the support equipment underneath, I did not feel like we should go cheap and take the chance of loosing everything if the stand failed. In the end my wife and I decided that a steel stand fits our long term goals of a successful tank build with longevity in mind. In total the stand would need to hold around 1600 pounds (918 pounds of water[8.6lbs per gallon of salt water], 141 pounds for the tank and other equipment).

I called many local shops that specialized in welding to include most of the fish shops and most calls ended up without success. Most of the places I talked too had no clue on how to build the stand, out sourced it to other companies out of state and/or wanted an outrageous amount of cash for what they would produce. I searched the forums in hopes of finding a stand source that others have used before. It was not long after my search that the forum had just introduced NDstructible Welding as a new sponsor. After viewing some of their example photos and some IM messages I was put into contact with Nick. Nick and I communicated a couple of times about what I was looking for along with some design concerns I had regarding strength. He was very receptive to my concerns and address them appropriately. We ended up with not putting gussets into the design and increase the diameter of the steel from 1.5" to 2" along with mitered corners and circumferential welds. Steel adjustable feet (700lbs rating each) were attached to the bottom with a total left height of 2".  The total stand height is 42" high. We wanted the talk taller for two reasons, one I'm a tallish guy and would hate to have to bend over to see the awesomeness ( yep you read that right), and since the footprint is smaller it would allow me to stack the support systems as needed.  I had asked Nick to place four tabs on one side so I could attach a equipment support board. This board will hold the controllers, and reactors as needed. The tabs made attachment easier, but also help limit possible water intrusion into the frame(no drilled holes). If the tabs started to rust I can always have them cut and new ones welded without damaging the frame. I will be using a removable type outer shell that well be affixed to the stand via neodymium magnets n52. This will allow all sides to be removed for deep cleaning and/or access. One side will be the main access point for minor adjustments and observation of the system.  I did not go with stainless steel due to the fact that magnets do not stick to stainless and cost. I have been looking at two options for the frame seal. One is powder coating which will run around $150 or using a bed liner material like Herculiner $30 - $80. With Herculiner I would be able to touch up damaged areas, but would not be able to get the smoothness for a flush finish between the stand had skin. I'm thinking I will go with the powder coating which will be a stronger or should i say a harder finish and would not be a headache when skinning the frame.

 

Sump:

Man, all I can say is that finding a sump with what we where looking for was a pain. With the size of the frame 30x30 and accounting for the size of the steel tubing we have a total foot print of 30x26 rectangle or 26x26 square.  We looked at many options from Trigger systems, Eshopps and simplicity. While some would fit the size and and some had unique features we were looking for none them were the right fit. Then we found out about Advanced Acrylics out in Jurupa Valley, California. John from AA was very patient with me and my ideas and we were able to come up with the design and with the expertise of John make it work. It is currently is production and will ship soon. Once it arrives I will take photos as and post them. 

 

Well, this ended up being a very long first post. Let me know your thoughts and or questions. 

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  • 1 year later...

Well, it has been a while since I posted or should I say made progress on the build.  Lets re-cap a little. The tank and stand were completed along with the sump. I ended up changing some of the system specifications due to more recent reviews of those items. I went with the RO Varios8 return pump. It seems to be more stable then the Ecotech and is Apex compatible for future expansion. We were looking at the Varios6 but quickly realized that with a head space of 9 feet that flow rate was barely meet our standard. We are attempting to achieved a flow rate of 700GPH at the nozzle and for the pump not to run at 100%. We wanted the ability for expansion ( reactors and manifolds) as well as to limit the wear of the pump it's self. With the Varios8 we should be at or around 1000GPH which should allow for more increased head pressures and a reduce operating cycle. Hopefully I'm on the right track with this thinking. 

 

We went with the RO Regal 150-INT. Were looking at the regal 200SSS and the Elite 150-INT, but could not justify the cost of the Elite and I was not a fan of the 200SSS pump being inside the cone. 

We did go with theXF230, but were told by BRS that one unit would not be sufficient to proved enough flow in our sixe tank. They suggested that we get another pump to help provide a counter-flow. We only ordered one so far and will re-evaluate once the system is up and running. 

On a funny noted we got the Kessiel AP700 are are very happy with the build. I did not notice how ever the cost of the arms to hold the light. It's hard to justify 70 dollars per arm. Sooooo.... I'm looking into my own DIY lighting fixture. I was wanting the attachment point to be under the tank so we could have nice clean lines on top. But, given that the total cost for Kessils arms and extension kit would be around 200. I felt it prudent to look into a DIY option first. Any help in this suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 

 

I have started the plumbing for the sump tank.....it's going ...well.... lets just say it is a work in progress. I will post some pictures later today. 

I have a BRS deluxe carbon reactor and have been thinking about getting another one for GFO. Would this be overkill for a new reefer or am I on the right track? 

OOoo...on a side note I ordered and placed neoprene rubber sheet (1/4) between tank and the stand. I did this for a few reasons. One the sheet will help distribute the weight evenly if there are any slight variances in the top of the stand, it will also help reduce vibrations into the tank from the equipment below, and will help reduce the overall noise from vibrations. I will also be placing a sheet under the sump tank for the purpose of reducing noise output. Since this tank with right next to both of my sofas, the quieter I can make t the better. 

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Way to stick to it even after a year!

It seems like you like to plan for the future, so I think plumbing in a reactor for carbon and GFO is useful, though you probably won't need to run much GFO if any at the beginning but its there when you need to ramp it up.

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Thank you FarmerTy!!! I could not believe it has been already over a year. Well life likes to get in the way sometimes.

Right now the Carbon reactor has it's on independent pump (cobalt, AC..I think). I will most likely make a manifold tonight... again trying to reduce noise.

My goal is to keep this thread alive as best as I can so I can learn as much as possible from all the reefers( Is this correct?) here.

P.S. trying to type one handed while holding a 4 month old boy is surprisingly more difficult than I thought.  

 

Josh

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I feel ya, got a 13-month old myself.  My build thread since March 13, 2017 has either been one-handed posted with a baby in one hand or at the wee hours of the night when he's asleep and the 1000s of baby related chores have been completed.  Congratulations on the new baby by the way!

Manifolds are great to run reactors and make the most use out of your return pump, while minimizing all that extra heat from multiple pumps.  You do increase your risks by having everything dependent on one pump but I just buy an extra one return pump to mitigate the extra risk.

Build threads are great to keep track of progress, even if they are updated annually. 😜 Kidding aside, always a good way to get opinions on hardware additions and livestock additions as well as just general discussions regarding your setup.

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So I have been working on the base and back stop for the electronics. I was wanting to use a synthetic material, but I was not able to find a suitable material at a reasonable price. I went with 1/2" sanded plywood for the back pate and 3/4" for the base plate. Both have been coated heavily with Olympic deck sealer. I will most likely also back the back pate with outside pan to help one, with water resistance and two with aesthetics.  I did make one mistake. When I was gluing the back supports for the back plate I glues them to the nice side which left the ugly for the front. I will be filling the knot's with epoxy to help prevent water from pooling for any reason in the pockets. 

 

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12 minutes ago, FarmerTy said:

That looks slick and the tabs worked out perfectly!  Great planning ahead there!

They are working out well. I originally wanted them to be center on the square tubing, but this works as well.  Here are the tabs in use. I put runners to space out from the outside rim since I will be skinning the stand later. This will allow the excess cords to be between the outside skin in the back plate. 

On a side note I have been debating on finding a way to ground the stand. I'm replacing the outlet with a GFCI and will have a surge protector power strip, but feel I sound still ground the stand. 

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Working on some plumbing today. I have to go out to The Tank Depot to get a RO/DI tank and I will be getting another smaller 10 gal tank for a skimmer tank. I had to increase the 1" return line to 1 1/4" to match the pump (Varios8). I'm working on a custom light stand for the AP700. After an $800.00 light having to pay another $200.00 for the light holder is crazy. Looking at using 80/20 extruded tubing.  I have a large order coming from BRS that will include a six stage RO/DI system and another reactor. Once. the pluming is done I will start placing the electronics on the back plate. Still looking for a power strip that I like, HD and Lowes do not have much in the way of power strips. 

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I ended up going with a Belkin 10 outlet Metal Power Strip Surge Protector. It is wall mountable so that is a plus. The switch is a bigger one compared to most. I noticed that the cheaper options have a very light touch when it come to turning on and off. To be honest, I completely forgot about Fry's.

 

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I like Salifert for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, magnesium, and potassium.  I like Red Sea for calcium and iodine.  And I use Hanna checkers for alkalinity and phosphorous.  You can expect a lot of different opinions on this.

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2 minutes ago, jolt said:

I like Salifert for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, magnesium, and potassium.  I like Red Sea for calcium and iodine.  And I use Hanna checkers for alkalinity and phosphorous.  You can expect a lot of different opinions on this.

Thanks for the quick reply. I think why i'm having a hard time picking a kit. It seems that not one company is great at every thing when it comes to test kits. I searched BRS and other sites, but I'm un-able to tell how many test can be performed with the Hanna's before need more regent (Spelling?). 

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So we decided to go with CaribSea Hawaiian black sand and BRS reef saver aquarium dry live rock (75 lbs). The rock seems to be more sterile and should help establish a tank with less headaches for a newbie(me).  We are going to try to head to tank depot today to see what tanks they have on hand. 

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10 minutes ago, JMB said:

Thanks for the quick reply. I think why i'm having a hard time picking a kit. It seems that not one company is great at every thing when it comes to test kits. I searched BRS and other sites, but I'm un-able to tell how many test can be performed with the Hanna's before need more regent (Spelling?). 

depends on the test but I get 25-30 per reagent package if I recall correctly

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1 hour ago, jolt said:

I like Salifert for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, magnesium, and potassium.  I like Red Sea for calcium and iodine.  And I use Hanna checkers for alkalinity and phosphorous.  You can expect a lot of different opinions on this.

Pretty much the same here:

-Hanna for alk and phosphorus

-Red Sea or Salifert for everything else

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So we ran into a problem today. I finally was able to complete a tank wattage demand excel sheet. While I was installing the GFCI (it has a built in alarm for  when the unit trips) outlet I realized that the builders of the house did not isolate the wall with the electronics (TV wall) on a separate circuit and not only that they put a significant amount of outlets and lights on one 15 amp breaker. I'm currently exceeding the load capacity  for the circuit by 31 watts. I have a total of 1831 watts planned out right now; so now I'm looking to be able to move items from the circuit. It looks like I will be around 85% load... ish after I complete the thinning. I'm not a huge fan of my builder right not. The crappy thing is that I have a two story house and can not run a dedicated circuit. So me and my wife spent an hour mapping out each circuit in the living room, utilities room, main hallway and study. I can not believe the way they designed the house. So I have a back up location that may work, but I still have to explore if there is more demand or not upstairs. Any suggestions?

 

 

I went with your suggestions and purchased a Hanna Alk & Phos. We went with API general test kit per the suggestion of Aqua-dome. We will get the Red Reef coral specific test later after the tank is cycled. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, JMB said:

So we ran into a problem today. I finally was able to complete a tank wattage demand excel sheet. While I was installing the GFCI (it has a built in alarm for  when the unit trips) outlet I realized that the builders of the house did not isolate the wall with the electronics (TV wall) on a separate circuit and not only that they put a significant amount of outlets and lights on one 15 amp breaker. I'm currently exceeding the load capacity  for the circuit by 31 watts. I have a total of 1831 watts planned out right now; so now I'm looking to be able to move items from the circuit. It looks like I will be around 85% load... ish after I complete the thinning. I'm not a huge fan of my builder right not. The crappy thing is that I have a two story house and can not run a dedicated circuit. So me and my wife spent an hour mapping out each circuit in the living room, utilities room, main hallway and study. I can not believe the way they designed the house. So I have a back up location that may work, but I still have to explore if there is more demand or not upstairs. Any suggestions?

 

 

I went with your suggestions and purchased a Hanna Alk & Phos. We went with API general test kit per the suggestion of Aqua-dome. We will get the Red Reef coral specific test later after the tank is cycled. 

 

 

I needed another circuit in a townhouse for a server room. What I did was run romex from the breaker box down thru the wall to the floor. I removed the base boards and cut the sheet rock so I could find the wire. I then cut sheet rock along the flooring all the way to the room. I had an issue that I could not follow the wall all the way. I had to remove the carpet router a groove in the sub floor for the wire. Once done the carpet went back over the floor. The base boards covered the area the sheet rock was removed along the flooring. Not that this will work for you. It was tons of work.

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Almost done with the electrical planning and the  leak test has been complete. I rock should be in next week.  I ended up burning my first DI canister by not flushing the RO membrane enough before discharge. I have done 100 gallons and have used almost half of the first canister already. I have more DI resin on order  (Anion) so hopefully by the time I get the new resin in it will be time to change and not before. 

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So running into a flow issue. Marineland states that this tank is set up for 700gph, but the drain flow is just not fast enough. I also have siphoning that happens often. I think the air line is too small. Any thoughts?

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I cut off the airvent and installed a new one(1/4 " RODI tubing) which allowed me to bump up the flow rate to 2. Now I find that the overflow is not letting enough flow to the drain to allow for a high pump setting. At the setting 2 we are having alot of drip noise due to the over flow. I will see about putting course filter media to help break up the flow. I also installed a tube to the existing return discharge hole to help silence the drop noise

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