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Old 11/22/2006, 01:05 PM   #1
crvz
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simple 156 reef build

About a year ago I started getting into this hobby more, as my four year old 58 gallon looked terrible and I wanted to do something about it. I found this site (and others), joined the local club, and started realizing the ignorance of husbandry which my tank suffered. So I started investing more time, energy, and money into my aquarium but felt a little restricted with the volume I was dealing with. I bought equipment that I had no place to put, and things began looking quite disorganized around the aquarium. My wife, who has always been graciously supportive, mentioned a few times that she would prefer that area of the house not being so cluttered. I begged permission to begin planning a larger tank, and she acquiesced. I want to document my progress to both get help and help others, so here we go. And clearly, I tend to be unnecessarily verbose, so please, do what I do, and skip to the pictures.

I started thinking of a number of goals and rules that I wanted to abide by with the tank, as I have a tendency to jump into things too quickly, and so by writing this out I hope to slow down a little. Plus, if anyone is reading along here and starts arguing with a decision I make, I can just point to post one and tell them to cram it. Or, possibly, be more cordial, but that’s not as entertaining for me or the readers. Regardless, here are some priorities for me;

•Hardware shall be contained in the stand, hood, or aquarium (unless it’s something that can be stowed in the closet when not in use).
•Noise level of all equipment shall be kept to an absolute minimum. The tank is within ear shot of the living room, and I don’t like being distracted by gurgling sounds or hums while watching television.
•Energy usage shall be kept to an absolute minimum. This has been a driving factor on a number of things, such as my skimmer choice, lighting plans, flow plans, etc. If at all possible, should be kept under $45 monthly energy costs (at $0.14 cents per kwh).
•DIY when I can. Some things are a little outside my capability, but most things, with patience, I can accomplish. This includes the stand, sump, and hood, as well as most of the electrical.

Another thing, which is going to be more of a guideline than a rule. I live on the Gulf Coast. Eventually, my house will loose power for more than two days. I do not plan on protecting for a power loss of more than two days, or doing much during an evacuation. Essentially, that means I have to be mentally prepared for a total loss of life in the tank should a hurricane plow through my house (I’m about 3 miles from Galveston Bay). Hardware is covered by my insurance, but not livestock. To me, this means not spending inordinate amounts of money on corals or fish. You guys can judge me on how well I do with that.

I don’t know a lot of folks here on this site, so please feel free to offer suggestions and say hello.


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Old 11/22/2006, 01:21 PM   #2
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So, the first step, clearly, was buying a tank. I shopped around for about 2 months, determined to find a good local builder. I had success, finding a guy about 15 minutes away. I’d seen some of his work, and his price was great. So what happens when I’m ready to order? The company disappears. Long story short, I ended up ordering an Oceanic 156RR with a euro-brace. It should be here mid to late December of 2006.

So until then, I will plan out some of the design. I will not start cutting wood until I have the tank in hand, but I think I will begin building the sump if I have time during the holidays. I work at JSC, so the upcoming space shuttle flight on Dec. 7th may limit the time I have to be productive. Expect a slower build.

BUT, I have been playing in Microsoft Paint, and would love some thoughts on my current equipment plan.

Red lines in the picture represent the wood structure, black lines are the sump, and green lines are equipment.



DETAILS:

1 – Chiller, Arctica ¼ hp.
2 – CO2 bottle of calcium reactor (5 lb).
3 – Kalkwasser reactor. It’s an MRC model.
4 – Calcium reactor. It’s the dual chamber MRC CR-2.
5 – Return pump, Mag-18.
6 – Phosban reactor (for carbon).
7 – Simply a mounting place for probes.
8 – Pump to supply water to the CR and Phosban
9 – Skimmer. Euro-Reef CS250 with a gate-valve mod.
10 – RO/DI outlet and Ethernet port.
11 – Power locations.

The sump will be 39” long, 18” wide and tall. Skimmer section is 8” deep and 14” long, 2” spaces between the baffles, ~8” long return section, and ~12” long by 9.5” deep refuge. The refuge will be unlit (no macro-algae planned) and house live rock rubble for pod growth.

I would love comments or suggestions on this plan, and I had a few specific questions.

Question 1 – Where is the best place for dumping the effluent for the kalk, calcium reactor, and phosban reactor? I was planning on using the refugium to give it more chance to mix before getting to the display.
Question 2 –Is mounting the probes between the baffles a good plan?
Question 3 – Is the best source of water for the phosban and calcium reactor the skimmer section of the sump?
Question 4 – What is the best flow rate through the skimmer section? I imagine I’ll get about 900 gph through the Mag 18, but can adjust flow through that section as needed.

I guess the best place for the heater will be the return section. Agreed?

More after Thanksgiving. Looking forward to anyone’s comments!


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Old 11/22/2006, 01:46 PM   #3
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Hello! I definitely think you're going about this the right way. My current system started as an itch in the back of my head about 3 years ago. Last year about this time I got real serious about planning and started working on the tank space. I built my tank this summer but I'm probably still a year away from having salt water in it. But patience is a virture right? (This slow pace is killing me though! )

Quote:
If at all possible, should be kept under $45 monthly energy costs (at $0.14 cents per kwh).
This is a potential issue I see at the moment though. I've "pushed" the numbers on my tank and here I'm paying on average $.09/kWh (that's fully loaded with taxes, access fees, etc.). I have tried to make energy efficient decisions but there are trade offs in some areas I wasn't willing to make and I'm figuring that I'll be at $40 - $50 a month on electricity on my 150 gal.

I think what you want to do is possible but you're going to be faced with compromises.

As an example, I want to have a mixed reef (softies, LPS, SPS, anemone) which comes with it's own challenges but obvously lighting will be key. I have to have MH (becuase I can't live without the shimmer) but I refuse to put in 400w bulbs. Originally I was thinking of using 175w because I think I could get away with it but ultimately 250w bulbs won't add significantly to the monthly electric bill. A couple bucks at most. That being said, there may be some SPS I won't be able to keep because I simply won't have enough light. See what I mean about trade offs? T5s would offer as good as performance at less overall watts likely but again, I need the shimmer.

Pumps are an area that can make a real difference. Careful selection here can save significantly on monthly costs. I decided that I have to have a closed loop because I don't want a bunch of powerheads in my tank. I will be using a Sequence Dart because the flow/wattage is very good on these pumps. It would be possible to reduce this even further by using Tunze Streams or Vor Tech pumps. That may be an option for you.

For me, heaters may end up being my biggest electrical cost so I'm hoping that my equipment choices can actually help me out in that department (I'm going to use a Posiden pump for my sump return which tend to heat the water from what I understand). You may have the opposite problem where you need to keep your tank cool depending on you cool your house. I'll tell you right now that if you have to add a chiller to your system, you will never make your $45 a month goal. They are electric hogs. Plan your system accordingly.

For every piece of equipment you put on your tank be thinking about how you can accoplish the same thing with less watts. That's the only way to keep your costs down. And don't think you HAVE to have a piece of equipment just because someone told you you had to. There are several ways to skin a cat. Example: calcium addtions. A calcium reactor will require a dedicated pump and a CO2 unit. Calcium can be successfully maintained through kalk addtions. A kalk reactor will require extra electricity. However you can dose kalk in a number of ways that includes gravity feed. No electricity required. However, it's a bit more manual of a process. Again, tradeoffs, what are you willing to sacrifice/live with/or have to have. I'm a gearhead so I know what's it's like to want a piece of equipment because it's cool and some of this equipment is very cool. But it's not always necessary to have a successful reef.

Good luck with your build and I'll be tagging along to see how it goes.


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Old 11/22/2006, 02:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the thoughts. Glad to have you along. Great thinking about electricity, and here are some of what i've already got in place.

I already have the chiller, and it runs about two hours a day in the summer. I'm hoping that more volume, with better ventilation, will eliminate that need. I have a kill-a-watt meter, and using that, i calculate about $38 dollars a month right now. I actually have all this equipment listed already running on my 58 gallon tank, so it won't be that much of a change. Just longer T-5 light bulbs, and some new circulation in the tank (i'm strongly considering the tunze 6100's). And just from what i've tested, the calcium reactor, running 24 hours a day (at a measured 25 watts total power), costs me about $2.50 right now (per month).

Anyways, time to fight Houston traffic on the way to San Antonio.


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Old 11/22/2006, 09:36 PM   #5
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Sounds like you've got it well in hand and I see you've laid out a good plan on how to place your equipment.

Can't wait to see your progress.

Hope your drive wasn't too stressful and here's a free bump for the evening crowd.


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Old 11/25/2006, 03:32 PM   #6
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Well, as I mentioned, the idea of upgrading tanks is a few months old, and so I've been keeping an eye out on different opportunities. The first one was the skimmer of choice. Because energy is a concern, I didnt want to use a skimmer with a huge pump. I currently run an AquaC 120 on my 58 gallon, but i've not been super impressed. I'd though of sticking with MyReefCreations, but the pumps needed for their skimmers turned me away. On a business trip, I was burning some time and noticed that marinedepot was clearing out their stock of Euro-Reef CS model skimmers. So, I picked up a new CS-250 for the price of the RS model. Currently, that skimmer runs about 53 watts, which is only 7 watts more than the Mag-5 on my AquaC 120.

Second opportunity was getting some more live rock. I don't plan on packing my tank full of rock, but I knew I was going to need more than the 90 lbs I have now. So i ordered about 100 lbs of uncured live rock. I set up an old 30 gallon tank in my garage and put the new skimmer in place. Here is a shot of the setup.




The skimmer is set to run pretty wet (as can clearly be seen), and I've done 2 ~20 gallon water changes on the tank. The nitrates have been falling, and the rock should have about 3 months of time spent here in the garage. Hopefully that will limit or eliminate a cycle once its in the new display. Anyone have any hints or suggestions on this process? I was thinking of adding a light, but i'm not convinced that will be much of a benefit.

Still some open questions in the second post, but i'm sure to re-ask them once I get to that stage of the build.

Oh, and how about my Aggies yesterday? That one felt pretty good.


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Old 12/03/2006, 08:20 AM   #7
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There are a lot of people managing their tanks with fans and no chiller. You may be able to set yours up similarly. Your proposed setup seems like it has a lot of different things to deal with such as the CA reactor and associated gadgetry, the phosban reactor, kalk reactor and chiller. You could possibly simplify things and maybe save some power by getting rid of some of those things... But since you already have and are using them, I imagine it's pretty easy to just set them up on the new system.

FWIW I live in Central FL and am managing with fans and no chiller. My tank is open top though which helps. Not sure if you are planning a canopy.


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Old 12/03/2006, 08:28 AM   #8
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I am indeed planning a canopy. The chiller is quickly becoming a contingency accessory of late. My tank runs about 5-6 degrees warmer than the house, and i bought the chiller to keep the tank around 78 degrees. I was growing hair algae with the best of them, and i thought dropping the temp in the tank would help me overcome the algae. It may have helped, but who knows? I was more than likely just throwing money at a problem that good husbandry would have prevented in the first place. Anyways, now that I am over the algae fiasco, i believe keeping the tank around 81 or so will keep the chiller from coming on. Plus the addition of some larger clip on fans and a controller will help.

I guess i am at odds a little with the energy concerns and my joy for gadgets. Hopefully i can reach a comprimise!


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Old 12/03/2006, 08:52 AM   #9
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My canopy has three 120mm fans blowing in at all times. The canopy also has three large holes in the top to allow the hot air to escape.

I keep my house at 75 and the tank stays at 79 with lights off and 80 with lights on.


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Old 12/03/2006, 07:07 PM   #10
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Re: simple 156 reef build

Quote:
Originally posted by crvz
Another thing, which is going to be more of a guideline than a rule. I live on the Gulf Coast. Eventually, my house will loose power for more than two days. I do not plan on protecting for a power loss of more than two days, or doing much during an evacuation. Essentially, that means I have to be mentally prepared for a total loss of life in the tank should a hurricane plow through my house (I’m about 3 miles from Galveston Bay). Hardware is covered by my insurance, but not livestock. To me, this means not spending inordinate amounts of money on corals or fish. You guys can judge me on how well I do with that.

I don’t know a lot of folks here on this site, so please feel free to offer suggestions and say hello.
i think your electrical goals are attainable if you loose the chiller. what kind of lighting are you planning to run that you need a chiller for? what temperature do you keep your house at? unless you're going to run multiple 400's, i don't think you'll need a chiller. you'll be able to cool the tank enough with fans and a properly build canopy.

the power thing is something i experienced personally. i lost power during an ice storm for 6 days. i got a power inverter and ran a MJ1200 power head off my car's battery for 6 days. heat in the main room was maintained at 83 degrees by a kerosene heater so that the tank didn't drop below 75deg. i didn't turn the lights on at all for 6 days straight and i didn't loose a single life form (at least none that are big enough to see). the fish, corals, inverts, everything lived. the biggest thing to keep in mind is water flow. even a battery powered air pump with an airstone could be enough oxygenation to keep the tank alive for a couple days. an automatic system that would monitor power and automatically turn on the air pump when power goes out would be simple to do. i have a design for that if you want to do that later on. basically i'm saying you don't have to just let everything die. there's ways to cheaply have a backup system that can work.


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Old 12/03/2006, 07:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by thrlride
My canopy has three 120mm fans blowing in at all times. The canopy also has three large holes in the top to allow the hot air to escape.
where'd you get that idea from?


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Old 12/03/2006, 07:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by CyclistMT
As an example, I want to have a mixed reef (softies, LPS, SPS, anemone) which comes with it's own challenges but obvously lighting will be key. I have to have MH (becuase I can't live without the shimmer) but I refuse to put in 400w bulbs. Originally I was thinking of using 175w because I think I could get away with it but ultimately 250w bulbs won't add significantly to the monthly electric bill. A couple bucks at most. That being said, there may be some SPS I won't be able to keep because I simply won't have enough light. See what I mean about trade offs? T5s would offer as good as performance at less overall watts likely but again, I need the shimmer.
how deep is your 150? unless it's 36" or deeper, you won't need 400's for anything. i kept all kinds of SPS and clams under 175's at the bottom of a 90 gallon (24" deep) and they did great. 250's would be plenty for most tanks with 400's being a last resort for really deep tanks. i had 400's before and IMO, they put off way more heat than the extra light they add. i think 250's are the most "efficient" lighting choice if you want MH's.


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Old 12/03/2006, 08:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by electric130
where'd you get that idea from?
I was ready to do the one blow in, one blow out method until I followed your foot steps.


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Old 12/03/2006, 08:39 PM   #14
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electric130 -
Thanks for chiming in. My biggest fear, in a hurricane, is that i'll be away from the tank. We live in a mandatory evacuation area, so if i lose power for a few days I may not be able to get home to do something about it. And if I am home, indoor temperatures will likely reach 100+ degrees, which will make it difficult to maintain temperatures in the tank. Last year, during Hurricane Rita, we left for four days. Fortunately (for us, at least), the storm turned a little more north and I didnt lose power, or anything else.

But the plan is to use T-5's, so hopefully the chiller will indeed become a useless point of head loss for the pump, and nothing more. I won't know for sure until i have everything set up. I was actually planning on using 2 of these fans inside the canopy. Any reason not to?

http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewIt...product=SL2911


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Old 12/04/2006, 07:15 AM   #15
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Is your canopy going to be vented or sealed? The cooling comes from evaporation when dealing with fans so you need a place for that air to escape. It will also help vent the heat from the lights.


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Old 12/04/2006, 07:44 AM   #16
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What I've somewhat resolved on doing is having the top of the canopy quite open. The top will have an opening about 42" by 18" or so. This will be the space immediately above the reflectors. Hopefully there will be plenty of area for ventilation with those larger fans. I want a lot of air flow in the canopy, but without a lot of noise. I called marinedepot and sunlight supply to get a dB rating on these fans, but they couldnt give it to me. I'll just ignorantly expect everything to work out. Which 120mm fans are you using, and how quiet are they (i have some of the smaller icecap fans, but they run a little loud for my taste)?


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Old 12/04/2006, 08:57 PM   #17
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I always thought the icecap fans were quiet. Nevertheless I can't hear mine. I put them on an adjustable voltage transformer so I turned the voltage down until I couldn't hear them any more.
I will add that my fans are 12v instead of 120v.


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Old 12/05/2006, 01:41 AM   #18
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the icecap fan i had was really loud compared to the other fans i was running. they were all the same size too. even at the icecap's lowest speed, it was loud. it was air/blade noise, not motor noise either. that said, the Orion OA119 fans are pretty quiet for the air they move.


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Old 12/10/2006, 05:51 PM   #19
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Got a new toy Friday. I have been using some of the Maxi-Jet mods, but they've just become trash. I ordered a Tunze 6100, and I will surely add another when the tank shows up. I imagine I'll end up with the multicontroller as well. Here is a shot of it in my 58 gallon tank. It is considerably more powerful than should be in that tank, and you can see i had to point it towards the front of the glass in order for it to not negatively impact anything in the tank. So far, though, the fish love it. I have it come on with the lights, so they get a break in the evenings.




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Old 12/10/2006, 06:07 PM   #20
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Last week, I picked up a sheet of 1/4" Acrylite FF. The wife had to work tonight, so I had an evening to try hard not to injure myself as nobody was here to rush me to the hospital. I drive a hatch-back, so i had the store cut it a couple times in order to get it home. I accidently ordered film backed acrylic, which I will make sure not to do again. Here is a shot of the acrylic before I cut it.





I got out my table saw, which isn't the best, but I did a good enough job. The first time I built a sump with this saw, I assumed the fence was straight. Fortunately, I knew better this time around and checked it before each cut, and most of the cuts came out quite well. My father-in-law has a jointer, so I may run over there before I get everything together. The sump will be 37" x 18" x 18". Hopefully 1/4" will be thick enough, but the water level will nominally be around 8" so I'm pretty comfortable with using it. Here are all the pieces cut.






Here's a shot of my table saw. It's a Riobi 3100? I used a 7.25" dewalt plastics/lamintes blade, which cost about $8.00. I've seen some folks recommend blades that are 10 times that much, but I've used this for two sumps now and it still custs well enough. I probably won't get the sump glued together until after the holidays, as I still need to get some probe holders and other pieces figured out.





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Old 12/10/2006, 06:53 PM   #21
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a 6100 isnt too much for a58gal i run an upgraded turbelle that is inbetween a 6000 and 6100 and run a turbelle 7300...oh and i have an iwaki 55rlt running my closed loop wave on

cant wait to see some more progress

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Current Tank Info: 58gal Oceanic RR, 2x400w MH (20k XM and 10k XM), Deltec PF601 Ca Rx, Deltec AP701 skimmer, mag950 return, iwaki 55rlt w/ an Oceansmotions 4-way unit, Tunze 7300 and 6000 each w/ controller, fluidized po4 rx
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Old 12/10/2006, 07:21 PM   #22
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Cripes, Lunchbucket! I couldnt imagine much more flow in this tank, but I've a few softies to consider, and they get angry at me (including the clams). I'm sure if i re-did the aquascape i could get away with more, but i already have a Mag 18 on the return, so I think I'll be content for now. Time for a snooze, as work begins in less than 8 hours...


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Old 12/12/2006, 07:06 AM   #23
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crvz - i really like my flow. i'm gonna upgrade the turbelle to a steam soon.

later
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Current Tank Info: 58gal Oceanic RR, 2x400w MH (20k XM and 10k XM), Deltec PF601 Ca Rx, Deltec AP701 skimmer, mag950 return, iwaki 55rlt w/ an Oceansmotions 4-way unit, Tunze 7300 and 6000 each w/ controller, fluidized po4 rx
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Old 12/14/2006, 04:47 PM   #24
CyclistMT
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Quote:
Originally posted by electric130
how deep is your 150? unless it's 36" or deeper, you won't need 400's for anything. i kept all kinds of SPS and clams under 175's at the bottom of a 90 gallon (24" deep) and they did great. 250's would be plenty for most tanks with 400's being a last resort for really deep tanks. i had 400's before and IMO, they put off way more heat than the extra light they add. i think 250's are the most "efficient" lighting choice if you want MH's.
My 150 is 24" deep and I completely agree. Personally I think I will have very little problem keeping whatever I want under the 250s even thought I originally stated something different because not everyone will agree with me. It's just that I've seen so many posts around here that practiacly demand you install 400w MH over just about anything and then hang them 14-16" from the water. Seems silly and wasteful to me.

I have seriously considered 175s but I would like to keep some of the spectaculary colored SPS and while I know light isn't the only thing that is important to them, I believe 250s will be needed.

Sorry for the minor highjack crvz. Back to your thread now. Nice new toy BTW.


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Old 12/17/2006, 07:37 AM   #25
crvz
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No worries, Cyclist. I'm still pretty convinced to run with T-5 bulbs (as i only need to buy new bulbs to get it running), but i may upgrade to MH in the future. Maybe when it's time to replace the T-5s again after 12-18 months...

But, anyways, here are a few more shots of the sump build. I don't really care to go into intense detail here, as my skills are nothing unique or outside what others have already discussed, but i'm happy to answer questions if you have any. I'm still not quite finished (have to put the top on and route it), but i'll probably wait until after christmas (when i may own new router accessories).

Also, i called the place i ordered the tank from, he says that Oceanic told him another 2 weeks. So maybe by the first of the year i'll own a tank. On to the photos...

Putting the back wall in place...


Front and back walls setting overnight


Putting the side walls in place


Side walls setting overnight


Routing the refugium baffle (i did this free handed, so don't give me a hard time of unstraight cuts!)



Refugium baffle complete


Putting most of the internal baffles in place



More pictures to come as work continues...


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Current Tank Info: rectangluar? wet?
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