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Old 09/14/2018, 09:05 AM   #1
KnightMetro
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5' of questionable decisions.

So the story begins. Well, it actually begins a decade ago but let's not get into that just yet.

After years in the hobby, with wavering dedication, I come upon the beginning of my first real mature reef build. My family just purchased our first home we intend to stay in for a while, so naturally, I am ignoring all the needed projects and jumping right into a built in reef tank.

I spent a lot of time staring at random walls, and gutting the basement, to finally settle on a wall in our kitchen that has no real purpose. It had a granite desk built in which holds no value to us, so out it goes.



The trick is that below this will be the utility and fish tank equipment room. It also sits against a load bearing wall and spans over 5 beams. So, I am confident of the home taking the weight with no issues.

Originally, I was eyeing a SCA 150g starfire on sale for $895. As many suggest, just get the tank you want up front or you will live to regret the foundation of everything else. That being said, I was seduced into buying a 120g off Craigslist right afterwards for $100.

I'm a whore for a good deal. That lasted about 2 days though.I recently moved back to ATL but was on a different side of the city and wanted to check out the LFS on my side of the world. I was a bit spoiled living a couple blocks from Pure Reef up in Alpharetta.

We went from store to store until I walked into one of the largest known in the area called Premier Aquatics. Great selection, great prices....and then they stole $900 bucks from me. What I mean by that is I stumble upon a fully established Red Sea 625XL. I stared at this thing for like 15 minutes and realized the real difference between a 4 foot tank and what that extra foot really gives you. I then spent the next 48 hours convincing my wife why the $100 tank in the back of my SUV wasn't going to cut it.

So, after a few e-mails to Steve over at SCA, I found myself ordering a custom tank.





It is a custom Starfire 5' tank drilled for two return and the Reef Synergy Shadow overflow. The eurbrace has been raised to be flush with the top and the overflow will mount almost flush to create a waterline of only about 1.7" below the top of the tank. I went ahead and added some depth as well because why not. They didn't even charge for the extra depth. If anyone is interested in the price, message me. Going custom was very minimal.

I'll stop here, because it's lunch time and I'm fat.

More to come.


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Old 09/14/2018, 01:14 PM   #2
mr9iron
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Iím tagging along for the build.


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Old 09/14/2018, 01:55 PM   #3
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Ditto!! Be right behind in the next couple of months with a 230 build


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Old 09/14/2018, 02:05 PM   #4
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History and let the madness begin.

I have had a few tanks over the years but most were weak attempts mixed with moving too often and too many life changes to succeed.

Biocube 29, 14, 90g custom I never finished, and then a 120g I was really proud of that never got water in it(moved). I finally got a nice 30g rimless cube setup when I was in Alaska. I started to get some small automation going and it was OK for a while until a baby arrived.

Anyway, now that I can finally have all the excuses to do it right, here are my initial thoughts and research points.

- Fish room will be in the basement. I have never done this before but I have plenty of room in the 1,000sq ft space to carve out dedicated resources.
-Roller mat filtration. I am researching options. This is so new that it is hard to nail anything down in gen 1.
-The tank will be 40" base height and made to be viewed in the kitchen next to where an island will be installed with bar seating. Base will match bar height. top of tank will be at 64".
-Tank wall will be a textured wood wall made of distressed and shou sugi ban pine. Yeah, I play around with a bit of word working ideas of grandeur.

Example


Right now I am getting ready to cut out the tile and backer board on the floor for the space where the stand frame will sit. I'll be making the stand out of 3/4" plywood so I have a base I can make drawers into and cabinets. These won't be used for the tank, as the plumbing goes to the basement, but it will give us some extra storage in the kitchen.

I have about 40lbs of dry rock on the way from a supplier I got at $1.10lb so I can see what I'm working with. If I like it, I'll order a few more boxes and start playing around with aquascaping.

The tank is due to be in the SCA warehouse at the end of this month. I should have it here at home by mid October.


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Old 09/17/2018, 08:43 AM   #5
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I did some more work on the tank wall over the weekend. This should wrap up the demo and not I can start to design the frames, hood, and backsplash. On to the fun parts.



We spent all day Saturday going to the larger reef stores in Atlanta. I even had the chance to finally stop in to a place I have been shopping for the last 10 years. I haven't been in there since 2012 and they still remember the first tank I had. Incredible customer service and remarkable quality. They also continue to have fair pricing and am back on the top of my list for livestock and hardware.

We did learn some valuable price points over the weekend. There are some shops asking 100-200% higher than others, for no reason. A couple places to avoid unless they have something I must have. (You know how it goes)


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Old 09/18/2018, 08:45 AM   #6
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Happy Monday.

I got a few things done over the weekend with the tank wall. I made an access box on the left wall and rear wall so I can have an access panel to each side. These panels will give me access to the left side glass that will be against the wall. This will allow me to put a power head on the glass. Also, I'll have an access panel on the back to get to the Shadow overflow rear box as well as the back glass for any random future reasons.

Right now I am in research mode.

Since this is a from the ground up build, incorporating things I have never done before, in more room than I have ever had, I want to use to most up to date methods and incorporate them from the start.

Thinking out loud on ideas I am looking into.

-Triton method. Building the system around starting this discipline from the start.
-Roller mat filters. This is not needed in the Triton method, but I am still doing my research on this new product
-Power saving technologies.
-Apex controller
-Kessils A360x x3 with the 48" Aquatic Life T5HO hybrid fixture
-Protein Skimmer - Cloud 9 or Octo 202-S
-Maxspect Gyre

Sump design:

I have a new 40B that came with a full baffle kit for a fuge setup. I am actually thinking about getting another 40B and creating a dual 40B sump system. Where one flows into the other through some bulkheads. This will allow me to make a larger refugium and have a large area for the skimmer section and return. Plus, more water volume for whatever may end up added to the system. Like reactors, etc.


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Old 09/20/2018, 08:06 AM   #7
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Awesome start to your build- Iím in suwanee and know the stores you are talking about- we have s few good ones around here.

Iím doing a 180 in Wall with a basement sump room. In fact- I just finished my scape and will be adding sand tomorrow.

I hate to solicit views, but that a look-

https://www.*********.com/threads/ne...shroom.390436/


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Old 09/20/2018, 08:30 AM   #8
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I'll message you. We have some stuff to talk about. I've looked at your build thread a few times but I did not know you were in GA.

Thanks for dropping in.


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Old 09/29/2018, 12:38 AM   #9
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Wow, what a build! Your wife must love you — able to convince her to buy a whole nother tank after just buying one off of craigslist for a steal???


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Old 12/11/2018, 07:52 AM   #10
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Well, if you are wondering what took so long, it took 3 months for the tank to arrive.

Sweet baby Christmas Jesus this tank is bigger in person than I thought. SCA really does get close to Elos/Reef Savvy/Red Sea when it comes to their finished product. I have not got it on the stand yet, but I am extremely impressed at the finished product for the price.



So, we are back to it and there have been some changes. We are no longer putting the tank in the wall in the kitchen. I have ADD, so I overthunk it too many nights and came up with too many pros and cons for having it in that area.

Pro - Super safe area as it sits on top of two load bearing walls and 4 beams. Easy access to run pipes down the backside right into the future utility room downstairs AKA fish room.

Con - It's in the kitchen. A lower traffic area for enjoyment everyday. You would only be able to stand there and stare at it vs it being in a room you could enjoy it's addition. We also wanted to turn that nook into a drybar/storage area for the kitchen and have it be an addition to the kitchen layout. Plus, whenever we do need to sell the house, it would require ripping out the tank and renovating that entire area to return it back to part of the kitchen layout.

So, we have decided to convert the dining room, with the bay window, to a sitting room where the reef tank will be the centerpiece. I will also be running the tank equipment under the tank until the basement can be finished with a fish room. If I was to wait to get the fish room done to start the tank, we'd be looking at this time next year. I'll just get the fish room ready over time and then patch the tank into the basement when ready.

The tank will sit on the back wall of the dining room, which has the garage behind it, and will be across several load beams as well as a main beam of 4 2x10's. So I still feel pretty good about the tank load.

This is how things sit now, and I'll add some steps I took to make the stand frame below.

I went aread and masked off the dining room so I don't make the living area of the house a war zone.




I needed an excuse to at least start renovating one f the rooms in the new house and the dining room was a good start. One, I get my fish tank started, and two it really doesn't get in our way in regards to the parts of the house we use. The "breakfast nook" on the backside of the house is so large we'll just turn that into the dining room in the long run.



Last edited by KnightMetro; 12/11/2018 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 12/11/2018, 08:04 AM   #11
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Here is the steps I went through over the last month to build the stand frame. It will be skinned with magnetic doors I'll put together this month. Probably a carbon gray stained oak.

Top framework.






Bottom of frame.






The left and right side will have a hidden area to keep electronics and monitors accessible and dry. The sump area is recessed into the frame so if we have any leaks it sits in a tub of sorts.

The whole stand was done in an oil based exterior primer and then in a gloss smoke gray enamel so it will be easy to clean and keep water out of the wood.

Now this was not what I was expecting. I know I went to good lengths this time around to true up measurements, to pay a little more for 2x4s and 2x6's that had 90 degree edging and decently straight. I put about 24 1/4" felt pads on the bottom of the tank so it could move around while we finish the room. Also to give the tank a bit of an air gap underneath for when any minor water makes it under.

I was NOT expecting it to come out so level though.






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Old 12/11/2018, 08:14 AM   #12
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Cool stuff man, looking forward to seeing it come together.

Iím in suwanee. You have reef Shac near you, and Nemo aquarium in Duluth. Both worth the drive.

I have a 180 in wall with basement sump fishroom. Hit me up on my thread if you need anything.

https://www.*********.com/threads/ne...shroom.390436/





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Old 12/11/2018, 10:48 AM   #13
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Very nice job on the stand KnightMetro, even nicer job convincing the wife you needed that new tank! Who is actual tank manufacture SCA. If i can talk the wife into an upgrade of my 120 I may need to reach out for a custom build.


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Old 12/11/2018, 10:54 AM   #14
KnightMetro
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SC Aquariums out of California.

Shipping is usually free, which is huge for a tank this size, and they can do full custom work. I think all of their tanks are also Starfire.

I wanted a 5 foot tank with a little extra depth and drilled for the Shadow overflow.


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Old 12/17/2018, 08:12 AM   #15
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OK, so we got the tank on the stand. It took 5 grown men to get this thing from the garage, up the front door steps, and in the dining room. It was kinda funny that 3 generations of men made the same sound as we tried to lift it the last 6 inches onto the stand.









I spent the rest of the weekend planing out how to do the wainscoting behind the tank and where we will put the pipes through the wall and route down to the sump.

Now that I have the tank on the stand, I can happily confirm I love this SCA tank. Perfect size, outstanding quality and black silicon boarders, and so happy I moved away from the standard 4' 120.


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Old 02/22/2019, 10:44 AM   #16
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So, now that the holidays have died down, and my HOA has got off my back, we can get back to the tank.



Well, the is the wall I was going to put the tank on. It actually turned out so good(pre-paint) that I decided it was a shame to cover it all with a tank. The dining room was going to re purposed into the tank, 2 sitting chairs, a bookshelf, and maybe a small table between the chairs in the bay window. A quite area to enjoy the tank and talk.

The issue was that is all that would fit in there. 2 chairs and a tank. I'd rather turn it into a smaller living room or just go back to a dining room.

So.... we are back to this





We are back to it being built into the kitchen spare wall. The trick with this spot is that it spans over 5 floor joists and the fish room is directly below the tank in the basement. THat was the final selling point.

The other trick is that this wall is 63" wide and the tank is 60". This way the tank will visually feel larger than it is as it will take up the entire wall. I'm going to leave the walls open to the left side and below that way I always have access to cable routing and piping. Everything above the tank will be skinned with PVC sheet and easily cleaned. My plan it to get the tank off the stand the weekend and onto the new frame. I have some vinyl coming in to cover the left side panel where it will be hidden behind the wall.

It's time to start thinking about building that fish room downstairs...


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Old 02/25/2019, 08:05 AM   #17
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Well, we got the tank moved onto the new frame over the weekend. The new frame ended up being about an inch taller, so it was a bit of a pain(getting old) to lift that thing and get it slid on the new pad.

First, we needed to go ahead and black out the left side as it will be behind the wall. We used "Oracal 651 Matte Black Vinyl" off Amazon. Great product. Just a little soapy water spray and squeegee it on. Too easy.





I am doing some tweaking to get the best spacing left to right for the tank, plumbing placement, and consideration for future trim work when we skin the tank. The fish room will be directly below the tank so all plumbing will go strait down and through the floor.





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Old 02/26/2019, 08:14 AM   #18
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OK, I got the tank setup on the stand and took a few days to look over where everything is going to sit. Especially the plumbing and how the trim will marry the bottom to the top of the tank.

So, today I'll be taking the stand apart and shaving a 1/2" off the ends and adding a brace up the left hand side. The brace to the left will be where the left side of the tank buts up, where I will attach the side trim, and then be the end brace for the canopy frame. I'll also re-cut the mat and base to fit exactly the underside of the tank and make a border around the footprint. This way I'll slide the tank back on and into a footprint that fits exactly what is needed. This will also resolve some issues with mating the stand ending to the preexisting frame of the house for when I skin the tank to the surrounding walls.

Here are the future plans for the basement. Most of the basement was gutted as the quality of the finished basement was pretty poor. The middle space will be fish room and utility space.




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Old 03/05/2019, 07:04 AM   #19
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I got a lot done over the weekend. The frame is now completely skinned and ready for covering. I did an enamel coat around all of the areas that may have moisture contact.

Next I need to design the hood, which I am hoping to make removable, and then design how to trim around the frame, tank, and doorway.






That white panel on the back is an access door to be able to access the Shadow Overflow box if needed.
I'll also have access holes made for if I ever have to check the return bulkheads.



Last edited by KnightMetro; 03/05/2019 at 07:09 AM.
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Old 03/06/2019, 06:11 PM   #20
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This is looking amazing!


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Old 03/18/2019, 09:21 AM   #21
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Well, I got a lot done over the weekend.

The tank is now on the stand. Most of the stand trim and design is now done. I have to to a lot of filling in the cracks, holes, and imperfections before paint. I also got the bulkheads in place and the elbows put in so I can run pipes in and down the center of behind the stand.

Worth noting, all of the trim around the top of the tank is PVC. I wanted to make sure that anything that actually may come into contact with water, continually, would never rot. The rest of the trim is primed pine. Going with MDF would have been cheaper, but sooner ro later I am sure it would have got wet.

Now the only thing is to design the doors for the hood access. Right now I am playing with an inset panel idea that is just held in place with magnets.
















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Old 03/18/2019, 02:57 PM   #22
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Everyone wants to see whatís in the closet!!!!


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Old 03/18/2019, 08:31 PM   #23
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That's the door to the basement. There is an access panel in the stairway though that gives me access to the shadowbox overflow that is pretty neat.

Yes, the equipment room for the fish tank will be directly below in the basement. I try not to think of how much work I have to put in this thing before I can even get water in it. I mean, the room that will house the filtration and sumps doesn't even have walls yet.

I set out to do things the right way with the most future stability from the start. The truth is that takes a long time and my ADD is kicking in. Knocking down walls, engineering the design via these forums/pics/Youtube, custom tank order, pick out a place for a fish room, map out piping ,DIY everything, etc etc.

I can't wait for this thing to be sitting with water, sand, and some rock in it. In reality, that probably won't be until the end of summer.


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Old 03/19/2019, 06:56 AM   #24
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Gotta say I'm pretty jealous - this build looks beautiful! Can't wait to see it filled!


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Old 03/19/2019, 11:56 AM   #25
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So, while we wait for the next boring step, sanding and finishing before paint, I figured it was time to start talking about the equipment and plans.

I have had a few tanks since 2007. I had a custom 90 and 2 custom 120's that never saw water as I had to move across the country a few times, due to life, and they never were completely finished. Well wait, one saw water and then I got laid off that same week. Aww. I had a 15g Biocube, then a custom 30 and then I actually did have a nice 30g rimless cube for a couple years and that was stepping in the right direction. It was mostly DIY and I liked how it turned out for a custom touch. That was about 3 years ago. I can honestly say though, because of life and chaos, I never had the time to educate myself enough for the tank to succeed. I had so little setup for automation and too many decisions were based on a tight budget and impatience.

Now that we own a home, we don't plan to move until the kids leave home, and we have the space to go all in and do it right, the above project is the scope it is. After hundreds of hours of research and years of stalking around the forums, I'm trying to do this tank the right way while considering all of the new advances in technology, ULM methods, Triton, roller mats, LED, DC pumps, etc etc. Reefing has changed a lot since I started back in 2007 and I have to actually give BRS a lot of props for their evolution and addition to my knowledge. The last few years of their video series has lead to a great deal of research and inspiration into what works vs trying method after method after method.

So here is my preliminary thoughts. Most of these are based on being naturally budget minded but buying the right solution for long term success. Some things will be put in first and other things will be left for when it's needed later. I am attempting to design the whole system for the future in mind. I want to leave space or design solutions to incorporate what comes later.

- The new Kessil A360x's for lighting. 3 of them should do the trick.
- I'm not set on one, but I am very closely watching all of the new roller mat options. This is a hands down a must(so far) in my design and I/we/everyone hates filter socks.
- 2 DC return pumps. These will be run from the basement and I want two for safety and load spread. I am still unsure what brand I'll get but I have kept my eyes on the Jeboa's for a while. There are too many DC pumps on the market right now that have astronomical pricing.
- I may consider an external pump but there are so many negatives I'd like to steer from. Noise, it being external and the drilling needed, and no redundancy. Still considering.
- I'm going to stick to a realistic turnover for the whole system through the sump. Probably 5-7X. Flow will be much higher of course.
- Flow - I am really interested in the Gyre pumps that have come out do to their cost against Vortech's and the ability to run 1 vs multiple powerheads. Let's face it, all things Ecotech are very expensive. The new Maxpect Gyre 300 warrants soem research.
- Water changes will be automated. I think I want to incorporate a slow pull and fill for each day. I have a lot of research on how to keep stable chemistry with this method.
- I already have a good amount of dry rock ready for when I aquascape. I strill have no real idea how that is going to coem out, but I'll grab another 40-60lbs and start putting the pieces together this spring.

- I am still on the fence about the Triton method vs BRS/WWC method and have a lot of research to continue.
- I will run a large sump with a refuguim.

I do think this is worth saying, I do not have any intention of having a SPS dominant tank. There is so many new methodologies and content that seems to be basing a lot of their processes on supporting huge SPS heavy tanks. The WWC tanks for instance have a huge emphasis on what it takes to produce such sustainability and growth with some of the most difficult coral. I am more attracted to a mix of movement, color, and fish. That, of course, can be more difficult to accomplish.

Well, back to filling in nail holes in wood and sanding. More to come. Of course.


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