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  #1  
Old 12/17/2007, 12:34 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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My 3rd Reef Tank - Build Thread - Long Nano w/pics

OK, I'm building a new tank. I wanted to start a thread to document and share my progress and experience, and hopefully learn something from the RC community too.

Thanks for looking, and comments and constructive criticism are welcome and appreciated!

Mathias
  #2  
Old 12/17/2007, 12:43 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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First, I'd like to give a brief description of my background and experience in the hobby. If you couldn't care less, just skip to the next post...

I had several freshwater tanks growing up as a kid, but nothing special or out of the ordinary. When I bought my first house in 2002, it had a perfect build in cabinet that was perfect for a big long tank. So, I bought a six foot long 135 gallon glass tank to put on the cabinet with the intention of keeping an iguana. But, the shop that I bought the tank from was a reef shop, and when I went to pick the tank up, I saw my first reef tank, and was impressed. The iguana idea was quickly thrown out the window in favor of a reef tank, and I proceed to buy hang on equipment, substrate, and live rock, having no real clue what I was doing. I ran this tank for 2 years, and kept a variety of soft corals in it under power compact lighting. Things survived OK, but the tank never flourished. I read and learned an awful lot during this time, and I knew the next time around would receive a lot more up-front planning.

Then, I decided to build a nano tank. I bought an Alife 6 gallon glass cube (basically like the nano cubes), and did a bunch of mods to it. Upgraded the lighting, flow, filtration, plumbed in a 2.5G fuge with chaeto, temperature controller, ATO, etc. This tank was a LOT easier to maintain than the poorly planned 135g, and it did rather well. But, then due to my career, I had to move from Southern California to Minnesota after it had been running for 7 months, so I tore it down and sold off all of the livestock.

I've been in Minnesota for about 16 months now, and I'm ready to set up another reef tank, which brings me to my 3rd reef tank...
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Hofstadter's Law -
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
  #3  
Old 12/17/2007, 12:49 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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The Inspiration

In early October I started skulking around the RC forums again, looking for some inspiration for my next tank. And then, there it was, Calvin's beautiful 48" NTOTM:

http://archive.reefcentral.com/forum...readid=1060365

I also saw this thread where navyav8tr copied calvin's tank design, and made a pretty cool shelf and canopy for it:
http://archive.reefcentral.com/forum...readid=1097459

I decided I was going to follow in the footsteps of these pioneers and build something very similar.
  #4  
Old 12/17/2007, 12:59 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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The Plan

I contacted Calvin, and talked to him about having him build me a tank similar to the tank he built for his NTOTM. I've done some acrylic work before, but nothing that was show quality. Basically I wanted the exact same build, except add the euro top with center brace, and plumbed for external pumps (calvin talked me into the external pumps).

Calvin and I came to an arrangement, and he got to work on the tank. He sent me a bunch of build pics during the process:




And, the finished product:


The tank also has 3 sets of acrylic guides on each end of the sump box for filter pads and removable acrylic baffles. It has 6 locline return jets, 3 jets on 2 manifolds.

Outisde dimensions are 48"L x 12"D x 8.25" H. The clear acrylic is 3/8" thick, and the black divider wall is 1/4". This will give around 10.5 gallons in the display, and around 2-3 gallons in the sump, for a total water volume of 12-13 gallons.
  #5  
Old 12/17/2007, 01:01 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Calvin Rocks

I would like to make a special note to point out that Calvin rocks! He was great to work with, and payed very close attention to detail. He did an excellent job keeping me updated, and customizing the build to my needs. If anyone is interested in a tank like this, and doesn't want to do acrylic work themselves, I highly recommend contacting Calvin!

Thanks buddy, you made this build happen!
  #6  
Old 12/17/2007, 01:16 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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More Plans

While calvin was building the tank, I started gathering together some other equipment and making additional plans. Here's some of the equipment that I've bought:


For lighting, I'm going with a 4 x 54W T5 IceCap retro kit from ReefGeek. So, that's IceCap individual reflectors with two Vossloh-Schwabe electronic ballasts. I have 2 11000K Giesemann Aquablue plus bulbs, and 2 Giesemann pure actinic bulbs. I'm also adding two banks of LED moonlights to each end, with a 28-day moon phase timer.

For flow, I bought an Eheim 1260 Universal pump rated for 635 GPH, and a 3/4" SCWD. Each of the return manifolds is plumbed through the floor of the sump with its own individual 1/2" bulkhead. There are also (2) 3/4" drain bulkheads. So, my plan is to plumb both the drains into the input on the eheim pump below the tank, and then the pump output will be directed into the scwd. Each of the scwd outputs will be plumbed to one of the return manifolds, which each lead to 3 loc line jets back to the display.

I bought a Top-it-Off kit from aquahub.com, and an aqualifter pump to handle my ATO needs (I think ATO is pretty critical to a good, easy to maintain nano). The ATO equipment and reservoir will be stored beneath the tank in a "shelf-cabinet".

Last edited by mathias999us; 12/17/2007 at 01:48 PM.
  #7  
Old 12/17/2007, 01:25 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Additional Equipment

I also have a ReefKeeper 1 controller from my last nano which I intend to use as the power center, timer, thermometer, and temperature controller for this new tank. The reefkeeper will be installed in the "shelf-cabinet". It will control a submersed ebo-jager heater in the sump area of the tank. Additionally, I will be installing (2) 4.5" "pancake" fans into the top of the canopy, which will evacuate heat, and chill the tank as necessary. The fans will also be temp controlled by the reefkeeper, and will only run when necessary.

The reefkeeper was a great addition to my last nano tank, I I highly recommend it to those considering one. I'd love an RK2, but I already had version one, which is good enough for me.
  #8  
Old 12/17/2007, 01:29 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Sump Plans

In the sump area, I intend to run a few different types of filtration in the various chambers. I will definitely dedicate a portion of the sump to a fuge, which I will stock with chaeto, and possible other beneficial filtering macro algae. I may run this on a reverse photo period if I can squeeze my 13W 6700K PC in the canopy, but things will be tight with four T5's up there already. Otherwise, the T5s will be more than sufficient for the fuge. I also plan on running 2 filter pads for mechanical filtration, which will be thoroughly cleaned/replaced weekly. In addition, I will put a bag of chemipure and a bag of purigen in the sump. Finally, I purchased a Sapphire Aquatics NC12 Nano Skimmer, which I will run in the sump area as well.

I don't buy the "over-filtering" arguments some people give. IME, you can never have enough filtration, and even with the best technology and over-kill filtration scheme, we're still falling short of pristine ocean conditions found on natural reefs...

Last edited by mathias999us; 12/17/2007 at 01:36 PM.
  #9  
Old 12/17/2007, 01:39 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Testing Lights

I tested 2 of the four bulbs. This is with one of each bulb type (tank is dirty with dust, needs to be washed still):


I'm very pleased with the nice blueish-purple color of the light.
  #10  
Old 12/17/2007, 01:44 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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The Site

When we bought the new house in August 06, I just KNEW this would be a future site for some sort of fish tank. This is the view when walking in my front door:


To the immediate right is the kitchen and living room. Straight ahead and to the right is the family room where we have our couches and TV. To the left is the bedrooms.

Here is the shot from the family room direction:


The only problem with this location is the head of my bed in the master bedroom is directly on the opposite side of the wall where the tank will be mounted. I'd like to have this tank as quiet as possible. I'm hoping that eheim pump treats me well. I've read that the Sapphire skimmers are virtually silent. Those, and the intermittent fans should be the only moving parts, so fingers crossed.

Last edited by mathias999us; 12/17/2007 at 01:54 PM.
  #11  
Old 12/17/2007, 02:19 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Some Site Prep

Next step was to install brackets onto the mount location:


Fortunately for me, there was a stud perfectly centered on this wall between the two lamps where I intend to mount the tank. Then, I have a stud 16" to the left, and another 16" to the right that will both be under the tank, perfectly centered, leaving only 8" of overhang on each end.

I attached 3 heavy-duty shelving braces to the studs with (3) 3.5" lag bolts each. I positioned the braces so that the floor of the tank will be 54" off of the house floor, which is a good viewing height for more adults. Kids'll need a stool, but won't be tempted to tamper either.

While weight is a concern in these situations, I'm confident that this support will be more than sufficient. I weigh close to what I estimate the finished product will weight when filled and stocked, and I can do pullups on the tips of each of these braces individually, with absolutely no hint of protest from the wall structure. They're downright rock-solid, and I'm confident that I've exceeded my support needs by at least 3 fold.

Still on my todo list is to tap into the outlet pictured in the lower part of this image, and run some romex up through the wall to a GFCI outlet and box that will be located right beside the brace, directly above the existing outlet. This will keep the reef tank outlet out of sight once the shelf-cabinet is installed, and there will be no wiring visible at all.
  #12  
Old 12/17/2007, 02:24 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Testing Position

Just testing the tank in position with an oak plank resting on the braces:




So far I am happy with this setup.
  #13  
Old 12/17/2007, 02:36 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Building the Cabinet

This weekend I headed over to the local home improvement store, and bought a cart full of select grade solid oak panels, planks, and trim:



I also bought a bunch of corrosion resistant hardware, and I went to work out in my shop.

I've built pool decks and patio covers before, but I've never tried my hand at "fine" woodworking, so I am quite pleased with the results.
After two long days in the shop this weekend, I produced the following shelf-cabinet and combo canopy assembly for this nano. :



The tank slides into the modling guides like a hand into a glove, and the canopy shuts snug and tight around the top edges of the tank.

The canopy swivels up for maintenance, and the front of the cabinet is hinged to swing down and open for access to the equipment that will be located below the tank. Still have to figure out a convenient way to prop the canopy up.... something more elegant than a stick:


The cutout in this end is where the ReefKeeper display will go:
  #14  
Old 12/17/2007, 02:41 PM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Next Steps

That's as far along as I am at this point in time. Next step is to stain and seal the woodwork. After that (or meanwhile), I will install electrical wiring. Then I need to start mounting all the equipment inside the cabinetry and canopy, and run the plumbing beneath the tank. Then, I think it's water time!!!

Woohoo!
  #15  
Old 12/17/2007, 03:04 PM
workstoomuch workstoomuch is offline
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WOW, that is gonna look bad frickin' *** when you walk into your house. Good job on the cabinet, are you going to stain it? Keep us updated.
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  #16  
Old 12/17/2007, 03:09 PM
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That is amazing. I love the clean look and 'floating' effect on the wall.

I will be watching this thread.
  #17  
Old 12/17/2007, 08:03 PM
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amazing work! cant wait to see it running! ill be tagging along!
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  #18  
Old 12/17/2007, 08:53 PM
TKByrnes TKByrnes is offline
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WOW!!! That just makes me want to set up one like that!!!! Great work!!
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  #19  
Old 12/17/2007, 08:58 PM
saltyshoe_nano saltyshoe_nano is offline
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wow that is a nifty tank looking good...I like what you did with the sand/canopy floating....or would that be concidered a crown molding lol I donno but its lookin good
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  #20  
Old 12/17/2007, 09:45 PM
moprint moprint is offline
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Four t-5s on a 12" deep tank, isn't that gonna be a little much? The tank looks great just worried about the lighting.
  #21  
Old 12/18/2007, 07:47 AM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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workstoomuch -
Thanks a bunch for the encouragement! Yeah, this spot was just begging for some sort of nice display... I put the first coat of spar varnish on last night, I'll post some pics here in a bit.

eshook -
Thank you very much! I like the floating look too, but I also chose this approach because the only way my wife would let me have a tank in this area is if I promised it wouldn't touch her wood floor! Great to have you along.

Devtech -
Thanks! I can't wait to get it running myself. Good to have you along as well.

TKByrnes -
Thanks much. Calvin's your man if you don't want to do acrylic work. Wish I could claim I made the tank too.... maybe next time.

saltyshoe -
Hey, thanks a bunch. I think some of the trim actually was crown molding. Not sure, I just browsed through the trim section at the hardware store and picked whatever I thought would look OK.

moprint -
It's actually only an 8.25" high tank, but 12" front to back. You may have a good point, but I'm not sure. Calvin's tank used 3 T5's and did well. I also saw someone set up a similar tank with 4 T5s, but he said he might remove one. The fourth will be completely over the sump except for the very ends, and the 3rd will be about half over the sump, and half over the display. With the bulb arrangement, that should give about one and a half pure actinics and one 11000K bulb exposed to the display area. There weren't a lot of 3-bulb or 1-bulb retro kits out there, and the ones that did were almost as much as 2 or four. I could always remove a bulb. I've seen people with 250W MH on 20G tanks that do well, so I'd be interested to hear some more opinions on my lighting. Thanks for the comment.

Mathias
  #22  
Old 12/18/2007, 08:12 AM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Livestock Plans

For the purpose of discussing the lighting comment, I should probably briefly mention my stocking plans as well. I'd like this to be primarily an LPS dominated tank. I would also like to take my first try at a clam or two, and maybe some hardier SPS species. If there are lower-light areas of the tank, like towards the back wall on the ends, I may keep some softies there as well. I will probably also put some inverts in here (shrimp, star, cuc), and 1 to 2 very small fish (still undecided on what species).
  #23  
Old 12/18/2007, 08:25 AM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Bulkhead Holes

Here's a shot with the canopy and front cabinet door removed, where you can clearly see the holes that were drilled for the plumbing:


The two large holes towards the middle are for the drain bulkheads, and the two smaller holes on the outsides are for the return manifold bulkheads.

The whole canopy/shelf-cabinet assembly weighs around 100 lbs just by itself, so it's a lot easier to get this thing up the stairs from my shop to the mounting site by removing the door and the canopy and making 3 trips!
  #24  
Old 12/18/2007, 08:34 AM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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Cooling System

OK, I did what I believe to be my final woodworking task in this project last night. I mentioned earlier that I am going to mount (2) 4.5" pancake fans into the canopy that will be controlled by the reefkeeper. I will have one draw air in, and the other will remove air. I want these fans to draw and exhaust air out the top of the canopy, where they will not be visible. I considered using my router to make a series of slots in the top of the canopy where the fans will mount. But, I also do not want any ambient light from inside the canopy to leak out the top of the canopy and shine on the ceiling above the tank.

Instead of cutting slots with the router, I just cut 4" holes with a big hole saw (that poor little Makita 9.6V sure struggled with that job!). Then, I fashioned some "fancy" chamfered port covers out of some oak scrap, and fastened them to the top of the canopy over the fan holes.

Camera angle makes this look crooked for some reason, but here's a shot of the underside of one of the fan port covers I made:


Here's a pic of the holes I drilled for the fans. I placed the fans in the shot inside the canopy, but they will of course be mounted over the holes. You can also see, I installed some rails for mounting the the endcaps for the lights:


Fan port mounted on top:


Both Fan Ports:

Last edited by mathias999us; 12/18/2007 at 09:30 AM.
  #25  
Old 12/18/2007, 08:43 AM
mathias999us mathias999us is offline
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First Coat of Varnish

I also applied the first coat of spar varnish last night. I intend to do 3 coats total. I used Ace Hardware brand spar varnish that I had left over from when I did some wood work on my boat. I liked the way it looked on my boat, and has stood up to the weather and the elements very well over the past year, so it should provide plenty of protection against moisture, salt, and UV. Plus, the price is right. I really hate painting and staining stuff, but you gotta protect the wood, and the end result will be worth it I think.

Couple pics:


 

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