19,000 gallons down the drain

Discussion in 'General Reef Discussion' started by BEAV9900, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. BEAV9900

    BEAV9900 Senior Member
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    Credit photo to Bill Wann

    I follow Bill on Facebook and came across some pictures/posts. His 20,000 gallon tank drained the other night. How terrible! Sounds like most of the fish are OK but says coral are all toast. He has a few more pictures on FB.
     
  2. bonadewski

    bonadewski Senior Member
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    omg this is terrible. sorry to hear
     
  3. acharpenter

    acharpenter Pitas' Pita
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    A little bit of background info:



    Local man’s homemade fish tank is largest in North America
    Published June 16, 2013
    BY MELINDA TICHELAAR
    mtichelaar@kenoshanews.com


    Bill Wann's reef tank is home to 160 saltwater fish, 20,000 pounds of rock, 2,000 pounds of Bahamanian sand, and dozens of corals. It's so big, sometimes he has to scuba dive in it to take care of it. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY SEAN KRAJACIC )


    Most Wisconsinites don’t scuba dive. They definitely don’t dive in their living rooms.

    But most Wisconsinites are not like Bill Wann, a high school dropout and successful entrepreneur who designed and built a 24-foot-long, 10-foot-wide and 10-foot-deep 20,000-gallon reef tank for his living room.

    “I like to build everything. When it breaks down, I know how to fix it,” he said.

    When Wann started building his house on Bristol Road in 2006, he started with the fish tank, then built the house around it.

    The tank is the largest privately owned tank of its kind in North America, and Wann designed it and all of its support systems (pipes, filters, sump pools).

    As with any large projects, there were setbacks.

    “The first time we filled it, it leaked like a sieve,” he said. “It leaked everywhere. Everywhere! We drained it and repaired it. Took months.”

    Glowing marvel

    Today, the tank is a glowing marvel. The concrete walls are 12 inches thick, with 2½-inch thick acrylic windows measuring 6 feet by 10 feet. (They weigh so much, it took 11 people to lift each one into place.) Many of the 20,000 pounds of rocks are from a mine in Montana, and the sand (2,000 pounds worth) is from the Bahamas.

    A large living room with soft carpet invites visitors to lie around and watch the 160 fish swim. The fish are beautiful, but the thing that makes Wann’s tank unique — and hard to care for — is the coral. If the fish get sick, he can’t dump in medicine, because it will kill the coral. The temperature is 78 degrees, and if it varies, the coral will die.

    Everything is controlled by a computer system that Wann built, with huge backup generators to make sure the pumps and heaters never stop.

    “The tank has become smart,” he said. “If the pH goes down, it fixes itself.”

    A “home built” aquarium might bring up images (and smells) of chaotic pipes and murky water, but there’s nothing Rube Goldbergian about Wann’s tank. There’s no smell at all. The water is crystal clear — you can even watch TV from inside the tank, if you’re so inclined.

    The basement and pipe rooms are pristine. The efficient design makes elegant sense. That’s because Wann is the sort of person who thinks an 800-page textbook of organic chemistry is light reading — the sort of person who can invent massive systems in his head.

    “I never write anything down. I thought it up as I went,” he said.

    In his basement, he takes care of the job that pays the bills — fixing and refurbishing high-tech equipment like mass spectrometers for crime and science labs.

    ‘Mad scientist’ room

    In an adjacent room, Wann has a classic “mad scientist” lab setup that covers an entire wall, with beakers hooked to an electrical system through which he pumps water, hydrogen, methane and ammonia to make “primordial soup” — the amino acids created at the beginning of time.

    “The creation of life is a hobby of mine. I screw around with this in my spare time,” he said.

    Wann was a military kid who moved around a lot and was always inventing.

    “When I was a kid, I would play with PVC pipes. I’d walk around with a suitcase full of pipes and hoses,” he said.

    Now, he’s selling his custom-made aquarium systems to others, applying for a patent on a fish tank filter and planning his next, bigger tank.

    He’s never been scuba diving in a real ocean, either, so he might give that a try if he can get away from work.



    Video of cleaning the tank:

    [youtube]0vtoiHaE_d4[/youtube]






    And the aftermath - you saw the pics already care of Beav......

    From Bill:
    Woke up at 4 am to and empty fish tank . the six inch pipe that I was working on replacing cracked and emptied my whole tank . looks like most of the fish will be fine but I lost most if not all of my coral . working on getting 100 or so buckets of salt to get it refilled . it has 18 inches of water in it right now that is running though the heat exchangers and sand filter so I can keep the fish alive for quite some time . what a great way to start the day . guess all of of the water changes I didn't do caught up to me all at once .
     
  4. Riley

    Riley I contributed!
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    I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that yesterday. The six inch pipes on his system were the only ones that were still sch 40, and he had just got everything in to switch them out to sch 80 last week or so. I don't know if the failure was the result of in-process work he's doing, or if he hadn't started the work yet the timing of the failure couldn't have been worse. Hate to be him right now, but it was good to see his fish made it.
     
  5. marty9876

    marty9876 Something funny
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    Just mind boggling someone with that much smarts and that much experience can have close to a total blow out. Not sure if it's bad luck, Murphey's law or just the fact saltwater tanks always want to self destruct.

    Someday I should really get a Facebook account.
     
  6. eschulist

    eschulist That Office Nano Guy
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    His living room seems unaffected. I'm guessing it all drained out in his filtration room if thats where all his piping was. But dang, where does 20,000 gallons of water go? Half of his house would be a few feet deep in water.
     
  7. OP
    BEAV9900

    BEAV9900 Senior Member
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    Yeah he said it all "went down the drain" which is pretty amazing.

    As others posted on his FB page, I'm surprised he didn't have some sort of alert when the tank got too low. The guy designed and built almost everything from scratch for this tank. If I remember right he even built his own CNC machine that would change tools automatically! I guess the little things you don't think about can really turn into the biggest problems.

    Sounds like he's pretty positive though and taking the opportunity to change some things around and buff the acrylic.
     
  8. kheebl

    kheebl Super Moderator
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    I saw this the other day also. That's a costly mistake. He posted a picture yesterday of him unloading a truck full of salt buckets for the tank.
     
  9. Chad Vossen

    Chad Vossen Vossen kinda rhymes with awesome
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    That's one way to do a big water change... WOW
     
  10. Adam G

    Adam G Born to Reef!
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    Can you imagine the coral slime smell?? When I throw one cutting of a coral in the garbage in my fish room and then forget to take out the trash there is a pretty strong smell. How devastating that would be. I feel for the guy.
     
  11. acharpenter

    acharpenter Pitas' Pita
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    I am advanced SCUBA certified and have some experience in the saltwater hobby with regards to corals, aquascaping etc...hee hee - so I offered to go over there to help. Bill is upbeat and says it is all under control.

    Sounds like this sucks but he seems to have it under control and he isnt tweaking at all, he was cracking jokes during our conversation.

    I would venture to guess that though this sucks - it is allowing him to make some changes/updates/upgrades he has wanted to to do but couldn't/wouldn't pull the trigger on until forced to.

    He has lots of support and he is doing awesome
     
  12. Fragtastic Reef

    Fragtastic Reef We Dont Frag Around! Rare fish and more
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    I am guessing he needs to get some ALD modules for his tank from now on... Although I can't believe he didn't have them already since he made his own system for a controller.
     
  13. OP
    BEAV9900

    BEAV9900 Senior Member
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    Looks like Bill and coral Vue are teaming up on a skimmer. Will definitely be following this.
     
  14. capman

    capman I contributed!
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    What I've learned the hard way is that one can never allow one's self to get complacent (not that I think this was the situation with him), or to take the success of a thriving system for granted. Given enough time, and/or given a moment or two of bad judgement or lack of diligence, awful things can happen to even the best of systems managed by the best of aquarists.

    I had a disaster some years back that killed off a bunch of large tangs (along with a lot of SPS coral colonies, some of which were a foot or more across and close to ten years old). Some of the big tangs I'd raised from tiny little fish. I was just sort of in shock when I discovered this (and felt VERY stupid over the reason the disaster happened). I couldn't bring myself to just throw the dead fish out, so I put them in the freezer, with no idea of why I actually needed to hang on to them (they later got thrown out).

    I can't imagine how he must be feeling about his much much bigger tank disaster, though it sounds like he is taking this in stride!

    (Rhetorical question: What sort of profession gives one the income (along with the time) to be able to afford to set up and maintain a tank like this? Yikes!)
     
    #14 capman, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  15. Riley

    Riley I contributed!
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    http://www.meadowshplc.com/

    Owning a company that does refurbishing and servicing on complex lab equipment like HPLCs is what gives someone the means. The margins are really high on lab equipment.
     

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