jlanger's 32gal Home Office Reef Build

Discussion in 'Tank Builds' started by jlanger, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    As I am getting close to upgrading from my Fluval M60 build to the new 32gal rimless build, I thought it would be a good time to start a new build thread.

    I've been wanting (and waiting) for quite some time to upgrade the AIO tank to a system that incorporated a sump and better filtration equipment and options. The AIO systems work very well, but they definitely have their limitations when it comes to filtration. Since I like to keep my systems well stocked, I exceeded the boundaries of the AIO tank.
    I wanted to stay with a tank that had similar footprint to the Fluval so I could reuse the stand, lighting and some of the other equipment. When Li placed his Reef Octopus T60 in the classifieds, I started stalking the post and waited until I was able to purchase it.

    [​IMG]

    This is one monster of a small tank; no wonder Li thought about keeping it. It's a heavy, solid tank built from ⅜" thick beveled glass with a low iron front panel. The T60 is 24"L by 18"W by 18"H. This will almost double the display volume from the Fluval while keeping a similar footprint; thus fitting perfectly on my existing stand.
    I do have some projects to complete on the tank before setting it up. I'll be "blackening" the back panel and drilling holes for a low profile overflow box and return line. I'll also be making one of my low profile screen tops to keep the small fishes inside.

    One of the first projects was to paint the back of the tank. I wanted to try something different than just a solid black background; which I have usually done. I experimented with a few different paint colors and a ragging technique to create a mottled background of blues and black. After several attempts on some scrap pieces of glass, I found that I really liked this look.

    [​IMG]

    But it turned out that when viewing the glass through water, the colors and patterns faded into an all black appearance; so my next test samples just used a single color of blue. I really dislike the bright blue that is associated with acrylic tanks, so I went for a darker shade of blue. I discovered that when the dark blue background is viewed against a reef tank, that the upper level looks almost black but the reflection of light of off the white sand makes the blue color pop. So after many pieces of glass and a few cans of spray paint, I was able to get a color gradient using just the dark blue painted background. Painting the tank was easy. I masked off all of the other sides and painted the back of the tank outdoors.

    [​IMG]

    It looks bright blue in the sun, but the color darkens up nicely indoors.

    The next step was drilling the tank for my new overflow and return plumbing.
    I chose the Modular Marine 1200pgh Low-Profile Overflow System. Low profile, for sure. The interior overflow box measures just over one inch thick. The exterior box has three drain lines for a Bean Animal or Herbie drain system.

    [​IMG]

    Another nice feature of the overflow system is that the interior box is removable for cleaning. It's fitted into two bulkheads that connect the exterior box to the tank. To remove the interior box, I simply pull the box out of the bulkheads.

    [​IMG]

    The next project was to design and create a sump that maximizes the small space inside of my stand.
    It's not easy trying to fit in a BeanAnimal Drain, two filter socks, heater, protein skimmer, dosing lines, probe holder and a return pump and plumbing into a single sump that can be no larger than 13" by 15". After using various other sumps as inspiration [Thanks for the info, Eric!], I think I found a way to incorporate all of my wants into a small sump. I will have to keep my ATO reservoir outside of the stand as there's no room for one. I even dabbled with the idea of trying to install an ATS on the system, but that's a definite no-go also.
    The sump will be constructed from 10 pieces; machined from clear polycarbonate on the CNC router. I'll use the clear polycarbonate as it's what I have available. I would like to be one of the cool kids and have a colored sump and plumbing system, but I prefer having the black pvc plumbing outside of my stand anyways, so adding another color would seem overkill.

    Here's how I design my projects; 1:1 drawings.
    [​IMG]

    I spent a good part of an afternoon drawing up the pieces in my CAD software for the CNC router. Once all of the pieces were drawn and tool paths created, it all came down to one push of a button and I watched the router do its magic. Here's the stack of pieces ready to be assembled.

    [​IMG]

    Having the use of a CNC router is extremely beneficial; I'm able to add rabbets and dadoes to the panels of material so that the joints are accurate and very strong.
    After I dressed the pieces of any burs and tags, I assembled the sump with a dry-fit just to verify everything was correct.

    [​IMG]

    And since my plumbing supplies have been arriving this past week, I dry-fit the bulkheads (and just one filter sock) to see how it looks.

    [​IMG]

    Now, I just have to figure out how I'm going to glue this sump together. There are just a few locations where getting a bottle of solvent inside the sump could be tricky. As long as I make sure all of the exterior seams are well bonded and hold water, I shouldn't worry about it too much.

    My next steps (after the sump assembly) will be to move the Fluval off of the existing stand so I can open up the back for the plumbing. Once the stand is ready, I can start cutting and fitting a bunch of pipe and fittings.
     
    #1 jlanger, Jun 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
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  2. clownnut

    clownnut TUNNWOLC
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    nice :) looking forward to seeing the system up and running.
     
  3. KJoFan

    KJoFan Senior Member
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    Santa Monica make small drop in ATS's, that fit in AIO chambers, etc. I don't know if that would be an option for you if you wanted to implement an ATS at some point.
     
  4. LostUnderwater

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    Awesome start, can't wait to see it develop over time.
     
  5. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    So far, so good.
    This morning's initial leak test with the sump passed!
    Time to start working on some plumbing; and finding that temporary location for the Fluval.

    Thanks for the recommendation, but based on my experience and the performance of my ATS on the 120gal, I really don't see much benefit to those small drop in units; especially at those prices.
     
  6. KJoFan

    KJoFan Senior Member
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    Yeah, I wasn't so much suggesting one, as making you aware they existed. I came across them researching filtration setups for AIO's. Prior, I didn't even know they existed. But, I agree, they carry a somewhat hefty price.
     
  7. Riley

    Riley I contributed!
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    Everything looks great so far. I do like following your different builds.

    I know I asked you this before but couldn't find it - what was your feed & speed and with what bit did you use? How deep of passes did you make each time? Your cuts look nice and I'm always trying to improve.
     
  8. eschulist

    eschulist That Office Nano Guy
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    Mini sump looks awesome! You can also cut yourself a nice lid for almost every section to prevent additional water evaporation and splashing in the sock section.

    I like your painted gradient background. I did the same thing to my very first nano tank.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Fishfoo

    Fishfoo Junior Member
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    That sump is beautiful, Jason. I also really like how you switched it up with the dark blue background.

    Are you planning on a similar aquascape as the Fluval, or switching it up a bit?
     
  10. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Thanks, Eric.
    I have lids in waiting, but I wanted to make sure the sump was good before running the extra parts. I still have to machine a probe holder and diffuser plates for the filter socks.
    The background is just a solid dark blue color but when viewing the tank, the top looks black while the bottom looks more blue. (The camera flash reversed the look in the photos.) It probably won't look like much once the tank has rock and the overflow installed, but at least I know it's not all black.
     
  11. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Thanks, Keenan.
    I have a few extra pieces of Pukani that has been cycling since October, so I'm going to play around with the aquascaping a bit.
    I know that this time I want a lot more open water, so I may not be adding much rock. I want to have more open space in the front for the zoanthids to create colorful mounds on the sand. I will be limiting the number of soft corals as well; not so many encrusting types. I picked up a few frags from AcanLord's Live Sale and if they do well, I may add many more of those; Stephen has a great variety of colorful acans.
    I say all of this now, but we know know how well plans go in this hobby.
     
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  12. cheezybuda

    cheezybuda I contributed!
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    As always, impeccable craftsmanship!
     
  13. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    With the wonderful weather we all experienced today, I spent most of the day working on plumbing the tank and sump. I have a few photos that show how it turned out, but I just wanted to get this one photo out there before we forget today's events.

    How do I know if I have a leak when the whole sky has one?!

    [​IMG]

    Minor sprinkles off and on during the afternoon while I plumbed the system inside.
    Move the system outside for a leak test and >>Wham!<<; downpour.
    Complete the leak test and as soon as the first pipe is disconnected, the sun comes out.
    Nature is a mother...
     
    #13 jlanger, Jun 11, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
  14. eschulist

    eschulist That Office Nano Guy
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    Just adds more water and gph to the pipes for testing.

    All of the bends look great. What is the pipe for in the front?
     
  15. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    That pipe was to fill the tank with water.
     
  16. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Here's how the plumbing phase of the new build turned out.
    I first had to create a new and larger opening for the plumbing to enter the stand. I placed a template against the back of the stand and used a router to cut out the new opening. The new opening spans the entire inside width of the stand and sits at the exact height of the sump. There's some room left above the opening for mounting electrical components. A few pieces of trim to edgeband the opening and I was all set.


    [​IMG]

    Having the smaller overflow box provided a couple of challenges. The three drains are too close together for conventional pvc fittings, so I chose to place the full siphon drain in the center drain and I'll just use a strainer to keep anything from clogging the pipe. The open channel (right drain in this photo) is a tee fitting that receives just a trickle of water when in operation. The emergency drain (left drain in this photo) is just a stand pipe that will empty into the return chamber of the sump.
    A single ¾" return line ends with a Loc-line wye fitting with two ½" flare nozzles.

    When I ran my leak test outside (and the downpour subsided), the overflow ran dead silent. I'm excited about that as my 120gal has a noticeable waterfall sound effect from that overflow. The next time I need to tear that tank down, I'm going to have ModularMarine make me a Low Profile Overflow System to match my existing drain holes on that tank. Silence is golden.

    Here's a sneak peek inside the stand.

    [​IMG]

    Very basic plumbing here. A Spears Gate Valve for the full siphon drain and a ball valve for the return. Not pictured are two extensions from the two drain lines that empty into the drain chamber. I have the extensions cut with 45° ends that end roughly an inch or so below the water level of the drain chamber.
    I also modified the top of the sump so that I can insert/remove my heater without having to disconnect a bulkhead fitting. I found out that my existing heater has been discontinued which means finding an eventual replacement may result in a different placement.

    You'll notice that I bent my pvc pipe on the drains and return. I really liked the results that Eric (schulist) got with his plumbing, so I gave it shot with mine. With a heat gun and a length of high voltage wiring that fit inside the pipe, I bent the pvc so that there's a smooth path for the moving water; plus it cut down on the number of fittings I needed to purchase. I did, however, use 45° elbows on the two lines with the valves. I felt that the bends would have been too tight/close to the valves; much easier to add the elbows and tie into those.

    Once my filter socks, skimmer and other supplies arrive, I'll give a more in depth tour of the sump itself.
     
    #16 jlanger, Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
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  17. Riley

    Riley I contributed!
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    I see too many things wrong here. Your plumbing is far too neat and you're using high quality unions and valves. You aren't going to have any problems later on. Nice work.
     
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  18. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    If only having neat plumbing and quality parts prevented equipment failure, fish deaths and corals from RTNing or dissolving...


    I have the tank, sump and stand placed back in my office and replumbed, so I 'm ready for my equipment when it arrives tomorrow. A couple hours of mounting the electronics and I should have this tank filled before the end of the week. I have plenty of new sand rinsed and ready. I have a few new pieces of Pukani live rock that have been "curing" since October.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. clownnut

    clownnut TUNNWOLC
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    nice love the hard plumb all the way.:)
     
  20. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    And we have a heartbeat...

    I spent a good amount of time this week preparing for the transfer of the Fluval into the new 32gal; it's amazing how much you can get accomplished once the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff has wrapped up.

    I mounted the electronic components back into the stand. The ballast for the Radion no longer fits inside so that it tucked off to the side.
    I built a new screen top for the new tank; same design as the old tank, just bigger.
    I fiddled with my Digital Aquatics DP1 Dosing Pump to get that back working as my ATO again.
    The new skimmer arrived and was assembled.

    First step this morning was to add a shallow bed of new sand to the tank. I filled the tank up with 15gal of new saltwater and added about 10gal from the Fluval. I placed a few new pieces of rock in the tank and then added the three pieces from the Fluval. While I was working on the aquascaping, I added about 10gal of new saltwater back into the Fluval; a "water change" that also doubled as an acclimation period for the fish and corals moving to the new tank. I then moved the return pump and heater to the new system and topped off the new tank with new saltwater. Once it was filled up, I fired up the return pump and protein skimmer.
    Woohoo!!! After some adjustments on the gate valve, the overflow was running dead silent. The filter socks started to collect the dust from the sand and detritus from the old water. The skimmer even started to produce a wet foam right away.
    Once I was satisfied with the rock layout, I started to transfer the corals into the new tank; mostly just dropping them onto the sand bed. I'll spend more time this weekend deciding which corals will end up being placed where.
    The last step of the transfer was to move the fish into their new homes. The two Wheeler's Gobies (still not cordial with one another) and the Candy Cane Pistol Shrimp were the first to be moved; followed by the Royal Gramma. The One Spot Foxface and the Bangaii Cardinalfish were moved into my 120gal system along with two rogue peppermint shrimp.

    Here's a quick shot of the inside of the stand with the new sump and filtration system.

    [​IMG]

    And here's a closer view of the sump; for what that's worth.
    There's actually a lot going on in such a tiny bit of space.

    [​IMG]

    With the addition of the new pieces of rock, I didn't really gain any floor space for the zoanthids. I'll need to figure out what I want to do with all of those; but I have been thinking about going with acan frags instead.
    If I get time this weekend to clean things up a bit in the inside of the tank, I'll get the first photos of the new set up.
     
    #20 jlanger, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
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