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speyside's new 90 gallon reef build!

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    Posted: July 20 2017 at 12:21am
Hey everyone,
I am building a new reef tank and wanted to share my experiences both in building that reef, and what I've learned getting to this point. This is the 4th tank I've had. I've learned a lot along the way but have lots more to go. Feel free to chime in with ideas and suggestions!

My first tank was a 26 gallon bowfront that was given to me by my brother in law. The tank was already up and running stocked with some softies, a couple clown fish, a baby yellow tang, and a cleaner shrimp. It was a simple system with no sump, just a hang on skimmer and carbon filter. It had power compact lights, a heater, and a single power head but no other equipment.  This sparked my interest and I've been hooked ever since.

Tank #2 is still up and running. It is a 55 gallon similar set up with no sump.  It only has a hang on back skimmer and carbon filter and 1 powerhead, very similar to my first tank. I bought this one used from BillyC here on UtahReefs. The same clowns and yellow tang are living in this one 6 years later. Im sure the tang will be happy to move into the new 90 gallon as soon as its ready, as he has grown a lot and definitely outgrown the 55.

Tank #3 was a failed attempt. I bought a used 90 gallon. After setting up all the plumbing and while waiting for the tank to cycle, it sprung a leak. I tore everything down, removed all the caulk and re-caulked the entire tank. Tested it for leaks and determined it was fixed. I then changed my mind about the upgrade and sold the whole setup.


Tank #4 is the tank this thread is about. It is my renewed effort to upgade my setup.

This tank is a 90 gallon MarineLand with a corner overflow that I purchased from Live Rock and Reef.

The stand I had custom built by Driftwood aquariums. It has an extra tall canopy to give more room for maintenance.

The sump is a 36 gallon ruby model by Trigger Systems.

After the issues with leaks I had with the used tank I decided I would rather buy new and not deal with the risks even if it meant spending quite a bit more. After all, I don't think any of us got into this hobby because it's cheap...

I'll post pictures of my progress and add to the saga soon!




Edited by speyside712 - July 20 2017 at 11:23am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Krazie4Acans Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2017 at 10:32am
Great start. Glad to be along for the ride.
My ocean.
90g (yup, won it!), 40g, 28g, & 10g Systems
PADI Advanced Open Water
Tank Thread:
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reefer4Ever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2017 at 11:29am
All buckled in for the ride. Let's do this.
90 gal reef w/refugium
24 gal softie tank
11 gal nano anemone tank
5 gal fresh water
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 21 2017 at 6:09pm
Alright time to get this thing started!

The tank is cycling right now, so I figured its a good time to go over what I've done so far and catch the thread up to be real-time.

This tank has been in the works for a long time.  My house needed a lot of preparation before it was ready for a tank.  Since I was upgrading tanks and wanted to keep my existing fish, I needed to have both tanks up and running at the same time.

Step 1 was to move the old tank out of the way.  It was surprisingly easy to move compared to most tanks.  I doesn't have a sump, and has a relatively shallow sand bed so after draining the water and removing the rock is wasn't all that heavy.  It only took two of us to lift it.  I was able to drain the water into buckets and a 25 gallon rubbermaid tub, put the rocks and fish into the rubbermaid, move the tank about 20 feet to its new location, and then move the water, rocks, and fish back into the tank.  I was a little worried as I wasn't able to catch either of the yellow tail damsels.  And when I removed the last rock I realized they weren't anywhere in the tank! But then they showed up in the tank just fine after it was moved.  They must have hitched a ride inside one of the rocks.  Sneaky little guys...  The move only took maybe a hour or less, so I wasn't real concerned about adding a heater or bubbler to the rubbermaid tub.

I had a number of house projects I wanted to complete that the old tank had been preventing.  With it out of the way and before a new one went it, I could knock those out.

I painted the entire living and dining room.
Ripped out all the carpet, put down self leveling cement, and laid hard wood flooring.
Changed the outlet where the new tank will sit to be a GFI.

There is a small coat closet directly behind where the new tank sits, so I decided that would be like my mini fish room.  I ripped out the existing single shelf, patched the holes and repainted the walls.  The I built 4 new shelves, stained them, and installed them in the closet.

These are the shelves being stained.

I cut two holes in the wall between the closet and the tank.  I installed outlet boxes that let wires run right through to the other side.  I was planning to use 1 hole for electrical and the other for plumbing.


Next I had to get electrical to this closet.  I ran new romex cable from the master bedroom that shares the closets right wall.  I installed 1 outlet from this breaker.  I ran another set of romex to an additional outlet on the left side of the closet, from the living room breaker.

Now I had a space to store ballasts for my lights, auto-top off container, 2-part dosing containers, all the controllers, and various other supplies.  Not to mention outlets from two separate breakers switches to allow for enough power without tripping a breaker.

Now that I had the wall, floor, and fish closet prepped I was ready to buy a tank.  After browsing a number of fish stores (and being devastated when I realized Bird World had closed!) I decided to order a stand through aquatic dreams.  I asked for a dark walnut stand and canopy with a canopy 4 inches taller than standard.  To my surprise they actually quoted me $200 less for a custom build than if I bought one they had in stock!   :)

After about 2 weeks they gave me a call and said the new stand was ready for me to come pick it up.  I would recommend buying through them for anyone looking for a custom stand.  The price was very reasonable and the work by DriftWood Aquariums is beautiful.  I could not have asked for a better looking stand.  My old stand was super flimsy and might collapse if you bumped into it by accident.  This one is super sturdy and really high quality.

I ordered a 36 gallon ruby model sump by trigger systems from BulkReefSupply.com.  I shopped around for a while and it seemed like a good option for me.  Its a little more expensive than buying a 35 gallon tank at petco and building the baffles yourself, but for the convenience factor and built in probe and filter sock holders, it was worth it.


I shopped around trying to find a tank that had an overflow with 3 holes pre-drilled.  After going to every fish store in northern utah, I gave up looking for one.  I was hoping to use a herbie overflow and have the third hole to bring the return up inside the tank, but without drilling the tank myself or building the overflow from scratch it seemed I would never find a 3-holed tank.  I'm sure I could have drilled it myself, but the stock overflows aren't quite big enough to allow for 3 bulkheads.  So rather than custom building it myself, I decided to go with a standard 2 hole'd tank.  I ordered a 90 gallon MarineLand tank from Live Rock'N Reef.  They don't usually sell tanks so they had to order it, but they gave me a price $100 less than everywhere else I looked.

Here is a shot of the setup:

I'll add more tomorrow, pictures included!


Edited by speyside712 - July 22 2017 at 12:21am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 12:48am
Next I had to cut holes in the stand for the overflows.  Because the tank only has 2 holes drilled I decided to go with a herbie overflow and bring the return line up over the back.

Next I cut a piece of thin rubber (from a roll of sound proofing material I had laying around) to size to fit under the stand.  I wanted some protection between the wood and the stand since my wood scratches easily.

I also cut a piece of pvc sheeting to place as a waterproof barrier under the sump.  I stapled this to the bottom of the stand and set the sump on it.  Originally I was thinking I wanted a waterproof basin that could hold a couple inches of water in the case of a leak, but this proved to hard to set up as my stand has angled corners inside.  In the end I just went with a flat waterproof sheet to make and drips and spills easier to clean up.

One thing I will say that I don't love about the sump is that it does not have a rim around the bottom like a normal tank.  The acrylic sits directly on the stand.  This makes it really important that the surface be absolutely clean and free of dust when you put it in place.  I found multiple times I thought it was clean but there was a single grain of sand pushing against the acrylic that I had to remove.

I brought everything into the house, carried it up the stairs with the help of my brother in law (I live in a second floor condo), and set everything up.  Now I was ready to plumb the system.

I ordered red PVC from BulkReefSupply and mapped out all the fittings, unions, gate valves, etc.  Of course I had to re-order multiple times as it seems impossible to map these things out perfectly on the first try...

I added as many unions as I could so that I could easily take the system apart and clean every piece.  I placed a gate valve on the primary overflow and one on the return line.  I also added a check valve on the return line.  Here are some pictures of the final result.








Edited by speyside712 - July 22 2017 at 11:38pm
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As you can see in the photos, I used a piece of flexible tubing to to attach the return line to the return pump.  I had heard this would cut down on vibration and noise from the return pump.  My previous build had an external iwaki return pump that was insanely loud, so I was hoping to not have to deal with that sound this time by going with an internal pump and using the flexible tubing.

In hindsight I should have painted the back of the tank black to hide wires and plumbing.  But since I didn't do that I decided all of my wiring and plumbing needed to be hidden behind the overflow.  I routed the return line up right behind the overflow and have it coming over the back of the tank and into the overflow.  From there the loc-line extends out into the display.

I am really pleased with how the return line turned out.  I had just enough room in the overflow to have the 2 standpipes and the return fit without bumping into each other.

For the return pump I went with the Reef Octopus Varios 6.  It has more than enough GPH and can easily handle the 5 or so feet of head pressure on my system.  It also comes with a controller that allows for 5 speeds.  It has a hookup for the included float switch to shut the pump off should it run out of water.  And its apex ready.  I am considering an apex controller so this was important to me.  I have liked the pump a lot so far, its dead quiet and the controller works great and is easy to use.



Edited by speyside712 - July 22 2017 at 1:08am
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I have a few regrets so far and have made a couple mistakes, but nothing major yet.  As I mentioned above I wish i would have painted the back of the tank black.

I also made a mistake on the return pump.  Although I have a check valve for power outages, that is really more of a backup plan for me.  As i've heard check valves often fail.  My main safety precaution on the return line was going to be a hole drilled in the return line just below the water line.  I made a mistake where I chose to put this hole.

I drilled the hole in the return line about a foot before it exits the loc-line, while its in the overflow compartment.  My thinking was "the water level is a little lower in here, so I can drill the hole here above the water line and that will work as an immediate siphon break when the power shuts off."

That didn't go quite as planned.  It turns out that hole is below the loc-line.  So what happens when I pull that plug on the return line is the check valve stops flow immediately (as expected) but the water continues to drain backwards through the last foot of the return line, from the display into the overflow compartment through the small hole.  The water drains until the siphon breaks when the loc-line starts sucking air.  So basically the tank will drain to whatever point the loc line return line is in the tank, albeit very slowly through the tiny hole (which is exactly what i wanted to avoid).

I have not implemented a solution to this yet, as my loc lines are currently just under the surface and not a problem for the sump when you turn the power off.  I think the solution is to drill another hole in the loc line itself, just under the water line in the actual display tank this time.  That should solve the display tank draining issue.

I may try and patch the first hole i drilled in the return line, as it is not helping anything at the moment, if i can figure out a good way to patch it.  Any suggestions here would be great!  The picture below shows where the current hole is drilled, so you can better understand the issue i'm dealing with.



My other regret is not ordering enough red pvc pipe, and being unwilling to wait for another shipment to arrive.  As you can see the standpipes in the overflow compartment don't match the rest of the system.  This is just me being too picky, but still, its been bugging me everytime I look at it! lol




Edited by speyside712 - July 22 2017 at 11:41pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 8:02am
I can see where there can be a number of improvements, but I hesitate to say anything because most times it seems people make these threads after they are built. What they really want is a big pat on the back, not a critique.

Sooo,
Looks great. Thumbs Up I'm sure you'll figure it out.

Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 8:43am
Go ahead Mark, let me have it! My goal here is to build a reef with as many redundancies as possible so as to not flood my house or kill the inhabitants. I'd love to hear your recommendations, even if they involve tearing it down and starting over
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 2:12pm
Okay, here is what I see. Please take it for what it's worth, my 2 cents.

"...holes in the stand for the overflows."
Those round holes in the stand will make it very difficult to work on the bulkheads. There will come a time when you will wish you had cut one large hole so that a wrench can be positioned to loosen and tighten the bulkheads. It will save hours upon hours of painstaking labor spent trying to loosen and tighten a bulkhead. Assuming that this is a plastic frame glass tank, the hole can be cut very large because the tank sit's only on the plastic frame, not on that board. FYI, on some setups I have been able to enlarge these holes without removing the tank.

"[stapled]...a piece of pvc sheeting...as a waterproof barrier under the sump." 
I do not believe this will hold water. Water will flow over the bottom, right out the back. It will also soak down into the wood via the staples. The basin you spoke of is very simple to do, using common outdoor pond liner stapled about 3"-4" high and folded/bunched in the corners around the vertical supporting structure. I would place a 4" board across the back to support the pond liner. An inexpensive moisture alarm is a nice addition, telling you when there is water, before it gets too deep.

"I added as many unions as I could so that I could easily take the system apart and clean every piece."
 Each union is a point of failure where a small leak will eventually occur. Each time the union is unscrewed and put back together the point of failure is renewed. A missed tiny bit of crud on an O-Ring can cause a leak. Instead, use as few screw-able joints as possible. If a problem develops, just cut the pipe, fix the problem and put it back together with a glued coupling or all new piping.

"I also added a check valve on the return line."
I have seen check valves on many systems done by others. The check valve will eventually fail because of crud buildup on the seal, causing it to leak or not even close at all. Also, the resistance of that valve makes the pump have to push harder. All the 90 degree turns in the return piping will also add resistance, adding to the need for the pump to push harder. Just because BRS sells them and many other hobbyists use them, doesn't mean they are a good idea. Remove the check valve. There is a better way.

"I wish i would have painted the back of the tank black."
Easy options here. Drape some black material or black plastic sheeting from the tanks top plastic frame, secured with tape or slide in a large piece of rigid plastic sheet outside next to the back glass.

"I made a mistake where I chose to [drill] this [siphon break] hole."
Easily fixed. Dab some thickened PVC cement at the hole. To thicken PVC cement, just leave a glob sitting out in the air for a minute.

"...the tank will drain to whatever point the loc line return line is in the tank."
That is correct. The answer to this will make you go "Doh!" The answer also eliminates the need for a check valve or a siphon break hole. The solution does one more thing, something that is extremely important for animal health. 
The simple solution is to position the end of the Lock-line at the same level as the drain teeth. The siphon will break when it sucks air. 
I see a "Y" has been installed on the lock-line. One of the ends sucking air will break the siphon even though the other end may be deeper in the water. This high end can be goose-necked so that it shoots a jet of water along the surface at a slightly down angle to keep water from splashing. The larger water disturbance caused by the jet and the surface water it pulls along with it, is a very good vehicle for gas exchange.
Of course, the running water level in the sump must still be low enough to contain the draining water during power off status.

"My other regret is not ordering enough red pvc pipe... its been bugging me everytime I look at it! lol"
This may surprise you but you can use paint, preferably epoxy to paint the pipe. I have also used ABS cement to paint white pipe black. The advantage I see in black pipe is that it becomes virtually invisible.


Miscellaneous suggestions:
- I would use larger diameter pipe for the main drain. Water will back up around a 1" pipe, whereas it will flow faster around a 1.5" or even 2" drain. I often use a PVC bushing to increase the size of the pipe at the top of the stand pipe. Think of the circumference of a pipe as a spillway. The spillway of a 1.5" pipe is about twice as wide as a 1" pipe.

- I would remove the fan attachments at the ends of the Lock-line. Our animals want strong fast flow. Fans spread out, diffuse and slow the flow. They are generally counter-effective to what we want going on. Actually, because of the limited flow, the single overflow will allow, I'd remove the "Y". It also spreads out and slows the flow. One jet of water will make the best beneficial flow.

- The drain tubes leading into the filter bags are too long. A shorter tube makes it easier to remove and replace bags.

Hope this helps.
Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 5:02pm
Appreciate the 2 cents mark! Many good points there. Here are my thoughts regarding a few of them.

Regarding drilling 2 holes in the stand for overflows, I used a 3=inch hole saw for each hole. That size gave me enough room to use one of those wrenches we all use for tightening bulkheads. I believe they are normally built for sprinklers but just happen to fit perfectly. The drilled holes overlap a little, which gives me a little extra room to maneuver in there.

You are right that its a plastic rimmed tank where all the weight is on the edges, so drilling giant holes doesn't hurt anything. But luckily my holes are big enough to work the wrench up there.

When you suggest using a wider drain line, do you mean for the backup, or the main overflow? Or both? I find i have to use the gate value to tone the overflow down a bit to keep full siphon going. I have my return line fully open and the pump set to 3 out of 5 on its controller speed setting. Maybe if I cranked it up to 5 and removed the loc-line fittings I would need a 1.5 inch drain, but it seems 1-inch is already plenty large enough isn't it?

Ill add more later, gotta run to a family birthday party! Happy reefing.



Edited by speyside712 - July 22 2017 at 11:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 11:18pm
As for the pvc sheeting.  The stuff I used is definitely waterproof, it is what you would use to line a shower or bathtub prior to installing it.  I believe it's official name is "PVC Shower Pan Liner."

I considered the idea of building a bit of a waterproof basin around the sump.  But when I started building this it was proving to look rather ugly and I didn't think I could make the sides sturdy enough to hold more than an inch of water without adding some wood on the front and back of the base of the stand, something I could staple the liner to.  I ultimately decided to just do a flat piece to act as a waterproof floor below the sump.


Edited by speyside712 - July 23 2017 at 12:08am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2017 at 11:35pm
Mark it's always good to have another person's view point when putting one of these together.  Especially someone as experienced in the hobby as yourself.  I love your idea of hanging something black right behind the tank.  That is a brilliant idea!  I never thought of that.  I am also going to use your suggestion of using thickened PVC cement to plug the poorly placed siphon break I drilled.

Regarding a few of the other ideas though, I will have to respectfully disagree.  Not because your idea wouldn't work, but because I considered that option and planned to take my build in a different direction.

You suggested removing the loc-line fan adapters, and the Y bend to increase flow.  I agree with you that flow is very important, however, my return line is only providing a tiny amount of the overall flow in the tank. I have two Jabeo wavemaker pumps and 1 mp-10. The jabeo's are crazy strong.  Strong enough to splash water out of the tank if I turn the wave makers all the way up.  I haven't gotten to that part of the build yet so you didn't have any way of knowing that, so its understandable you suggested getting increased flow through my return line.

You also mentioned going without a siphon break and check valve, and instead keeping the return line very high in the water.  I also agree that surface agitation is quite important to keeping the water well oxygenated.  I do plan to keep the return line very high in the water so they agitate the surface.  I also point my powerheads slightly to add even more surface movement.  The siphon break and the check valve are both backups in case the return line were to get bumped down lower than usual.  The check valve I bought is the type that easily unscrews to be cleaned, it also came with 2 extra gaskets and plungers in case the first one starts to wear out and disintegrate (as rubber always does in salt water).  I agree that a check valve should never be the main means of preventing your sump from overflowing, however I decided to add it as an additional backup plan.  With the intention of cleaning it often.  As for the added head pressure it causes on the return pump - I mitigated this problem by buying a pump that is quite a bit more powerful than I need, so it should be able to handle the added head pressure without any problems.  I'm only running it at half power at the moment.

Your suggestion not to use unions is very interesting.  I have heard they are very reliable and don't often leak if attached correctly.  I have a bag of extra gaskets.  If these are prone to leaking after time like you say, it sounds like I should be inspecting them regularly and replacing any damaged or disintegrating gaskets.  I'm disappointed to hear the leak often.  They make plumbing a system SO much easier, as you don't have to glue elbow joints in the perfect direction.  Being able to turn the union to line up your plumbing is an important feature to me.  I have seen quite a few other fellow reefers use these.  Have many of you run into problems with them leaking like Mark has?

Your final suggestion of shortening the overflow pipes that feed the filter bags sounds like a good idea too.  I think i'll do that.  I have noticed it is quite difficult to change the filter socks with them being that long (especially when my skimmer is right in front of them blocking my path).  My thinking in cutting them that long in the first place was "If these are too long I can always cut them in the future, but if they are too short i'm SOL."  That and I wanted to get them low enough in the water that I didn't have any splashing adding to the ever growing salt creep.




Edited by speyside712 - July 22 2017 at 11:43pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2017 at 7:27am
Sounds great. I agree with your reasoning. 

I meant just the main drain standpipe, but never mind. I was mistakenly thinking of a different drain system. As you said, it works fine like that. The water level in the overflow chamber is controlled by the gate valve so the drain opening is completely submerged and siphons a lot of water very fast. In this situation it's the overflow teeth that restrict draining capacity. Higher flow at the return pump backs up more water in the display, creating the need for more sump capacity during power OFF. It's a balancing act, as I'm confident you recognize.
 
Regarding the drain tubes into the filter bags, another thing that can help is to leave them without glue, just friction fit in to the bulkhead. Perhaps you already thought of that. Smile

Overall it's a great build, attractive and looks to be very functional and easy maintenance. Thumbs Up It will be fun to see it with livestock.

Aloha,
Mark  Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2017 at 11:59am
Yep that's exactly right Mark.  The primary overflow standpipe is submerged and running a full siphon, while the backup just works to keep the water level stable and has a slow trickle of water running through it.

I've found its pretty quiet, but not completely silent like I had heard a herbie should be.  Lots of bubbles are being created when the water runs over the teeth at the top of the overflow.  These bubbles then get sucked down the main standpipe, making some noise as they go.  The water only has to fall about an inch and a half when it goes into the overflow compartment, so i'm surprised this is happening.  Has anyone found a solution to deal with this?  Putting a screen or filter floss up against the teeth would probably fix this, but also slow the flow going into the overflow... hmmm.

Mark you mentioned "just friction fit the tubes into the bulkheads."  I used fittings that adapt friction to screw on.  I glued the pipe to the fitting on the friction side.  So am I able to unscrew the pipe and remove these if needed.

I did a similar thing on the main bulkheads attached to the tank.  The standpipe in the overflow compartment is glued to the bulkhead and a 2 inch pipe coming out of the bottom of the bulk head is glued too.  The 2-inch pipe is then glued to a fitting that adapts the pipe to accept screw in fittings.  I used a dremel to trim the outside of the fitting down a little bit so that the bulkhead nut fits over the fitting.

The result is that I have a fully glued bulkhead like I wanted, but I am still able to remove it.  To remove it I unscrew the first union which allows the above pipe to spin.  Then I unscrew the small section of pipe that has union on 1 side and screw in fitting on the other side.  Once this piece is removed the bulkhead nut can be unscrewed and slide all the way down over the attached pipe and fitting.

What method do other reefers use for this?  I feel like there should be an easier way.  Does anyone use the screw in type bulkheads instead?



Edited by speyside712 - July 23 2017 at 12:01pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2017 at 3:47pm
Got a few more updates to add today - 

I bought about 100 pounds of reefsaver dry rock from Bird World (before it closed down recently), and 20 pounds of pukani rock from BulkReefSupply.  I built the aquascape directly on the glass to ensure it was stable should any critters try to rearrange the sand below.  I glued each rock together using superglue gel and the quick drying spray.  That spray is amazing, it saves days of time waiting for glue to dry.  The final result wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but i'm sticking with it.  I tried to make it relatively open with a sort of stairway affect leaving different levels for various corals.  After finishing the rock work I poured in about 50 pounds of sand or so.  I am thinking of adding more, as its only 1 to 2 inches thick at the moment.

Here is the end result:



The sand I used was from a previously built thank that never made it past the cycling period and never had any life in it.  The sand has been stored wet for about 2 years in 5 gallon buckets outside on my patio in the sun.  I wasn't sure what to expect with the sand after being stored that long, through snow and sun for 2 years.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the sand perfectly clean with no mold or smell.  I imagine some anaerobic bacteria had made the sand their home, but I don't believe there is anything in there that could nuke the tank.  And even if there was some problem bacteria living in there, giving it a full 3 months to cycle and I assume the "good" bacteria will have taken over by then.


Edited by speyside712 - July 23 2017 at 4:18pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote phys Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2017 at 3:58pm
Looks good! In my experience, try to make sure you have enough horizontal space to put your corals on. If you build your rock too vertical, you'll lose the coral growing potential and have a lot of shadowing. I cant tell how you have it from the front shot so just throwin this out there lol. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 23 2017 at 8:20pm
I like the aquascaping. I agree with Paul about horizontal places for coral. It looks to me like there are gradual inclines from several sides making plenty of spots to place coral. I also see smaller rock making what I call foothills in front of mountains. I enjoy that look.

The sand, having had very minimal life and then killed in the sun and freeze for two years, in my opinion is just like brand new sand. I would not wait 3 months. There would be no need. As you know I don't cycle a reef aquarium. The tank can be set up with coral and fish in a week, while preserving the nice aquascaping and actually helping the display colonize with a lot of life within a month or two. If this sounds interesting, I'd be happy to discuss the method.

Noisy? One advantage to bushing up to a larger diameter pipe at the drains top section is that the suction power at the opening is reduced so that bubbles don't get sucked in as easily. See the pic below of how I do the drain pipe on a suction style drain. Note that in this setup there was no emergency drain. For several reasons it wasn't needed. Also note the simple rigid plastic screen used for a strainer, which keeps objects from going down the drain



Regarding the standpipes in the overflow and where to set the water level in that area, I do it a little different and it's completely silent. Besides being a larger diameter, I cut the main drain standpipe a little lower which allows the waterfall of bubbles to rise before they near the suction. The emergency drain standpipe is about 1/2" below the top of the tank and rarely gets any water coming down it. Using the gate valve I set the drop of the waterfall from the teeth into the overflow to about 1/2" to 1". Over time, a build-up of organic growth at the teeth waterfall seems to help quiet the waterfall.

"What method do other reefers use for [bulkheads]?  I feel like there should be an easier way.  Does anyone use the screw in type bulkheads instead?"
I learned a fail proof method when I worked for a professional reef aquarium maintenance company. This method has been used on hundreds of large tanks here in Utah. The bulkheads are thread-slip. This means there are threads on the upper and no threads on the lower end. A male adapter with rigid PVC standpipe screws in to the bulkhead, inside the overflow. Underneath, Spa-flex PVC pipe or rigid PVC pipe is glued into the lower part of the bulkhead.

For a suction drain setup, the gate valve is glued in the pipe about 12" below the bulkhead. If the bulkhead ever needs to be removed, the pipe is cut right at the bulkhead. The cut end is glued up into the new bulkhead. Though I am the King of Cheap, I found it better not to try and reuse bulkheads. Bulkheads are the most critical part of the entire setup and usually the most trouble to fix. If forced they can crack and/or leak. In comparison, a new bulkhead is cheap. Smile

Aloha,
Mark  Hug


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 24 2017 at 7:06am
Spaflex PVC pipe has a curl to it because it's still warm out of the oven when it's rolled up for storage and delivery. Rotating the pipe into position takes advantage of that curl and where the curl is not enough I use a 45 fitting to make the bend to where it needs to go. A 45 degree angle is less obstructive to flow than a 90.

Spaflex is semi flexible so it naturally absorbs vibration. A short length of vinyl tubing at the pump is unnecessary. The curl can be removed by leaving the pipe on the car dashboard on a sunny day with the windows rolled up or by warming in a kitchen oven. 

I prefer Spaflex over rigid PVC because when working in the sump area I might bump into the plumbing. The last thing I want is to force, by leverage up the pipe, the bulkhead to push off axis and start leaking. Or worse, to break the bulkhead. Even worse is to crack the glass at the bulkhead. Cry

I have been there, done that, so I try to be careful. I have also over-tightened bulkhead nuts and threaded fittings which breaks/cracks the (relatively) soft vinyl bulkhead, rendering it useless.

Hope this helps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 24 2017 at 2:37pm
Mark, I did use some spaflex pvc in the system.  The piece coming from the return pump to the hard plumbed lines is spaflex pvc, just 8 inches or so.  I used that to reduce the vibration and noise that you can get when you have a fully hard plumbed system.

I considered using more spaflex, and possibly even the entire return line.  I eventually decided against it mainly because I like the look of a fully hard plumbed system a bit better.

I agree with you that avoiding 90 degree angles and opting for multiple 45's instead would increase flow.  I actually used this method on a previous build that had an external return pump.  I opted to use 90's this time instead because I had read on a few other forums that the loss of flow was not significant, and using 90's makes measuring, cutting, and gluing the plumbing a little less complicated.

It would be interesting to test how much each 90 degree fitting reduces flow.  I might have to do some googling for someones experiment on that.  There are some flow monitoring devices that can be connected to controllers.  I bet someone has already done the work for us out there.

I have ten 90 degree fittings, two 45's, a check valve, and about 5 feet of vertical lift from the sump to the top of the tank.  I'm sure that adds a decent amount of head pressure.  Here is the graph of my return pumps output:


I don't have a flow meter, and with my tank already being full its a bit hard to see how much its pumping at a time.  But using the old fashioned eye ball test it appears to be getting a pretty good amount of flow through into the tank. 

With a 90 gallon display and a 36 gallon sump, i'm guessing I have about 100 gallons of water total.  The sump runs about half full due to the baffle placement, and the rock and sand displacement in the display I would guess is about 10 gallons of water.  Leaving me with 80 in the display and 18 in the sump.  There is also some water in the plumbing and in the reactors.  So i'm guessing I've got right around 100 gallons.

If that is correct, then this pump is capable of turning over all the water in the system about 10 times an hour.  If the elbows and check valve are doubling the head pressure of the return line, then the pump would still be turning the water over 5 times an hour.  I think anything between 5 and 10 times an hour is acceptable right?


Edited by speyside712 - July 24 2017 at 2:57pm
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