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Old 08-31-2008, 05:39 PM   #1
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125 gallon reef newby DIY

Hello all,

I'm new to this forum, and am also new to the segment of the hobby that I'm about to dive headfirst into (reef keeping.) I have had a 40gal bow-front freshwater in the past (about 10 yrs ago.)

I really enjoy looking at the pictures of the beautiful reef tanks that are posted on this site. I hope I can put together something only half as wonderful. My 3 little girls would LOVE that!

Now, two homes later, I'm about to start what I consider a big project. I would be greatly indebted to the experts here to please comment on my plans as I describe them, pointing out where I'm crazy, or things that I should think of as I plan. I'd really like to do this right, and in some ways I have a good "blank slate" opportunity with this.

I want to put a 125 gal (or so) tank behind my wet bar, just above the back splash. I'm thinking of an acrylic, dimensions L60x W18 x H24, or perhaps the 150 gal (60x24x24.) A 5' is a nice length for this space. Any comments on 18" vs 24" depth or glass vs. acrylic (I know about the scratching and weight considerations.)

There is an area of the basement just behind the bar that I intend on turning into the "fish room", with the stand holding the tank up to poke through a frame I'd build above the bar. Around the hole will be trim, framing the aquarium and closing any gaps.

The stand will have to be custom, putting the aquarium bottom at a height of 40" so it is above the bar back splash. It would have to support about 1800lbs with this setup. The plans now are to use 4x4 treated lumber for stand framing, and 3/4 plywood on top. Sometimes you see advice to put styrofoam insulation under the tank to level gaps. Could a vinyl flooring remnant serve this purpose? What about a

I want to prepare the stand for a sump underneath, with an internal overflow in one of the back corners, drilled at the bottom. I'm still learning about the whole overflow/drain/return/drills/sumps set of concepts, so help here would be good. I thought I'd prepare for the sump, but start with some kind of external cannister filtration to begin with. Would this work? What would be a good minimal filtration system that I could start with and then grow into a sump, reusing stuff as I expand?

I thought it would be nice to have a drain nearby, so I'm looking at putting a bar size sink next to (or as part of) the stand, with hose-bib faucets (like a washer hook-up.) Is there a real need for hot water near the aquarium?

I had a crazy idea of building a light hood that I can raise and lower with pulleys above the tank. How do folks usually light a 5' tank? I know that 4' is more common. Am I in for a harder time with non-standard length tubes?

Of course, GCFI outlets above, timers, and perhaps a switched outlet that I can control from the front, for something that might be turned on to show off.

That's probably enough for now. Please let me know what you think.

Ralph
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Old 08-31-2008, 05:52 PM   #2
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Do yourself a faver and get a pre-drilled tank (aka RR for reef ready). It will already have built in overflows (hopefully DURSO standpipes).
You want the foam under an Acryic tank but not under a Glass tank.
24" depth give you more area for your LR (live rock) placement towards the rear, leaving lots of swimming room out front.

You will need to scrape the front glass almost daily to keep the tank visible. Coraline algae will otherwise encrust it. Most of use magnet cleaners for that type of maintenance and a good scraper once a week to once a month, depending on how often it's needed.

Check out Ziggy953' tank build thread for some great advice and photos. There are a couple of other really good tank build threads here if you search for them.

Read the articles in the articles section. Come back often to read the posts and post your questions as they arise.

Check out Melev's Reef - Sumps & Fuge's and....


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Old 08-31-2008, 06:43 PM   #3
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I was partially considering making the tank viewable from both sides. The "fish room" is adjacent to an office space that I'm building behind, so it might be nice to see from both sides.
Is it tricky to make a reef that looks good from both sides? Would I be better off with a built-in overflow that goes all across the back of the tank (and keep my office private) ?

Ralph
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Old 08-31-2008, 06:50 PM   #4
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I agree, you'll be much happier with a 24" tank. Making a tank viewable from both sides is very difficult, unless you get a tank that's setup to work as an "island" or room divider, whereas the overflows are at one end of the tank rather than accross the typical back wall.

If it were me, I'd go with 1 side visable and a "fish room" to encompass the tank and hide all the equipment. Having a dedicated room with water, drains, etc, all easily accessible is going to make maintenance so much easier.

I think this would be an awesome project to have. I've heard bad things about using 4x4s for stand supports however. I hear (have no personal experience) that 4x4s tend to twist, which will cause your stand to not maintain it's level on the top, and hence add extra stress to both your tank and your stand until one of them ultimately gives out. I'm not expert, I just recommend doing some research in this area first. Also, with your tank going to be that high (40" base) make sure you allow for a wider footprint on the bottom of the stand to keep it from getting too top heavy.

IMHO, stay away from acrylic tanks. The weight savings are nice, but my experience is they just don't hold up.
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Old 08-31-2008, 07:55 PM   #5
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I agree that a front view tank is alot easier. You can trer your reef from back to front. I also would recomend a glass tank. I have just had a wall of cabinets made with a 150gal SW built in. The cabinet is made with 2x4's for the main body frame and solid ash 1/2" for the cabinet and trim (not plywood) with both wood grains running in different directions you won't have any problem with warping. As far as wieght goes as long as the outside rim of your tank is supported equally thats all you need, level isn't as important as flat. Have wood stained and varnished or sealed before painting, you don't need to use pressure treated wood, it is usally pine. Go with a stonger wood. I don't have anything under the tank itself, so you can see into the bottom of the tank, (I like jawfish).
My husband said that, I'm new to this hobby, but not to contruction.
The one thing I'm glad I did was my lights are on a wall switch that is a programable timer, I have added an exhaust vent/fan (like the kind you use in a bathroom). The fan is tide into the same switch, so when the lights are on the fan is also on. This has made a hugh help in controlling the heat in a closed cabinet.
Hope some of this helped.
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Old 08-31-2008, 07:56 PM   #6
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Thank you for the posts, and for the welcome. I think I'm really going to like it here!

It sounds like 24" deep, glass, pre-drilled, overflow across the back, 2x4 frames (treated.) Now that I think of it, I had a fence with a twisted 4x4 post in a previous home, but it was cedar.

I was considering attaching the stand to the wall to help with the top-heavy-ness. Is there any reason not to do that?

Do you mean that the stand should be overall wider than the tank? I've read that with glass, much of the support should be underneath the sides of the tank.

I really appreciate being able to bounce all of this off of someone.
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Old 08-31-2008, 08:20 PM   #7
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Yes, you can secure the stand/tank to the wall, and I just meant the base of the stand have a larger footprint. You definately want the vertical support directly beneath the tank on the top side of the stand.
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Old 08-31-2008, 08:31 PM   #8
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The stand can be the same size as the tank as long as the outside rim of your tank is supported (I'd give myself 1/4"). And, yes if you can I would attach it to the wall, just find a stud.
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Old 08-31-2008, 08:34 PM   #9
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Hey, Ralph
What kind of flooring is this on? slab, pier & beam, 1st floor or 2nd?
It would great if you had some pictures of your project.
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Old 08-31-2008, 09:50 PM   #10
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The floor is concrete slab. It is in the lower level of my atrium ranch.
I'll post pictures of the area very soon.

Thanks guys!

Ralph
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