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Old 08-14-2010, 01:35 AM   #1
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First time SW tank ideas

OK, so I've been reading for a month or two and have been acruing equipment slowly as I see good deals (mostly craigslist)

Here's what I have so far:
AquaC Remora Pro (Rio 1400 pump)
20 Gallon Tall tank
40 Gallon Tall tank
Hydor Nano Powerhead
Eclipse hood w/ Filter (40 Gallon Tank)
Coralife light fixture w/ T5 lights (20 Gallon)
Hydrometers (2)
Thermometers (2)
RODI Unit (20 GPD)

that's the basics. I've got a lot so far.

I'll be building my stand tomorrow... simple design: Base/Top made from 2x3's and legs made from notched 4x4's... nothing fancy but I know my way around a workshop so It will be sturdy. Nothing to take away from the tanks. (Google Sketchup photo attached)

I plan to do a linked system, with the 20 Gallon as a semi-refugium (pair of small clowns, and some plants). It will also house the heater and remora.
The 40 gallon as the main display (flame angel and maybe 1-2 other fish, but i haven't decided yet) with the filter that is inside the eclipse hood as extra filtration.

Question 1: The current plan is to drill two holes, one in each side of the back glass of the 40 gallon near the top (1 in diameter) as overflows. Run PVC straight down from there, connect them, and then drop it into the 20 gallon below. (I can post a drawing if needed). Then I'll have the other pump (250 GPH) running from the 20 up and drop into the 40 (placed near the top to make sure a reverse siphon won't overflow my 20 in case of a power outage). DOes this all sound correct? Just want to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Now the reason for the two holes in the 40 is so I can be sure 1) to get enough gravity fed overflow back into the 20 and 2) make sure I'm collecting water from both sides so it all gets filtered properly. It may be overkill but I just like to be safe... especially since it is my first SW build.

Question 2: I'm an engineer (mechanical) and have programmed a lot of micro-controllers in my day so I want to make something interesting. As I frequently leave for weekends and holidays (to visit fam), I am going to make a data logging system that will record temperature data and upload it online so I can check in while away... as well as link a video to my extra webcam that will be running alongside it. Any other ideas of things to do with it? Is there a way to use some sensors to log specific gravity (perhaps by logging some other values and then doing some calculations?). Any other ideas? I'm a bit of a tinkerer and really enjoy the challenge of making something outrageously complicated.

Question 3: I've seen a couple DIY ATO's... has anyone done one that they think is more efficient than others? Or have an idea for a cool way to accomplish it?

Question 4: I've seen a couple different glues/epoxy's that people say to use... when buying what should I be looking for to make sure it is safe for my fish?

Sorry, I know there is a lot here, but I'm bored and want to have everything planned before I start cycling the tank (1-2 weeks from now). Thanks for any and all advice! I appreciate it!

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Old 08-14-2010, 11:24 AM   #2
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Take a look at this chart for hole size required for bulkheads of varying diameters.

A 250 gph pump will not move enough water back to the DT. You need to size the pump to the overflow and return aproximately the amount the amount the overlow(s) can handle withought exceeding it.

Do a search on ReefKeeper and Neptune Systems AquaController to see the types of things you can control and probes that are available. Then DIY.

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Old 08-15-2010, 02:00 AM   #3
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Just wondering, why is it that I need to have the pump sized to the overflow? If I am not setting up a siphon, does it really matter? Sorry if thats a dumb question... Just seems like as long as the overflow can handle more than the pump, it will be ok. I do realize that most people say you need 5-10 water changes per hour, but I figure with the filters, powerhead, pump, and skimmer I would have enough flow.... maybe I should up it to 400 GPH pump so that the DT gets filtered 10 times an hour? THanks for the help.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:54 PM   #4
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Are you factoring in head loss with those pump sizes?

Take a look at this overflow design. It may give you ideas. BeanAnimal's Bar and Grill - Silent and Fail-Safe Overflow System

Will this be a reef tank? FOWLR? Once you answer those questions you'll better be able to decide how much flow you want in the tank. And I'd forget the two clowns in the fuge. It'll be too much of a pain in the *** feeding them and checking on them. Plus, kind of defeats the purpose of a refugium when you have predators in there. Why not put them in the display tank?

Have you looked at glass-holes.com for their overflow kits/hole saws? They seem to be pretty popular.

If you're doing a reef I'd also suggest investing in a refractometer. Hydrometers can be a little inaccurate. They tend to constantly be off from the "true salinity" by a few points. I know for a fact the IO and deep six hydrometers are off from each other when measuring the salinity of the same source water.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:24 PM   #5
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Ques 1 - You can use 2 holes, but it's not necessary. Once you drill the hole(s), what are you going to put on the ends inside the tank? Be forwarned, if you just use a strainer, it will be LOUD with water gurgling. As far as pump size, the recommended flow thru a sump is 5-10x the tanks water volume. For your 40g tank, your looking at 200-400 gph. Will your 250gph pump push that after you take head loss into consideration?

Ques 2 - I've seen a few DIY controller on Reef Central. I don't know much about programming, but most ppl use an Arduino chip/controller for their projects...if that helps.

Ques 3 - I bought my double switch ATO from www.autotopoff.com. It costs $50, which is close to what it would have cost if I ordered the switches and parts and made 1 myself.

Ques 4 - For glueing frags use Super Glue Gel. You can also use a NSP rated potable water epoxy like Plumbers Epoxy from HD or Lowes.
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