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mrbee2828 12-21-2011 09:09 AM

Benjamin's 75g Garage Build (FOWLR to Reef)
This thread will document my 1st saltwater build. Here are some recent pictures of the tank. I will keep this updated with a date on my server.

mrbee2828 12-21-2011 09:19 AM

As of today (12/21/11) I have pretty much finished my first FW DIY build over the summer/fall and I decided a few months back I really wanted to try my hand at a SW setup. I have been reading up and watching videos since then and combing Craigslist for weeks. My plan was to start on this build after the holidays but my hand was a bit forced by an amazing deal I found this week. On top of being a great deal, the guy is super into SW and delivered everything to my house for free due to a quick move. I'm unsure of some of the brands since I haven't dug through it all but here is SOME of what I picked up for $250:

  • 75g undrilled tank
  • 29g tank
  • 15 tank
  • 48" T5 fixture with LED moonlights (currently the LEDs aren't working)
  • Stand & canopy (soon to be trashed)
  • 50lbs of live rock
  • 50lbs of live sand
  • HOB protein skimmer
  • Powerheads
  • Fulva digital heater
  • 5 5g jerry cans
  • 2 canister filters
  • Tons of misc equipment and chemicals including salt mix to get going

Everything I got, except for the actual stand was only about 6months old. His tank looked very well maintained in the photos before breaking it down. The best part was that the guy delivered this and was super into it and said I could call him with any questions while I was setting up everything.

My garage was 1/2 converted into a "man cave" this summer (bar, tv darts etc) and my plan is to set this up where I have access to water and room for error as I learn over the next year. I power washed and painted the slab when we moved in 3 years ago and it's becoming more like another room than a garage. It's still a mess but I have been cleaning up over the last few weeks to prepare for this project. This tank will be a FOWLR in an effort to learn. The plan is to move to a reef setup at the end of the year as I stabilize, learn and buy equipment. I'll only be buying reef compatible fish for the tank this year. Here are my plans over the next few months:

  • Clean up!!!! LOL
  • Insulate the garage door and outer wall opposite of the tank
  • Upgrade my electrical box to isolate the garage on it's own circuit (it's currently shared with the laundry room)
  • Paint the wall behind with Killz and possible cover with something water proof for splashes and spills
  • Break up and reinstall my workbench with more support for the tank
  • Raise cabinets or remove them and build shelving
  • DIY overflow/return through the bench
  • DIY sump with refugium
  • RO/DI filter and water storage off the water heater hook up
  • ATO system from the water storage
  • Use the 29 gallon for a sump and refugium
  • Use the 15 gallon for a quarantine tank
  • Use a extra 10 gallon to raise feeder brine etc possibly
  • Gear up for the summer by adding on a chiller

Everyone knows how builds go, so I'm sure some of this will change. I'm already debating the sump as I would like a breeder. The good thing is that is something I can change up down the road.

mrbee2828 12-21-2011 09:27 AM

Here is a panoramic of the left side of my garage. The plan is to have the tank at the far right near the water heater. Sump and water storage will be fit nicely below. I'm a bit concerned about the salt water and my water heater rusting but I asked earlier this month about salt creep and humidity and I get the impression it won't be an issue. #1, I have learned that salt doesn't evaporate and #2, I have learned salt creep only happens in areas with bubbles and other turbulence. The garage is easily opened up and is pretty big so I don't think humidity will be an issue at all. I'm also considering building a barrier between the water heater and right side of the tank which will be about 12" apart at the moment.

mrbee2828 12-21-2011 01:20 PM

So I have already had my first problem and I haven't even thought about getting started on this build yet. Apparently the tote the LR came in yesterday is cracked and I have a slow but growing leak. I had to make some quick decisions to avoid a possible flood in my garage already and decided to transfer both the LS and LR into the 29g donor tank.

Unfortunately this meant placing the LR into a sand storm. I didn't really consider what this will/could do to the LR but I had to move everything as the LS was just sitting in a tub and the LR container was splitting. I hope I can clean this up before moving it into the 75g and that it's not going to kill too much off :(

mrbee2828 12-21-2011 11:07 PM

The sand has settled some today. The rock is covered like a tree after a good snow. Should I be concerned?

Bige 12-22-2011 01:02 AM

That will be sweet! Good start.

mrbee2828 12-22-2011 08:22 AM

Last night I worked on both tanks. I finished my LEDs in the cichlid build and then I got one of the Eheim canisters crudely hooked up. It's starting to clear up well but jesus the rock is sssoooo dirty :/

Bige 12-22-2011 12:00 PM

Get the rock right, now before its in the tank. If you think its dirty, clean it. Don't rush. Cause once its in, its harder to deal with.

mrbee2828 12-22-2011 12:28 PM

I'm off next week so my plan is to fill another tank, get all the rock out and then dip them in the other tank and clean them. My biggest question is... should I use the fine live sand I was given or go with something else?

mrbee2828 12-23-2011 09:30 AM

My buddy asked me last night what color background I was going to do.... I DON'T KNOW! I haven't even thought about it yet! Opinions?? Black??

iadubber 12-23-2011 09:32 AM

I'm partial to black.

Bige 12-23-2011 11:40 AM

I like black too.

mrbee2828 12-23-2011 06:09 PM

I'm happy to report that I saw a snail crawl across one of the rocks today so whatever was alive has most likely survived the nasty transport and container changes!

mrbee2828 12-24-2011 03:19 AM

I can't sleep tonight for whatever reason so I'm up reading and drawing plans for the upgraded workbench. I want the front of the workbench to be open without a center support. I really want a lot of room to work and eventually to have a 40-55g sump. (I'm actually talking to someone about a 55g on CL right now so it might happen at the start) Should I use a 2x6 for the front brace? I should mention that the back of the bench is bolted to the wall studs. I will have a few braces through the middle and vertical ones along the back as well. I was thinking maybe doubling up on a 2x6 across the front and then the house could fall around it before the tank. Thoughts?

mrbee2828 12-28-2011 09:35 AM

Happy holidays everyone. Here is a little post Christmas update. I'm off this week and have tons to do outside this build but my goal is to have the stand (workbench) and shelving/lighting mount above the tank done this week. I would love to get the sump and plumbing done but I think it's a bit too ambitious and I'm really trying to find a 55g or 40g breeder to use as a sump. Might be overkill but I have the room and over filtering can't hurt.

I worked on breaking down the existing workbench that runs about 12' along my garage wall and has housed junk for the last 2 years yesterday. After a lot of clean up and frustration I'm done with the upgrade. It rained all day and my garage is filled with Christmas boxes, trash from gifts and the tank and equipment I bought the other week. Needless to say, working on this sucked in the tight, cluttered quarters.

I ran out to HD at 6am yesterday and grabbed about $50 of wood or so. I decided to go with 2"x6"s, bolts and no center brace. I also ran a beam across the back of the stand which will be about 6" from the wall and under the back glass of the tank. Also, everything is screwed to the wall joists for extra support. It's probably 200% overkill but who knows if I'll setup a 2nd 75g to the left in the future :)

TLTGF 12-28-2011 11:34 AM

Looks great! Nice job, looks strong to me.

mrbee2828 12-28-2011 11:35 AM

What are everyone's thoughts on painting this vs. leaving it raw? This isn't a cosmetic build here... I was just wondering if painting it with Killz would help with moisture issues or spills etc or if it's not worth the time.

mrbee2828 12-28-2011 03:13 PM

I started painting the glass today as well:

redsea 12-28-2011 03:14 PM


Originally Posted by mrbee2828 (Post 1713305)

The paint job looks great! :thumb:

mrbee2828 12-28-2011 03:49 PM

I've done about 4 more coats this afternoon. It should be as black as it can get now. I'll post more pictures later.

mrbee2828 12-28-2011 05:59 PM

Paint is done... looks sick!!!

TLTGF 12-28-2011 06:36 PM

Looks like some good coverage. My next tank will be black background (mine is blue now)

I would slap some paint on the stand / workbench. Doesn't look bad now, but I think it'll look incomplete if you don't.

mrbee2828 12-28-2011 07:14 PM

Not sure if this is a good idea or not but I was thinking about taping some cardboard over the back now so it doesn't get scratched while I do the plumbing and such down the road.

mrbee2828 12-29-2011 10:50 PM

Crazy day today. Took the kids to the aquarium and managed to work on the garage some. I got 1st portion of the overhead shelf done, painted the wall and the underside of the shelf just for the heck of it. You can see I was about 1" off on my measurements for the width of the shelf as I didn't account for the 1/4" or so lip of the plastic trim so the leg of the shelf is crooked. I'll fix that when I build the rest of the shelving.

I also cut out a huge piece of cardboard and taped it to the back of the glass in the event my piping hits it to avoid scratches. Last thing this evening was cleaning the light fixture and looking into the LEDs. The previous owner had a bubble wand of all things and it crept everywhere and rusted out the LEDs. I'm going to see if I can get replacements and rewire them possibly but you can see in the pictures where I have cleaned and haven't.

Tomorrow I'm actually going to go get more sand and possibly fill the tank!!! I also found a 40gallon breeder on CL that I'm trying to snag before lunch for the sump.

redsea 12-29-2011 10:56 PM

Awesome work! :thumb:

mrbee2828 12-29-2011 10:58 PM

BTW, the sand I have ATM looks like typical east coast sand with small shells and such mixed in. It's kinda' a light gray/brown. I was wondering if I should just use this live sand for the DSB in the sump and get white sand for the display. Would that look better with the corals later or would the current sand be more natural and help with debris... thoughts?

Bige 12-30-2011 01:44 PM

Coming along nicely! I would paint the stand and the dry wall. Once you get everything in, it will hard to go back and fix. I know you said you weren't going for looks but I think you will be surprised how nice it will look when you are done.

mrbee2828 12-30-2011 10:34 PM

Quick update before I crash tonight. I worked on this all day today. The entire workbench / stand is now done. It's a foot longer than the previous one giving me a total of about 10 more feet. I hope to put a few frag tanks to the left in the coming year and have room to work on plumbing and coral.

I also picked up what I thought would be a great sump tank but it's a "critter" tank and I have learned through another post it's no good even 1/2 full. I also picked up some white pool filter sand which worked well in my cichlid build and I hope will do well here. I let my son have fun rinsing off the sand (which is already clean in nature of being filter sand) and filled some of the tank with water to make sure it was still sound. The super fine live sand I have with the rock now is going to be used in the future sump DSB. Tomorrow I'm removing the rest of the old kitchen cabinets and wrapping up the larger overhead storage shelf. I also hope to clean off some of the rocks and mix up some salt water for the first time :)

BTW... I decided against painting the stand because I didn't want the entire thing painted. On top of that, it would have taken hours. I did paint the wall around and behind the tank and will be painting the rest of the wall later.

NyteGTI 12-30-2011 10:59 PM

Im in for this build . Last int was great. You going to be keeping a cost log again? Also good call on white sand.. it looks so much better in the dt.

mrbee2828 12-31-2011 06:14 PM

I could keep a cost log I guess but this is SW and I'm not expecting it to be cheap hehehee. Especially since I'm going to go reef and do a frag tank later. The last build I was trying to go total DIY on it. This one is going to be 50/50 I think. I also slacked on the price for the cichlid build... I need to update that. So let's see...

  • $250 for used tank(s), 2 eheim canisters, heater, T5 light, 50lbs of LR and LS, jerry cans, salt, nets, chemicals etc
  • $50 for wood (used a lot of scraps I had)
  • $10 for sand
$310 total to date

NyteGTI 12-31-2011 06:28 PM

I was just curious, no need to keep a log lol. Have fun with this! I JUST put my first inhabitants into my nano. I started a LR cycle about 5 weeks ago. mine was uncured so it took a while for the die off to come down.

mrbee2828 01-01-2012 07:19 PM

Football Sunday today. I spent the whole day in the garage pretty much watching football and working and cleaning. The bench and shelves are all done. I have some cleaning to do as you can see. I did get Christmas into the attic towards the end of the day thank God. Anyone want to buy a 42" DLP? Great for a game room or something lol :P

I also cleaned all the rocks with my son, dipping and scrubbing off anything that didn't look good. We have a wide array of rock and coral which don't seem to have a rhyme or reason. I'm going to need a ton more, probably another 50-75lbs or so. I moved the powerhead and larger heater into the 75. This isn't a final arrangement. The goal was just to get the smaller tank empty, rock cleaned and moved.

I'm going to probably used the other 40ish gallon tank for the sump I think. Right now I have the smaller heater and canister on it to keep the sand alive until it makes it to the future sump.

mrbee2828 01-02-2012 02:47 PM

The tank is full as of noon today. I also hooked up one of the canisters after doing a massive cleaning on it until I find a breeder I can use as my sump. I'm still super bummed about the 40 critter I bought not being able to work.

mrbee2828 01-03-2012 02:21 PM

I ran by Petco today and got a new 40g for $40 on sale. Overkill? Possibly... Room for a nice refugium? Certainly... Room for an awesome skimmer in a year? HECK YES!!! Now all I need to do is sell that dang critter tank :nono:. I also swung by Fish Safari on Lynnhaven in Virginia Beach and started on the clean up crew.

Fishkeeper92 01-03-2012 02:45 PM

Fish safari is awesome, i go there all the time for whatever i need or just look around and dream of future tanks.

mrbee2828 01-04-2012 01:35 PM

I busted the garage insulation kit open at lunch today. I installed 2 panels in about 15mins. Super cake. I'm going to try to finish at least 1 door tonight. I will probably need to get some metal strips to run vertically across the panels as it doesn't tuck in real tight. I think it will fall after a few hours being open. Let's hope this will actually help. The temp dropped this week a ton and the garage is freezing. I'm waiting for Animal Jungle or Fish Safari in town to restock on Fluval E heaters so I can pick up a few. I'm planning on 2 in the tank and 1 in the sump. The 200w in there right now can't get the temp over 72 at the moment.

mrbee2828 01-05-2012 12:13 PM

I just ran up to the LFS to grab an extra heater. The one I have in there isn't doing well with the cold snap and I'm not done the door insulation yet. No more FLUVAL E series like I wanted for the sump so I just grabbed a submersible 200w Marineland. I placed on the other side of the tank for now. I can add this to the sump later. I forgot to keep the counter going with the sump tank :)

40g breeder on sale $40
200w Heater $30
$380 total to date

mrbee2828 01-05-2012 01:48 PM

I finished 1 of the doors. It only took me about 45mins to do this entire thing. The cost for the system was worth the time savings. Here is a current tank shot for the heck of it... nothing really to show off.

NyteGTI 01-05-2012 01:52 PM

How much warmer will your garage be now? you're in VA right?

mrbee2828 01-05-2012 02:11 PM

Yup, Virginia Beach to be exact. I really don't have a single clue :rofl: Once I get the garage doors done this week, I plan on insulating the exterior wall as well. It was covered in that wood paneling (above the garage in the picture) which the prior owner recycled from the living room remodel. I tore that down and threw up some left over drywall from a bathroom remodel last spring.

I didn't have the money or care to insulate it at the time, however, I didn't mud it just in case. Well, I cleaned out my attic out finally after 4 years of living here and found a few rolls of scrap insulation up in there. I'm pulling the drywall down real quick soon and stuffing that behind it... it can only help. My garage has been about 15-20 warmer than it has been outside this week. With the insulation, I'm hoping it'll be about 25-30 warmer. So for arguments sake, it was 30 the other day and the garage was hovering around 50.

I'm aware that this build may end up being a total failure. The plan is to learn about maintaining a SW tank levels where I can be messy and such. I would love to have a SW tank inside but I don't have the space or knowledge to be comfortable inside right now.

NyteGTI 01-05-2012 04:17 PM

I love the idea honestly. I'm in an apartment for the moment but if I had a garage/basement thats where my tanks would go & I'd probably just fill the room with them :).

I was just curious how cold itll get to in the garage say late january/early feb. and how many watts of heating you're going to need lol

mrbee2828 01-05-2012 04:21 PM

I hear you. We'll be finding out together :) A basement would be way better. Even if it wasn't climate controlled, you're underground and well insulated plus the doors will never open. That's my bigger concern. Say it takes 10 heaters to keep it at 78 etc... what happens when the doors open to get a bike out etc? Will it shock the tank? Not sure... I'm banking on the kids not wanting to ride bikes when it's < 50 out though :)

NyteGTI 01-05-2012 04:22 PM

haha tell them to use the side door to the garage!

mrbee2828 01-05-2012 04:27 PM

:) Just found this to but no follow up:

NyteGTI 01-05-2012 04:32 PM

yea I didn't even think about it because im up north... how warm does it get there? you could actually need a chiller lol

mrbee2828 01-05-2012 04:36 PM

No doubt, I think I mentioned earlier in the thread that I'll be buying a chiller this spring. There have been a few on Craigslist so I imagine I'll be dropping $300-$500 on that in the future. I don't think there will be anyway around it. It gets down in the 20s in the winter and up in the 90s in the summer so I've to to cover both scenarios.

mrbee2828 01-07-2012 10:18 PM

I just thought it would be fun to share a comment from my father in-law today. He came over for a few minutes to say hi and check out the garage doors.

He looks at the tank and says "So when are you planning on filling it and getting it going?"

Ultimate water clarity comment... and I don't even have the sump going yet :)

mrbee2828 01-08-2012 10:08 PM

I have a plumber (friend of a friend) coming over tomorrow or Tuesday to redo my water heater supply line for me. Unfortunately the prior owner put a self tapping fixture on the line that's getting pretty nasty and he bent the supply line. So this is getting cut off tomorrow and we're redoing this with 2 shut offs and a threaded end for my future RODI filter system... which will be bought on Tuesday thanks to this site and a group buy w00t.

mrbee2828 01-08-2012 10:12 PM

Here is a quick sketch for the 40g sump. I'm leaving some space on entry for a larger skimmer in the future. Right now I just have the hang on that came with the CL buy. I was planning on (and still may) move the refugium to the right side and T off the return line for a slower flow area but I've read now that flow doesn't really make a difference. If I do, the return would be in the middle like my FW build.

mrbee2828 01-11-2012 05:41 PM

The plumber bailed on me this afternoon. He's hoping to come tomorrow. I ordered the RODI and float valve though. This is adding up fast and I don't even have fish or coral yet lol. The RODI will be great for my FW tank too so it's all good.

$200 RODI & valve from BRS
$580 total to date

mfdrookie516 01-11-2012 05:45 PM


Originally Posted by mrbee2828 (Post 1737593)

$580 total to date

Ha.... I remember being at that point on my 40b! I still only have 1 fish, no corals, and I'm way past that point.

Something to think about... the Bubble Magus NAC7 is $200 shipped from BRS during the group buy, that's right at $50 off.

mrbee2828 01-11-2012 10:04 PM

Picked up an emerald crab and peppermint shrimp at Animal Jungle in VB tonight on sale.

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 11:13 AM


Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 (Post 1737598)
Something to think about... the Bubble Magus NAC7 is $200 shipped from BRS during the group buy, that's right at $50 off.

That's an awesome deal! I'm planning on getting a much nice skimmer than the one that came with the tank but it'll be towards the end of the year I think. I need to pick up a return pump, make an overflow and get the sump squared away. Once I have everything "working" I'm going to start upgrading as I add stock. I'm leaving a good amount of space for a nice skimmer in the sump.

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 03:54 PM

Quick update on the plumbing. The guy came by today and redid the supply line and added 2 shut offs and did everything with threaded ends. I need to run some straps the shelf for some support later. I'm going to run up to HD this weekend and get a Y for a gate valve and the RODI supply line. The filter should be here Monday or Tuesday next week so I need to get the 29 gallon tank cleaned out and ready for water storage :)

mfdrookie516 01-12-2012 04:28 PM

I like ball valves better. It seems that every gate valve I've ever had has leaked at some point. Ball valves just seem to have a better 'leak proof' design. Maybe it's just me.

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 04:32 PM

He did 2 on/off already. I'm doing a gate on the end just for a hose to rinse stuff out etc.

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 04:34 PM


$10 shrimp & crab
$590 total to date

mr_X 01-12-2012 04:39 PM

I would make that intake chamber larger on the sump. You are going to want to research possible skimmers to get an idea of the one you are going to eventually have for your system. You are probably going to want something rated for 150 gallons or so.

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 04:46 PM

Dang do you really think I'm going to need more than a 10"x18" spot for a skimmer? The Reef Octopus Cone Sump Saver 3000 is 12"x10" roughly an there is no way I'm buying something that big/expensive for this :)

mr_X 01-12-2012 05:48 PM

The space savers are generally more money, unless you go with a Bubble Magus. Many of their skimmers have decent footprints. If you opt for the cheaper Octos, like for instance the NWB 150, have a larger footprint ( approximately 12" x 9"). You aren't going to have any room in that area. You are going to want to be able to get your hands in there around that skimmer.

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 05:50 PM

Alright then, I'll push it over another inch or so. I really want a bunch of room in the refugium so we'll see what it's like when I get some dividers in there.

don_chuwish 01-12-2012 10:09 PM

I'd suggest flushing that freshly soldered copper pipe quite thoroughly. Even feeding an RO/DI system - just doesn't feel right.

- D

mrbee2828 01-12-2012 11:03 PM

I ran the hot water out of all the faucets for a good 5 or 10 minutes today to make sure there wasn't any flux or anything in the line. We should be good.

Mpfaff77 01-12-2012 11:57 PM

I know you want a big refuge but I would say def make return section bigger. All your evaporation will be out of there. Could loose like half to gallon a day. At least I do on my 90gal. My opinion refuge doesnt need to be huge. Just pack it with cheato. In my 55 sump I have about 20 gallons of water in my return section. I forget the dimensions right now. But I have my return pump plumbed to the display tank of course but I also have it going to a T with ball valves to my house plumbing ad can turn off lines to tank and pump 15 gallon water change right out of my return section. Then my salt mix tank is gravity fed back to return section. Just something to think about. Water changes are so easy. I can do 15 gallon change in 7 min. No work. Just takes 7 mins for it to pump water out and to drain back into sump from salt mix tank.

mrbee2828 01-13-2012 09:25 AM

That would be so nice to have the line plumbed into a waste line. Everything is on the other side of the house but I do plan on plumbing a line to the front of the garage and having a hose I can throw into the driveway. That should be pretty awesome!

mr_X 01-13-2012 09:44 AM

i would just use an ATO to keep the return section full. I would make it just about large enough to hold the return pump, and keep the intake and refugium as large as possible.
a copper pipe won't effect the R.O.D.I.
you don't have to worry about it.

mrbee2828 01-13-2012 09:50 AM

The plan is to use the 29g I got with the lot for RODI storage and an ATO very soon. I'm planning on a nicer horizontal container (probably 30g) with fittings later on. They run around $100 though so it'll be something for a future date. Yes I know everyone does the Brute thing but I don't want to have a huge trash can out there. If I reenforce the shelving up top later, I can store everything above the water heater and gravity feed things. Shouldn't be difficult, just a few more 2x4s an a few hours.

mrbee2828 01-13-2012 05:54 PM

I just ordered 50lbs Florida reef rock and Chaeto from Reef Cleaners. I really like the way it looks and it's similar to 1/2 the stuff I was given in the lot. I'm working on the sump and plumbing this weekend. I'm probably buying the 1262 return pump this weekend and I should have things moving maybe next weekend?

$108 rock & chaeto
$700 total to date?

lovemyreef 01-13-2012 08:21 PM

We keep a plain black background on our tank. I didn't think I'd like it at first, but the bright colors of the fish really stand out nicely. Much better than against the blue (which we started out with). I also saw a background that looked like you were just under the water looking out into the ocean. That was pretty cool, but I haven't seen anything quite like it at our LFS.

mrbee2828 01-16-2012 11:20 AM

I just picked up an EHEIM 1262 and a switch current. The pump was almost $20 cheaper than everyone online at $169 with free shipping.

$200 - pump, switch current & misc
$900 total to date

Ibrahim 01-16-2012 11:39 AM


Originally Posted by mrbee2828
I just picked up an EHEIM 1262 and a switch current. The pump was almost $20 cheaper than everyone online at $169 with free shipping.

$200 - pump, switch current & misc
$900 total to date

Fluval fx5 would've been a better investment for $40 more dollars but it's your choice

mr_X 01-16-2012 11:43 AM

A canister filter as a return pump? Sounds like extra maintenance to me.

mrbee2828 01-16-2012 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by mr_X (Post 1745816)
A canister filter as a return pump? Sounds like extra maintenance to me.

That's what I was thinking. I already have 2 EHEIM canister filters that came with the tank but I'm doing a sump/refugium on this.

mrbee2828 01-18-2012 08:28 AM

My peppermint shrimp has molted already :)

mrbee2828 01-18-2012 01:53 PM

I picked up 10 more snails last night. They are really cleaning up the rock well already. The algae and diatoms are getting a bit crazy without all the proper equipment going and no RO water. I also picked up a bunch of supplies at Lowe's today for the sump build.

Doug, I checked out the cutting boards at Walmart. They had a 18" one for about $9. Due to the width of the breeder (18") I needed the larger boards which are of course a bit more. I checked out the acrylic at Lowe's and they had 18"x24" sheets of .22 for $18. I was thinking I might get away with getting 3 baffles out of 1 and 2 out of another. I picked up 3 sheets just in case and will return one if I can. Same price basically. Thanks for the idea though! I'm assuming glass would have been the same price or just a bit cheaper based on the 18" width and thickness I'll need.

I also picked up a ton of PVC parts. I'm going to rock the ghetto overflows like my Malawi build has until I get the cash for a nicer box or find one used.

I grabbed some other misc things as well such as more 1/4" tubing (25' spool) to run my waste water out to the gutter in the attic. I can't imagine what buying all this stuff new would be on top of not doing any DIY. This pushes me over the magic $1k mark and still no fish :)

$15 - 10 snails
$110 - acrylic, pvc and misc
$1015 total to date

mrbee2828 01-18-2012 05:07 PM

The gate valve from Grainger arrived just now as well as my pump and SWC. All I need to do is start building!!!!

Animal-Chin 01-18-2012 05:20 PM

This is a really neat thread, interesting to see you go throught the process. I have one question though, why is it in your garage? Why not in the house?

mfdrookie516 01-18-2012 05:24 PM


Originally Posted by Ibrahim (Post 1745805)
Fluval fx5 would've been a better investment for $40 more dollars but it's your choice


Originally Posted by mr_X (Post 1745816)
A canister filter as a return pump? Sounds like extra maintenance to me.


Originally Posted by mrbee2828 (Post 1745841)
That's what I was thinking. I already have 2 EHEIM canister filters that came with the tank but I'm doing a sump/refugium on this.

I doubt it would be extra maintenance, considering that canisters work off gravity and wouldn't pump hardly any water up to the DT.

mrbee2828 01-18-2012 05:36 PM


Originally Posted by Animal-Chin (Post 1750600)
This is a really neat thread, interesting to see you go throught the process. I have one question though, why is it in your garage? Why not in the house?

Good question. My garage is becoming more and more like another room in the house. I'm out there a lot watching sports, doing hobbies or whatever. So...
  • The floor is painted and sealed with floor epoxy/paint. I can be as messy as I want while I learn SW. I don't know anything about it so mixing, salt creep, buckets etc etc.. who cares
  • My water is right there so RODI storage and auto top of is going to be easy
  • My wife doesn't care what I do out there (+1,000,000)
  • It's right next to my bar so I can check it out while watching football and such. It's VA... we're a tad redneck but not in a Ford / confederate flag way LOL.
  • I don't have a single inch in my house for 4' of tank. I actually have a column cichlid build in my office just so I could go bigger than 30g. The garage is huge and I can have a huge sump and store equipment.
  • The stand was cheaper and quicker because it didn't have to be polished off and nice like my other one.
  • I'm going to have a hospital tank next to this... more room again
  • I plan on having another 4' frag tank to the left and hook it into the main sump

Animal-Chin 01-18-2012 05:52 PM

Ha, nice. My garage just has my car and some tools, I like yours better...

mrbee2828 01-19-2012 09:15 AM

I picked up more crabs last night at Animal Jungle (25% off stock Wednesdays from 5-8). Another large emerald crab ($5) and a sally light foot crab ($10). We had just planned on buying the emerald but when the lady took a few live rocks out to get a hold of him, the sally was on one and jumped onto the floor. So we caught him and I said "we'll take him too" lol

$12 - 2 more crabs
$1027 total to date

mrbee2828 01-19-2012 09:19 AM

I also worked on my overflow this morning. Here is a shot at the prototype. This is a 2" reducer. I have a bulk head fitting to go in this to drop it down to 3/4". Standard egg crate and some cross stitch mesh from Michael's. We'll see if this works. Again this is only until I spring for a nicer overflow. I'm doing 1 in each corner despite many people's opinion on the lack of benefits. In my eyes it can't hurt. The egg crate fits snug (plus the water will be pushing it downward) and I'll probably just glue or tie the mesh to it with fishing line or a zip tie. I won't cement this to the 3/4" down pipe so that I can pop it off for easy maintenance.

don_chuwish 01-19-2012 09:24 AM

Very nice. Beautiful Emerald with such bright green. We love watching our Emerald - always so hard at work.
Nice DIY overflow too - I love finding stuff in random places that can be adapted for another purpose.

- D

NyteGTI 01-19-2012 10:41 AM


Originally Posted by don_chuwish (Post 1751628)
Very nice. Beautiful Emerald with such bright green. We love watching our Emerald - always so hard at work.
Nice DIY overflow too - I love finding stuff in random places that can be adapted for another purpose.

- D

Same here. my emerald is awesome to watch. just keep an eye on it when it gets near a zoa or Acan. mine snuggles up next to my Acan frag to sleep but doesn't touch it. I've read stories of people returning their emeralds for nipping at zoas & palys so be careful when you do get your reef going.

mrbee2828 01-19-2012 11:35 AM

It's interesting hearing about how animals behave in different tanks. Like people, they are all different. Some fish will nip at coral while others seem to not be interested. Some will eat frozen food and some need it live. The tank these were in had tons of frags of all types. It will be interesting to see what my inhabitants will do.

mrbee2828 01-19-2012 04:29 PM

I got the rock from reef keepers today. It looks amazing. Locks together really well and looks like 75% of the rock I have now which is a real mixed bag. I was just playing with it after unpacking. I was thinking about 2 larger portions in the corners to possibly hide the overflows and then have some lower stuff coming forward with some caverns. It's amazing how far 50lbs doesn't go with this stuff though :) This is almost 3' wide for reference.

mrbee2828 01-19-2012 09:54 PM

I cut and dry fit the overflows tonight and got started on the sump. Cutting the thicker .22mm acrylic form Lowe's was much nicer than the thinner stuff I used on my cichlid sump. The first 10" baffle is in for the refugium.

squidward 01-19-2012 10:29 PM


Originally Posted by mrbee2828 (Post 1706392)
My buddy asked me last night what color background I was going to do.... I DON'T KNOW! I haven't even thought about it yet! Opinions?? Black??

Im tagging along for this build ! i personally like the blue background

mr_X 01-19-2012 11:17 PM

So, that reducer is going to sit on top of a standpipe? What return pump are you using? I have a feeling that's going to be noisy.

mrbee2828 01-20-2012 08:28 AM

I'm hooking up a eheim pump 1262 rated @900gph. We'll see how it goes. I have PVC overflows on my office tank and when I redid the sump with the flow exiting underwater went 110% silent. Remember it's in the garage and the PVC is only a temporary solution. (I say that but we all know if it works out, every time I have $100 for a "real" overflow box I'll be buying stock heheehe).

mr_X 01-20-2012 12:01 PM

I'm not talking about when the water hits the sump, i meant as the water was getting sucked in. I think those will end up sounding like a toilet flushing. Can you take a picture of those overflows?

mrbee2828 01-20-2012 01:05 PM


Originally Posted by mr_X (Post 1753690)
I'm not talking about when the water hits the sump, i meant as the water was getting sucked in. I think those will end up sounding like a toilet flushing. Can you take a picture of those overflows?

Yeah this weekend when I get some more time.

mrbee2828 01-20-2012 01:13 PM

I spent the lunch break mounting the RO/DI setup. I also reenforced the shelf over the water heater and put the 29g tank up there. The water will come in and go out/up a hole on the top right (there is a speaker wire there now if you can see it). Filtered water into the tank and waste into the attic. I also ordered another float valve and will be making a simple gravity fed ATO (just like the float valve to shut off the RO/DI). I should be making water Saturday afternoon. It would be amazing to have all this done Sunday (sump/return) but I'm not going to get my hopes up or rush anything if I can help it. Given the amount work left on the sump and cure time it'll be mid week most likely.

Mpfaff77 01-20-2012 08:14 PM

What do you plan on doing with waste water? Why is that going into attic? I would love to use my waste water.

mrbee2828 01-20-2012 08:19 PM

I'm running the waste up through the attic to the front of the garage and out into the rain gutter. I don't have anywhere else for it to go.

Mpfaff77 01-20-2012 08:23 PM

Oh ok. I really need to get on my idea this spring. I plan on setting up storage tank in crawl space and run it to my washing machine.

My only issue is that it is a front loader and not sure how to feed water line and have it coincide with the original supply line. I mean I know I can get a Y connection and get my RO line to meet with supply. But what decides where water comes from and will enough pressure be there to allow the washing machine to take what water it needs from RO line? In my head seems like they would conflict each other.

mrbee2828 01-20-2012 08:26 PM

It shouldn't be an issue if you just hook up the Y on the supply form the wall. You can run the waste to the drain for the washer too.

mrbee2828 01-20-2012 11:42 PM

For Doug... don't hate on me :)

mr_X 01-21-2012 12:08 AM

Holy!!!!! That looks like a musical instrument! :D

mrbee2828 01-21-2012 08:30 AM

hahahaha.... yeah no doubt. My other one is a tad different but obnoxious none the less. Fortunately once it's in the tank it's not a huge deal and it does work.

Hey.... it's DIY, it's not supposed to be pretty right? What else can you do for less than $10? :lol:

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