Friday, August 24, 2012

And Its In!

Last week was a great week.  I finally got the tank into the house, the aquascaping done, and the water in!

Here's how it went:

I ordered a 50lb box of rocks from  as well as a 5lb cement kit from the same site.  (Fedex guy was upset when I told him it was actually a box of rocks he was carrying) Then came the planning of what I wanted to actually create.  I separated the tank into three sections and put a structure in each section.

Section 1 is the side with the overflow corner.  I wanted a big old cave on top of three pillars.  So I mixed up some cement with Kris, and we set out piece by piece putting rubble rock in a circle until we came up with a cave.

Section 2 is the middle of the tank.  I wanted a lot of open swimming area here.  So I kept my ideas low to mid level in the tank and decided I didn't really want a structure there after all.  So it ended up being a arch between the two larger structures.  (Which was added afterwards with a piece of live rock from the 55)

Section 3 was the right side of the tank.  I had absolutely no ideas for this side.  After my brilliant cave on pillars idea, I was fresh out.  I turned this side over to my girlfriend, Amber, and told her to just put something she liked there.

And without further ado:

Still have to put the doors on, secure the closed loop pump behind the stand, redo the light, put up the light arms, and fill this sucker!  I'm on day 5 of the cycle so far.  On day 1 while filling I did a 10 gallon water change upstairs in the 55, and poured that water right in here to give it a nice jump of bacteria.  Then a couple good sized pieces of live rock were stuck in to keep it going.  My nitrates are testing at 20ppm today and my ammonia is back down to .25.  Another week, and fish will move over into this guy.  

I see a couple places where diatoms have bloomed, but since I don't have a light, or any phosphates, they don't grow all that fast.

The light plan is pretty interesting.  Currently, I have a Coralife Aqualight Pro fixture.  That means there are 2, 250watt Metal Halide bulbs and 2, 36" power compact bulbs.  What I'm going to be doing is removing the power compacts, and replacing them with 4, 36" T5HO bulbs.  This gives me more choices of colors, and spectrums, and saves me some money and hassle finding the power compact bulbs vs the T5s.  Hopefully that will be done in the next two weeks, and I can get the light up on the tank.  I am hesitant to put the fish in there with no light, simply because I don't want to.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

8.2.12 Phew my apologies

Whoa, it has been a long time since I've updated this blog.  Things have slowed down on the upgrades but still making progress.  Well, without further ado, here's what has been going on.

RODI system was installed:
The barrel on the left will hold a heater, and a powerhead.  This will constantly be mixing me saltwater and heating it to 82 degrees.  The barrel on the right holds my fresh RODI water and has a float valve installed to shut off automatically.

This is a Watergeneral RD102 that I've removed the horizontal DI canisters from and added a vertical DI canister.  This should give me longer life in the resins which will save me money in the long run.  I will be hooking up the final waste line tonight and will start making RODI.  I've also added a 100gpd membrane and matching flow restrictor to the mix to have a final outcome of a 100gpd system that will be able to hold 55 gallons of RODI and 55 gallons of premixed saltwater.  

I purchased this panworld 50px-x nickjqz on  It was much smaller in size than I expected it to be and still puts out a nice 1100gph.  That 1100gph flows perfectly through my plumbing that took me 2+months to think up

The flow changes sides every 60 seconds or so and is perfect in that it comes out the top a little bit stronger than the bottom.   Just as I planned it.

I finished a little bit of the stand as well.  It was finished last night so the pictures are absolutely horrid but here they are.  Better ones will follow once I move it inside.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

DIY Acrylic Frag Tank

The day is finally here!  Kris, Justin, and I put together the 4 walls and the bottom of the frag tank today, and I'm going to show you step by step how we did it.


Acrylic Weld-on.  This stuff actually melts the acrylic edges together to form a seal.  There are a bunch of different numbers.  This particular type (Weld-on 4) doesn't require the usual "pins" to help separate the pieces and get the glue in there and is rather fast acting.

An applicator bottle with a syringe tip.  Pretty expensive bottle, but well worth the trouble it saves.

PAPER TOWELS to wipe excess glue before it sets, you will ruin your acrylic if you do not.

A square.  This serves as our "jig" to make sure pieces are exactly where we want them.

The back of a knife or back of a razor blade.  This is used to smooth the edges of the acrylic from cutting with a table saw.  (I got my pieces cut for me from the place I bought it from.  Paid a little more, your choice)

Masking tape.  To hold things in place, what else?


First step is peeling back the coating on each side of the edges to be glued.  I don't recommend taking off the entire coating as if you scratch the acrylic, this post will not help you buff it out.

Then you line up the edges as perfect as you can to the eye and place three pieces of tape on the back to hold it on.  

Next, you place the square right against both edges to make your corner.  Tape this on the top and the bottom, and it should hold in place without your help.  This is now your "jig" and creates your corner.

Now comes the gluing of the pieces.  If you have the same materials I have, this is incredibly easy.  I can't speak for other methods.  It's really as simple as turning the bottle upside down and running the needle on the seam.  Don't squeeze the applicator bottle while doing this.  You don't need to. 

With my type of Weld-on, it literally was sucked right in to the seam through "osmosis".  (we had an interesting conversation as to whether this was osmosis or capillary action.  We couldn't decide)  I didn't take a picture while I was doing this but I took a picture with the tip on so it didn't spill.

Now you have to wait per the instructions on your glue.  For me, this was about 20 min between each seam.  

The next side can be a bit tricky, but here's how we figured it out.  We put the pieces to be glued on the edge of the table and taped the square to the outside of our two pieces to be glued.  This squared them up. We had someone also hold the square for the 2 minute set time the glue needed just in case.  There's no pictures of this because... well, I was holding the square.

Here's the completed 4 sides

The next step is fairly self explanatory.  Set the box you have created onto your bottom piece, tape it in place, and glue it all the way around.  Making sure to wipe up excess glue.

So here we are.  Now we're going to wait 48 hours for the glue to set to put the top rim around the tank and put an overflow into the back corner.  Stay tuned for the final steps of making your own frag tank!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We got the main stand built today!!!

Well, almost all the way.  The skeleton is done.  I ended up making the stand a total of 36 inches tall.  This means there's no bending down to look at the tank.  You stand there, and you're looking at it.

A big thank you to Steve and Justin for coming over and helping me put this thing together.  It didn't take us long at all.  This thing is amazingly sturdy.  If anyone would like to build a stand like this one, RocketEngineer  has put together an amazing guide on how to put one of these bad boys together.  So I won't go through it over again.  Next comes skinning the stand!

Friday begins the building and logging of the acrylic frag tank.  I'm real pumped to get started on this and to learn how its done.

I also got a couple more pieces of plumbing soaking to be used.  Very excited with the plumbing layout I've come up with.  Just keeping my fingers crossed that it works out as planned.  It should leave everything removable and serviceable.

Still debating whether I want to get a 1400gph, 1200gph, or 1100gph pump.  All are available to me at reasonable prices.

I've emailed my grandfather about possibly making the side cabinets for me.  He's a far better carpenter than any of us here could hope to be.  So if he takes on the challenge, be prepared to see some amazing work.

Stay tuned for Friday for Acrylic Tank Building Pt1

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


A few things have happened since the last post.  The SCWD came in the mail yesterday, thank you Matthewbrian316 of ReefCentral.  I've got it soaking in vinegar right now.

I also gathered all of the 2x4s to build the stand.  Also put together one piece of the puzzle and took a photo for everyone to see.

And here's the pile of lumber for the rest of the stand.

Tomorrow, Steve will be coming over to get the main part of the stand's skeleton built.  I still need to decide on a skin/stain color and a type of trim to put it together.   I shouldn't need too many sheets so I might spend a little extra to get a nicer wood grain.

This weekend I will be building and recording a how-to on building the acrylic tank.  Starting on Friday, it will be a 3 day process to finish it entirely.

So that's just a quick update about what's been going on.  I will be purchasing bulkheads and hopefully pvc fittings soon to get everything plumbed up and waiting for a pump!  If I have the stand skinned and in place, I will actually be able to begin dry rock sculptures.  Which is going to be an entirely new post.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Vinegar, vinegar, and more vinegar.  I used two gallons total to soak every piece of plumbing and the protein skimmer in a 5g bucket, and the tank's inside glass is now SQUEAKY clean.  Shout-out to Justin (justinbt) for getting his elbows wet with me in this large tank.

I drew up a quick sketch to just get my plumbing down on paper
The dark blue box is the pump powering the closed loop
The yellow triangle is the SCWD
Red are pipes going back into the tank
Black are the pipes going to the pump
And in the corner in black are my pipes for the sump (disregarded in the closed loop)

I've also been emailing the wonderful staff over at with a ton of questions about making my own light.  I'm going to be making the light for the frag tank out of just LEDs.  Everything will be mounted on a 9x6" black heatsink. This fixture will have 6 cool white LEDs on a single driver, and 4 royal blue with 2 UV(purple) on another driver.  Each driver will be going into its own 10k Ohm linear potentiometer in a box that looks a little something like this...
(2 Color Dimming Kit from
This will be mounted to the side of the FRAG CAB so it will be easy to dim or brighten them.

Will be breaking ground on the stand after July 4th.  I'm super excited to start actually putting pieces together.  All I've been doing is reading and cleaning.  Just wanna thank everyone who's lent a hand so far yet again.  You all are making this 30x easier.

SCWD will be in this week so stay tuned to pictures of that!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Last night, Steve (laxb0rder on reefcentral) picked up an Aqua Euro USA 250 skimmer with a busted pump from Tyler (Tyler91913) for free.  This thing is absolutely massive having an 8" diameter and being almost 30" tall.  This may or may not fit in the return chamber of my sump.  If it does not fit, I will need to omit the refugium and stick this guy in the middle chamber.  If that happens I will have to plan a small refugium somewhere.

Also last night I picked up the 1" squid for a great price.  It should be shipped within the next couple days and arrive accordingly.

So now, all that remains is to get three pumps: one for the closed loop (1200gph+) one for the frag tank (400gph) and a new pump for the skimmer (560gph)

Here's a few pictures of the tank.  Sitting in the garage and waiting for me to go buy some more vinegar.  You can see all the 1" tubing in the second picture.  I will probably be removing most of this and re-plumbing something more for my needs.

So now the plan goes as follows...

1. Find and purchase the pump for the closed loop system

2. Finish plans on the stand, and begin collecting the needed plywood and 2x4s

3. Purchase a pump for the skimmer

4. Find and purchase a pump for the frag tank return

Here are a couple pictures of the skimmer and its broken pump.  The pump releases stray voltage into the water, so will need to be replaced.  I haven't found a "fix" online, so a new pump is the solution.

Kris (KRAZE) is going to be building me the acrylic frag tank.  its going to be a shallow 14x14x10 cube with  a corner overflow.  Construction on the tank should start next Friday if everything goes to plan.

Once the acrylic tank is built and paid for. (got an extremely good price quoted) I will be breaking ground on the stand.  I will build the main stand first, FRAG CAB second, and then the ATO CAB to finish it off.  They will all be separate pieces for easy transport in case I ever need to move and/or sell the setup.

Here's a sketch I drew up quickly with a few estimates of sizes..