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Cubish Build

Discussion in 'Tank Builds' started by JZinCO, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Hey everyone. I'm glad to be sharing my new tank with everyone. I intend to chronicle the build and keep an aquarium log.
    Last summer I picked up two amazing tanks and while one still has to sit and collect dust, I decided to replace my current 125 gallon with a 140 cubish tank (30 x 36 x 30). The 125 is a standard size tank with caulerpa in the sump. there is no filtration other than biological (caulerpa and a whole mess of sponge life) and the occasional GFO and GAC. I do need to run GFO sometimes to keep up with creeping phosphates but I have an issue with not enough nitrates.

    Pictured here is the 125 (without blue LEDs because I didn't want to mess with color editing).

    The system
    My goal is a successful mixed reef tank dominated by leathers, zoas and SPS (I know...carbon will be used) on the top, and a Caribbean planted/reef tank in the sump. A big idea behind this new build is that I get to design the system from scratch. I want to make maintenance slightly easier and have a plan for all the components thought out ahead of time. Everything that would go in a sump will be externalized including return pump, filtration, and heating in order to make the sump a secondary display. I also plan on using a poor man's controller of some sort. To keep up with parameters, I will continue dosing kalk and build in spots to dose 2-part should the need arise.

    I'll be reusing my MarsAquas and will make a minimal canopy that includes three of these units along with 2 dual t5 units. I decided to go hybrid because I've seen too much die on the bottoms and underside of corals. The shadowing drives me insane. The sump will also have one marsaqua and a dual t5.

    I run Jebao wavemakers but they make too much noise for me. So, I'm going to try and pick up Vortechs. I feel good with gph that are 25 times my tank size but I'm going to creep that up over time.

    I'm going to try out the inline heaters. Hope that works out.

    Filtration methods
    Since I won't want to plop a bag into the display sump, I'm going to pick up GFO and carbon reactors. I've recently also toyed with the idea of using vinegar in my kalk to get some bacteria to convert N and P into sponge and coral biomass since I've read they consume bacteria. I do already attribute my healthy sponge population to available dissolved organic materials.

    I've already got more than enough varieties of zoas, sps and leathers to grow in. But I do suffer a bit from wanting to try everything... In the sump, I plan on having Caribbean macroalgae, hard corals, which I got from a friend (legally), rock flower nems, gorgonians and zoas. Most of the livestock I already have. I will add some fish own the road in both the top and bottom tanks.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
    neil82 and SynDen like this.
  2. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Where am I at as of the beginning of March?
    The two big to-dos are the stand and the tank, as well as assemble additional equipment.

    The stand is typical 2-by construction. Considering how overbuilt the 2x4 stands are, I wanted to try 2x3s. The sides and top are skinned with 1/2" plywood, and the front, back and bottom have 1/4" plywood. Everything was cut by a chop saw or a handheld cut off wheel so I liberally used 2x1s for trim. I think everything is costing me around $300 between lumber, paint, sandpaper, etc and it is all softwood so I hope my cheapness doesn't bite me in the rear later. The taller doors are on hinges while the smaller top doors (one on each side and one on the front) are held by magnets. I did some caulking today and will follow up with a second round of sanding, then onto priming. The one thing I did not like was having visible screws on the sides, but I need to disassemble the skin in order to move the stand through my window.

    Here it is as of today (will edit with reduced photo sizes!):

    And here is the tank on its side..
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  3. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Not much to update. The painting is almost all done, I just have the last coat to put on the doors. The next step is to do a simple canopy. It'll be a project board like a 1x11, wrap that around four sides and I will frame out a place for the 5 light fixtures to fit. For aesthetics (and because the canopy will be sitting at 32" stand height + 30" tank height + 12" above the tank so I don't want light to blind someone on the couch), I am going to try to put in a light diffuser panel.
    My first thought was try out a cracked ice panel, and if that doesn't blur the hotspots, then try a more opaque option. The other option is HD happens to sell 36x30 cut glass (perfect!) And add light diffusing adhering sheets. Then I have two options to mount: two clear or white wires that go to ceiling mounted hardware, or do some sort of floating shelf. The problem is, the canopy extends 36" from the wall, so I'll need to run chains, a turnbuckle, or something to connect the far side of the canopy to wall at a diagonal.

    Also, I am not looking forward to one major step: 1) Removing all the rock and livestock, 2)Moving into bins/tanks, 3) picking off nuisance corals and observing to make sure the nuisance coral are gone before I set up my scape. I also plan on picking up a 75 gal frag tank to make this process easier. I'll have four tanks and whatever rubbermaids so that should be enough. If I am buying the frag tank I've got to make a plan to make use of that too :) so there is another step in the build, but I can put that one off for several months! I'm thinking of doing a summer time outdoor frag tank. I've been intrigued about sunlit coral propagation but my indoors is somewhat limited in terms of natural light. Anyway, this build is much easier on me if I take it one step at a time...
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
    Robbiekrause33 likes this.
  4. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    I wouldn't mix vinegar and kalk. It will precipitate the Kalk and neutralize the vinegar so it won't be effective.

    There are several used apex classics on the forums right now. I would suggest one of those as your "poor man's controller".

    I would seriously consider some sort of battery backup for your flow such as a UPS, vortechs battery backup, etc. Lack of this is the reason my last large tank crashed.
  5. neil82

    neil82 Cuttle Fish M.A.S.C Club Member

    Nice write up. Love your plan for making the sump a secondary display. I can't see the pictures in post #2.
  6. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Hey zombie, I'm confused. At the rate of 45 mL vinegar per gallon of saturated kalk, the vinegar should be neutralized, but the net effect is the kalk+vinegar should still be alkaline. Considering my ph is usually 7.8/7.9, it would behoove me to fully neutralize any acid no?Also, what do.you mean kalk precipitates in prescence of vinegar? If so, why is it used to increase the potential concentration of kalk?
    Sorry if there's misunderstanding on my part.
    Battery backup is on the list as a diy project thanks. It has slipped because in the 5y I lived in Colorado, I've never seen a blackout of any duration.

    Ended up getting what I need. With a an RK2i can time lights, doser, control a heater and monitor pH which is all I needed out of a controller
  7. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    I confused Kalk with 2 part. Vinegar is actually fine in kalk. Blonde moment.
  8. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    No worries! I can't recall if I said it before but dosing is not off the table. Im setting up the build so that adding 2 part will be plug and play if/when kalk is not enough OR if the precise two part dosing is more convenient than top off. Your point is valid in that, if I dose I will have to make sure to stagger the timings
  9. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Yup. I totally snagged one of Gonzo's 4'x3' frag tanks.

    .. I feel like the to-dos of this build are growing faster than my progress...
  10. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Another month come and gone and the build is still progressing slowly.

    On the frag tank... I cleaned it up and got to work making it into an all-in-one shallow tank with four sealed compartments: overflow/return/media section, 5gal of topoff, and ~1 gal to hold two-part. Obviously this means my seals must be well done so they don't leak into the display portion.
    I broke down a 20 gallon long to salvage it for glass panes. It took me awhile to cut through the silicone. I didn't realize that the innermost silicone was the easiest to slice through.. I was struggling to get the first pane off and ended up punching it and shattering it. woops. Good thing I had my gloves on. Turns out, it is sooo easy to wedge the razor blade between the panes and run it down the seam. After I cleaned up my mess, I cut up the glass into fairly-straight plates. Of course, the first pane shattered when I was tapping it with the end of the glass cutter. I learned that it is much easier to use alot of force in a quick snapping motion after the score is made rather than using the ball end of the glass cutter. Finally, I got my panes of glass all done and off to paint. Then I got out my silicone and started to put the panes into place. I'm about halfway done but haven't touched it for a couple weeks.

    On the main display tank...
    With the stand almost complete I turned my attention to cleaning up the tank itself. The tank is horridly scratched so I got some wet/dry sandpaper and went to town. In fact I had to go down to 400 grit because the scratches were so nasty. 400, then 800, then 1000, then 1500, then 2000 and on to buffing. It was still hazy! No matter I thought, maybe it needs a gentler touch. This time instead of electric sanding, I sanded by hand, starting with 1200 grit. Nope still bad, start over with 800 grit. Argh! My scratches on each finer grit could not work out the scratches of the coarser grit. I went back to the store, grabbed more sandpaper, a nicer buffing attachment and started all over again with the electric sander. So round#4! I got done sanding after 4 hours and proceeded to buff. And buff. And buff. It took me 5 repetitions of buffing on a test spot until it looked clear. It was at this point that I finally gained the confidence that I could restore this acrylic. However, there was still a haze.
    At this point I know I'm good on grits 400 through 2000. But I refuse to pour a gallon of compound on to work out the 2000 grit's scratches. I have 2500 through 7000 grit sandpaper coming in the mail. This weekend I will be back outside working up to 7000. That should make the buffing work much easier and make it more likely that I will have a show quality finish. Hopefully by Sunday I will be ordering my plumbing as that is the next step.

    If I am learning anything from this build.. I will probably screw up the first time (and likely second time) I try something new. I'll get frustrated, but this build is something I cannot fail on, which keeps me pushing through until my stubborn head finally learns the technique. This is way more labor than a store-bought stand and new tank but whatever. It's what I'm here for. It's going to be an awesome triumph when I finally get the livestock transferred into this tank.
    SynDen likes this.
  11. SynDen

    SynDen Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C President M.A.S.C Webmaster

    Keep at it! It will pay off, just dont punch anymore glass panels lol.
    For the acrylic, keep at it. You are going in the right direction. I've seen people going all the way up to 20k grit paper, but the higher you go the easier the buffing becomes.
    JZinCO likes this.
  12. SkyShark

    SkyShark Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Wow, that’s some serious sanding! I’m sure it will pay off in the end. The minor scratches are always a little less noticeable with water in it too.
  13. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    yeah even the deepest gouges still have residual traces but don't catch the finger nail... grr. My objective is just to get the acrylic transparent even if there are still a couple nicks.
    I can barely get my arm with the sander down by the seams on the inside. But, the nice thing is my stand covers the bottom 4" of the tank. :)
  14. JZinCO

    JZinCO Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Well the polishing is finished and the tank is on the stand in the garage to verify that my 2x3" stand is secure and it doesn't wobble a bit.
    I'm currently working on the canopy. This is a pain considering that I am trying to build a 36" deep shelf that holds 50lb. I picked up a french cleat and will be testing that out. The clet is rated for 200 lb but I have no idea how the 36 inches of leverage will affect the carrying capacity. I may also need to secure the canopy by putting in wires or chain connecting the furthest point of the canopy to the wall.

    I also am working on the plumbing. Went to pick up parts at the fish store and they told me my plan of having a 3/4 drain won't work because a 3/4 pipe will flow only ~500 gph. I ignored the advice but in the end purchased 1" pipe. So I will have a main siphoning 1" drain and a 3/4" emergency. I did the flow through an orifice calculations and, considering I will have 56" of head height, that should flow ~1900 and ~1069 gph (assuming 25% loss to friction and turbulence) for the 1" and 4/5" drains, respectively. I am expecting 1000 gph max (assuming only loss from gravity) from the sump to the DT after head loss so it's nice to know that the emergency pipe could truly be an emergency pipe....in theory. We'll see how the real-world tests handle the flow but I would like the sump to rely only on the return pump for flow.

    My original plan was to have the canopy hung by extruded aluminum slung over the back of the tank failed because I did not account for how weak the joints was going to be. So maybe don't trust my engineering chops.
    Last edited: May 22, 2018

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