Yet another tank build (72 gallon bowfront)

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by TMoct, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Yet another tank build from a new member.

    I found a 72 gallon pre-drilled bowfront aquarium with a stand and plumbing on craigslist for a great price. It's a pretty big tank (4 feet wide)! I rented a U-Haul cargo van and picked it up last weekend. The tank was previously used for freshwater fish, and I verified that the person that I bought it from was the original owner, and that he had never used any copper treatment in the tank.

    First things first: get the tank masked up and ready for painting the back surface. Plastic dropcloth, painters tape, and Rustoleum flat black spray paint. I sprayed about 4 thin coats, then let it dry overnight before touching the painted surface.



    I mounted a power-strip inside the cabinet and placed it in the room where it will stay. The power-strip has a low-profile plug since the tank sits in front of the outlet, and I also strung an extension cord (also with a low-profile plug) behind the tank, which will eventually supply power to a chiller. You can see it peeking out from behind the cabinet in the third photo.

    The sump is an Eshopps refugium, model R-200 (30x14x16" LxWxH). This is essentially the largest sump that will fit into the cabinet. I could have gotten a smaller one, but I want the skimmer compartment (on the left side of the sump in the photo) to be large enough for my intended skimmer. In fact, the footprint of the sump is so big that I had to lay a couple of 2x6 boards on the floor of the cabinet to lift the sump over the little door-catches at the bottom front of the cabinet. I like that this cabinet doesn't have a center-post, which makes it easier to insert/remove/access the sump.



    Other equipment worth noting:
    * The return pump that came with the tank is a Via Aqua VA2600 (740 GPH). I think this should be enough water turnover.
    * The refugium light is a nice little clip-on WavePoint 6", 8-watt LED light.
    * The skimmer that I plan on getting is a Reef Octopus POV-DC1, rated for up to 200 gallons.
    * The chiller that I plan on getting is a Teco TR15 (0.2 HP).
    * The substrate is CaribSea Aragamax Select 0.5-1.0 mm diameter (3x 30 lb bags).

    I am paranoid about copper, so I rinsed the aragonite with filtered water only (I have a RO/DI system). Because of this, and because I'm anxious to filter enough water to fill up the tank, I didn't do as thorough a job rinsing the aragonite as I should have - so the tank becomes very cloudy every time I pour in a new 5 gallon jug of water.



    My plan is to fill up the tank completely with filtered water (without adding salt mixture), then run the water through the sump/filter system for a few days. I'll line the "sock" at the entrance to the sump with some cheap felt, and I'll stir up the sand many times to kick up as much fine silt as possible, with the intention that it runs out the overflow and gets caught by the felt (which I'll then toss out). I want to make sure that by the time the tank is inhabited, it doesn't get too cloudy every time the substrate is disturbed.

    After the in-tank aragonite rinse is done I'll add the salt, then a handful of dry rocks, then start the cycling process with live rock.

    I'll essentially use the following recipes for "maturing" the tank, with modifications for an octopus tank (not introducing fish, etc.):
    http://www.reefsanctuary.com/forums...arting-your-first-fo-fowlr-marine-system.html
    http://www.reefsanctuary.com/forums/fish-diseases-treatments/29836-mature-aquarium.html

    I like those two descriptions of tank preparation because they are very thorough, and also make it clear that "cycling" the tank is only the first of two major steps, and that the tank needs to be "matured" after cycling.
     

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  2. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I have an opening line in a presentation that reads "MTS is NOT fatal", followed by a picture of my breakfast room :grin:.

    Your references and a new member having difficulties has prompted me to try to collect links to good articles on cycling a tank. You will see the new sticky at the top of this forum and I have quoted the last part of your post as the first article entries :sagrin:

    Nice setup! I too have learned to be fond of a no center post stand with double doors. Not only is it so very helpful for getting the sump into the cabinet but it makes maintenance a lot easier.

    I would consider shielding the power strip as saltwater and electricity and not very friendly (more than one of us has started a fire with a power strip and a badly aimed splash, pure panic when you are holding the power strip when it happens :oops:). Not only is splashing going to happen but just the evaporation will rust your plug prongs. Please consider a ground fault connection with it being that close to the water. If you can't add on at the wall plug (there are plug-in models but they stick out a lot) seriously consider replacing the circuit breaker.
     
  3. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Excellent suggestions on the electrical business. I will definitely replace the circuit breaker in that room with a GFI. Unless I am mistaken, I can have a single outlet with the GFI reset button in a different location in the room, so that it's easy to access.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to shield the power strip that's in the cabinet? I agree that this needs to be done, but I don't know how to do it. I have little plastic boxes that cover my outside electrical outlets, but they aren't large enough for a long power strip. Perhaps someone makes a bigger one? Please send me any links that might help. Also, I plan to install a short "cable tray" along the top rear of the inside of the cabinet to keep the cables tidy and out of the way.
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I put those out-door boxes on outlets that might get splashed or dripped on (in addition to using GFCI in one form or another). Holding a firey, plugged in power strip was a bit intimidating :roll: Finding a long top hinged box is not something I have looked for but your idea of a small plastic fishing tackle box might be just the thing if you can find one of the right size. Be sure to mention what you found and where when you come up with something.

    You can place an entire circuit on a GFCI by replacing the circuit breaker to that circuit. If you look at your panel, you MAY see a special one marked this way for any bathroom circuits. Alternately, and I think this is what you are thinking of and may be more common, you can place a GFCI outlet in the circuit. I know this will kill everything forward of the outlet but am unclear if it has to be the first outlet in the circuit or if it can be anywhere in-line for full circuit protection. A bit of reading should clarify.
     
  5. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Update on some electrical considerations (based on advice earlier in this thread).

    First off, I had the breaker for the room replaced with a GFCI breaker. This is obviously critical from a safety standpoint. Having the GFCI at the breaker is easier to deal with (in the case of a trip) than just installing a single GFCI outlet; the reset button is in the breaker box, and I don't ever have to access the outlet behind the aquarium.

    Next, I moved the power strip to the side-wall of the cabinet, so that it is further away from the sump.
    (The cloudy water is due to the continued rinsing of substrate in the tank; I have a fine filter in the sock and I'm stirring up the aragonite again and again for a few days to get the fine stuff into the filter.)


    I put in some hooks for basic cable management.


    I also came up with a way to make a splash-guard. I wanted something that allows easy access to the power strip, but also makes a good seal with the inner wall and ceiling of the cabinet to protect against splashes. My solution was to make a kind of "false wall" inside the cabinet, which is possible now that the power strip is over on the side. I made it out of a plastic material with cells in it which is normally used to make signs (I found it in the yard-sign section of the hardware store). It is very lightweight and easy to cut. I cut it to fit the inner-top of the cabinet, since this is where the water would come from in the case of a splash.


    I want to be able to mount it in exactly the right place every time, but also have it easy to take out and put back in, so I used magnets. The magnets on the plastic piece are mounted first with superglue, then with silicone around the non-contacting edges, just for good measure.
     

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  6. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Here are the magnets attached to the ceiling of the cabinet:
    (sorry for the autofocus issues -- I was shooting this blind while reaching inside the cabinet)


    And the splashguard in place:


    Another image of the splashguard in place:


    This is such a big improvement over the "no splashguard" setup. Thanks D for the suggestion!
     

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  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Double like on the ground fault interrupter! Great look on the splash guard, the only issue you will still likely have (and I have on most of my tanks) will be corrosion on the plugs from evaporation. It does not seem to be a major problem but does make it hard to plug and unplug stuff. I would recommend adding a switch (one that plugs in to the power strip and has an outlet side) to the skimmer. I should think to recommend this more often as it makes turning it off so much easier. They are usually available at your local hardware store/Wal-mart if you don't need a ground. Grounded ones are harder to find but I did see and empty spot for some at Wal-mart at one point(I ordered the last grounded style on-line but don't remember from where). They do tend to take up the space for two outlets on a strip though so I have some configured on an outlet extender to make them easy to reach and not use two sockets.
     
  8. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Very nice design but way over priced. The grounded I found (without lights - I prefer the lighted if I can find them) were about $7.00 apiece, not $24.00. This site has them more reasonably priced (Beklin would be a better brand than the Leviton I have but Amazon also shows this one. The ones for polarized plugs (no separate grounding post and now useful for most things) are only $4.00 at Home Depot. There are only a very few things that need the separate gound now but you do need to check some things for amperage. Your skimmer, however, should be OK and most likely will not need the ground post. Should you get the switch and then discover otherwise, you will likely keep the thing even if you buy another, they are very useful. I keep a spare in the kitchen that is primarily used for checking pumps :roll:
     
  10. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Lighting:

    Since octopuses don't need or like overly bright lights, and since I want a combination of red (24-hour) and white (daytime) lights but don't want a large fluorescent or other fixture getting in the way of lid access, I decided to try some cheap LED strips. I found them on ebay, and they came rolled up on a reel, with an A/C adaptor included. You just cut the strip to the length you need with scissors.
    Here is a link to the ebay listing...

    Here you can see the strips, which are just basically stapled to the inside front and sides of the tank hood. To my surprise, the staples touching the edges of the strips didn't short them out...


    A detail of the corner where the connectors come around the back:


    There are two independent strips: one red LED which is strung from one side to the other, and one white LED which is strung around and back.

    Here's the end result with just the red strip on, shot on a cloudy day during the afternoon with the room lights off. (It's hard to really describe how bright things are, since the photo exposure depends on so many compensating factors, but anyway here it is...):


    Though it looks like the copper foil of the LED strips is exposed, it is actually laminated with thin plastic. One never knows how it will survive. I can say that it produces negligible heat and ample light in both red and white, so I'm pleased so far.
     

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  11. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Here's the most direct comparison that I could make between the red and red+white illumination. The exposure and image-brightness are adjusted so that the woodgrain on the hood is at the same brightness level in both shots. White balance is the same in both shots.



     

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  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm impressed with the amount of white light. LED's keep getting better and less expensive and eventually, I hope to light all my tanks with them. To date, I only have one tank lit this way and that is because I won the table prize at the Orlando MACNA where where both Instant Ocean and Marineland did an amazing job for this day and time of supporting and contributing to the event with give aways for the participants. I looked into some of the aquarium red strips at that show and the price was still quite high. Do try to remember to post an update in a year or so (or sooner in the case of a "fail") on how well they do with the saltwater.

    Feel free to include a link when you purchase something useful. Even an expired auction is useful for finding items of interest.
     
  13. ScottM

    ScottM Larval Mass Registered

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    Hello, to all. THis is my first post on these forums.

    I have learned a fair amount so far while reading through many of the threads. Years ago, I think around "93 or '94, I had several salt and freshwater tanks. I kept an octopus for a few months, at which time it stopped eating, etc., while brooding. It only hung in there for another few weeks. It was really great, and seemed to enjoy cats through the glass....

    Anyways, things have changed since then in the hobby, especially between filtration systems which are in vogue.

    Regarding this thread, I have a few questions about the tank being used. Locally, there is a pretty good deal on an Aqueon reef ready 90 gallon. I am wondering if the openings for the overflow are too big and require mesh/. What is the best way to guard the top of the spillway? ALso, what is the maximum loading of rock in the pre-drilled tank, is there a weight or distribution restriction?

    A concern that I have regarding the system described is the copper strip for the LED lighting. Will the copper poison the system if it begins to corrode?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  14. ScottM

    ScottM Larval Mass Registered

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    Sorry for all of the typos in the above post. I was typing quickly, and badly need new glasses. I can't really type very well, either.
     
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  15. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    Others have more experience than me, but I'll give my best attempt to answer:

    Re: "octoproofing" the overflow Remember, the aquarium itself has a glass lid which is tight-fitting (and will be weighted down). I also have a lid that fits over the overflow itself. (I was all set to cut one out of plexiglass myself, but then found exactly what I wanted on ebay, so I took the lazy route and bought it.) It took a little "modification" with a dremel tool, but now fits nice and snug between the overflow top and the glass lid, and doesn't interfere with the plumbing inside the overflow.

    Also, you can put in a material that is hard to grip with suckers but doesn't impede water flow, like this.

    Re: live rock weight I've never heard of anyone worrying about the weight of live rock in a tank. The bottom panel of the aquarium will be made out of tempered glass, which is extremely strong. For comparison, local fish stores often have aquariums filled to the brim with live rock for sale.

    Re: corroding copper polluting the tank Yes, I imagine that would be a problem if some copper flaked off and fell in the water. Again, there is a glass lid on the tank, and the copper in the LED strips, though it looks exposed, is actually covered with a clear plastic film. I'll have to see how it goes, though -- I may have to replace those strips with a more robustly waterproof kind eventually.
     
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  16. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome: Scott!

    Even a tiny amount of copper can be a problem to inverts and octopuses are perhaps the most sensitive. The general consensus is to avoid even tanks that have been exposed to copper medications if they are sealed with silicone (copper retention in acrylic is uncertain).

    Yes they can get through the weir (or as I call them castle turrets :roll:) You should to do something to inhibit access, particularly for small animals. Placing something inside the weir is one of the easiest solutions. You want something that feels rough and I have had very good success with very course sponge. I do suggest (and have had tank overflow before doing this) placing something around the bulkhead to ensure the sponge does not block water-flow as it collects debris and compresses. For my problem tank (bottom bulkhead, my others all have side exits and are less of a problem) I cut strips long ways along the sides of a plastic bottle (leaving the top and bottom of the bottle unmodified) to fit over the bulkhead and under the sponge to keep it from settling into the bulkhead opening. For side/back exits, there is a pre-made guard (both screw in and slip in depending upon the inside of your bulkhead, link for example, not a vendor recommendation but the pricing is about what I remember). I always have these fittings (before these were available I used a similarly shaped piece that you find at the end of a cascade filter) on my other bulkheads as they also prevent snails and hermits from entering the overflow lines. Except for small animals (very young or dwarfs), they have worked well by themselves (again, for side exit only and have had little ones get to the sump without a sponge). You can help dissuade curiosity by ensuring arms will meet a rough surface when they explore and by adding a light over the weir but it is hard to localize the light and anything rough will collect debris.
     
  17. TMoct

    TMoct O. vulgaris Supporter

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    A couple of minor updates on the tank.

    I put in an MP40 to enhance the flow in the tank. It has a wide flow pattern and it can move a lot of water even at low speeds. Right now I'm running it on the second-to-lowest (constant) speed.

    I also thought I'd post a photo of the skimmer in place (Reef Octopus POV DC-1). It is a great skimmer! You can also see a bunch of live rock and chaeto in the sump. The skimmer's pump controller is attached to the upper-right corner of the sump.



    I took this photo yesterday while drip-acclimating the first 8-armed tenant! Journal on its way...
     

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