Advanced RobB'zReef: My 180gal reefing journey

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RobB'zReef

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Hello all!

Hopefully the title is catchy, unlike this build thread... I promise this won't start out all that rad :)

So where do I start? I usually approach things with the end in mind as that's a recipe for success in my job, but this is for fun so we'll pitch that book in the trash to begin with. So let's start at the beginning. I was going to wait a while to start a build thread until i did the maths. My tank will be here in ten weeks and i realized I'm starting out with NOTHING! My last tank was 15 years ago and it was a 40g breeder and the only items I have left from that adventure is a bunch of testing equipment, more on that later. So caving in to that urge that never really goes away I thought why not jump back into the pool with both feet and get a 180? You're going to more likely witness a complete belly flop but that could be fun too.

So Monday I ordered my tank from Miracles, a 180 gallon starfire front, euro-braced and drilled for a Modular Marine 3,000gph unit along with said overflow from said vendor! Derek said 10 weeks... commoooon Derek!!

Where were we? Oh yeah the beginning! a new acquaintance here pointed out it might be a good idea to get my rock cooking before my tank gets here and I found that to be good advice. Need a saltwater mixing station I thought! better get right on that.

BAM!
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Ok, some of you more observant people might point out that's not exactly a mixing station but it's a start! Ordering my RODI unit and plumbing from BRS tonight. Got a bit of work to do to get the area prepped however as i just moved into the house I'm in a few months ago, and at that time getting back into reefing was far from my focus. I pontificated for weeks on where I'd put my tank and finally came to the conclusion it couldn't be anywhere that resulted in a secondary hobby of home remodeling. I'd had my fill of that the past few years.

So i have a 7' section of wall in my basement with a mechanical room behind it! There's no where upstairs I would consider locating it without violating the secondary hobby rule. I know what many say about tanks in the basement but I have a compelling argument to refute that in this case.

view from future tank location
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It's where I keep all the booze, nough said.

In keeping a good journal I think its good to see where you've been as much as it is about where you're going, even if I haven't figured that all out just yet.

This is where the tank will ultimately be set with the mechanical room on the other side.
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I'll be locating my sump under the stand and everything else in the mechanical room, cuz reasons...




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A view from a bit further back shows the space is usable for a few things but I have to keep access to the furnace in mind as I go. I'll be finishing the walls around it as i hate clutter and the unfinished look of things. We're finally settled and it'll get me to put those last few things away in their place to tidy up the area make it more serviceable.

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I want this project to be a mix of ready to use equipment and some DYI as I really do enjoy that aspect. After wrangling with vendors for a tank/stand combo I realized the type of stand I'm looking to achieve was either too expensive from that vendor or they bowed out completely. So thanks to two super helpful and friendly people I met on here already I asked their feedback and experience on extruded aluminum frames for tank stand and they were extremely helpful. Thank you @Reef370 and @Reefer Reboot !

I started out designing the stand with sketchup and while it worked I found it to be a bit of a steaming pile compared to the CAD/CAM tools I was used to. I discovered that AutoDesk had a free for personal use version of Fusion360 and that was amazing! Very AutoCAD Inventor like :). I'll be posting that design once I pull the trigger on it very soon. Another one of those handy things to have when your tank shows up. Also currently working on a custom design for my sump as well, well see how that goes. If it gets real I'll post that here also.

So throughout the next few weeks I'll post my progress on spiffin the joint up as well as do a detailed post or two on my mixing station (hurry up BRS will you?) and my efforts to make a stand come to life. Thinking a time lapse video there of the assembly process, worthwhile idea?? Anyhoo... I'm super excited to finally being able to get back into the hobby and start this project and learn and unlearn me some things along the way, not the least of it from you fine people of this community, you guys rock! I'm not sure how these formats are supposed to run as I've never done a build thread before but I welcome your feedback and please know it's ok to laugh at my efforts, I know I will be.

Rob
 

RobB'zReef

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Hello all!

Ok, finally things are really moving here, almost feel like I'm getting traction in direct proportion to how much more poorer I'm getting lol. Talked with Anthony over at FramingTech.com and he didn't shoot too many holes in the design I submitted to him, gave some great suggestions and even tips on how to save cash when ordering. Now that's great customer service! Going to dust off the CAD model and I'll post here over the weekend of the frame I'm ordering from them. Frame box is nearly checked.

Then there's the sump... I'm trying to get all this stuff moving in parallel in order to have it all arrive in roughly the same time frame. I know we all like what we do for various reasons, and Bashea has definitely caught my eye. I've been working directly with a gentleman from Bashea and we've been doing a lot of back and forth and he's also been super helpful in boxing out the custom build I want with form, fit, function as well as style and cost suggestions.

We've arrived at a winner I think and Premium Aquatics has finalized the quote and I'm pulling the trigger tomorrow on a custom sump from Bashea which is a larger configuration of my own design based off their SS-60 model with a return specially built for two return pumps and with the Klir filter system in mind and matching reactor. He said they're out 3-5 weeks as of right now. Giggity :D

Last week I posted on the location of my tank and the partial fish room behind it. I needed some dedicated 20 amp lines run for this tank and of course I had only one spot available in my panel (stupid safety ***** light loads on everything). This lil guy solved that problem tho.

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I was kinda skeered at first since it's a finished basement as well as a garage but the damage was minimized by the good fortune of an access hole in the garage ceiling and then coming down the outside wall of the house inside the garage. This will be a gravy repair that I won't mind since I'll be dry walling anyhow as you'll soon see.

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Finally the locations of both lines, one in the fish room and one behind the tank. Saved a few nickels by running a GFC breaker in a master/slave configuration in both cases.

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Then I got really excited today as my first shipment in 15 years for tank gear showed up! Well, some of it, asking BRS why I only got 20% of a 5 stage RODI. Maybe they know, maybe UPS knows, but I certainly don't. Bunch of stuff for my mixing station as well. I may dive into that this weekend depending on progress with the walls.

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Reef Octopus Various 2 pump for the mixer. Yes it's small but who cares, it's like hurry up for what when mixing salt or transferring between tanks? It's not going to my DT at all from that pump so I saved a few bucks and still got the nice and quite and the control-ability of the DC pump with the future Netpune etc. No reason to put a big pump here, not gonna stand there and watch it mix salt water haha, it can do that on a schedule.

Today I ordered a few more accouterments for plumbing and mounting my RODI unit as well as 75 lbs of dry rock from BRS. I'm going to be getting another 75 from Tampa Bay Saltwater in the next week or two pending completion of the mixing station along with the acquisition of two brute cans to get the rock cooking. I'll split the dead rock/live rock between the two and cycle them for the next couple months while i wait for the tank.

Time flies when you're having fun at work all day and researching and spending that $$ by night haha. Hope this isn't too much detail. Last weekend I did a practice LED project to familiarize myself with the workings of WS2811 lights and LED WiFi controllers before I do it on my future tank stand. A special thank you to my bar for being a good sport and the proverbial punching bag for this experiment.


That's all I have for now, stay tuned this weekend (or not) for an update on fish room improvements and work on the mixing station.

Chow!
 

RobB'zReef

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Ordered my Bashea sump yesterday thru Premium Aquatics! Below is the generalized concept for the layout, they'll be filling in the blanks for style etc. It will be done in a Gray/Green combo, something they've never done before and they seem excited over the project. Not shown are also two matching reactors for use in carbon or GFO should i ever need them for use in the skimmer section. Excited to see this come together.

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RobB'zReef

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Hello everyone! The only other update I got this week is I finally pulled the trigger and ordered my tank stand from FramingTech.com. I designed it in Fusion360 and they gave it their blessing. Went 36" tall on it so I should have lots of room to play under there for my sump and other gadgets.

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My Modular Marine 3,000gph overflow also showed up! Very nice workmanship on it too, this will be a very gooderer overflow than my last one which used a siphon to periodically dump water on my floor.

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Plan on getting the last coat of paint on the walls (it's sitting there primed only) after getting it mudded and taped this week which will allow me to start building my mixing station! Now...what color do I go with? Suggestions?
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Hope everyone has a great weekend, get outside and enjoy the weather :)
 

RobB'zReef

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Hey all! Busy weekend here! Got the room painted Friday night. Took Saturday to go kayaking with my daughter and the gf.
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Was an absolutely perfect day for it too!

Sunday I jumped back in and got the trim and cleaned up the room.

Post disaster area.
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Added a little extra light, I may well put one more of these over my counter area for another work space. That may be where I keep a small quarantine tank as well. With some extra time remaining I started dry fitting my mixing station.

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Towards the end I got kinda stymmied.
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Yeah that's no bueno... I'll have to review my order from BRS and assign blame Monday. Hopefully it's not me lol! I ordered (possibly again) another 1" flex seal and will wait for it to get here before I start gluing anything together. In the meantime I'll get to work on mounting up my 5 stage RODI unit.

Any of you have thoughts about the aquaticlife DX18? I'm thinking about putting two 36" units over my 180, I really want dimmable bulbs. Looking at complimenting with either possibly some kessils or XR15's.
 

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I thought I would also mention that since I am not a fan of deburring my pvc pipe I found a saw blade that works beautiful for cutting schedule 40 & 80 PVC virtually if not completely burr free. You can't even see any noticeable swelling you get from other manual hand cutters out there. Using a chop saw can also be more accurate, faster as well as you eliminate any curf often going with other methods. I'm sure this is common knowledge out there for most reefers but I was pleasantly surprised by the results!
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RobB'zReef

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It's like a non-stop flood of stuff showing up everyday haha. Got a 36" T5 retro kit in today plus my oops seals. So I get to complete my dry fit on the mixing station tonight. My girl friend is starting to look at me cross eyed between the daily packages and my ignoring her every night LOL.

So I'm wondering, all you 180 + tank guys out there, what types of skimmers are you seeing success with for your tank sizes?
 

RobB'zReef

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Got my RODI completed last night! Primed it and ran about 5 gallons thru it to clean it out good etc... Very glad I bought the booster pump, before running that i was lucky to be getting 30 psi without it.
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convenient drain right there for the waste water.
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Good pressure
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TDS reading in the inlet side to the fifth stage
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thank god i got that fifth stage :rolleyes:
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All systems go!


Next up: Finishing the assembly of the mixing station and filling some storage tanks.
 

RobB'zReef

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Not too much going on lately. Been slowly filling my two 65 gal tanks with rodi water. No leaks! I have to travel for work next week and will be gone for two weeks, so I'm waiting till I return and then I'll be ordering my live rock from KP in Florida to get them cycling.

Took advantage of that Klir 40% off sale and this showed up on Friday.
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Added another two stages to my rodi...I suspect I got ***** CO2 in my well water. Ate thru aDI cartridge in 120 gallons of water, f-me. This will do until I consider the merits of a degassing station. The TDS of my tap water is only 230 so I'm just speculating it's CO2 at this point.

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RobB'zReef

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So with my first batch of salt water made I procured a couple brute cans for curing rock.

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Finally unpacked the Marco rock I got from BRS and took stock of it. Pretty happy with the pieces I got, couple large and medium foundation rocks up top there. Nothing came in broken and I like the sizes they gave me!

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With that I think it's time to fly in the rest of my rock from KP Aquatics next week and get things cooking! :D
 

RobB'zReef

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Hello all! Just got my shipment of live rock in today from KP Aquatics! First live aquarium anything I've had on hand in almost 15 years! Pretty excited and nervous lol. Gotta bone up on my rock cycling knowledge tonight. Got in 60lbs that I split 50/50 across two bins along with the dry to help get that seeded as well :D

For now I got them covered in salt water, a power head and a heater in each one. Going to add some extra bacteria booster to also help things along, can't hurt. Not sure if I'm going try Dr. Tim's, I've heard it's not the fastest but I'm not exactly in a hurry, but I probably won't need it with this tick in play either. Gonna do some reading in this first. I got an update on my tank and it won't be in till the end of the month so I'm all good there.

The packaging of the rock was immaculate, nothing broken, bags intact and they were nicely wrapped. No dead or bad smell or white decaying matter on the outside. Gave them a short rinse in rodi water prior to putting them on the bins. Dislodged a few bristle worms for the effort.

They were a bit devoid of external growth and I didn't find any shrimp or crabs just yet so cool. I wasn't really after those things to begin with. Great corraline coverage, I'll add a light over the bins once it's cycled, we'll see what happens. So far I give them a solid A, ordered late on Monday, they shipped Tuesday got it by 10am this morning. I would use them again. Not too many games in town anyhow these days! Now where are those t-nuts...

Making more salt water tonight as I emptied one of my 65 gallon storage containers filling the brute cans and I'll have water changes coming up shortly. Transferred my full container of RODI to my mixing tank and am making more fresh water as we speak. I love this setup!

I was kinda brainless and had forgot to order some flexible hose for my mixing station so I got a bit of water on the floor. That'll be obvious in the short video I did no justice on yet again lol. Wondering if 3-5 second intervals is more appropriate. Will try again soon as a practice run before assembling my stand.

Some pics of the rocks below as well as my second lame butt attempt at a time lapse video.

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