Juan's 300G+ Aparment Reef Tank Chronicle


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Hello everyone, my name is Juan, some of you may already know me, I can see lots of new names around. I was full in the hobby in past years, but life took a turn on me and sadly I had to close down my system. Happily, I'm stepping in again and hopefully this time for the long run. This new system is quite different from my past ones, is not so big as the monster tank I was going to start (1000 Gallon DT), main reason is that I moved into an apartment building on the 15th floor, main subject here is weight restriction, I had to oversee this point over and over and at a moment I was hesitant to move forward or not.

But after much planning and designing, I finally decided to move forward :). The last months have been a real challenge to design this new system; many things can go wrong, too much weight, tank braking and having lots of salt water running all down the building, etc.

For this chronicle I will go through each of the stages so I can explain myself better on the overall system.

Tank specifications and list of equipment:
- DT: 260 Gallon DT, of 92.5" x 27.6" x 23.6" (235 x 70 x 60 cms)
- Sump: 67" x 23" x 19.9", water line up to 9", rest for emergency puporses.
- Stand: All metal stand with 2" x 2" metal beams
- Pipes: 1.5", All Red SCH 80 Red PVC pipes bought from BRS
- Piping connectors and Gate valves, SCH 80 and all bought from BRS

Main Computer:
Main computer is a Profilux EX 3
Probes: PH, Conductivity, Redox and Temperature
Dosing: Profilux Doser with 3 pumps
PAB: 2, 6 outlet PAB's
Additional modules: Vortech Pump module and Profilux Touch
Level sensor for ATO, managed by Profilux.

Flow Equipment:
In Tank flow: 2 Ecotech MP60wES
Return pump: Ecotech Vectra L1 (Quite impressed with this pump, really quiet and efficient)

4 Aquaillumination BlueSol connected to main computer for scheduled light program.
Also, used an AI 72" Rack for light placement.

Skimmer: Reef Octopus 300SSS Regal with DC Pump
Reactor: Vertex Reactor for running Carbon

Rock and Sand:
All Rock from Marco Rocks, dry rock (Though was used in my last system so maybe it's not completely dry)
1" Sand Bed, also used in my last system but filtered to remove small rocks and detritus using a Sift Screen.


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1) Placement, Size and weight planning:
So the first part of the planning was all about placement, system size and weight, the positive side is that all my floor is a concrete slab and the system is placed over a big joist made out of metal and concrete. Engineers calculate the supported weight per square meter, (In the US is per square feet), the concrete slab on the apartment was calculated to be able to support up to 300kg per square meter with all the apartment full of people and all jumping at the same time. This is why the first step was to develop a stand that would have big enough foot print so all the weight would be distributed on bigger area. The result was a 2.78mt³ foot print for the stand, calculating an overall weight of 490KG per square meter. This is much more than the intended 300kg per sqm but as I am on a joist the weight is manageable.

2) Designing all in the CAD:
As all my past systems, I take my time to design my system first in the computer using 3D Studio MAX (Autodesk CAD), this allows me to minimize errors when developing and implementing everything (Not that there aren't errors or corrections along the way). Here are some renders of the overall system and all it's parts,

At the beginning I intended for the DT to run along a wall, but I changed my mind as having the system diving the dinning and main living rooms would be nicer, also having a Peninsula tank would be a great idea, I would be able to watch more real state in the DT.

Some blown up images of the system:

And The system itself how the flow works:

The Overflow is designed around Bean Animal system, three dursos two siphon and one is for emergency in case one or both of the others get clogged, the fourth pipe is the return. In case of the siphon dursos, instead of using Ball Valves as past system, I bought Gate valves from BRS to have higher flow precision.

The return pipe runs all along the Eurobrace to the end of the DT so system can fully cycle water:

B) Display Tank:
The Display Tank has 260gallon capacity with a dimension of 92.5" x 27.6" x 23.6" (235 x 70 x 60 cms).
All glass is 12mm with the exception of the overflow which has 8mm glass.
All tank is Eurobraced.

Here are some renders:

The Eurobrace:

The Overflow (It holds around 5 gallons)


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3) Sump
Dimensions are 67" x 23" x 19.9", it can hold up to 130 gallons, as of now, it's running with 9" water level, rest is for emergency.
The sump was designed with several functions in mind.
1. High flow
2. Be able to hold Skimmer and a couple of reactors (Carbon and Phosphate).
3. To hold a fuge for Chaetomorpha and house copepods.
4. Small chamber for probes and heater (In case needed).

Here is a quick overall render of the Sump:

i) 1st Section: Water drops into this chamber and onto a set of 4 baffles to remove as much bubbles as possible:

ii) 2nd Chamber is where Skimmer and Carbon Reactors will be (Don't have more space for phosphate reactor, probably will run external):

iii) 3rd Chambers are the Probe and Fuge sections:

In case of the Fuge, I left a small overflow, water will go into this chamber and remaining baffles will remove unwanted bubbles:

4) Stand:
The stand all is all metal, has several support beams as well as lots of 45 degree supports on each column.
Metal beams are 2" x 2".

Here are some renders:
Overall Stand:

On the lower section here is a render of the actual footprint:

Also, left a couple of supports run with two Metal Beams for return pipe to run over it with support.

The Front section of the stand is isolated, it's guarding all electronic equipments:

The upper section has a half inch plywood board:


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And now for the real deal:

First, The Stand:
First all began with the Stand, with plans in hand it was easy to put together the structure:

Then we primed all the metal with this special paint to avoid rust (Sorry, forgot the name):

Then Painted everything red with also special anti-rust paint:

The Stand was in place and my kids didn't lose time to play on it:



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Display Tank:
The display tank was built in my apartment, carrying a 400 pound glass box 15 floors was out of the question:

A Quick view when entering my aparment:

Glass Finished and in place:

Began adding wood details, the intention was for the wood match the Teak dinning table, also the Hayward Bulkheads are in place:



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The Sump:
As well as the DT, the sump was built in my apartment too, the DT and Sump were mostly built out of left over glass I had from previous tanks, lol.

Placed a 1" Foam and then 1/2" Wood board to support the Sump:

And alining the Sump, the initial design was inteded for the overflow to be more near the end of the stand, though, I inverted the sump heading:

And the correct placement:


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This part is always challenging each system is totally different and depends a lot in the overall system. In my case, as I have three viewable parts I planned for a middle rock structure, the idea was,
1. To be able to see each section easily on the Peninsula design.
2. Having lots of flow around the rock
3. That all rock would receive most of the light for future corals.

So, as everything I started outside the tank and went from there. The balcony served as planning grounds.

Each section was introduced in the tank separately and once all in, I still made changes, also, I used Epoxy to glue all rocks together in order to avoid rocks falling:

Then introduced the sand:



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To be able to match the overall design of the system, I applied the same finish for the canopy as rest of the wood, at the end, the overall design of the canopy resulted great, not as expected when designing it in the CAD:

The Canopy on top has two compartments, on the pic above, the left one has the Return pipe, and on the left side all the lights power converters and electric cables, this was not planned until the canopy was built and installed on place.



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Piping, this is the most boring part for myself, and know that all pipes were SCH 80, the challenge to cut these was increased, so first I was trying to figure out how to quickly cut all parts. And I came with this.
An industrial cutter inteded for cutting metal or wood, well I used it for PVC, lol:

Began with the Overflow, everything was going smooth until...

... I cracked the overflow bottom :(

But, the guy that built the tank came and made another bottom part and glued it on top of this one :) so I kept going with the bulkheads and durso setup:

Retutn pipe, I ended with Loc-Line ends, here is pic of two outlets but I decided to have just one instead aiming at the middle of the tank:

Here is the end result of the BeanAnimal system:



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Electric connections:
Pior to place the sump in place, I placed a electric wire extension underneath the foam going from the wall (For power source), to the fron section of the stand:

As mentioned above, the front section of the stand was designed to hold the computer and most electrical connections in order to lessen the salty ambience to take a toll on the equipment:

Then, I used the same red PVC to run all electronic cables from the electronic compartment to the rear section of the stand to be able to connect all lights and vortech, these are two channels to be able to control lights and vortechs apart with the Profilux:

Installing Probes and rest of equipment:



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Filling the tank for the first time:
For the first fill I used RO/DI mixed with Salt at a level of 1.020, as it's cycling didn't want to go up to 1.024.
I was really nervous due to the weight, didn't know what to expect, I was using a level tool to constantly check the beam overall tank

Here is my RO/DI Filter, Vertex Puratek 100GPD:

And filling the tank:



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Here is my Skimmer, my other skimmer is too big (SRO-XP8000), so I went with the Regal 300SSS with DC Pump, is actuall very quiet and power consumption is really low, I assembled it first but didn't fit under the cabinet and into the sump, so I had to dissasemble it and re-assemble it in the sump again, lol.



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Here are some pics of my still non-working fuge, I have to install the light above, connect a really small pump for slow flow and add water:

Misc Pictures:
For the skimmer and return pump, I'm using these sound dampers, I bought them in BRS as well:

Vortechs Ready for action:

Ecotech Vectra L1, really nice product:

Probes in place:

For the doors of the stand, I used wood as well but screwed in magnets so they can attach to the metal stand, they work flawlessly:

Almost end-result:

Final result:

All started from this:

To begin its life to this:


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As of now, tank has been cycling for one week, ammonia level up to 6ppm, nitrite 0.25. I will wait it out until Ammonia and Nitis drop to zero, when Nitrates climb, will test out the system adding some ammonia and see how it handles it after 24 hours, if result is zero, I will do a 30 - 40% Water change for the Nitrates to go down and begin with the CUC.


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Hey Juan great to see you back in the game and on RS with a new tank build !!! WOW you always do it 1st Class ! What a great build, look forward to seeing it come to life - Love the scape ! :nessie:

Beautiful new apt & view too !