View Full Version : Paul's 75g Reef tale-

02/25/2008, 06:31 AM
Well, I've procrastinated long enough to start this thread-

I've always wanted to start a saltwater fish tank. I've had freshies long enough and since my wife and I just bought a house I figured now is as good a time as any, right? I started off exhaustively researching saltwater aquaria in general. Heck, I even bought and read a few books about it! At this point, I started gathering the supplies and raw materials for my project- a 75 gallon tank soon to be transformed. A couple of saturdays ago, it all started-


And there we have it- all the makings of a DIY tank stand, hangover, and emergency room visit all in one frame :)

After a few hours of arranging and rearranging plans, it started to take shape.


The stand was actually built in a way that it could accomidate both a standard 75 as well as a 125 tall in the future. Now, the fact that I'll probably jump into a 275 long in 8 months will probably defeat this foresighted purpose, but hey at least I tried, right?

02/25/2008, 06:32 AM
Back to the task at hand- fishee! A little sheetrock and mud went a long way to making it look semi-respectable.


Now, before anyone jumps in and insults my intelligence about sheetrocking it- first, its fire/waterproof rock and the top shelf will be sealed using caulk and rubber. Second, my basement (as you may see) is unfinished at this moment in time. The carpenters actually are starting in on Weds to take care of this. The tank will be kind of an in wall, just with 3 sides exposed rather than just the front. I figured sheetrock would make it blend in a little better.

lastly, the tank when I got it (thanks Wrassefan!)-

and in progress of blacking the back and getting rid of the wood grain-

02/25/2008, 06:33 AM
ok, fast forward a bit... The tank is now successfully blacked and came out great. I had Plastic supply in manchester make me 2 custom overflows that came out sweet, and mounted and shimmed the tank and stand.


Then came the guts. After several cuts, profanities, and brews, she was all plumbed in. Don't make fun of the butchered silicone baffles please. Let's just say that in my infinite wisdom (read: slight state of drunkenness) I thought it would be a better idea to save the middle baffle to silicone in last. Yes, noone ever accused me of being smart... sump is a 30standard with EV-120 (thanks Delta!)


02/25/2008, 06:34 AM

rocks were ordered and come in today. SG is at 1.025, temp is 79 and we're ready to rock and cycle tonight!!!

went with 75lb of deepwater tonga and 50lb of Marco Fiji. Also bought 15lb of rubble for the fuge and miscellaneous uses.

02/25/2008, 06:43 AM
good start.

Cant wait to see what you are gonna do with that stand.I would imagine that it will absorb alot of SW,& bubble up pretty good.

Can we get a pic of the overflows?

02/25/2008, 06:50 AM
yeah, that's the only thing I am a little worried about, but my father is a contractor and he assured me that the type of rock I used is really good at water resistance.

Heck, I had to have spilled 3gal on it while leak testing last week and no bubbles yet, so I'm crossing my fingers. Tonight is also sealing night. I am using exterior primer and paint for this exact reason as well.

time will tell though, and sure thing about pics of the overflows...

02/25/2008, 08:02 AM
Cool tagging along for the ride.

02/29/2008, 06:27 AM

Well, I bought wayyyy too much rock. I started with 50lb of Marco rocks on Monday and started the curing process. I also ordered a box of Live Tonga from Jay's a while ago and it came in on Weds. Well, when I got down there, the rock was soooo nice that I ended up buying two boxes instead :p So now I have 170lb live tonga and 50lb marco's fiji for a future aquascape. I'll be looking to get rid of some as soon as I figure out which pcs I will use in the aquascape. Skimmer is working overtime and the water has a slight green hue, which I am assuming is normal for the curing process. I went through the rock with a brush and putty knife and thought I did a good job of cleaning, but I noticed a huge sponge that I missed. There is also a few small things poking out. The best way to describe them would be about 1/2" long, similar in size to spaghetti and opaque white. We'll see if it dies off or if I can get a pic. I am still playing with camera settings.


03/03/2008, 06:47 AM
Everything is coming along quite smoothly of late. My house no longer smells like low tide, and the water is clearing. Ammonia has stabilized and trites are now detectable. I also built my canopy and mounted my lights during the weekend. I am running 2x 175w MH and 2x 96w pc's (one 10,000K, the other actinic). I think it came out well. I just need to stain and seal, and it's ready to go in. I have 2 fans and a back for it as well, but I didn't have time to install.


And the stand color when all is said and done:

03/03/2008, 02:58 PM
Nice job!!


03/03/2008, 03:05 PM
Looking GOOD!! It'll be interesting to follow.

03/05/2008, 06:29 AM
update- I found a decent deal on another Iwaki pump that I could use as a return and decided to plumb it in during a scheduled water change. It must be more powerful than the mag 9.5 because I had a pain of a time with a couple pvc leaks. Here is the end result after sealing everything tight-

Attention then went to finish off the canopy. I buttoned up part of the back to reflect a bit more light and mounted my two silenx fans in the center. You can't see it, but there is a 3/4" louver on the base of the back for good airflow.

Test fit, and everything works well. My only concern would be salt creep onto the fans due to their proximity to the return line, but I'll closely monitor that-


And first coat of white on the inside.

03/05/2008, 06:30 AM
attention then moved to skinning the stand with wainscoat and trim.

In process with the canopy still on-

all buttoned up and waiting for trim work-

Although sideways, this will give you a pretty good indication of the final look-

03/05/2008, 08:31 AM
Looking very nice!!!!!

03/05/2008, 11:59 AM
Very nice. It's a good start. I am unsure why the Sheetrock just to cover with a paneling. I was sure you were going to sheetrock that into the rest of the basement and have it look like part of the structure.

03/05/2008, 12:19 PM
haha, sheetrock is kind of a funny story-

My dad is a contractor and he specced out some mold resistant rock for me to use for this application, apparently mointure resistant, etc... I installed it and over the course of some leak tests and water changes, the rock got wet in a few places. I figured that it would be fine. Well, wrong I was. It bubbled up in a few places and soon realized that sheetrock has no good place on a tank stand. Instead of ripping it down, I just skinned it with wainscoat and sealed everything off. The rest of the basement is getting sheetrocked and finished in the next 2 weeks, but it should blend in reasonably well.

03/11/2008, 08:09 AM

I finished the stain and poly on the stand and am pleased overall with the outcome. There are a couple of things I would have done differently, but that's the learning process. Keep in mind- this is my first finish woodworking project, so be gentle, haha.


Also of note is that I did a rough aquascape as well, just to get the tank prepared for sand. At this point, Ammonia is down to <.1ppm and nitrite has stabilized at sky high.


The canopy finished and wired-

And the final pices of 1x3 picture framing the door openings. I will eventually use an epoxy to waterproof the inside, but that will be a rainy day project for the weekend.

03/11/2008, 08:10 AM
Once the canopy dried up and finished to my liking, I mounted it onto the tank and routed my wires. Finish product is seen here-

no flash-


fuge light

I am running an 18w 50/50 fuge light. DT lights are 2- 175w MH w/ Hamilton 15K bulbs SE and 2- 96w PC's (one actinic, one 10000K daylight). I also have 2-1w moonlights installed as well. I am running 2- 72cfm Silenx fans whenever the MH's kick on as well.

03/11/2008, 08:11 AM
another Update- SANDSTORM!!! Ammonia is now undetectable and trites are now reading .1ppm, so I felt now would be a good time to add some sand. Went to JAy's and ended up with 40lb of dry aragamax and 20lb of wet bahamas oolite to complete the job. A fellow reefer has been gracious enough to give me some sand to seed my tank as well.


And 24hrs after addition- clearing up nicely-

03/11/2008, 08:11 AM
last post for now, promise!

full tank shot-

And what I believe to be copepods already starting up. I originally thought they were dust particles, but they sway around with the current, almost like tiny white hair strands. You can see it faintly in the pic-


Also rearraged my water change bins and plumbed a direct line to the back of the tank. There is a mag 9.5 installed on the main pvc now for water changes

Teh beginning of the tank electrical panel, inside what will be a closet in 3 weeks or so...

03/13/2008, 07:07 AM
Update- I have crabs!


two dozen blue-legs are crawling around as we speak. Ammonia and NO2 have been zeroed for 4 days so I figured now is a good time to see if the tank is ready. They are having a field day on the rocks... Also have a single Astrea snail in there. I wanted to make sure he was happy and healthy before throwing more in, as general concensus is that they are less hardy than hermits.


Also, I started with the rest of the basement as well. I'm hoping to have it completely livable in 3 weeks.


03/24/2008, 09:05 AM
update- Set up my qt tank upstairs in preparation for fish introduction. The foam has been in my DT sump for a couple weeks and I've tested a week of zero's for NH3/NO2.

Also a full tank shot of my cleared tank with about a dozen snails and a dozen hermits. I dropped a sheet of nori in so my nephew could watch them move. It was quite the spectacle with 12 hermits piling on top of each otehr for a bit of seaweed.


I had a small hair algae bloom but nothing like I thought I would. I am currently starting to see the diatom bloom, at least I think it is. It resembles fine rust colored particulates on the rocks and sandbed.


I also cleaned up my electrical a bit. Still a cobweb, but not as bad as it used to be.


03/24/2008, 09:12 AM
Very nice. Keep em coming

03/24/2008, 10:21 AM
Great job on the tank!!!! love that first shot though... power tools and beer. Emergency room visit you say? lol.

03/24/2008, 10:36 AM
heheeee, that about sums up the project too! Well, less the ER visit that is.

I bought my first reef fish last Thursday- two juvy "onyx" perc clowns. I quoted the onyx because A) they are very young, with one only showing the third stripe, and B) I think they are misbars but the LFS swore that they were onyx. Nonetheless, they are happy, swimming, and eating in the QT tank. The smaller of the two did decide that he wanted to explore the HOB filter input. He got a little too close and ended up getting stuck onto the tube for an unknown period of time. I removed him and shut off all waterflow. He was and still is swimming fine, eating as normal, and in general seems non-stressed.

Time will tell though.