PDA

View Full Version : My mid-life crisis Tank


dleute
03/03/2017, 08:51 PM
Almost 2 years ago I got it into my head to start a reef tank. For a number of reasons, it took a while to pull the trigger. This is my first tank since I was a kid. I remember helping my dad with his aquariums. Some of my earliest memories are laying on the floor looking up at the fish in my father's tank more than 30 years ago. I had goldfish as a kid, but no fish after that. My father's tanks were torn down by the time I was a teenager.

Now I have a son who is about to turn 3. I want him to have fish in his life as well. I ended up with a rimmed 93 gallon cube due to space, cost and not wanting to wait any longer. The tank was obtained in early January, cycled for 6 weeks and got the first fish yesterday (actually 3 fish, that will be its own post).

I decided it was time to create my build thread. I'm going to cover a number of topics and challenges I ran into while starting in this hobby. I am a big researcher. I like to learn as much as I can, but the content in this hobby is nearly infinite. At some point you just have to dive in and do it.

Attached is the obligatory picture of the kid in the tank wearing a Nemo hat. This picture is clearly critical to this hobby. Not sure I could have proceeded without it.

Over the next few days and weeks I plan on posting about the following topics: Why I picked this tank, challenges I had as a used tank purchase, where I went wrong, what I did right (I'll let you know when that happens!) and what I would do differently next time. Some of it I hope will be useful to others starting in the hobby.

Some of the topics include dealing with unplanned tank size issues, building a custom manifold, building a custom light rack, and where I thought budget control really helps and where money needed to be secondary to the goal.

Post more soon! The first post will be more about my size and location, why I picked this tank.

dleute
03/03/2017, 08:51 PM
Why is the picture upside down!?

dleute
03/03/2017, 09:16 PM
Why is the picture upside down!?

Fixed it. Next on the list: replace formerly good apple products with something that doesn't suck.

Homestead_Dad
03/03/2017, 09:39 PM
What that have to do with apple?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Homestead_Dad
03/03/2017, 09:40 PM
I will take all the apples off your hands.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

dleute
03/03/2017, 09:56 PM
Why did I select this tank?

First, every time I saw a cube, I wanted it. I still want the 45 gallon cube in petco every time I walk by it (If I find the space, it may become hospital/qt/second tank). My LFS got a 60 cube in today that was almost making me think a rimless 60 cube would have been a better choice.

The depth front to back of the 93 gallon really appealed to me. Most of the 24 inch depth tanks with overflows felt cramped when I saw them next to the cube. I like the cube look and the physical space. This turned around and bit me later, there will be a post about that.

But, really, the space I had available was 46" wide and 32" deep. That severely limited my options for large tanks. There were a few from scaquariums that fit that space but were around the same volume with less depth. Oddly, the Red-Sea S-400 was the largest stock tank I could find that would fit there. Not the price I wanted and much of the equipment would have been replaced rapidly. Not a good choice financially. I ultimately ruled out a custom job for my first tank. Too many decisions and not enough knowledge of the hobby.

My space is the former home of a wood burning stove. Hence the restriction in size. It had to fit on the cement pictured in the attachment. It barely did.

I got this tank because I was cruising craigslist and found it for very little money. I do know it's not my forever tank. In fact, when the room it is in is re-done, right across from the current tank location is a place a 6 foot tank could live (currently the home of my treadmill desk which is why the tank is in this room. I work/walk on it most of the day).

I decided that starting with a bunch of used equipment that came cheap would be the right way to dive in. If I bought exactly what I wanted on day one, the cost would have been insane. Instead I got a nearly complete setup for just the cost of only the tank at my LFS. Also, the build on these older rimmed marineland cubes seem a lot better than the rimless versions I've seen in stores.

Don't get me wrong, there are things I do not like, but honestly, not the ones I would have been picky about if I were purchasing new. For example, I don't like the cabinet. But, had I bought from my LFS, I would have exactly the same cabinet. I'll go into details on that later.

I felt that 93 gallons was going to be big enough for a while. I felt it was unique enough and fit the space well that it wouldn't just look like another fish tank. As a room focus, it is very good.

I didn't know what fish I wanted (outside of nemo, of course). However, I did enough research to know some of the fish I can't have. I decided that holding out for a larger tank, just because I couldn't have large tangs and a few other fish was not worth it. As anyone who stays in the hobby knows: this is the first tank, not the only tank. Even my wife is a bit sad that she likely will not get a yellow tang in this tank.

More coming over the weekend.

dleute
03/03/2017, 10:06 PM
What that have to do with apple?

Apple uses exif data to store orientation. This is great most of the time. But if you select an image direct from photos and upload it, there is a good chance an iPhone picture will be upside down since there is still a "correct" orientation to the camera.

I'm not sure when the exif only way of handling orientation was adopted, but it used to fix the photos themselves so in cases where you export to use in other systems that might not understand exif correctly (like reef central) the orientation would simply be correct.

Apple quality has dropped significantly over the years. Sometimes horrible bugs making software unusable and others simply not handling the details like above. It used to be that you could trust an Apple product to do the right thing like it could read your mind. I daily stop using more and more apple features because they don't "just work" anymore. Another current example, I can't currently be connected to a bluetooth headset and wifi at the same time from my iPhone. This means I have to use my cellular data to talk on skype with a headset. This, unfortunately, is one of hundreds of issues I've had recently. I just stopped spending time trying to fix/workaround. When something isn't working on an apple product now, I just stop using that thing. Switched to using my computer for all conferences.

Sorry, big tangent. Used to be a diehard apple fan, now the only reason I'm still using Apple products is because the competitor's phone explodes. And while I hate buggy junk products, I like not burning down my house. So, Apple gets a free pass for now.

--Derrek

Homestead_Dad
03/03/2017, 10:09 PM
If you want a tang I say go for it. My uncle kept a purple tang happy for 15 years in a 50 gal.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

homer1475
03/04/2017, 10:07 AM
I used to have that same exact vermont castings wood stove! Hated that thing, with all that catalytic combustion cr*p. Just give me a steel box I can build a fire in.

Nice start to the build though. I currently have an SCA 80G cube(32x24x24), love the cube design and they are super easy for maintenance, but you will quickly realize some of their shortcomings(like fish limitations for one).

To dleute:
I didn't realize only Crapple and Samsung were the only phone manufacturer's?(sarcasm)

dleute
03/04/2017, 06:28 PM
I used to have that same exact vermont castings wood stove! Hated that thing, with all that catalytic combustion cr*p. Just give me a steel box I can build a fire in.

Nice start to the build though. I currently have an SCA 80G cube(32x24x24), love the cube design and they are super easy for maintenance, but you will quickly realize some of their shortcomings(like fish limitations for one).

To dleute:
I didn't realize only Crapple and Samsung were the only phone manufacturer's?(sarcasm)

The SCA 90 gallon was my first choice before I found this cube on craigslist. Same as yours except 36 wide I believe. If I had 4 foot width, I would likely have purchased a 120->150 gallon tank. Next time.

Apple and Samsung are the only innovators. Everyone else is copying what both of them do. I don't actually like android much. I found Samsung's android to be better than google's "stock" android (apparently that's an unusual opinion). I like the note stylus, I like Samsung pay (way better than everyone else including Apple), I like the samsung camera and camera app. I like the waterproofing, I like the general build quality of S7 (particularly s7 active). I like the theoretical battery life (reality was another story, but that was controllable to some extent, when my iPhone decides to eat it's battery, nothing stops it). I don't like that it explodes.

There's a new motorola phone with clip on accessories that is a neat idea. Not sure how practical it is in real life. That's innovative.

The apple watch is still better than everyone else. The s2 and android watch I had couldn't compete with the first model apple watch. And that's sad because the Apple watch isn't all that good.

Yay for tangents!

--Derrek

dleute
03/05/2017, 10:54 AM
Getting into this hobby I knew was expensive. I researched all my big ticket costs and found ways to reduce them. Hence the secondhand tank and equipment.

When I went secondhand and was able to get a nearly complete equipment setup for about the cost of just the tank new, I thought I was doing great on cost.

Then I made my first order of stuff for in the tank. Dry rock, crushed coral live sand, marine pure, carbon, gfo, filter socks, phosban reactor, salt, kalkwasser starter kit, RO/DI system, hanna test kits. This is all from my order of things that go "in the tank".

The above doesn't include cleaning supplies or plumbing for the tank or manifold or ro/di controller or apex.

All the stuff I didn't think about (dozens of $10-$50 items like the magflipper which I love) ended up costing much much much more than the primary equipment in my case.

That said, I think I went in the right direction. The tank is in good shape, the sump is good enough, the skimmer is good enough, etc. I actually really like the maxspect Gyre though I don't think I would have chosen it myself. I'm happy to have it.

Would I do it this way again? Yes. But only because I know all these things will be replaced once I know what I want in an aquarium. In the future, I will likely have a lifereef skimmer, but right now it isn't worth the cost. While my stand is the size it is, the sump is fine.

In fact, my two biggest complaints are cabinet size (too small) and rim size on the tank (too big, prevents using most on-tank light mounting solutions, hence the light rack that is under construction). Now that I know that, I'm still happy with the 93g cube over the 90g scaquariums "cube". But, I may not have saved much money especially if I end up doubling lighting to meet the 30" front to back depth of the 93 (vs 24" depth of the sca 90g).

Some things I do know for the next tank: Way more space for sump filtration and likely a ghost overflow and returns all built together (probably rimless, but I care less about that now that I've had a rim. it's fine). Nothing "over the side" of the tank. Nothing. Not one thing. Not one. :) And no corner overflow.

Next post will go into some issues I had with setup. Bulkhead issues, sump noise, hose sizing and a few other things.

--Derrek

dleute
03/05/2017, 07:08 PM
If you want a tang I say go for it. My uncle kept a purple tang happy for 15 years in a 50 gal.

I don't know, those tang police have gotten kind of invasive. No respect for privacy. Might show up and abduct my tang.

--Derrek

dleute
03/07/2017, 02:34 PM
I'm not generally a diy type of person. In fact, my drill that I had at home was so bad, I bought a new one (actually went through 3 before I ended up with a good one).

I found the perfect drill after some mistrials. This is it: https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DCF610S2-12-Volt-4-Inch-Screwdriver/dp/B0043XX872/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1488920913&sr=8-7&keywords=dewalt+power+screwdriver

It's powerful enough to deal with screwing into wood, but small enough to be maneuverable inside a small cabinet. The clutch settings and LED are awesome. Only down side is I had to buy new bits. My former drill was corded and too bulky to use for this. I like it so much, I went on a spree of fixing other stuff around the house that was being difficult until I got this.

Enough of that. I purchased a used tank and had to plumb it entirely myself and clean it thoroughly. Plumbing the tank was somewhat frustrating because BRS bulkheads were a bit too large for one of the holes (the outside plastic rim hit the edge of the tank). So I spent several days looking for a solution. Once I found the solution, it only had it in 1 1/4 barbed end necessitating different tubing for the e-drain of the herbie.

A side note on braided tubing. I hate it. I thought it would be "easier" than pvc. I no longer think that. It doesn't flex well at all and I couldn't change the curve (couldn't get it warm enough). I really hate it. Next time I'm likely going all pvc instead. Gluing no longer seems like a huge deal (later post about the manifold).

It took several days to get the tank out of the car after buying it. So I first setup the sump, the powerheads and skimmer for an active vinegar bath. I also soaked the gyre and cleaned it with a toothbrush. Once the above plumbing was done, I set it all up and did a vinegar bath in the tank. (12 gallons of vinegar from the grocery store and filled the tank). I ran it for days fixing leaks (with my stupid plumbing, not the tank or the main bulkheads).

I used a paste to seal the threaded connections. I hate this stuff. In fact, I have since replaced some of the things I've plumbed with new pieces and used rector seal instead (similar but way better). This has worked much much better. I also stopped being too concerned with "over tightening". I only tightened by hand and I think previously I was under tightening.

After a few days, I was able to scrub all the leftover coralline and other crap off the tank. The vinegar bath was probably the best thing I did.

Once everything was cleared out I added ro/di (which I had been making into brute garbage cans for a few days) and live sand and salt. Ok, cycling a tank is boring. That started then.

One of the next challenges you can see in the attached picture. My sump uses holes to flow into the next section. These were incredibly noisy. To solve this (it's in my living room) I got a piece of aquamesh coarse cut to fit the sump and jammed it in there. It split up the water nicely and reduced 90% of the noise. The skimmer is still louder than I'd like, and there is some other dripping from something (I think the e-drain flow), but not horrible.

All in all, it wasn't too bad. I learned a lot that will certainly be useful next time around.

The real fun begins with the manifold. I'm going into that next. That still isn't on the tank. Been having issues with it one way or another for weeks.

Thanks for reading!

--Derrek

dleute
03/08/2017, 07:01 PM
Haha this is one spendy mid life crisis

Not worse than some crazy car? Right? RIGHT? Tell me that's true. ;)

dleute
03/08/2017, 08:42 PM
Haha I would of said motorcycle but to each there own haha! Next you will upgrade to a 300gal

OH, well, I started planning the upgrade to the 300 gallon before I started the cycle on this one. ;)

There is already a long list of things I would do differently. If a move triggers a tank tear down, you better believe a bigger tank will be at the new house. This house doesn't have a place that I can put the tank backed up against a fish room.

--Derrek

dleute
03/18/2017, 02:46 PM
My dot dash wrasse Abbey died today. I put the details in my chemistry post. But that is why there hasn't been an update about the manifold yet. Been trying to figure out what is wrong with abbey.

Will update again once I see my royal grammas Corduroy and Houdini are ok.

--Derrek