View Full Version : dwizum's nano

05/10/2017, 11:27 AM
Roughly 8 years ago I built a giant plywood tank:


That tank was demolished last spring. Since then I have been without aquariums (unless you count the betas and other small stuff my kids have). Lately, I've had the itch, so I am setting up a much smaller and more manageable system.

I didn't mind the complexity so much on the large tank, because honestly it wasn't that complex. What really got me on it was the sheer scale. It takes time to deal with a tank that large, even when "everything" is automated. Besides the time, there's a huge risk. I had a lot of actual sleepless nights, worrying about the tank. It's never good to lose livestock or have a tank disaster, but when you nuke a normal tank it's not a big deal, compared to something going wrong in a system with 400-ish total gallons of water in it. Some people have the constitution to deal with that, I apparently don't. No matter how redundant and over-engineered I did it, I just don't think I dealt with that much volume well.

So, I'm building something smaller this time. It still needs to be fairly simple and fairly self-sufficient. It won't be nearly as DIY, mostly because I don't have the time any more. But also because, honestly, I think I'm going to enjoy building a system that's mostly off the shelf. I'm sure I'll be frustrated with things that don't meet my needs, but the main thing for me is that it's a different adventure this time around.

Okay, enough words, on with the details.

I've purchased most of the equipment, it's started to arrive. The UPS man is going to be very busy, this ended up being something like 8 or 9 separate orders from 6 different vendors that broke down into nearly 15 shipments. I sold everything (even my refractometer) when I took the tank down, so I am literally starting from scratch.

1) Tank is an 18" cube (24 gallons) from aquamaxx. Rimless low iron glass.
2) Sump is a standard 10g with baffles
3) SCA-301 skimmer from eBay
4) Kessil A160we LED unit for light, with Kessil's own controller to dim and fade
5) BRS biopellet reactor
6) BRS media reactor for carbon/GFO
7) 100w Jager heater
8) DIY ATO with a peristalitc pump, to top off with kalk
9) Quiet One 4000 pump, to run return and the reactors
10) An RO/DI system from BRS, since I sold mine
11) Bulkheads, valves, salt mix, sand, test kits, refractometer, all the other small stuff you need on a reef tank
12) I'm using a stand I built for a nano maybe 10 years ago but never actually used.

The stand and the ATO are probably going to be the only actual DIY efforts on this tank. The stand is already done and the ATO is cheating since I bought a kit, so it's basically a zero DIY system. New territory for me.

I still need a few odds and ends but I feel like I have a pretty good head start. Buying EVERYTHING all at once from scratch is kind of daunting, even when you've done this reefing thing before. I'm probably forgetting a lot of stuff.

I don't really have a plan yet for livestock. I want to build a system that can handle anything, and then if or when I make up my mind, I'll be ready to go. Since the system is so small, I may be re-stocking it from scratch every once in a while, anyways.

Things are arriving now, I'm traveling some in the next two weeks and have a busy life but I will update as progress is made.

05/12/2017, 08:38 AM
Bring on the pictures :D

05/12/2017, 08:51 AM
DWZM is back! Yay!

Sugar Magnolia
05/12/2017, 12:00 PM
Looking forward to seeing pictures and watching the progress!

I took my tank down last summer after having had a tank of some sort for the last 14 years.

<img src="/images/welcome.gif" width="500" height="62"><br><b><i><big><big>Back To Reef Central</b></i></big></big>

05/12/2017, 01:35 PM
No DIY led this go around, huh?

05/14/2017, 06:35 AM
The stand was built maybe 10 years ago for another project that never happened, with a smaller tank. As I was getting ready I decided I didn't trust it so I installed some 2" square fir strips along the top and down the back, along with a plywood gusset on the back. Excuse the mess, these photos were taken as the work was in progress.

It's going to be a tight fit. I had originally designed this stand to hold a 10 gallon sump but I must have been a little loopy when I built it because the clearance between the internal reinforcements is the EXACT length of a standard 10g. I will have zero space to spare, assuming it even fits. If it does not fit I will have to get creative, I guess. I don't yet have the sump tank but I hope to get it soon. Everything else is here, there's about a billion boxes in the garage!




05/14/2017, 07:10 AM
Nice to see you good sir, it's been a while.
Hope all is well.

05/14/2017, 07:57 AM
Welcome back! I always enjoyed your posts.

05/14/2017, 05:12 PM
Thanks for all the welcomes.

The 10g doesn't fit crosswise as I'd planned. It's about 1/8" too tight to clear the supports. First actual step putting two things together for this build and it doesn't work. :D

I may just run it oriented front to back, shoved to one side. That'll give a little shelf space next to the sump, which might be better anyways.

05/15/2017, 01:36 PM
The tank itself showed up today. At first I thought they sent the wrong one because the box was HUGE. Like more than twice the dimensions of the tank. But no, it was correct. It just had a billion feet of paper packing material in it wrapped around the tank.

My son decided to turn it into a mosh pit


05/23/2017, 04:49 AM
I managed a few minutes last night to start the plumbing and got most of it cut to size only to discover I have no pvc glue. The red pipe is going to look very nice.



05/24/2017, 10:07 AM
Overflow and back panel are in. Starting to look more like a reef tank.


Also got the baffles in the sump. Just one double baffle to separate the return pump. Keeping things simple.


05/31/2017, 08:54 AM
Tank is wet


05/31/2017, 04:03 PM

Sugar Magnolia
06/01/2017, 01:29 PM
Nice! Are you going bare bottom?

06/01/2017, 02:03 PM
Nope. I have 20 lbs of sand and just haven't put it in yet. Also more dry rock. Hoping to do that tonight, I may get some live rock rubble at the lfs on the way home.

06/01/2017, 04:15 PM
As evidenced by the current sandstorm


I got some rock rubble at the lfs. They had a livestock specimen I was really excited about - something I've kept before but don't often see for sale. I asked him if he'd hold it and he said he'd at least give me first dibs but he didn't think anyone else would be interested anyways. Still not convinced I want it in this tank but I'm thinking about it...

06/05/2017, 05:07 PM
I should have rinsed the sand. The sandstorm took a few days to settle and it's kicking back up any time I touch anything. That's what I get for being in a rush. I should know better.

Anyways the rock is in as well. Not sure if the layout is final or not, I tried to make two separate islands, leaving plenty of room for coral to grow in. I'd like to get to the point where there is a lot of coral on a little rock instead of the other way around. I'd prefer the rock to not even be visible.


06/05/2017, 05:10 PM
View from the kitchen


View from straight on, further back


06/05/2017, 07:03 PM
I got a Jebao PP4 prop pump to replace the cheap chinese no-name pump, because it was huge and ugly. Bonus, the new pump is programmable. I have it set to sine wave up to 100% flow and it's pretty cool to see the variation. This is my first variable flow in a small tank (hell, it's my first small tank full stop) and I like how quickly the water column reacts.

I also set up the controller for the LED unit.

I have to say something. People who have been in the hobby continuously might not recognize the leaps and bounds in advancement as clearly as someone like me who has stepped away for a while. When I built my big system, one of my main goals was variability and controllable functions. It took a lot of effort to get that system the way I wanted it in terms of flexibility. It's pretty amazing that you can go buy that sort of functionality (and more) off the shelf these days, for pennies on the dollar, and it works well right out of the box and is easy to use. This kind of control over lighting and flow was basically really expensive, klunky, or non-existent the last time I set up a new tank. Newbs these days don't know how good they have it.

Sugar Magnolia
06/06/2017, 01:25 PM
It's pretty amazing how far the technology has come in just the past few years! It sure does make reefkeeping a much more enjoyable experience.

The tank is looking great so far!

06/11/2017, 07:49 AM
Got a touch of diatom growth on the rocks this weekend, and put snails in. If we get out of the house today I will pick up some hermits. Everything is on track. Starting to think more about livestock but still undecided.

06/17/2017, 05:43 AM
Diatoms gone, parameters all in check, it's getting hard to stare at an empty tank!


06/17/2017, 05:49 AM
I am loving this skimmer, for the price I don't see how you can touch it. This is 2 days on what is essentially an empty tank:


Construction is high quality, it's pretty quiet, and it was easy to adjust. I like the simplicity of the wedge pipe. The collection cup is easy to remove - just a friction fit with a silicone gasket. It came with a waste drain line and an air intake silencer. It does dump some bubbles into the sump but not anywhere near enough for them to make it back to the tank. Out of all the equipment I bought for this rig, this skimmer is the clear winner in price vs features and performance.

09/05/2017, 10:40 AM
I got a new sump


Sugar Magnolia
09/10/2017, 11:07 AM
Did you build it or just buy a premade? Any livestock yet?