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Unread 08/23/2012, 04:29 PM   #1
dtum
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Winterfell Reef - A 100 Gallon Journey

Chapter 1. Planning.

Previous Experience

Ever since I was little I’ve enjoyed aquariums, fish and underwater plants. My first aquarium was a 3 litre glass jar and was a home to 4 female and 1 male guppies. I was fascinated with this small water world and its inhabitants. The jar stood on a windowsill, did not have a heater, I was 7 years old and did not know about proper care, significance of water changes and nitrogen lifecycle. Surprisingly, the aquarium lasted for a few month, until one day I decided to perform a 100% water change with fresh tap water… The fish died and I did not have an explanation. That was 25 years ago and I did not have real access to aquarium keeping books.

For the past 15 years I’ve always had at least one aquarium in my household. I did mostly freshwater, was especially taken by African cichlids (tropheus are so much fun, frontosa is simply majestic). Did a number of planted tanks, that hobby had really progressed in the past 10 years, my last aquarium featured a CO2 system and intense lighting. I even tried a fish-only 10 gallon nano-reef in 2005.

All of this was preparation for the ultimate challenge in aquarium keeping - a saltwater reef system.

I started with a 10 gallon coral reef in 2011, made all newbie mistakes and have quickly realized that I needed better lighting, more water volume, greater fish variety, water stability and much much more.

By the end of 2011 I decided to order a 28 gallon JBJ Advanced Nano Cube system.



This system lasted for 7 months but I’ve discovered a few limitations:

the daylight lights system was quite powerful, but coral colours would not “pop”, a coral that would exhibit rich green and red colours at the store would quickly appear rather drab and monochrome. dusk/dawn lighting was great.
curved glass on the front panel quickly became distracting, made taking pictures much harder and was not easy to clean
I’ve stocked the tank with 5 fish and wanted many more, needless to say that even 5 was too many
putting a dosing pump on such a small system seemed excessive, but I quickly got tired of manual dosing
So while I still have this system and it is thriving, I decided to design and build a new system that will address all of the above mentioned deficiencies.

Future Build Specifications

I did not want to go with an extremely large system, so 150+ gallon aquarium was not an option. An aquarium that is too small was not worth the effort either. The sweet spot would be somewhere between 70 and 100 gallons.

Choosing aquarium length was a no brainer: I want to use Ecotech Radion lights, they cover an area of 24” by 24”, so 48” viewing side seemed like a perfect fit. Not too long and yet I have tons of options for lighting, this is a standard size.

Aquarium depth (front-to-back) was much trickier, a lot of aquariums that I like got as far as 30” deep, every hobbyist I asked recommended that I go with as much room front-to-back as possible. In the end I chose 24”, which should give me more than ample room for some nice aquascaping and great viewing perspective.

For height I am going 20” high, this should make aquarium maintenance fairly straightforward - I will be able to reach the sand without any difficulty.

I’ve made a number of cutouts and experimented with different sizing and locations. At the end I’ve picked the location that worked best and now my future aquarium measures at 48” x 24” x 20”.







I will be going with a rimless look and low-iron glass (starfire) on front and sides. Bottom will be tempered glass with 3 holes, 2 drains 1-1/2” and 1 return of 1”.

Overflow will be internal, 3 sided rectangular black acrylic centered on the back panel.

The cabinet stand will measure 48-1/4” x 22 1/4” x 36” high, custom built, espresso colour, extra door on the left end and a removable post in front. I plan to add an additional door on the right in case I ever decide to move the tank.

The sand depth will be between 1” and 2”, the bottom part of the tank will be hidden behind the stand bevel.

The sump will be 36” x 17” x 16”.

Winterfell

I decided to document this process from the start, hoping that I will have a point of reference that I can always come back to in order to revisit this journey. I hope that this journal will help others to learn from my experience and mistakes and that I will be able to contribute to the wonderful hobby of marine reef keeping.

2011 and 2012 were the years when I was introduced to the works of George R. R. Martin, namely “The Game of Thrones”, part of the fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire”. This elaborate saga featured a castle called Winterfell. The name had caught my attention and I decided to give my new build the same name. I hope to use a similar colour scheme of cold blues and the rocks remind me of castle walls.


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Unread 08/23/2012, 04:38 PM   #2
mandarin_goby
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Love the title and the cardboard mock-up. I'm a huge GRRM fan myself looking forward to updates!


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Unread 08/23/2012, 08:07 PM   #3
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Game of thrones rocks! So does reefing! LOL!


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Unread 08/23/2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rovster View Post
Game of thrones rocks! So does reefing! LOL!
Man rov, we've got quite a few things in common. Lol


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*blackthunda stands for a black Mistubishi 3000GT with black rims I used to own. Don't get any funny ideas!

Current Tank Info: 200 Gal custom tank with dual corner overflows, 80 gal custom sump/refugium, Neptune Apex controller, Dual Lumenmax Elite reflectors with 250 Radiums, SWC 160 Cone Skimmer, 2x Jebao WP-25....and some other stuff.
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Unread 08/23/2012, 09:02 PM   #5
Steve Wright2
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Nice looking home you have there dtum

the stand will probably need some work as it does not look stable on the right hand side (LOL?)

big fan of Game of Thrones also, so the thread title attracted me in

good luck with the build

you gotta have a dwarf angel in there


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Unread 08/23/2012, 10:17 PM   #6
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I hope you don't mind but I have a couple of questions. I've just put in a similar sized tank and don't have a basement. If you have one, things are easier. Judging from the fact that your dining room is nearby, how do you intend to get top off water to the tank? I assume the kitchen is nearby thus providing a ready water source. For water changes, do you have an easy place to dump old water? Again, kitchen should be nearby but dumping 5 gallon buckets in a sink can be tricky (I have a bathroom behind my tank so the shower stall makes it easier).

I notice you have a nice chandelier hanging over your dining room table. Can you easily run some electrical over your tank so you can run your Radions off power from the ceiling? They have substantial power supplies but they are pretty cool (had a pair recently) and you might be able to hide them up there behind a service panel over the tank.

Last, and most important, how do you get the cardboard to hold water? Every time I try that, it just gets soggy. Yours looks great.

Can't wait to see pics of your build. Great idea overall.


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Current Tank Info: 125 Rimless Leemar, Apex, Trigger 30 Elite Sump, Vertex 180i Skimmer, 2 X Gen4 Radion XR30W, BM Doser, 2xMP40WES, 2xTunze 6095, Sicce Syncra 4.0.
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Unread 08/23/2012, 10:35 PM   #7
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Having done the low iron glass once, I would not do it again. Rimless, yes, for sure. I'd certainly polish and bevel, but for the cost, the benefits are minimal - and the stuff scratches very easily. Don't keep your mag float in your aquarium, and clean it with a tooth brush carefully before each glass cleaning. The tiny little snails and forams that like to get under the scrubbing pad on the inner mag side are enough to scratch the glass. If I go another rimless cube tank, it'll be regular old plate glass (well, beveled and polished, but certainly plate glass). Just my experience.


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Unread 08/23/2012, 10:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcolletteiii View Post
Having done the low iron glass once, I would not do it again. Rimless, yes, for sure. I'd certainly polish and bevel, but for the cost, the benefits are minimal - and the stuff scratches very easily. Don't keep your mag float in your aquarium, and clean it with a tooth brush carefully before each glass cleaning. The tiny little snails and forams that like to get under the scrubbing pad on the inner mag side are enough to scratch the glass. If I go another rimless cube tank, it'll be regular old plate glass (well, beveled and polished, but certainly plate glass). Just my experience.
+1 big time. It's not worth the extra money. If you want super clear, go with acrylic and the almost unavoidable scratches. Starfire is lovely right up until that first mistake on the front of the tank. Then, not so much.


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I want to burn twice as bright and half as long. Oh, and a full tank crash is just an excuse for a new build.

Current Tank Info: 125 Rimless Leemar, Apex, Trigger 30 Elite Sump, Vertex 180i Skimmer, 2 X Gen4 Radion XR30W, BM Doser, 2xMP40WES, 2xTunze 6095, Sicce Syncra 4.0.
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Unread 08/24/2012, 06:24 AM   #9
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My ELOS tank is rimless, low iron, and hard to scratch (none on either tank 2 years in despite a "helpful" 7 and 2 year old).


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Current Tank Info: 2 separate 250G bowfront rimless ELOS tanks plumbed to 260G sump, 220G refugium, 220G frag, BK DeLuxe 300, 400W MH x4, closed loops, 3/4hp chiller x2, Phos reactor, Kalk reactor, Charcoal reactor, Ca reactor, 60G surge tanks, & a huge elec bill
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Unread 10/19/2012, 06:41 PM   #10
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The day that I have been waiting for so long has home: the tank was shipped and successfully delivered.

It took just over a month from the time I've put in the order and the delivery guy showed up at my doorsteps. Since then I've changed my mind at least 3 times about aquarium's location, that had also affected the overflow placement.

The tank has found its new home:



I must say that I was a bit surprised when I saw the black silicone - for some reason I had those light blue edges in mind that I've seen on some of the tanks. As I was told this is the way 95% of the starfire rimless tanks are being made - clear silicone turns white a few years down the road. I think that I've got used to it already.

You may also notice a plastic band that goes around the tank at the bottom - I was given a wrong base and styrofoam, both are 3/4'' and make the tank stand much higher. I expect to receive a thinner replacement next week.



I certainly like the size of it and think that this in an optimal upgrade from my 28 gallon cube. I have also made sure to have a door on each side for easy access. One problem that I have encountered was to get the sump into the stand through the side door. The opening was 18 1/4'' and the sump, although measuring at 18'' was wider at the base by a good quarter inch. It was an extremely tight fit, I had to take the door off and also to chisel the opening a little.



One thing that I did not expect was how big the sump really is in relation to the cabinet space and how little room there is for all other equipment. I'm sure I will have fun figuring it out.



Next thing on my list is plumbing. I've figured most of it out but need to get a few pieces, for example, it is not that easy to get a 1.5'' gate valve in Canada.



The winter is coming...


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Unread 10/19/2012, 07:22 PM   #11
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Awesome......are you going to build a wooooooooaaall? LOL!


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Unread 10/19/2012, 07:54 PM   #12
dtum
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Awesome......are you going to build a wooooooooaaall? LOL!
I am going to name the Mandarin Goby - Tyrion.


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Unread 10/19/2012, 08:25 PM   #13
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Kings Landing all the way! Tyrion Lannister rules.


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Unread 10/19/2012, 08:38 PM   #14
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Let me guess.....Stark LEDs?


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Unread 10/19/2012, 08:51 PM   #15
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Let me guess.....Stark LEDs?
HA! clever indeed!!!


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Unread 10/19/2012, 09:55 PM   #16
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Do you have room for a kraken?
Winter is coming....


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Unread 10/20/2012, 07:15 AM   #17
dtum
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You guys have made my day with these comments! If a starfish ever loses one of its limbs I'm calling it Jamie.


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Unread 10/20/2012, 07:41 AM   #18
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Subscribing. I love the 48"x24" dimension (had a 120g in the past). I am planning a build myself (36"x20x21 65g or the 36x24x25 90g by DSA). I've always liked rimless and fell in love with black silicone at MACNA this year. Unfortunately, a custom build by ReefSavvy or C2C might be out of my budget, thus the DSA.

One thing I am wrestling with is whether to go rimless. My tank will be in the living room, and I am concerned about the lights beaming into my eyes while sitting low on the couch (TEK T5). Are you doing naked suspended lights or maybe a hanging canopy?


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Unread 10/20/2012, 08:09 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by zachfishman View Post
Subscribing. I love the 48"x24" dimension (had a 120g in the past). I am planning a build myself (36"x20x21 65g or the 36x24x25 90g by DSA). I've always liked rimless and fell in love with black silicone at MACNA this year. Unfortunately, a custom build by ReefSavvy or C2C might be out of my budget, thus the DSA.

One thing I am wrestling with is whether to go rimless. My tank will be in the living room, and I am concerned about the lights beaming into my eyes while sitting low on the couch (TEK T5). Are you doing naked suspended lights or maybe a hanging canopy?
36x24x? should be better in my opinion. If I could I would've gone 30'' depth on my tank. Now that I see it in person I really like that extra depth.

As for the lighting, you've hit the nail on its head. My stand is quite high - 36'', so when I do sit on a low couch I might see the stray light. My plan was to go with 2 Radions, but I am really concerned about the light, but this might not be as bed with LEDs than it is with T5s.


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Unread 10/22/2012, 06:46 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtum View Post
As for the lighting, you've hit the nail on its head. My stand is quite high - 36'', so when I do sit on a low couch I might see the stray light. My plan was to go with 2 Radions, but I am really concerned about the light, but this might not be as bed with LEDs than it is with T5s.
I won't have the funds for LED, but I've heard that you can hang them a little towards the front of the tank and angle them back slightly to help with stray light.


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Unread 10/23/2012, 05:43 PM   #21
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As long as you keep the magnet clean and store it out of the tank, and use a good quality mag-scraper, you won't get scratches. make sure to use a dedicated cleaning tool for the substrate area and NEVER use the magnet down there. I like to use coarse sand to keep it out of cleaning tools.


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Unread 10/26/2012, 05:41 PM   #22
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Cool Chapter 3. Plumbing

Chapter 3. Plumbing.

Plumbing the tank... Although I understood how my JBJ Nanocube simple plumbing worked and have read a number of reef aquarium books, I must admit that I just did not have the full picture of what I wanted to do in my head. All these terms: bulkheads, nozzles, overflows, herbie, durso, lockline... Let's just say that there's a steep learning curve.

All of this meant that when I was ordering my aquarium and when asked what type of overflow and holes I wanted I had to ask one of my friends about it and just relay the answer. No matter how much reading I did I just could not grasp the whole concept, just isolated parts. I knew that there will come a day when I will have to understand and build it and continued to hope for the best.

That day had come once the tank was delivered. There was no going back. I am much better at understanding things when I have something tangible, something I can see and feel. When I saw other people's build diaries and saw photos of 40+ plumbing parts laid out on the floor I could not figure out where each part would go.



So I started with a simple sketch, then adjusted it a bit and then some more. Then I showed it on reef forums and got tons of feedback. Slowly things started to make sense, I must've made over a dozen revisions to the diagram. But what really helped was printing the diagram and going to other aquarist's houses, seeing their plumbing and then updating my diagram with their help.

Finally the diagram was ready and I went to Lowe's to buy the parts. There I quickly figured out the difference between Schedule 40 and 80, ABS, PVC and CPVC plumbing types, elbows, tees, bushings and valves. I've also learned that some of the parts could not be bought there and that I needed specialty stores for 1.25'' threaded adapters and gate valves. And these stores are not close by and you better know what you want before you visit them. It took at least 4 trips to Lowe's to get the parts.



Another lesson learned was not to glue anything until all of the plumbing was assembled. I've learned the difference between different PVC cements, primers and cleaners. Once my plumbing was semi-done one of my fellow aquarists had visited me at my home and made some invaluable comments.

After that the plumbing was ready. My diagram now started to make sense.





The plumbing was put in place and glued.





I filled aquarium with tap water and let it run for 24 hours.



And here is the lockline



Once the water test was finished my aquarium was emptied. Next stop: aquascaping.




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Unread 10/27/2012, 06:07 AM   #23
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Game of Thrones! Winterfell! What a great idea. Love that show and you just gave me a ton of ideas. Thanks!


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Unread 10/27/2012, 06:53 AM   #24
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Very nice indeed. The skimmer zone seems to be full of plumbing, is the skimmer going to fit? I would think the optics on the new Radions would keep stray light to a minimum.


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Unread 10/27/2012, 07:21 AM   #25
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Very nice indeed. The skimmer zone seems to be full of plumbing, is the skimmer going to fit? I would think the optics on the new Radions would keep stray light to a minimum.
I am thinking of making a cardboard mock up of the skimmer and checking whether it will fit there or not.
I am torn between the new Radion Pros and a T5 Sunpower Dimmable.


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