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Old 11/22/2007, 12:27 AM   #1
thrillreefer
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thrillreefer's 29 gal resuscitation (pics)

Hello fellow Reefcentralites,

Please join me as I document my struggles to transform my ailing box of rocks into a reef that I can be proud of. Feel free to watch, laugh and learn along with me.

I've been in this hobby for a few years now, and while I have enjoyed myself immensely, I've never had a reef that I felt was a real success. That (, I hope) is about to change. Previous problems have stemmed from lack of knowledge, lapses in diligence (!) and poor tank planning. So, I have decided to combat all three causes of failure with the power of this site. Come help me spend my time and money, slap my wrist if needed and enjoy the ride. I just might share the glory when I win TOTM

Some background: I started working in a SW LFS in high school, and of course soon wanted my own reef. So my dad and I spent one new year's eve building an 80 gal acrylic tank for my bedroom. I've been hooked ever since, and I probably poured half of my earnings from the LFS into that tank: MH, sea swirls, skimmers that I immediately took apart to "improve" and never again got to work. I decided that reefing was all about tinkering, and I never looked back.

I'm proud to say that since that first reef, I have had in my possession an unbroken string of reef tanks (if you count the year and a half that my mom topped off a tank of LR nearly devoid of anything else). I eventually brought most of the contents of the 80 gallon to college on subsequent flights between Seattle and Boston, usually in tupperware in my backpack. I actually still have a few corals that I picked up while working at the LFS: neon green sinularia, galaxea, yellow scroll, etc. They are tough to kill, yes, but I feel pretty good about keeping them alive through 6+ years of boom and bust reefkeeping. Long story short, I have now graduated and am living in more permanent housing, and it is time to get this reefkeeping thing under control.

So, the current sorry state of affairs: I had everything in a 29 gal AGA tank until 3 days ago, when I moved it to a 29 acrylic SeaClear. I was confused about the sudden growth of hair algae in the tank, until I took out all the rocks and found this just in the sand:

Not only was my cleanup crew not eating the HA, the majority had died and were now fueling its growth with their decay. All inhabitants of the tank sat in buckets overnight while I readied the new tank. The opening in the new tank was too small to fit some of the larger pieces of LR, so I routed the opening larger, leaving about 1.25 inches on the front and sides. I drilled holes for two 3/4 inch bulkeads in the top rear corners, and a 1" bulkhead in the center top. This larger bulkhead, for the drain, I surrounded with a tiny DIY overflow, just 3" long, 2" front to back and about 6" high, glued to the back wall around the bulkhead (which now cannot be removed):


I stupidly decided that this would work for a closed loop, returning via a SCWD to the two top corner bulkheads, but as you can clearly understand, it just sucked air with the water and created nothing but bubbles. So, I did what any reefer would do, and sacrificed a bucket for a makeshift sump:


I fired up the pump, and the SCWD is working well, but the overflow is just a naked bulkhead inside the box, and is operating at a volume somewhere between very loud and obnoxiously loud. I wish I could play the newbie card here, but I just have to step back and accept that my initial design was poor.
To get an idea of the magnitude of the problem here, take a look inside the overflow and sump while the return pump is operating.



Pretty idiotically designed, although the surface is well skimmed, and there is certainly adequate oxygen exchange. Additional problems/setbacks include the following. During the move, I killed half of my fish in the tank (a green chromis, the yellow watchman remains alive and well), my green sinularia (which I've had for 6-7 yrs)was neglected under a rock for an extra day, and began to rot, dropping arms and gunk into the water when I finally rescued it. I noticed what I believe to be RTN on one of my acro frags (how nice), and I have a moderate to heavy infestation of redbugs on my smooth-skinned acros. I tested the SG today (albeit with a swing-arm hydrometer) and it came in at a cool 1.027, temps dropped possibly as low as 70F during the overnight bucket stay while moving, and I've notice some of my mushrooms melting. The tank has a nice colony of hair algae, valonia is rampant, and I estimate that 80% of my snails and hermits died during the month since I bought them.

I sure hope this is rock bottom.


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Old 11/22/2007, 12:38 AM   #2
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Installing a durso on the overflow seems like a good place to start. However, this is complicated by the fact that my overflow box is just 2 inches front to back, which makes installing an elbow impossible. I believe that I can make a modified intake out of a 1" mpt X slip adapter, gluing a piece of acrylic over the slip end and then drilling a 1 inch hole in one side that will point down when screwed in. The air intake for the durso can be created outside the tank using an elbow off of the bulkhead and drilling a small hole for the air intake. I've never made one of these before, but it looks pretty straightforward. I also have the added incentive that even a poorly operating durso will be at least an order of magnitude better than my current configuration. The finished product should look something like this (yay MS paint)



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Old 11/22/2007, 05:59 PM   #3
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Good idea! I thought of the elbow until I realized there wouldn't be enough room... Even if it all works out as planned, there still may be some noise coming from the overflow, depending on how much of a drop it is to the hole you drilled.

Look on the bright side. No leaks! lol


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Old 11/22/2007, 11:19 PM   #4
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Right, it may not be completely whisper quiet, but the drop is about 2 inches or less. I can certainly handle a little soothing trickle. My only real concern is that the intake in the overflow box may still suck some air if I just drill a hole in the fitting without extending the sides downward. Guess I'll just have to try out a few different mods and hope one works. Good thing tomorrow is a day off.


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Old 11/23/2007, 06:44 PM   #5
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you could stop the overflow for a bit and drill out the hole so you could fit a 1" elbow into it (and seal with silicone), that would make it a little more like a real durso. Don't know how much room you have behind the tank for drilling though... maybe a dremel?


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Old 11/24/2007, 06:04 AM   #6
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Can't you just stop the return pump, remove the plumbing to the bulkhead, unscrew your bulkhead, install a street 90 into the bulkhead (which should have less than 2" of throw once installed in the bulkhead), re-install the bulkhead with the street 90 already installed, then reconnect the plumbing and fire it all back up?


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--- "mens sana in corpore sano" ---

Current Tank Info: SPS Dedicated 24x24x20 Trimless with Beananimal Overflow | 20 g Sump | Bubble King Mini 160 | Biopellets in TLF Reactor | ATI Sunpower 6 x 24W T5HO | Vortech MP20 | Tunze Nanostream 6025 | Eheim 1260 Return | GHL Profilux Standalone Doser
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Old 11/24/2007, 06:46 AM   #7
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if the bulkhead is threaded...you could also cut off most of the threads, you only need one or two to catch and hold it in place, i've had to do that before.....but two inches..man that's tight


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"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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Old 11/24/2007, 10:33 AM   #8
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Because the overflow box is so tiny, I can't take the bulkhead out (at least without cutting off most of the threads). I will probably have to cut the threads to fit the tee for the durso behind the tank, but I need to leave enough to cement in a bit of 1" PVC to attach the tee. So I came up with another solution. I cut a 1" PVC male adapter, removed some of the threads and cut some acrylic scraps to build a makeshift elbow.


I used gel superglue to attach everything, and the DIY fitting was strong enough to hold up to sanding and shaping with a file. I leak tested it, and here it is ready to screw into the overflow:


Screwing the thing in will be fairly difficult, since I have so little room to maneuver and can't get more than a finger or two inside the box. I bought PVC and fittings, so I should be able to make the rest of the durso once I get this guy in.


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Old 11/24/2007, 10:41 AM   #9
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lookin good


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Old 11/24/2007, 12:55 PM   #10
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nice work...


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-Brad

"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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Old 11/24/2007, 08:03 PM   #11
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After leak testing the fitting I built, I maneuvered it into place in the overflow box, only to find that the threads on the inside of the bulkhead are larger than 1" (which surprised me since 1" PVC fits into the slip fitting on the other side). Anyway, this turned out to be beneficial, because I think screwing this fitting into the threads in such a small space would have been tough. With the intake on my new fitting pointed downward, I fired up the pump. Of course, the fitting sucked a lot of air, though it was a small improvement over the naked bulkhead.

I had planned to unscrew the fpt x hose barb elbow that is currently attached to the outside of the drain bulkhead in order to attach a 1" PVC tee for the air intake on the durso, but I decided to just drill a hole in my new fitting and attach airline tubing for the air intake as a quick test. The water level in the overflow box kept see-sawing, so I removed the fitting and drilled a hole to install a second piece of airline tubing. When the water level continued to see-saw, I went back to the durso website http://www.dursostandpipes.com/ and discovered that an oscillating water level in the overflow box is usually due to excess back pressure in the drain (caused by the drain outlet being too far submerged in the sump) rather than by an incorrectly sized air intake on the durso. I raised the drain hose to the surface of my "sump" and reinstalled the fitting. This time, the water level held steady, and the loud slurping sound was replaced by a noise like someone sucking the last of their drink through a drinking straw.



The water splashing into the overflow has an audible trickle to it, but this was diminished somewhat with filter floss. I estimate that I reduced the overall volume by about 80%, and the grating, annoying quality of the noise by about 90%. It's not completely quiet, but at least I can watch TV without turning off the return pump.


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Old 11/24/2007, 10:17 PM   #12
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You'll likely improve a little more on the noise if you do go ahead and put a tee on the outside for the durso. Really, if done right, you should hear more from the hum of the pump than from the overflow. Good job so far and good critical thinking!


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Old 11/25/2007, 07:47 AM   #13
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Good work! In that last pic I can see how small the overlfow actually is - I didn't realize it was that tiny. Great DIY problem solving.


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--- "mens sana in corpore sano" ---

Current Tank Info: SPS Dedicated 24x24x20 Trimless with Beananimal Overflow | 20 g Sump | Bubble King Mini 160 | Biopellets in TLF Reactor | ATI Sunpower 6 x 24W T5HO | Vortech MP20 | Tunze Nanostream 6025 | Eheim 1260 Return | GHL Profilux Standalone Doser
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Old 11/25/2007, 10:39 PM   #14
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The overflow was actually a DIY skimmer box that I had put together to fit around a tiny powerhead which dishcarged out a small hole in the side (now covered). The box originally had 4 sides and was just clipped to the side of the tank at the correct height. It worked, but only when the water level in the tank was close to the bottom of the teeth. Otherwise, too much water came in below the surface and slicks developed. Probably would have worked over a larger range of water depths with a larger pump, but I switched over to this new acrylic tank to fix water flow issues.

The tiny overflow (2 x 3 inches) is handling the flow from my Rio 2100 return pump at a little over 3 ft of head: the flow is about 400 gph, factoring about 90 % efficiency through the SCWD. Water depth is an inch above the bottom of the overflow's teeth, which leaves me about 1/2 inch of teeth and 1/4 inch above the overflow for a failsafe should the teeth clog. If the DIY elbow clogs...then I'm in trouble. So this configuration probably will not be permanent.


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Old 11/25/2007, 10:54 PM   #15
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4 days post set-up on the tank, snapped a few pics before lights out

FTS


L/R sides


I'm fairly happy with the aquascaping, although some of the tonga branch rock near the top will be rearranged to add a little more height to the rockwork. Also, I need some black PVC or Loc-line stat.

the one remaining fish: yellow watchman



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Old 11/26/2007, 12:09 AM   #16
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You should look into making the PVC returns black, They kinda stick out like a sore thumb. Looking good other than that!

Still running with the bucket sump?


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Old 11/26/2007, 10:41 PM   #17
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Yeah they do. The irony is that I switched from my 29 gal glass tank so that I could get the large RIO powerhead out of the tank and have a cleaner look; right now, with the overflow and the large PVC fittings, the tank has far more noticable equipment than it did with the dark grey PH hidden behind the rocks with a small nozzle sticking out to direct flow.

Flow in this tank is far better, though it is not reaching all the way to the corners or to the bottom with the current fittings. Also, the water level has been slowly rising in the display, and today increased more than 1/4 inch from morning until I got home from work around 8. Because there is so much flow for this size OF box, the filter floss I jammed in there to reduce noise from water rushing in had already started to clog and restrict flow somewhat (after ~5 days). Admittedly, I kicked up more detritus than usual in setting up and rearranging rocks, but this seems pretty excessive.

It looks like I will have to make it a priority to change the overflow. Two ideas come to mind: and external overflow box, or removing the box and using a elbow with a short standpipe off of the existing bulkhead in the back wall. The external box carries a higher chance of success, but requires more work, especially in routing an opening in the back wall of the tank.

An elbow off of the bulkhead would be quite a bit easier, but I have some doubts as to whether I could make this quiet by using a Stockman or inverted stockman (what is that called again?) I rarely see anyone using just a bulkhead in the back wall with a pipe leading to the surface, so there must be a few reasons why this is not a good choice. It might be hard to control noise, or might be more fragile a setup than most people want to risk.


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Old 11/27/2007, 03:41 AM   #18
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as for the pvc, you could have it stop above the water line and then feed loc-line down below the waterline....

or.....spray paint it with krylon fusion

or....look for black pvc online, unfortunately i don't have any sites for you to check out but i know its out there


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"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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Old 11/27/2007, 03:42 AM   #19
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lookin at it again, you could just get a black threaded reducer bushing and go straight to loc-line... www.modularhose.com


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-Brad

"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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Old 11/27/2007, 05:28 AM   #20
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I bought a 29 seaclear about a year ago, which i haven't set up yet, but the bracing is a thick clear center brace. did yours come with the bracing all around the rim? i actually like mine but am now wondering if i got an older tank and hoping the brace is sufficent.


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Old 11/27/2007, 07:59 AM   #21
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i had a 29 seaclear and cut out the whole back part so i could fit HOB and a skimmer on the back, no ill effects


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-Brad

"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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Old 11/27/2007, 11:52 AM   #22
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My SeaClear (which had a tag saying it was manufactured earlier this year) came with a rim of 2" on the front, 3" on the sides, and then a second opening (for HOB filter, I assume) at the back that started about 1/4 inch from the back wall and was around 1.5-2" wide, leaving a strip the length of the tank another 1.5-2" wide.

This is much clearer:


Pretty annoyingly small main opening, if you ask me, since some of my rocks wouldn't have even fit through the opening at all. So I took a router to it, leaving about 1.25 inches on the front and sides, and leaving the back alone. I would have designed the top with 1-1.5 inches around the whole thing, but in hindsight I am glad there is the opening that comes right to the back wall, because this is the only way I am able to use my goofy little overflow at all.

I've never used loc-lines, how do they connect? Do they use a male thread to attach to the bulkhead? Also, do they give good flow coverage for much of the tank, or just a strong flow directed into a small stream? They seem to have a pretty small opening.


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Old 11/27/2007, 12:39 PM   #23
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check out www.modularhose.com you will see they have spreaders or splitters, you can do all sorts of stuff with them, not to mention you can jam a hydor flow into the 1/2"


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-Brad

"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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Old 11/27/2007, 03:23 PM   #24
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puckbs: great link, I had no idea there were so many choices of loc-line fittings, Ys, nozzles, etc. I think I will go with some of these, since they aren't very expensive either. Do you have experience using loclines? I have 3/4" ID bulkheads (threaded), so I guess I would go for the 3/4" loc lines as well, or maybe use a Y and then reduce down to 1/2 for each branch of the Y


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Old 11/27/2007, 04:52 PM   #25
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I use loc line for everything....lol....i have 3/4 split to 1/2 Y ....that is the way i would go.

The only thing with the loc line is that they are a bear to get apart...lol...but other than that, they're great, and neat and clean too.


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-Brad

"Nemo me impune laccesit" - From Edinburgh Castle meaning "no one provokes me without punishment" (thanks to K for sparking that memory)

Current Tank Info: RIP 125g :-( 20g nano, 10g sump with asm mini g, mag9.5 return with 2 hydor-flos, 150w 14k sunpod
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