View Full Version : Project Phoenix

07-19-2014, 02:24 PM
Background: About a year and a half ago I purchased a 330 gal Starfire tank of a fellow reefer. One snowy December Saturday my wife and I took the company truck and headed from Williams Lake, BC over to Edmonton to pick it up. The tank had been cut apart to facilitate the move out of the basement. Upon arrival in Edmonton the seller informed us that in the process of getting everything ready for the pick up, the bottom pane of glass had gotten into a fight with physics and as usual physics won.
In light of the situation the seller decided to offer us the remaining glass for free, as I had to replace the bottom. He also gave us a whole pile of pvc, unions and ball valves as well as a diy 100gal sump and another 75gal tank that could be used as a refugium.
I did purchase 2 Reeflow Snapper pumps as well as his remaining salt mix stockpile.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140210_161757_zpse3ad503f.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140210_161757_zpse3ad503f.jpg.html)

All that sat in our basement for about a year until I could muster up the energy to get into the build.
After getting a price for glass, 19mm ~88.5" x ~28.5", shipped to Williams Lake and weighing against that my desire for viewing my coral through the bottom, I decided to explore other alternatives...like plywood.

This went right along with my theme for this build as I wanted to do as much diy as possible, not necessarily for money savings but for the fun of building something and see it working.
So my plan for the build turned out to be:

Tank: 19mm 90"L x 30"W x 27"H, plywood/fiberglass bottom. Front and left Starfire viewable.

Stand: PT 2x6, 1" plywood top, 3/4" plywood front and sides

Sump: The 100gal diy, modified to meet current needs

Circulation: The picture above is of the back glass, you may notice it is drilled for closed loop. The 2 Reeflow Snappers have been converted to Darts and one is driving a 2 in 4 out CL the other is returning from the sump. This should provide just shy of 20 times turnover in the DT. I also use a Tunze Wavebox 6215 to slosh the water around. Not sure tho what this would equate to as far as turnover.

Lighting: Was thinking diy LED, but after checking pricing on the components I went with 6 Evergrow 115 watt LED fixtures.

Skimmer: 36" tall Lifereef skimmer with a Blueline 1200gal/hr pump and a Mazzei injector. (Have not regretted this)

Also, 2 diy reactors for GFO and GAC

07-19-2014, 03:03 PM
following along, sounds interesting making a plywood/fiberglass bottom

You might find this large tank build with a fiberglass bottom interesting.

07-19-2014, 03:39 PM
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140210_130204_zps9cf6b7a7.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140210_130204_zps9cf6b7a7.jpg.html)

So here we go, stand is build and leveled. Fiberglass has been poured over matting to about 5mm thickness. I glued/screwed a 1" x 2" plywood frame, with the tank's inside dimensions, on top of the plywood bottom to provide me with a surface to silicone the glass to.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140210_130324_zpsecc78dbf.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140210_130324_zpsecc78dbf.jpg.html)

After I had finished assembling the tank I chickened out and glued pond liner to the fiberglass just in case it may develop a crack. I used polyurethane to glue the liner. As you can see, I also started on the plumbing for the CL

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140323_104707_zpsf58e446b.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140323_104707_zpsf58e446b.jpg.html)

Time to hang the external overflow box for the coast-to-coast and get going on the BeanAnimal style plumbing

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140323_104758_zps06211270.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140323_104758_zps06211270.jpg.html)

Overflow and closed loop plumbing is done

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140413_114820_zps0e42b2cb.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140413_114820_zps0e42b2cb.jpg.html)

For my back wall I wanted a solid live rock structure, diy for sure. Starting out with 2 sheets of the reefers secret weapon, I ended up with this.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140405_150445_zps73248536.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140405_150445_zps73248536.jpg.html)

07-19-2014, 04:07 PM
Getting into diy live rock was fun. There are lots of recipes on the web about it as well as lots of discussion on the pros and cons of it. Hours of reading if you are up to it. I did settle on going for it and went with 2 part cement Portland Type 1, 4 parts crushed oyster shell (the chicken stuff from the feed store) and water softener salt (for porosity). I mixed up a batch of the ingredients in a bucket and just dumped it onto a plastic sheet on the basement floor in the shape of a simple pile and let it cure.
After it had set I took it outside and crushed it with a sledge hammer into random chunks. IMO, this provided me with much more natural/random looking rock then I could have made using molds.
I then mounted these chunks to the eggcrate using a 1 to 1 cement/oystershell mix, little on the wet side to get into the eggcrate and the pores of the LR.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140406_132648_zps216c06a5.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140406_132648_zps216c06a5.jpg.html)

Close up of the rock

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140406_132708_zpsa5c9d575.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140406_132708_zpsa5c9d575.jpg.html)

Back wall is finished. Btw, make sure you eat your Wheaties lifting these 2x4 sheets into the tank, apparently concrete is heavy!

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140415_181716_zps0877a80e.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140415_181716_zps0877a80e.jpg.html)

07-19-2014, 04:24 PM
Thank you for following along, hillegom :biggrin: Very interesting link as well, his cover solution sparked my interest. Have to make sure to watch his other vids as well.

07-19-2014, 06:11 PM
This looks like quite an interesting build. The texture and shape of the wall is amazing. What holds the egg crate/rock structure to the rear glass to keep it from falling forward?

07-19-2014, 06:22 PM
That looks like a great start to an interesting build. Following along!

07-19-2014, 07:50 PM
I have heard that cement leaches a lot of lime and will raise the ph too high for a month or so. When u put water in, put in fresh first and monitor the ph for a while to see what happens.

07-19-2014, 10:48 PM
This looks like quite an interesting build. The texture and shape of the wall is amazing. What holds the egg crate/rock structure to the rear glass to keep it from falling forward?

I glued a few short pieces of 1.5" PVC under the back euro brace to prevent the wall to tilt forward. Also, the bottom edge of the sheets is about 1" away from the glass and leaning back slightly

07-19-2014, 11:00 PM
I have heard that cement leaches a lot of lime and will raise the ph too high for a month or so. When u put water in, put in fresh first and monitor the ph for a while to see what happens.

I did cure the concrete pieces in freshwater for about 6 weeks before assembling the wall. The concrete that was used to put the wall together however was curing in the tank. And I agree, I had to offset a rise in ph with vinegar for a couple of weeks.
I currently have about 300 lbs of concrete curing to be used for additional structures.
As of this writing the tank finished cycling about 3 weeks ago, ph is stable at 8.4 and I have fish in it. I dropped in about 2lbs of real live rock and I am just waiting now for purple spots to pop up

I am just slow in catching up with the build timeline and getting pictures uploaded

07-20-2014, 01:40 AM
Great name for your thread! Tagging along! I also like the look of your workshop. Hmm.. got me thinking...

07-20-2014, 02:30 PM
I found anther shot of the back rock wall showing a bit more detail.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140413_114946_zps245acc14.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140413_114946_zps245acc14.jpg.html)

With the back wall in place, it was time to get water into the system. I had been hording RO/DI water already for that moment, but I have only storage for about 50 gal, and that made hardly a dent. So, like many before me, I hooked that 1/4" plastic hose from the RO/DI unit over the rim..and let'er trickle..for a long time.
And eventually it was full.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140610_161808_zpsf4d14d02.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140610_161808_zpsf4d14d02.jpg.html)

A couple of notes to the above picture.
First, you may notice the whitish deposit on the bottom pond liner. That is residue from mixing salt in the tank. I am not to crazy about this Coral Life stuff, I prefer IO. It was a pain to get off the glass. On a positive note tho, I don't mind the lighter color of the bottom, also the rock work was 2 different shades of gray due to the different cement mixes for rock and the concrete used to bond the rocks together. The residue made this all blend together.

Second, I installed 2 intake strainers for the CL, made out of 1.5" PVC and a 90 elbow. The PVC pipe was slotted on the table saw and then the works was painted black with Krylon.

At this point I had also put in some clam meat to start things up.

Next adventure was the moving of a almost 30" tall by 20" diameter, at the bottom, rock tower I had made some time earlier. It had been curing in a garbage can for the last couple of month and was ready to go. I am doing it by myself and the weight of the thing is something like 70lbs.

Step 1 was to get it onto a stack of IO buckets. (Sorry for the terrible focus on the pic)
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140628_085328_zpsdd327774.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140628_085328_zpsdd327774.jpg.html)

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140628_085404_zpsf9972874.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140628_085404_zpsf9972874.jpg.html)

Step 2 set it onto the edge of the euro bracing, carefully
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140628_085723_zpsdd3f4cb6.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140628_085723_zpsdd3f4cb6.jpg.html)

And in..thank you for salt water buoyance making the tower lighter as I had to lean over the tank from the ladder, lowering it in.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140628_090813_zps82a4d7d5.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140628_090813_zps82a4d7d5.jpg.html)

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140628_090825_zpsfe089761.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140628_090825_zpsfe089761.jpg.html)

Just a tad tall
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140628_090925_zps14969363.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140628_090925_zps14969363.jpg.html)

08-03-2014, 10:30 PM
The Evergrow D120 v.2 LED's are up and running. I am very happy with the coverage I am getting.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140803_115745_zps39a56a86.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140803_115745_zps39a56a86.jpg.html)

In the image above the lights are running at 50% on both the white and blue channels.

I have also started to move some livestock into the tank.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140803_115833_zpsb6ad9dc2.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140803_115833_zpsb6ad9dc2.jpg.html)

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p210/tmroeth/IMG_20140803_115909_zps39984568.jpg (http://s129.photobucket.com/user/tmroeth/media/IMG_20140803_115909_zps39984568.jpg.html)

08-11-2014, 10:56 PM
Very cool! Tagging along.

Reef Pilot
04-30-2015, 01:30 AM
Hey, Thomas, just a looked at your tank build. I see most of the posts are from last summer when I was not on canreef much, so I missed it then. But looks very interesting with your fiberglass/plywood tank bottom and the artificial live rock.

Time to post some new pics and a little update on your progress,... and with your carbon dosing, etc.

05-06-2015, 03:36 AM
Yes, I am way overdue on an update on this project.
There just didn't seem to much to report. The tank is just now coming to the end of its "New Tank Phase". It went through the Diatom -> Red Cyano -> Blue/Green Cyano stages, with blue/green fading out now. I also have a bit of red turf algae going that I am not to worried about as my four Tangs seem to be quite fond of it.
This last week I had the opportunity to combine business with a bit of pleasure. I was able to stop by at Reef Pilot's home on my way back from Vancouver and see his beautiful setup and take some awesome sps frags back with me.
The frags have been in the tank for a few days now and seem to be content, but it is a bit early to tell if they like my setup. I will post some pictures on the weekend to keep a record.
I should also write a few lines about my current maintenance regime.
Since I added living creatures into the tank I have been doing a daily 1% water change. I look for the dirtiest spot in the tank and siphon/replace about 4 gal. I have 2 x 30gal Brute cans to store ASW and RODI for my weeks needs. I can do this in about 5 minutes which makes it very easy as part of my evening feeding. And in my case easy means I actually do it.
I also began Vinegar dosing right at the start using a dosing pump, adding 10 x 15ml in 1 hr intervals throughout the lit time. Ph goes from 8.2 in the morning to 8.3 by lights out.
About 3 month ago I came to the point with the carbon dosing where I could no longer detect NO3 with my Salifert kit but PO4 was still reading in the 0.1 to 0.2 range on a Hanna meter. I understand that this is quite a common situation and the reason why a lot of aquarists also use GFO or similar products to reduce PO4 further. In my reading on the subject I came across a number of references (Reef Central has good thread on it) to adding NO3 to the dosing regime. I purchased some Calcium Nitrate (15% Nitrate, 19% Cal) from a local Hydroponics store and mix 100 grams of this with 1 litre of RODI and dose 15ml/day. By doing this PO4 has declined quickly.
My measurements last Sunday where PO4 0.03 (Hanna) and NO3 2.5ppm (Salifert). Algae growth has decreased (seems counter intuitive when adding plant fertilizer) The only minor drawback to this is that my water is not crystal clear, always a little cloudy, most likely due to bacteria volume. I am hoping that the system itself will take care of this in time with increased filter feeders. Also adding more coral should help with this :lol:
If others have tried or are nitrate dosing I would love to hear about those experiences.

I will continue this with some new pictures this coming weekend..

05-06-2015, 03:39 PM
Cool build. Really like that rock tower you built.
A question bout your back wall. Is it not right up against the back pane of glass?
If it is just leaning against it than is there a space where stagnant water can sit? I'm just asking cuz there's another member on here that had a piece of acrylic that came away from his back pane and he was positive it was causing water parameter issues.

Reef Pilot
05-06-2015, 03:56 PM
This tank is definitely a little "different" with the artificial live rock, non glass tank bottom, calcium nitrate dosing, etc, etc. Kudos to you, Thomas, for stepping out of the popular norms, and be willing to test new thinking. And I know you have done a lot of research. I will certainly be following with interest and looking forward to your progress.

05-06-2015, 09:15 PM
Cool build. Really like that rock tower you built.
A question bout your back wall. Is it not right up against the back pane of glass?
If it is just leaning against it than is there a space where stagnant water can sit? I'm just asking cuz there's another member on here that had a piece of acrylic that came away from his back pane and he was positive it was causing water parameter issues.

The bottom edge of the rock wall sits about 3/4 inch away from the back glass.
I can observe the area through the back glass and can see water movement caused by the Tunze wave maker in there. I can get a siphon hose into that gap from the 4 port holes for the closed loop outlets and get the gunk out as it builds up. Should it cause a problem in the future I can pipe the outlet of a power head into that gap.

Thank you for your encouraging words.