View Full Version : Looking for feedback on my first nano build!

11-20-2011, 05:36 AM
Hey everyone, I got the greenlight to do a small aquarium at the office so I decided to get started on my first nano build!

Display tank will be approx. 11gal (16"x14"x13" LWH) with an external herbie overlow. System will be relatively simple, no skimmer, all in one sump including 4gal FW top off resevoir, DSB / chaeto grow area, and the DT will rely on the two retun lines in the back panel with short sections of loc-line for water movement in the tank. Planned livestock will be zoas, GSP, couple LPS and other lower water-movement type corals, couple small fish and the usual suspects for cleanup crew. Lighting will be a DIY LED fixture using 9-12 Cree LEDs.

Please take a look at the snapshots from my work in progress and let me know what you think about the design. I've done lots of homework on the mid-large mixed reef setups but I'm pretty green when it comes to the nano world so I'd love some feedback from the experienced nano reefers out there, tweaks here or there to improve function or make servicing the system easier etc. it'd be greatly appreciated. The idea with this system is pretty much just a scaled down version of a normal reef setup, minus a few pieces of hardware for cost and simplicity sake (namely powerheads in the DT and a skimmer).

Thanks in advance!



On the desk!

11-20-2011, 03:45 PM
What is the tall skinny chamber in the back of the sump? Personally I would skip the DSB, I'm not a fan. I think they are more of a risk than they are worth. Do you plan to use a MaxiJet for a return? If so, I don't think you're going to like it...they don't have a lot of vertical power. I tried to use one for a nano too, and couldn't get enough flow out of it. Try an Eheim Compact...they are very affordable and have more power. If it was me, I would suggest you have one return line.

This might sound silly on a nano, but if you don't want powerheads in there I would suggest you think about a nano closed loop. I am seriously considering doing this on my nano because I have a MaxiJet 900 return pump (it is AIO design, no sump), and a MJ1200 in the tank for circulation and I don't like the powerhead in the tank...too bulky. I think a mini closed loop is the answer.

11-20-2011, 04:01 PM
I say skip the dsb as well. I am a fan of them in theory but ev ery attempt i have had. Just turns into a nasty black smelly mess that i end up removing at some point, especally the small in sump attempts. I do not think glass on 5 sides in a small container allows them to breath the way they were designed.

Better off putting a little live rock, or a nanno skimmer, or just leaving it empty for future reactor additions

(Appolgys for spelling and gramar my thumbs are to big for my phone)

11-20-2011, 04:50 PM
I have to agree with Myka on the closed loop... My tank is a 28G All in one and I hate the look of the MP10 in the tank, I would imagine this would be all that much worse on a smaller tank. Im wondering if it would be cheaper to look at an all in one? Im not sure though as I have never built a custom tank. But having a sump would be awesome, I hate working on my JBJ 28... what a nightmare to do anything in the back compartment.

11-20-2011, 05:32 PM
Hey, thanks for the great feedback. I agree that powerheads would be unsightly in the small DT and don't plan to run any. I modeled the twin return lines thinking it would balance the flow on either side of the tank to avoid maiking a whirlpool in there (boo laminar flow), not to mention that i should get some nice turbulent flow where the two currents meet. Myka, why do you suggest the single return line?

Yes Myka you're right, i was planning to try a MaxiJet 1200 as the return pump. I'm cureently running run one for the closed loop on my chiller and i've found it to have a lot of poop, and it's supposed to be rated for a 5 or 6' head so i thought it should run my system with 3' head no problem. That being said i did leave extra space in the return chamber for a bigger pump. Myka thanks for the tip on the eheim compact, i run an eheim 1262 in my bigger system and it's been very good to me, i may skip the MaxiJet and go straight for the better pump.

Myka, the chamber on the front of the sump (opposite end from the drain and return chambers) is the FW resevoir for ATO.

Now the DSB. I run one in my my bigger system and have had zero problems with it. Maybe it's too young to cause trouble, but in the time that my system has been running i've never read any detectable nitrates despite rather infrequent water changes. The DSB in my sump is not a black mess filled with toxins. I have yet to experience any drawbacks with it. For this nano not having a skimmer places extra importance on biological filtration (live rock, DSB, chaeto) and it can always be isolated from the system and serviced if necessary. Besides, with the proper livestock in that DSB there's no reason it should go bad anyway. Sorry guys, gonna have respectfully disagree with you on this one!

11-20-2011, 05:44 PM
Forgot to mention, blacknife i'm trying to avoid a nano kimmer as in theory a "nano" skimmer is a not going to be very efficient, not to mention that it would be one of the most expensive components in this build along with the lighting and the glass.

Blom, i had a look around at the off-the-shelf stuff and i have yet to find a system that has the clean look and the functionality that i want. When it comes down to the tanks i'll be bulding them myself, i just need to get the glass cut (which i'm considering trying myself to save some $$$) so the cost won't be too bad vs an AIO system.

11-20-2011, 05:49 PM
Oh I agree, I got a pretty good deal on the JBJ which is why I got it. Other than that Im not overly happy with it. I dont like the curved front and as I said the inability to access the back. It looked a little cleaner without the hood on it as I hung a AI sol unit over it. But still... I agree with you. I dont agree with the skimmer though, Im amazed at what the stupid little JBJ skimmer pulls out and it was all of 50 bucks. Would the skimmer be enough though... doubtful. I run a HOB refuge with LR and cheeto, im thinking the cheeto is a real help based on how quick it grows.

11-20-2011, 05:51 PM
Have the deep sand bed inside a removable tupperware-type container. That way you can pull it out if you ever need to without taking apart the system or dumping the sump upside down.

11-20-2011, 05:52 PM
Have the deep sand bed inside a removable tupperware-type container. That way you can pull it out if you ever need to without taking apart the system or dumping the sump upside down.

Thats a great idea... im keeping that one for the next tank :lol::lol::lol:

11-20-2011, 06:14 PM
Thats a great idea... im keeping that one for the next tank :lol::lol::lol:

:biggrin: Hey, gotta have one once in a while [great idea that is]:wink:

Just pulled my old "remote" DSB out of my old 75g sump when I tore down the 210g. Much easier than scooping sand from the bottom of a sump tank, let me tell you:wink:

01-10-2012, 11:49 PM
Any new pics of the tank?

01-11-2012, 02:06 AM
No pics of anything real (atleast not anything interesting hahah) but here's a few new shots of my finalized models. I decided against the dual return lines and high volume return pump in favor of an eheim compact 1000 and a Koralia nano 240 for water movement. Still deciding if I will be building with glass or acrylic, but right now it's looking like it'll be acrylic. I've also designed the LED fixture and selected all the components for that build. After much debate, building a spreadsheet with realtime graphs showing the resulting spectrum from my various LED mixes I settled on the following LED's. Running at up to 900mA are 6x Cree XP-E Royal Blue, 1x Cree XP-E Blue, 1x Luxeon Cyan. Running at up to 1400mA are 2x Cree XP-G Neutral Whites. The blue channel and the white will be on dimmable drivers so I can adjust the balance, but my calculations show I should be where I want to be with both running pretty much full out. I may end up trading two of the RB's for regular Blue, so I'll order a couple extra and play with them over my current tank to see what I prefer. I would have much rather used equal parts Cool White and Warm White instead of the neutrals, but over such a small tank I'd get too much rainbow shadow effect with all those colors so I had to compromise with the neutral whites. If I end up building an LED fixture for the 70gal I will be doing the CW and WW and may add violet in there as well. That will make for a pretty smooth output spectrum like a traditional MH spectrum.

I've got the return pump, koralia, heater, and all the plumbing parts. Next big purchase is the glass / acrylic and then I will be able to start cycling, hopefully in mid Feb. I use the term "cycling" loosely as the sand and live rock will all be pulled from my 2 year old reef tank at home, so it'll be pretty much ready to go from the moment it's filled and settled. In march will be the LED fixture build, and April will be the DA RKL controller.

Enjoy the pics!