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Old 09-26-2017, 05:06 AM
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Default Reef Tank DIY - For Dummies

Hi all,
I've been stalling on my tank upgrade because I'm feeling way out of my depth (see what I did there), and I've been hesitant to start a build thread here because you're all so intimidating to a newbie like me. Anyway, I thought perhaps others out there like me would be interested in something like this instead of the amazing tank builds you usually see here, so I'm taking the big leap forward.

My 75-gal tank will be 2 years old this November. I bought 2 green spotted puffers that the LFS told me were freshwater, and long story short, eventually ended up buying a used tank on CL and setting up a SW tank for them with the help of some nice folks on the Puffer Forum. I learned about live rock and mixing salt, and now I think I'm hooked. My current set-up is pretty medieval. All second-hand stuff except for the lights. No sump, hob Remora skimmer, SB Reef lights. I do a 16-gal water change once a month with buckets, and manually top off water twice a day. I do not use RODI water. (Please don't hate me).

My fish in order of when they were added: 2 green spotted puffers, YWG+shrimp pair, ocellaris clown pair, long nose hawkfish, mandarin, tail spot blenny, flame hawkfish.
Coral...a bit of everything including RBTAs (a lot of 'em), zoas, and some lps & sps.

I've been having a real blast thus far and luckily have all my original livestock, except for a lawnmower blenny who wouldn't eat and a long-nose hawkfish that jumped (RIP Lenny & Fergus).

However, I know my skimmer is barely able to keep up, I need to learn about dosing, and I'd like to set up a sump so I can have a refugium to increase pod population (for future girlfriend for my mandarin).

*note: apologies for crummy iphone pics



My immediate hurdle - I have no idea how to plumb this.
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Old 09-27-2017, 04:28 AM
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My current tank:


The tank I bought: 72 x 18 x 18


It came with a stand. My husband stripped and reinforced it (he's reasonably handy and owns power tools haha).



My immediate hurdle - I have no idea how to plumb this.
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Old 09-27-2017, 04:34 AM
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Here is how it was originally plumbed:


Before I go ahead and try to duplicate this, any thoughts on whether I should change anything? Any improvements I can make?

Here is the sump that came with the tank: 36 x 14 x 18


It has no baffles (new term I just learned) so I would like to put some in and have 3 compartments. Kinda like this except the other way around (not my photo):


So, I'm thinking, from left to right: skimmer, then refugium, then return.

Questions:
- I would like pipes to be black instead of white as they will be somewhat visible if tank is viewed from the sides. Is it better to paint or buy black pipes? I can order from the US as I shop online frequently.
- glass baffles for glass sump, right? Where is a good place to buy the glass?

Any tips, info would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks!
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Old 09-27-2017, 04:35 AM
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Thanks for your help Wardog. Sorry for all the clutter
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Old 09-27-2017, 06:02 PM
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It's not a huge deal, but since you're starting from scratch I would do

Filter Socks > Refugium > Skimmer > Return.

Refugium's work better when placed in front of the Skimmer, or even Parallel to the Skimmer because a lot of the nutrients that the refugium uses to grow would be "skimmed" out if the skimmer was placed in front. Obviously the skimmer won't skim out everything, but if we're going with best practice, try and feed the refugium as much good nutrients (and pods!) from the display as possible, and then let the skimmer pick up whats left over.

Some people even T off the overflow so that the water heading to the refugium doesn't go through the filter socks. This method is to save some of those pods that are coming from the display that would otherwise be caught in the filter socks and get thrown away. Check out some of the higher end manufactured sumps from Trigger and Eshopps to get ideas for layout.

For making baffles, I had good success just going to a local glass shop and having them cut me the glass to the correct size. Just make sure you get aquarium safe silicon and be generous - remember that bubble traps are your friend.
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Old 09-28-2017, 05:32 PM
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Thanks for your input philg3. There seems to be a bit of a discussion about this, and I'm going to start taking notes since my head is swirling with info. Is the layout dependent on what the refugium is mainly for, ie nutrient export or pod farm? For me, I want a place to increase pod population. I was lucky enough to get great live rock that a local reefer had for more than 10 years. My tank never had a cycle, haven't had nuisance algae issues and it's supported my mandarin for a year. However, I'd like to get a mate for my mandarin and possibly pipe fish, so my aim is to establish a pod haven.

So much food for thought. I'm finding it hard to make any decisions, hence my new tank has been sitting since June
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Old 09-28-2017, 08:19 PM
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If the goal is to provide pods to the aquarium, you just have to think about it as a "refuge" where there is slower flow and no predators. Rock rubble and Chaeto will give them a place to hide and the slower flow will help them from getting sucked away into the display before they have a chance to breed.

I attached a Diagram similar to the way I had a sump setup years ago. You put the Refugium on the other side of the return pump, so both the skimmer chamber and refugium empty into the return section separately from either side. You can either T off the overflow like on the diagram, or T off the return pump back into the refugium. Either way put a ball valve after the T and you can slow down the flow into the refugium while still having a high turnover through the skimmer and the rest of your filtration equipment.
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File Type: jpg Sump!.jpg (17.9 KB, 47 views)
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Old 09-29-2017, 03:42 PM
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Thanks for the diagram. Really helps as it's hard for me to visualize these things
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Old 09-29-2017, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philg3 View Post
If the goal is to provide pods to the aquarium, you just have to think about it as a "refuge" where there is slower flow and no predators. Rock rubble and Chaeto will give them a place to hide and the slower flow will help them from getting sucked away into the display before they have a chance to breed.

I attached a Diagram similar to the way I had a sump setup years ago. You put the Refugium on the other side of the return pump, so both the skimmer chamber and refugium empty into the return section separately from either side. You can either T off the overflow like on the diagram, or T off the return pump back into the refugium. Either way put a ball valve after the T and you can slow down the flow into the refugium while still having a high turnover through the skimmer and the rest of your filtration equipment.
That's exactly how I did my sump way back when. Works great for pods and you can empty the pods from the filter socks into the fuge too.

Every now and then a few pods will leave the refugium, get sucked up by the return pump and go straight into the mouth of a hungry fish in the display. It works great!

The melevs reef website also has an excellent section on sump design if you need any more inspiration.

Dunc

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Old 09-30-2017, 07:28 PM
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Ok thanks, this sump layout might work out for me - thanks!

How much room should I allot for the return compartment? I thought it would be small as it only accommodates the pump but then I read for various reasons it's sometimes the biggest. I'd like the refugium to be a good size though.

Question: Is there a way to remove the old plumbing going into the tank? Here's the old return with the plumbing sawed off. Is it in there for good, and we have to attach new pipe to it, or is there a way to get it off?



Same question for the other 2 pipes. I guess you can see it was a Herbie system in the far corner.

Thanks!
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