This will be the thread for my newest tank upgrade! Unlike traditional threads that are constantly upgraded throughout the process, my tank upgrade is finished and I will be posting the entire process in a single post!!! So if you have some time to kill and looking for a thread to read through, I'm sure this one will assist you in that with great visuals to boot!
To keep things on the shorter Side I’ll just give the Condensed version. I have had AIO tanks for nearly 6 years now, and to be perfectly honest while they do have their pros, I have always missed my Sump & Skimmer. Several obstacles over the years have come up that I was limited in my ability to fight without having the additional water volume, Skimmer, additional place for Reactors, Macro algae, bio Media etc. though space & size remain a factor in my current circumstances, limiting my options.
About 3 months after upgrading to my JBJ 30 RL, Scott (Spectra) offered me a Cad-Lights Versa 42 with Custom Stand and Trigger Systems Sump he had just built, after deciding to go another Route he was selling it for a great price, It was an extremely hard decision to pass on, but I had just upgraded 3 months prior and couldn't justify the upgrade, and also didn't want to give an explanation to the significant other....
So there it is "The Tank that got away".
A little over a year passes by and the tank mysteriously shows back up on PNWMAS, I was just messaging the person to see if they would sell just the tank Setup after livestock was gone when I received a txt from R-3 telling my tank was up for sale! I had discussed said tank to others over the year... A Deal was struck for the Tank, Stand, and Sump setup minus the Skimmer, an MP10, WXM Module RODI Filter & additional Media.
I paid for the Tank in May but wasn't ready till July, upon getting the Tank home and surveying everything I bought I was extremely disappointed. The Tank had not been cleaned whatsoever, after getting a better look at the stand it was completely covered in Rust, the sum was filthy, had rust stains on the acrylic and a friggin hole drilled right into the Side!!! The Jeabo DC pump that came with the Tank, was pieced together with the Sump by Scott and shown in the pictures was pulled from the equipment, and a dilapidated piece of crap was thrown in instead. The MP10 was missing the power cord, and the WXM was missing the Aquabus, and lastly what was sold to me as an "RODI Filter" was just a box of garbage that may have possibly been an RODI at one time, but brackets rusted over, missing parts, and tubing missing as well.
So the first step in Restore was to purchase all the paint and other tools needed to sand and grind the rust off the Stand and Refinish it. In the meantime the Tank & Sump sat outside in the driveway filled with water and Vinegar overnight. I repainted the Stand and all visible parts of Cabinet, and thoroughly scrubbed the Sump.
Next up was the box of RO parts, after sorting everything out I found out I had what appeared to be an RODI filter at 1 time and a BRS Dual Reactor. Thanks to Dan (Xmas_One) for the giving me a missing canister After stripping everything down and repainting with Appliance paint the bracket looked new, and with $60 in parts from BRS I was able to completely rebuild the RODI filter and Reactor and fill it with New Media. Also included is a picture of that terrible excuse of a return pump, no way in hell was I going to trust that in my new setup.
Planning For the Future
With the Tank cleaned up and ready to go I didn't have much in the way of parts aside from the 2 Mp10's & The Light. I needed a Return, a Skimmer, Fuge Light Etc. So I postponed the September build date and held off figuring I was going to have this tank for some time, so If you’re going to build something do it right the 1st time and avoid dumping money into other parts later. Just needed time to think and plan.
The biggest thing that was annoying me at the moment happened to be the huge open weir, looking down on the return & emergency return wasn't to pretty of a site So I figured I could have a cap made to cover it up. I wanted it to match the tank and be simplistic at the same time, this was what I Came up with.
I was extremely limited in Space with this tank, and 1st thing that came to mind was the ATO Reservoir, while I certainly don’t mind a bucket beside the tank, the Mrs. does in fact care so I had to think of a clever way to hide it. I came up with replacing a square decorative Chest that sat next to the entertainment center, found one that matched the Room better and made plans for an ATO box that would fit.
Another big change I wanted to make was to upgrade my Apex from a Jr. to a Classic, I had used up all the allotted Modules and has 2 sitting in the closet I wanted to use. I was able to purchase an Apex Classic, with EB8, Display & Temp Probe for $225. I initially simply wanted just a board to mount it to slip behind the tank but things got pretty intense on the project. 4 months of several drawings, Fusion 360, Txt Messages, and Emails inspired the following Design (A big Thanks to Erik for all his work on Acrylics it wouldn't have been possible without him)
Lastly I really wanted to have the ability to use my ALD module, get an Idea of what kind of flow on each setting My Vectra S1 was putting out, and also to be alerted when fluid levels were low in my ATO Reservoir, and dosing containers. It was black Friday Sales, I had $115 in reward points with BRS, and company recently sent me another $150 Gift card!! So in the mail came the FMM Module, and all the Sensors needed to make it happen! I love free!
I had to use up nearly 80 Hours of Vacation or I would lose it, not being able to carry over I just took the first 2 weeks of December off and planned to do the build then! Very glad that I did!
My Vacation started on a Friday, I got my brother in law to help me move the tank from Salem, to my Place from where it was being stored. As you can see in the Following picture next to my current setup, it was quite a bit bigger, and much nicer looking
I planned to simply move my current setup into the new tank with some additional live rock. Saturday night after the meeting I came home and used a pump to fill up a 20 g Long Tank full of water from the current setup (Thanks Robert for letting me borrow the tank!) The tank was on the fireplace, and pulled out an AI Prime I have sitting around to light the tank for a few days.
The next day, I got up early to drain the rest of the water and sand from the tank and move it. I spent the rest of the Day getting the plumbing finished up and everything wired and mounted. Luckily Scott had already previously built the needed plumbing, but after a mishap and wanting to add a Flow Sensor I had to completely rebuild the Return pipe.
As you can see I was extremely limited on space so things had to be mounted around the built in Shelf with little room to spare
This is Miss. Daisy, The foreman of the Operation, she is telling me to stop arguing with Alexa and get back to work!
This was definitely not my proudest moment, but after staring at the power bricks wondering what to do for a while, this was simply the best I could come up with :/
It had been a seriously long day I was tried, yet everything had been mounted and wired up. I learned that I really like the EcoTech Mounts opposed to Velcro, did not receive these with the MP10's and it appeared to be nearly $30 for 2 metal brackets I just couldn't justify the cost.
The next day I got up moved the Tank into its new home, taking careful consideration and measurements of its distance from the wall and then begin to fill with Water straight from the RO/DI Filter (Though I have a 150gpd It was going to take a while!)
Filled with Water, heater & return going I decided this would be a great time to try out different bulb configurations as well as Fixture height in considerations to PAR. I adjusted it to have about 100 PAR consistently on the bottom of the Tank. You can see with my Handy Scraper I got the inspiration from the Club Par Meter!
The next day was an early one! I figured I would get an early start at setting up the Apex and the Module, you can clearly tell it’s a bit too early for Miss Daisy. It was a lonnnnnggg day :/ A brand new Apex, firmware updates, and individual modules to add, update and configure (Actually took a few days to get fully worked out)
Temperature is right for adding the Live Sand. The positive is that the 20lb bag I bought was the right amount.. The bad news, the 2 additional 10lb bags I ordered just in case were not needed, and still confused as to why I ordered 2 and not save money on a single 20?
Once the Dust settled it was time to Aquascape... My least favorite part. I had several Rocks in a bucket cooking for the last 6 months that had previously sat outside for 2 years and turned black. They had to be bleached and multiple water changes, but with flow, heat, and weekly water changes were cured It's another instance where the picture truly does not do justice, but I really liked the minimalist look, and the Cave the foremost Rock provided.
The Next day I finally began moving the 20G over to the New Tank after matching parameters, I kept 2 of the Rocks I Liked and once again this was the outcome, the girls said it looked more spacious than the last build and this is what was the most appealing to them. My taste is a bit different but really didn't feel this looked bad at all, also gives the tank allot more depth that just isn't visible in my crappy photos.
As for the Equipment in the Sump I chose the Nyos Quantum 120 Skimmer, I let it run fully open going nuts over sand particles but as you can see in the collection cup had rid that section of the sump of them by morning. I added the ceramic Bio-Balls as sump space was extremely limited, I wanted to keep the Fuge section Cheato Only, but in the meantime I dropped the other piece of live rock from the previous setup to help maintain the bio load, while the bio media is populated with beneficial bacteria. Lastly I used an Avast ATO on this Setup, reason being I wanted something that would plug into my Apex, and most importantly used a peristaltic pump to pull the water from the other side of the living room as the reservoir is concealed over there!
This build took most of 4 days to complete, I'm glad I did this on Vacation as I didn't realize just how much was going to be involved in getting everything setup and switched over, but the photo below should explain itself.
I also happened to pick up a Fire 8 HD on black Friday for a display and control, Mounted on the right hand side of the tank for easy control.
So it's been a few days, and the transition went smoothly without loosing anything. All corals are opening up, and the positioning of my Acans has them looking great! So picture this with me, on the left side of the tank I intend to move and add all euphyllia to the top of that rock, with Acans in the bottom cover portion. The Rock to center left will be a Zoa garden, I know it looks strange now, but when they all encrust the entire rock it should look great considering there are Emeralds on Fire, Frooty Loops, Dark Moons, Armor of Gods, Oxides, Blonde Blue eyed...., Pink Zippers, Orbits, Sunny D's, Love Sickness and a couple others on there. As for the Rocks on the Right I think I'm done with those. All the misc Frags in front will be sold or traded off to make way for more Scoly's.
Well if you’re still reading, congratulations, that was a mouth full right? Thanks for taking the Time to read through my post, hopefully it assisted you in killing some time