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First Reef Build - 125 Gallon


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Good Afternoon All,


I am new to the forum /  Club and new to the reef keeping side of the hobby.  I have done freshwater for years, but wanted a bigger challenge.


We moved into our new house about 5 years ago and I had grand plans for an "in-wall" reef tank.  Well...you know how that goes and how life just happens.  :rolleyes:


Its time to get this project rolling!  Below is the equipment I had on had beginning this project:


- 125 Gallon Aqueon Tank. Not reef ready, but I will be drilling for an overflow.

- AquaC EV 240 Skimmer with MAG18

- Planned out 55 gallon sump, just hoping for a Petco 1$ per gallon sale in the next couple months  :fingerscrossed:

- Ordering a custom overflow from Modular Marine.  Will be drilling the side of the tank.

- Freshwater equipment I still need to sort through.


The tank will be in the wall between our living room and home office.  I wanted the tank visible from both sides, so I will put the overflow on one end and the returns on the other.  The first big step was to tear into the wall.  Doing my research, I was not convinced the wall was load bearing, but wanted to be safe.  I planned on installing a header.


I measured out the tank on the wall and planned height from the floor.  Then it was time to tear into the drywall and see what I had going on.





I had some wiring to re-locate, but everything else looked good.  Now it was time for DEMO!  What you can't see in the picture is I built a support wall on the office side.  This helped support the weight of the ceiling / roof while I was tearing out studs. 


This is the only really good picture I have of the wall after the initial tear out.




Here is the wall with framing about 98% complete.  I built the header out of two 2x12s with 1/2 plywood glued and nailed in-between.




Next was stand construction.  I had been looking up plans and ideas for a stand for some time.  One of the major things I wanted was the ability to eliiname all center vertical bracing so working on the sump would be easier.  This would mean over engineering the stand, which I could do.  :D   Top was framed out of 2x6 with 2x4 framed bottom and uprights.  Added 2x6 uprights to the front for added support and a mounting surface for doors if I decided to do so.





While I had the wall open I decided to add a dedicated circuit for the tank.  




One thing I wanted as well, was a reef controller setup.  I have been looking at the Apex system, but just need to save some money for one.  I wanted to do automatic water changes and ATO.  Plus, I am tired of buckets and running hoses from the bathroom!  


I installed pex lines in the wall.  The red line will run to the tub in the guest bathroom for drain and the blue will come from the garage / salt mixing / RODI station.




Here is the wall all drywalled back in with Moisture Resistant drywall and apparently my Star Trek nerdiness is in the picture too.  :D
















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I agree 100%, my original plan was to just use part the office space as a fish room and have the tank back painted with a center overflow.


Then I thought how cool it would be to see it from both sides, and since I spend a fair amount of time in the office I altered the design...it was a win win!


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Sorry for not posting an update sooner, been crazy busy.


Not much new has happened, but here are some more build pictures I found.


This is the wall after drywall and textured. First time texturing with a hopper spray gun. It was an interesting learning experience.




Wall primed and painted to match room color.




Stand primed and in place. I added a piece of pvc panel behind the stand. I thought it would be a good barrier and easy to clean.




Stand with plywood top and bottom.








More to come...


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These are from today. Wall patches were sanded, a light texture sprayed over to blend patchwork, primed and painted.


I trimmed out the opening with 1x6 pre-primed pine and sealed all the cracks with window caulking.






The tank is currently full of water to leak test and check structure. Everything looks good so far [emoji1]


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Edited by MoparFan2016
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  • 3 weeks later...

Sorry it's been so long. Between work and other home projects the tank build has been slow.


My overflow arrived last week and tonight I decided to drill! [emoji15] I have watched a bunch of videos, but this is my first tank I've drilled. I planned on moving it outside, but due to lack of muscle (125 is fairly heavy) and the weather I decided to drill inside. [emoji1]


I wanted water to keep the bit cool, but since I couldn't lay it on its side and it was inside, I had to make a makeshift drilling setup. I used a concrete mixing tub and a small pump from Harbor Freight to pump water up over the bit while drilling. I taped the template on the tank and clamped it with a large spring clamp.


Here is the setup. Not the prettiest, but effective.






Each hole took about 25 min or so to drill. I taped the backside to minimize chip out. I tried to get some pictures of the holes, but couldn't get a good angle without glare.


After the first hole I thought I made it without making a water mess...I was wrong [emoji53]

Apparently the water was running down and was filling the trim between the tank glass and plastic. It ran back to the first plastic brace and filled it with water. I noticed the water running down the wall and traced it back to the brace overflowing. Yikes!


Anyways...5 towels later we were good. [emoji6]




Here is the overflow test mounted.








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  • 2 weeks later...

Finished the sump build. Just need to leak test! Can't wait to get it plumbed in.


Decided on the Skimmer - Return - Fuge configuration. The water will come in from overflow into two 4 x 14 in filter socks. Then into the skimmer section where the mag18 will pump the raw tank water into the EV 240. Followed by the bubble trap and return. I will divert via ball valve some of the return flow into the Fuge. This will allow a controlled flow. Not perfect, but will get it going.




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Thanks! I ordered all the acrylic from a company called TAP Plastics online. They have a cut to order section. I planned out the sump, then ordered all my baffles and pieces with the correct dimensions. They showed up in about 3 days. The best part is the only "cutting" I had to do was cutting the holes for the filter socks. [emoji6]


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Gotta love TAP! Cool build, wish I had space for a through wall in my house!


Oh and...Mopar or No Car!!! ????

You got it! That's my motto [emoji1]


It was my first experience with TAP and it was great, would use them again for sure! I'm lucky my wife has been patient with this reef project and my cutting a giant home in our living room wall lol




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