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Viewpoints - A Photographic Journal of my Reef Tank


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#1
urbaneks

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Viewpoints – A Photographic Journal of my Reef Tank

 

Most Recent FTS

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My Personal Experience
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved aquariums. My first aquarium was a 10 gallon freshwater tank that I setup in Junior High. I followed the hobby into high school where I also found myself working at a local fish store. It was during this time that I decided to make the jump from fresh to salt water. I would eventually grow my passion for the hobby into an aquarium maintenance business that helped to supplement my income through college. After graduating, I left the business and hobby while I worked to establish a family and career. I remained inactive from the hobby for the next 14 years but would never pass up the chance to visit a local fish store or sit and stare at a tank at the doctor’s office.

Three years ago my brother called, raving about a tiny reef tank that he had seen at a customer’s home. I spent the next 2 months researching nano reefs and the new techniques that had evolved in the 14 years I had been away from the hobby. I decided to reenter the hobby and try my hand at reefing with a 28 gallon Nano Cube. The tank provided me an inexpensive option to determine if my family and work schedule would support the demands of a reef tank. Long story made short, one year later my reef was featured as the Tank of the Month at Nano-Reef.com. In that 16 months that I had been back in the hobby, I realized how much I enjoy the hobby and the creative outlet that reefing provides.

 

 

Nano.jpg

My Nano Cube at 16 Months - December 2010 TOTM at Nano-Reef.com

 

 


The Next Chapter
While my nano reef was a great start, my desire for a larger tank, better equipment and my obsession with SPS, has led me to a new adventure. Enter “Viewpoints”, my new reef tank in the making. The new tank will be dominated by SPS with some very select LPS and clams. An additional goal for this aquarium is to have a setup that is free from clutter. This means tight wire management, cleanly installed plumbing and a place for everything under the stand. While I'm just now getting this journal posted here on Nano Reef, the tank has been running for just over 8 months now. What follows will be a photographic journal of the aquarium from day 1 to the current state. I will do my best to keep the journal updated as my tank progresses.

 

 

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December 2013

 

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December 2012

 

 

 


Why Viewpoints?
First and foremost, I want to create and photograph a reef that is beautiful from all viewpoints. Through my journal, I hope to pull many different viewpoints on reef keeping from the members, moderators and guests within this community. The journal to follow will be a written and photographic document of my experiences with the new aquarium. I am hopeful that many will join me in the journey, so subscribe, contribute and enjoy!


Equipment
- Display Tank - 48x30x18, Rimless, Starfire Aquarium - Manufactured by Cad Lights
- Lighting – 48” Geisemann Infinity – 2x250Watt Metal Halides and 4x54Watt T5s
- Stand – 48x30x30 Artisan Stand – Manufactured by Cad Lights
- Sump – 30x18x16 Acrylic Sump with a built in ATO Reservoir
- Skimmer – Bubble King Mini-180
- Heater – Finnex Digital 300 Watts
- Return Pump – Sicce Syncra 3.0 – Rated at 714 GPH
- Circulation Pumps – (2) Vortechs - MP40W ES with Battery Backup
- Controller – Neptune Systems Apex Controller
- Media Reactor - Two Little Fishes 150


Table of Contents
Equipment Review
Bubble King Skimmer Arrival
Dosing Equipment Install and Setup
Light Installation with In Wall Cable Management
Extending Sump Shelf
Cabinet Lighting
Cabinet Hardware
Maintenance Organization Board
Equipment Panel
Installed Equipment Panel
Plumbing Installation
Plumbing Improvments
Overflow Cover
My Thoughts on Filtration

My Thoughts on Dosing and Setting Up Your Doser

My Thoughts on Nutrient Control and Filtration - Feb 2014
Initial Aquascape and Tank Startup
First Livestock Update
Maintenance Schedule
September 2011 Tank Update
November 2011 Tank Update
January 2012 Tank Update
More January 2012 Photos
Even More January 2012 Photos
One Last January Photo Shoot
The Fish of Viewpoints
Water Change Routine
Duncan Coral Growth
Coral Additions


Edited by urbaneks, 01 February 2014 - 05:16 PM.


#2
hecsrt-4

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Nice looking 28g

#3
Deleted User 4

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Hey, very nice future setup/equipment, btw how did you keep the back of your nanocube so clean??? I mean your rocks and corals touches the back but yet there's no even a single speck of algae on the back of that tank, so how do you even scrub the back when those corals/rocks are leaned up against it?

#4
nor_cal_nano

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Integrated ATO resevoir..... that is awesome! I don't know why I never thought of that..

Your 28 cube has always been one of my favorites on this site. With your excellent photo skills and meticulous handiwork, I can't wait to see how this one shapes up.

SUBSCRIBED

Oh and where's a FTS? You say its been up for months... :huh:

Posted Image


#5
zeroberry

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Wow. A lot of notes taken. Thanks for posting.

#6
JamieSheffield

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Thanks for posting this, I love reading threads like this on NR!

Jamie

#7
iball1804

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I sat down with a blanket and some hot chocolate.

Threads like these are the equivalent of PlayBoy. Thank you

#8
Mini-Dude

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Subscribed!!! This is gonna be EPIC!!!
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#9
majtek862

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Wow! Real nice tank and thread. Continued success to you on your journey...

One of these days I'm going to have to document my attempt a keeping a reef. I just don't have time cause I'm keeping a reef.

Edited by majtek862, 13 January 2012 - 05:21 AM.


#10
urbaneks

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Nice looking 28g


hecsrt-4 - Thanks for subscribing and I appreciate the comment on my old 28g Cube. That tank has been relocated to a co-workers house. She is now in charge on the Nano Cube.


Hey, very nice future setup/equipment, btw how did you keep the back of your nanocube so clean??? I mean your rocks and corals touches the back but yet there's no even a single speck of algae on the back of that tank, so how do you even scrub the back when those corals/rocks are leaned up against it?


IIX - While it looks like the rocks touched the back, I left enough of a gap to use a long piece of acrylic to scrape the coraline as it started to grow. The key there is when it starts to grow, this amounted to cleaning it about once every 2 weeks. I would also pull the top rocks off once in a while and really clean back there. Bottom line, it's manual labor, no secret snails or urchins.

Integrated ATO resevoir..... that is awesome! I don't know why I never thought of that..

Your 28 cube has always been one of my favorites on this site. With your excellent photo skills and meticulous handiwork, I can't wait to see how this one shapes up.

SUBSCRIBED

Oh and where's a FTS? You say its been up for months... :huh:


nor_cal_nano - If you decide to redo your sump one day and include an integrated ATO, go big. I was hoping to get a week in between refilling it but with my open top, I have to refil the ATO every 4 days.

Thanks for the compliment on the 28g Nano. That tank was a great way for me to get back into the hobby. When I look at old pictures of it I miss it. I made the decision up front thought that I would not own 2 tanks. To much work to have 2.

The FTS is on it's way, I'm loading the build and startup in chronological order, I just got tired last night to keep going. More will be on the way later today.


Wow. A lot of notes taken. Thanks for posting.


zeroberry - There are many things I like about this hobby including the maintenance that it takes to keep a tank up as well as documenting progress and strategies. If it helps someone else it's all worth it and if someone sees something I've done and has a suggestion for doing it better than it's just that much better.

Thanks for posting this, I love reading threads like this on NR!

Jamie


JamieSheffield - Thanks, I'm glad that you like the format and context. More to come.

I sat down with a blanket and some hot chocolate.

Threads like these are the equivalent of PlayBoy. Thank you


iball1804 - Thanks, I think? I do appreciate your view and comments here.


Subscribed!!! This is gonna be EPIC!!!


Mini-Dude - It's nice to see that you are still here on NR. Thanks for subscribing.

Wow! Real nice tank and thread. Continued success to you on your journey...

One of these days I'm going to have to document my attempt a keeping a reef. I just don't have time cause I'm keeping a reef.


majtek862 - Thanks for checking out the tank. One thing that I believe in is that by taking good notes now it will actually save you time later. Since starting this new tank, I've changed targets on Ca and Alk twice and my notes on dosing made the changes very simple. Same thing holds true by keeping water test data. I'm able to watch the trends of the tank and determine if maintenance can be pushed out or should be pulled forward. Sounds odd to spend time to save it but I believe in that.

#11
iball1804

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Yeah so far so good ;)

#12
urbaneks

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The First Bump in the Road Ė Apparently it was a Big One
I think anytime you go into a project; you need to expect a little adversity. After all everything canít go your way, right? Well the day my first glass was delivered things definitely did not go my way!

I woke up that morning feeling like a little kid on his birthday, you know the feeling! I bounced right out of bed pretty much floated into work. You see I was only working a half day because the tank was being delivered sometime between 12 and 4. Things went as planned at work and I was home right at noon. I figured that the tank would arrive on the tail end of the delivery window so I completed a water change on my Nano Cube. Just after 2:30 the door bell rang and it was Old Dominion Freight. The moment I had been waiting for was finally here. Eight months of research, 2 months of decision making and 4 weeks of waiting for the tank to arrive, it was finally go time! I waited patiently as the delivery driver pulled the tank and stand from the truck with a pallet jack. As the package was coming off the truck, I thought it was odd that the top of the crate was leaning; I also found it odd that there wasnít any wood on 2 sides of the crate. I quickly dismissed the idea of there being a problem and proceeded to think about the work ahead of me. The driver wheeled the crate as close to the house as he could, I signed for the package and he was off for his next delivery.


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You can see the top of the crate leaning to the right. Also note the missing wood from the lower part of the crate.


Without waiting another second, I reached into the black shrink wrap, thinking I was going to get my first look at 3 sides of starfire glass; I instead get a 1 inch gash on my index finger. Pulling my hand away quickly, I get my first look at a completely shattered right side of the aquarium. Iíve always told my kids that there will be problems in your life; itís how you handle them that defines who you are. Iím really hoping right about now that Cadlights is the company I think they are. I immediately contacted Eddie at Cadlights who assured me that they would start a new build right away. He requested some photographs so that he could work with Old Dominion on resolution. While getting the tank replaced took another 8 weeks, Cad Lights did take care of the problem. The cost to ship the broken tank back was too much for Cad Lights so they asked that I just dispose of the tank. I managed to find someone on a different forum that bought the broken tank from me and replaced the one panel.

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If a picture is worth 1000 words, this one must be worth a few 100,000


Even with this setback, I still had plenty of work to do with the stand, programming the controller and installing lights into my cabinet. While waiting for the new glass was not easy, it actually helped me to really take my time on the rest of the build, time that I may not had taken if I had a tank with water in it.


Geisemann Cable Pull
They say an idle mind is cause for trouble so in an effort to forget about the shattered tank, it was time to get back to work. I slowly completed the projects associated with the tank startup. Next up on the docket is to get the cables from the Geisemann ran into and down the wall to minimize the distraction they create. Iím fortunate that my brother installs custom home theaters and other electronics that require wire/cable pulls. Through different projects at my house and joining him on the job, Iíve learned enough to confidently cut holes in my walls. While the task may seem complicated, itís really quite simple. For less than $5 you can pick up a low volt box and cover, add a drywall saw and you have what you need for this job.


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A low volt box, cover and drywall saw are the tools for the job


Once I had identified where the cables would enter and exit the wall, I used the low volt box as a template to mark where the wall would be cut. The photo below shows the markings on the wall prior to making the cut. It's important to know where your studs are so that you can cut freely and route your wires without hitting the studs.

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Once I was satisfied with the markings and 100% certain on my hole location, I made my cut. Its easiest to use the point of the drywall saw and simply wiggle it up and down until it breaks through the wall. Once you've broken through, the saw will easily cut through the drywall. At this point I have a nice hole in the wall. At my house, it's best if the wife is not home for this part. She doesn't care to much for the open holes in the walls.

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Once I had the hole cut, the low volt box slides into the wall and the two screws are used to tighten it down. The low volt box keeps the drywall hole from getting larger over time and provides a place for the cover to be mounted to.

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I repeated these steps again for the point where the wires will exit the wall. The photo below show my wall after I had installed low volt boxes in both the upper and lower locations. The stand will end up covering the lower location.

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With both low volt boxes in place, I routed the cables from the entry point into the wall and down to my exit point. Once I had my cables fed through the wall, the cover plates were installed.

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With the majority of work behind me, it was time to add some finishing touches. A black grommet was used to close the 2" hole in the cover plate to something easier to look at. I also added some clear wire loom to route the two cables coming out of the Geisemann into one. I will replace this clear loom with black once I can get back to Home Depot.

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This last photo shows how the project is taking shape. Once the tank is installed, you will not see any wires between the light fixture and the tank.

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Extending Sump Shelf

Making Tank Maintenance Easier
I firmly believe that if our tank maintenance is easier to complete, it's one less barrier to getting it done. The extending sump shelf was not in my original plan but after getting the stand here and getting a feel for the 30" width, I've come to the conclusion that maintaining the sump will be difficult unless it's put on a rolling shelf. I'm not crazy about crawling under my stand to clean detritus from the sump.

As with most of my projects, they start with a trip to Home Depot. After combing the hardware section I finally found some side mount drawer slides manufactured by Liberty Hardware. I also bought a 10' 2x1 Pine board that I cut into 20" sections. These 20" boards will be the support and extensions for the shelf. A 30x20x1/2 inch piece of plywood, some 2" L Brackets and 3/4" wood screws rounded out the materials needed for the project.


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This photo shows two of the four 20" boards with the inner and outer slide components mounted to them


After getting the slides mounted to the 20" boards, I applied a single coat of black paint to match the stand. I also attached 4 L brackets to the shelf support in preparation for installing the assembled shelf supports to the stand. You will notice in the photo below that the sliding section of the assembly is installed a bit higher than the support section. This will allow the shelf to slide freely without binding on the support.

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One of the two shelf assemblies. Notice that the sliding section is a bit taller than the support section.


With both shelf assemblies built, it was time to install them in the stand. I first installed the left most assembly to ensure that it would clear the door hinge on the cabinet. Once I had the left assembly in place, I measured 30"(the length of my shelf/sump) and installed the right assembly to the stand. 3/4" wood screws were used to attach the L brackets to the assemblies and stand.

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L Brackets were used to install the shelf assemblies to the bottom of the stand


With both assemblies mounted to the stand the platform of the shelf was simply mounted to the shelf assemblies. The platform is made of a 1/2" piece of plywood that I cut to fit the size of the shelf. The top was painted black to match. With the top firmly in place, I now have an extending shelf ready to welcome my custom sump.

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Extending sump shelf is now complete, total cost for the shelf was just under $30


The last two photos show the sump sitting on the extending shelf. The first photo shows the sump pushed into the stand or in the operational position. The second photo shows the sump extended out of the stand or in the maintenance position. Once the tank arrives, I will ensure my plumbing is completed with shut off valves and quick disconnects which will enable the sump to slide.

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Sump sitting on the extending shelf - Operational Position

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Sump sitting on the extending shelf - Maintenance Position



#13
iball1804

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Wow!

#14
oncorhynchus

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This is awesome. I'm thinking of upgrading my cube and this is definitely providing some inspiration!

#15
zacowacko

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Sweet! Man I wish I had more money.
Wife said i need to quit buying S***! What..?

#16
ayobreezie

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Subscribed. :D

Elos Filtra 120 - in the works...

ADA 60P - current..

40B mixed reef - shutdown


#17
nor_cal_nano

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Extending sump shelf to boot...!!!! Are you kidding me?! :omgomg:

When you need to pull the sump out, will you need to lessen the weight of the sump by draining the water out at all? Or can those slide assemblies support it full?

Posted Image


#18
Deleted User 4

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IIX - While it looks like the rocks touched the back, I left enough of a gap to use a long piece of acrylic to scrape the coraline as it started to grow. The key there is when it starts to grow, this amounted to cleaning it about once every 2 weeks. I would also pull the top rocks off once in a while and really clean back there. Bottom line, it's manual labor, no secret snails or urchins. [/size]

I see, thanks for sharing that with me, I am a bit surprised that someone else on this forum likes to keep the back clean just like me as I do the same for my nanocube.


This build looks so amazing :D

#19
JNA_DESIGN

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... omgomgomg

#20
Mini-Dude

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Omg! Sorry about your tank. I love the the sump idea! I might steal that later on...:P
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#21
devilsadvocate

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someones very handy!

#22
urbaneks

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Yeah so far so good ;)


Wow!


iball1804 - Many thanks!

This is awesome. I'm thinking of upgrading my cube and this is definitely providing some inspiration!


oncorhynchus - Very nice compliment! It makes me very happy to think that my tank may be of some inspiration. Thank You!

Sweet! Man I wish I had more money.


zacowacko - The hobby is not cheap is is? I'm currently shopping for a used Bubble King Mini 180. $1200 new, $600 used, problem is anytime one is posted, it's sold in about 2 minutes.

Subscribed. :D


ayobreezie - Thanks for the view.

Extending sump shelf to boot...!!!! Are you kidding me?! :omgomg:

When you need to pull the sump out, will you need to lessen the weight of the sump by draining the water out at all? Or can those slide assemblies support it full?


nor_cal_nano - When I do maintenance on the sump, I do drain the water out before pulling the sump forward. The shelf is rated for 120lbs but I've never tested it. Thanks again for viewing journal as well as your comments.

I see, thanks for sharing that with me, I am a bit surprised that someone else on this forum likes to keep the back clean just like me as I do the same for my nanocube.

This build looks so amazing :D


IIX - You are welcome. In the new tank, I have my aquascape setup so that i can clean easily around all my rock work. I love a clean background, it really makes the corals pop not to mention says, "I love my tank" No offense to any of you that like the coraline backgrounds.

... omgomgomg


JNA_DESIGN - Thank you.

Omg! Sorry about your tank. I love the the sump idea! I might steal that later on...:P


Mini-Dude - Thanks for the sorry on the tank. Not sure if you read the post but it took Cad Lights 8 weeks to get me a replacement. While it was difficult waiting, it did allow me to take my time on some other projects for the tank. I have to admit that had the tank been here, I most likely would not have taken the time I did on some of the additional touches to the build.

someones very handy!


devilsadvocate - It's amazing how much easier projects get when you have some decent tools. I added a table saw to my garage a few years back and it opens all kinds of possibilities. Thanks so much for viewing my journal.

#23
surgicalsense

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Very clean :)

NC24

 

 

 


#24
urbaneks

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Viewpoints - Cabinet Lighting

In my last update for the extending sump shelf, you may have noticed my cabinet lighting in the photos. I installed these a couple days ago but had not written a journal entry yet. While the cabinet lighting is not as exciting as the equipment panel or extending sump shelf, it's an important part of the setup. The lighting I ended up with was not my initial plan but I'm very satisfied with the final choice.

I originally purchased 18 feet of rope light and was going to run these under the stand. I felt that the rope light would provide even distribution of light under the stand. After getting home with the rope light, I plugged it in and after 20 minutes it heated the stand up by 10 degrees. While i don't plan on running the cabinet lights for long periods of time, the extra heat is not acceptable.

I exchanged the rope light for some battery operated LED lights made by GE. If interested they are called GE Motion-Sensing LED Lights. The cost per light was $13 which I installed four of them in my 48x30x30 stand. Installation is as easy as installing the batteries and sticking them to the inside of the cabinet with supplied double sided tape. The lights run off of 3 AAA batteries and can be turned on in a constant mode or sensing mode. In sensing mode they can be turned on by waving a hand in front of them. Most importantly, the LEDs put out lots of light. Here is a photo of the finished installation.


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The under cabinet lighting was simple to install and total cost was right at $50



Viewpoints Ė A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place

While waiting for my replacement tank, Iíve had plenty of time to work on miscellaneous projects. One project that Iíve been working on is a tray to hold all of my maintenance tools. I had a large piece of plywood left over from the extending shelf build that could not go to waste. I used the plywood and a ĺĒ piece of foam to create a tool tray with cutouts for all of my maintenance tools. The photo below shows the tray at its current progress, I need to buy a new nitrate test kit which will be added above the other test kits. I also have a Hanna Meter on order which will be added. The tray has additional room for expansion as I add additional maintenance equipment. I did something similar with my toolbox about 2 years ago and it really helps to ensure tools are put back after maintenance and makes it clear when something is missing. The tray did not cost me anything since I had the extra wood and foam on hand. If you are interested in making something similar a new Exacto Blade is key to getting good cuts that match the shape of your equipment. When the tray is not in use, it slides under the extending sump shelf. With space under the stand at a premium, every inch counts.

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An equipment tray keeps all my maintenance tools organized


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Labeling on the tray provides a quick reference as to what is missing from the tray


Viewpoints - Equipment Panel Installed

One of the first entries I made to the Viewpoints Journal was the construction of my equipment panel. The panel was built to house all of the equipment and provide a basis for my wire management. With the arrival of the replacement tank, I was finally able to install the panel and finalize my wire management.

My original plan was for the equipment panel to be installed on the back wall of the stand. Due to the size of the sump, the side of the stand ended up being the better option. One regret after having the panel installed is that the MP40 controllers are installed near the rear of the stand instead of the front. This change would have made it easier to put the tank into feed mode or change run modes on the units.


Posted Image

Installed Equipment Panel



I ended up with 2 Energy Bar 8s on my Neptune system which provided me with more than enough controlled outlets and the ability to expand my system as needed. The Neptune controller is fixed to the panel with velcro which allows me to pull it from the stand for programming.

Since the above photo was taken, I added a cover to the wires that are running out of the stand. You can see a small portion of the cover in the photo below. Overall, I'm happy with how the panel turned out and the wire management is very clean. As with any do-it-yourself project, there are things I would do differently the next time.


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A second view of the equipment panel


Viewpoints Ė Plumbing Installation

One thing that Iíve learned during this last project, I am not a plumber. Iím quite certain that someone with experience would have plumbed my tank in less than an hour, where it took me a solid six. My tank came from Cad Lights predrilled with a 2 ľĒ drain and a 1Ē return. I also paid a bit extra for them to include my durso drain and bulkheads. I made my first trip to Home Depot with nothing more than the bulk heads and the goals that I had in mind for the plumbing. I wanted to ensure that I could isolate the tank from the sump and disconnect the sump from the plumbing in order to utilize the extending sump shelf. I also wanted to ensure that the plumbing was cleanly installed and labeled.

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Sump installed with final plumbing


For isolating the tank from the sump, I chose ball valves which are connected to the bulk heads just under the tank. I was able to find a ball valve that fit the 2 1/4" bulk head but could not find one to match the return line. As a result, I had to make this connection with the rubber union that is shown in the picture below. The labeling was done with a label maker that is capable of 3/4" labels. These valves will come in handy when I want to perform maintenance on the sump while keeping the tank circulating with the MP40s.

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Ball valves allow the tank to be isolated from the sump. Labeling was done with a 3/4" label maker


I also installed disconnect unions on both the supply and return lines. This allows me to disconnect the sump from the plumbing so the extending sump shelf can be pulled away from the plumbing. All of the PVC that is outside of the sump and tank was painted with black spray paint. I used some black vinyl to cover the pvc that enters the sump. Again, labels were applied to mark the lines and show the flow of water.

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The disconnect union can be seen in the far right of the photo. Note painted plumbing outside of sump and vinyl used where plumbing enters the sump.


This last photo is a repeat of the first but shows the direction of travel for the water as it leaves the tank, enters the sump and is then returned back to the tank.

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See colored arrows to map directional flow of the water



#25
iball1804

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  • Joined 09 Apr 2011
  • where the wild things are
Wooowwww. I can't to see this up. That's incredible.