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Mostro's DIY 30g AIO


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It's been many years since I've had a reef tank and I'm excited to start work on this system I've been planning.


Here's the basic design for my AIO, focusing on the rear filter chamber. I have more than a few questions about this design so far, and I'm including a few to get started.



  • 25" x 17.875" x 18" acrylic 30g AIO (oddball size to fit existing furniture)
  • 24g DT with 6g rear filter chamber
  • Mixed reef with LPS & softies, no stock list just yet
  • 250W MH + T5 actinics, hanging fixture
  • 6" corner overflow into rear filter chamber with principal water flow from closed loop system
  • Small chaeto chamber (not enough to transport much but adds biodiversity & food)
  • Dry PVC stack through bulkhead in bottom of tank to hide power cords and ATO lines

Questions and Concerns

  • How do the flow rates look? Design of the closed loop? Too much? Not sure what to use for intake, a strainer of some sort
  • Will Chaeto wreak havoc on the closed loop pump? It draws from the tank, not the sump
  • Will the return chamber maintain sufficient water level for the media to be functional, or will it empty too quickly?
  • Do I need strainer/screen/teeth from chaeto chamber to return chamber?
  • Do the water levels look optimal for each chamber? Do they need adjustment?
  • Will the overflow teeth at 1" below tank top successfully keep water line at this same level?
  • OK position for the ATO float?

I'm sure I've overlooked a few things. I have no plans to order acrylic until I can shake out any major design flaws. Thanks for looking.


Rear View





Top View



  • Like 1
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*tap tap* Is this thing on? :lol:


Just as well that no one chimed in, I'm reconsidering a sump vs an AIO. I suspect that 30g is too large to be truly considered nano and that this project might garner more interest elsewhere. Cheers.

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DIY Cube Nano Man
*tap tap* Is this thing on? :lol:


Just as well that no one chimed in, I'm reconsidering a sump vs an AIO. I suspect that 30g is too large to be truly considered nano and that this project might garner more interest elsewhere. Cheers.


Lol noooo dont give up this thread. I think the 30G size is still fine for an AIO setup w/o external sump. But its getting closer to the size where a sump becomes more practical in application (ie beginning to need larger skimmers/more filtration capacity and equipment). Keep in mind tanks 30G or less rely more heavily on regular (15-20%?) water changes to form the main part of filtration and water quality maintenance, the rest you add in may only slightly reduce the frequency of water changes required and or help slightly maintain high water quality till the next water change. If you were keeping SPS this might make the difference you need, but for softies and LPS it aint gonna make too much of a difference (except for the refugium section which will have will supply your coral snacks between feeds). For myself I decided on an AIO setup because i mostly wanted to hide things like the heater and refugium from the main display area, and didn't wanna be bothered with the extra cost and maintenance of a sump. My tank however has 14G display area (sofites and LPS) and will mostly rely on water changes for maintaining water quality, apart from some surface skimming and minor nitrate export (refugium) given by the AIO filter hidden at the back. When i started throwing around designs for feedback about an AIO filter compartment most people hinted that a complicated filter was not necessary and so i redesigned it to house mostly the refugium, and used a filter sock to trapped the surface skimmed material for easier removal.


Hope this helps!

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All good points... in this situation it wasn't going to be easy to work in a sump, though it was arguably the better solution considering what I wanted the system to do, which was to require fewer water changes by having some efficient skimming and NO3/PO4 transport via media and macro in a wee refugium.


Having said that, I do still like this AIO design (though the baffles probably need to be adjusted) and think it's a good start for someone wanting to fab either an acrylic or glass system of this size with lots of flow when a sump just isn't an option.


However, I won't be pursuing it immediately as I'm now investigating a wall/built-in 75g system. Amazingly, it was my better half who suggested it as she didn't think she'd like the aesthetics of a neat little stand/tank column where I'd be locating it! LOL who would have guessed. But this could change again... :ninja:

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  • 8 years later...

Let’s Revive this thread.  I’m thinking of doing the same thing.  24x20x16 acrylic tank with a similar design.  Any tweaks that could make this better?

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