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JTR99

JTR's 10 Gallon Nano-Reef Budget Build

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JTR99
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This build started with an old standard 10-Gallon aquarium I had laying around from another project.  The tank was pretty dirty and the top rim was damaged.  Rather than throw it away I decided to up-cycle it into a nano-reef.  I cleaned the tank up and decided to remove the broken black trim along the top.  Rather than replace it I decided to leave it as a faux rimless tank.  I collected a few other odds and ends laying around and then made a few small purchases for the remaining items.  Here is a list of what I am starting with:

 

Tank: 10 gallon Aqueon Aquarium (top black plastic trim removed) - $12.74

https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/fish/fish-aquariums-kits/aqueon-standard-glass-aquarium-tank-10-gallon

 

Filter: Aquaclear 70 HOB (will eventually modify to include built-in refugium) - $49.99

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000260FUW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Heater: Tetra 50w with Electronic Thermostat (not sure I like not having an adjustable thermostat.  I may swap this out later) - $14.94

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000OQO69Q/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_oHzUEbM8R031A

 

Wavemaker: SunSun JVP-110 (left over from another project.  Kind of cheap so not sure it will last but good for now) - $9.64

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CXDOQWA/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_6NzUEbPEKD20Q

 

Light: AquaKnight A029 (Budget friendly.  Pretty impressive for the price) - $63.98

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0727V8C5Q/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_lPzUEb9W0T4YY

 

ATO: Gravity fed ATO Water Filler (I plan to purchase a more sophisticated ATO in the future however to be honest this thing is pretty efficient) - $13.95

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RSQB1H9/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Substrate: 16 lbs Natures Ocean Bio-Active Aragonite Reef Sand - $12.50

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0018CG3FU/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_fRzUEb7HW9FA0

 

Hardscape: 12lbs Live Rock - $30.00

Bought locally from a Reef Hobbyist

 

Salt: 3lbs Instant Ocean Sea Salt - $6.99

https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/instant-ocean-aquarium-salt

 

Tank is currently filled and cycling.  Because the tank is rimless I am loosing a lot of water through evaporation.  The ATO helps but I may look to construct a cover to help slow it down.  I will post some pictures soon.  More to come.  Thanks for following.

 

JTR

Edited by JTR99
Added links to the build list as well as prices to keep track of build cost
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JTR99

I successfully removed the top black plastic trim from the tank without breaking the glass.  The hard part was cleaning the remaining silicone and glue residue off of the glass.  I decided that I wanted to build this tank the long way so that one of the short sides would become the "back" of the tank.  Just to mix it up and make it a little more appealing than a standard 10-gallon.  I first painted the new back panel black to mask the filter and wires hanging off the back.  I then thought I would tape off and paint a small strip on each side black to mask the filter tube and heater. This also give the appearance of a faux "overflow".  It also makes the tank look a little less standard rectangle in my opinion.  I kinda like the way it turned out.  

 

JTR

 

 

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JTR99

After hanging the Aquaclear 70 on the back of the tank I realized that it was a little wobbly hanging on the side of the rimless glass.  The little plastic foot piece that comes with the filter wasn't quite long enough and was starting to scratch the black paint off from rubbing against the back.  I decided to replace that with a spacer piece in between the filter and the glass.  I had a piece of dense foam packing material that I cut to shape and size.  Works perfectly.

 

JTR

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JTR99

I initially added one 8lb bag of substrate (it was supposed to be a 10lb bag according to the description.  But that's another story).  Anyway long story short it doesn't seem like enough.  So I will be adding a second bag soon.  I also added about 12lbs of Live Rock that I got locally and mixed up a fresh batch of Instant Ocean sea water.  Got the tank filled and everything running.  Waiting for the dust to settle.  

 

JTR

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Addinali
17 minutes ago, JTR99 said:

I initially added one 8lb bag of substrate (it was supposed to be a 10lb bag according to the description.  But that's another story).  Anyway long story short it doesn't seem like enough.  So I will be adding a second bag soon.  I also added about 12lbs of Live Rock that I got locally and mixed up a fresh batch of Instant Ocean sea water.  Got the tank filled and everything running.  Waiting for the dust to settle.  

 

JTR

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Cool Idea I'll be following along.

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JTR99

Water clearing up nicely.  Still waiting on the additional bag of sand to come in the mail.  Also this rimless open top design is proving to be a killer water evaporator.  Will begin working on a solution for that.  Possibly a cover and definitely a ATO of some sort. (Oh and a smaller magnetic glass cleaner.  That one takes up half the glass 🤨

 

JTR

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JTR99

OK can we talk about this ATO for a moment?  This tank loses a serious amount of water due to evaporation given the open top design.  I may eventually change that but either way, topping off manually everyday with a jug of water is not only a pain its not very efficient for keeping the water conditions stable.  So I am looking into a solid ATO to do the job.  I found a couple good options but the are a little pricey so I decided to hold off on buying one for the moment.  However in my quest to find a good ATO, I stumbled upon this little device.  At $13 dollars what's the worst that could happen.  It had excellent reviews and the simple gravity fed design really makes it fool proof.  Albeit a little ugly depending on your taste.  I installed this thing a couple days ago and I'm not going to lie, I kinda dig it.  Super easy and efficient and for a fraction of the cost.  Holds about 1 liter of water which I feel will last about 3-4 days on this size tank.  Perfect for smaller tanks.  And because it is gravity fed based off water pressure there is really nothing to fail.  No accidental overfilling or electronic system failure to mess up your tank.  So although I have my eye on a fancy $120 dollar ATO, I may stick with this system for a while.  So far so good.

 

(Oh in case your interested here is the link to the product on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RSQB1H9/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 )

 

JTR

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JTR99

The second 8lb bag of live sand has arrived and has been added to the tank.  Looks much better.  I also added some shells and small rocks that I had collected on the beach in the Bahamas when I was a kid many years ago.  They make great decorative pieces to the sand bed.  

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JTR99

OK here is the first stab at solving my evaporation issue (well second if you count the ATO I added above).  I ordered these clear plastic clips online that are designed to fit over the rimless glass.  I ordered 6mm however they were a little loose.  But I think I can make it work.  I had an extra piece of clear acrylic in the garage from another project that I cut to fit the top of the tank.  I cut out a portion to allow for the ATO and the filter to flow.  It fits nicely on top sitting on the clips.  The package came with 6 clips but for this size tank I think I am only going to use 4.  I may try and glue the clips to the acrylic for a more permanent attachment.  The cover will still slide on and off but the clips will be secure. Hopefully by cutting down the exposed surface area I can slow the rate of evaporation.  With the clear acrylic and clear clips it still has a cool rimless look to it.  We will see how well the acrylic does with the salt.  I may have to switch it out for glass at some point.  But for now it was a low cost solution.  

 

Here is a link to the clips if interested: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BXN784N/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

JTR

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bbetta

I’m planning to do the exact same thing with my tank. Keep it up!

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JTR99

Playing around with the idea of adding a surface skimmer overflow mod to the Aquaclear 70 intake.  I came across this one by Ocean Box Designs here: https://oceanboxdesigns.com/product/aquaclear-ac70-surface-skimmer/

 

Looks pretty cool but couldn't justify spending $50 dollars on it at the moment.  I decided to try and make my own version using a 3D printer.  Here is what I came up with.  I haven't attached it yet.  The one above uses magnets to attach to the glass.  I will need to figure that part out.  But it looks pretty good.  Will update once I have it attached and working.

 

JTR

 

 

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bbetta

I’ll probably copy that idea too, with a little help from a friend who has a 3D printer!

 

Do you have any salt creep building on the tank cover?

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JTR99

Actually to be honest I am not seeing a lot of salt on the cover.  There is some condensation but not really any salt build up.  And the cover has definitely slowed the evaporation issue.  It still looses some water but not nearly as fast as it was. So far so good.

 

JTR  

 

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JTR99

Also I will add that having the cover has saved my light big time from becoming completely crusted in salt.  I started noticing serious salt build up on the underside of the light.  Now that I added the cover the light is salt free.

 

JTR

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