Dave21 Posted February 6 Share Posted February 6 I've never done this before but thought it would be fun to journal my new tank upgrade and share my experience with the tank, products and design as I go along. I got into the hobby about a year and half ago with a 29 gallon and have learned a lot along the way. My family and I have really enjoyed the first tank and we decided to upgrade. My first post will be a little lengthy because I'm catching up to where I'm at now. I've been trying to make this a budget friendly tank so have tried to utilize used items, DIY, and budget friendly products. I did splurge on a few items for added security and convenience such as an Ink Bird WiFi Temperature Controller, ATO, and water level sensor. So I started with an older 90 gallon tank with homemade stand I found on Facebook Marketplace. I've been successful with my 29 gallon using a Tidal HOB filter but for this build decided I wanted to try a sump. Due to the dimensions of the stand I had limited options for sump size. And again since I'm trying to keep this build budget friendly, I decided to build my own sump. A 20 gallon long turned out to be the biggest I could fit. I was able to get a tank for $25 on sale from a LFS and picked up one of the generic DIY sump kits on eBay. I layed out the sump to have a 15inch refugium space in the middle and left enough space (though tight) in the first chamber to fit a Bubble Matus Z-7 space saving skimmer if I want to add a skimmer down the road. Next I debated on drilling the tank but decided against it due to the age of the tank. I decided on the eshopps PF-1000 overflow box with U tubes after talking with a local guy who has used hang on boxes for years. Additionally the PF-1000 has a nice feature that in the event the return pump kicks off, there is a small plastic dam in the bottom of the overflow box that prevents the siphon from breaking and will restart automatically. I went with the PF-1000 instead of the 800 because it had two bulkheads instead of one and I wanted to run a herbie style overflow to keep the tank ultra quiet. As an added safety I picked up an Auto Aqua Smart Outlet that detects the water level and will shut off the power to the return pump if the display water gets too high (e.g. siphon break). After testing multiple times I'm totally confident the chance of overflowing is next to zero. The return pump kicks off within 30 seconds when the U tubes are removed and the 20 gallon still has approx. 3inches of space when testing the event of a power outage (unplugging the return pump). For a background I did not want to paint the glass in case I ever decided to change the color or use the tank for something else one day. I also couldn't find a background online or at the fish store that I really liked so came up with the idea to paint a 24in x 48in light panel for a drop ceiling. My wife and I picked out a dark blue paint (it looks much darker than the photo), painted the semi smooth side of the panel, and faded the paint as it got to the top to give it a bit of a surface water look by lightly showing some of the fogged white of the panel. I'm really happy with how this came out and the texture of the panel gave it a nice effect when mounted behind the tank. Moving on to substrate and rock work I was able to find a steal on Facebook Marketplace and picked up 40 lbs of dead rock for $10 bucks! I used the bleach method to clean the rock and picked up another 50lb box of Caribsea Moani to add to it. I decided to use Caribsea Special grade for the sandbed and was able to get a great deal at Petco. I put in approx 60lbs of sand to give me an even 1.75'' to 2'' sandbed over the entire tank. Moving onto lighting I did a lot of research and posted on here to get suggestions. I got good suggestions from everyone but ultimately decided to give the Amazon SmatFarm 95W lights a try. I found some info online with people sharing some par numbers ( https://www.reddit.com/r/ReefTank/comments/yr47gp/smatfarm_95w_g5_led_par_measurements_settings_21/ )that looked good and on my 29 gallon I've actually had good success with one of the cheap $50 bar lights. So far I really like the features of the SmatFarm and overall color of the light output and the ability to adjust the six individual spectrums. The light also has a nice sunrise, sunset, and moonlight feature. Now will they grow coral we will see as in the coming months but for $250 total delivered it was worth a try. The lights are allegedly supposed to fit a rimmed aquarium but would only fit if I trimmed the rim and made some modification, which I did not want to do. So I decided to stain and mount a 2x4 behind the tank to mount the lights on. Lastly I hate having to remember to top off water and like the stability of an ATO so picked up an Auto Aqua ATO from Amazon. I've been running one for about a year and a half on my 29 gallon and it has been one of the best investments I've made into that tank! Since space was limited under the tank and I didn't want the top off bucket visible, I was able to run the fill line and pump wire into the closet where I keep my RODI filter and the rest of my fish stuff. I was really happy with the clean look this gives the tank when everything is closed up. That brings us to where I'm at now. I started cycling the exactly tank two weeks ago today with Fluval bottled bacteria and dosing ammonia to 2ppm. Today my ammonia test came back as zero but I'm still measuring 2-3ppm nitrites so not quite ready to add the first fish. Below is the stocking listing we've come up with. Pair of Clownfish Firefish Coral Beauty Yellow Tang YWM Goby (or Diamond Goby) with Pistol Shrimp 3 or 4 blue-green Chromis Fire Shrimp 7 Quote Link to comment
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